Saturday, November 8, 2008

Confessions Of All The Teenage Drama Queens Requested

(Today my dad insisted that I write about something controversial. I'm pretty non-confrontational and I actually have no desire to push anyone's buttons, so I'm going to compromise and, instead, heavily criticize something I know is very popular that I just can't stand. I know that's not the same as being controversial, but that's the best I can offer at this present time)

Just out of curiosity...

What's with all the Twilight hype?

I finally read the book and found it to be poorly written, the plot unoriginal and stupid, the characters pretty flat, and Edward more annoyingly stalkerish than attractive. The romance wasn't even done well. It was irritating, over-the-top, and I didn't believe it for a second.

I just don't get it. Am I the only sane person out there? Is there something I'm just not understanding? Has the quality of literature diminished so far that people actually think this stuff is good?

I'm all for people reading novels they can actually understand as opposed to more difficult literary works - that's fine with me. Not everyone is an English major. But there is still a difference between well-written, well-plotted stories and, well, trash.

I've heard, on numerous occasions, Twilight being called the next Harry Potter. Come on! Even Harry Potter wasn't the best written of novels, but at least it was a good story, had a good plot, and had some really fun characters. Twilight has none of that. I'm sorry. It's too trite. Too cliche. Too obvious. Too dull. I was bored while reading it. I have absolutely no desire to read the other ones in the series. It actually made me nauseous just to read the first one. The overly sappy romance on every single page made me want to just barf.

Is it that our society craves soap operas? Is it that people are so unsatisfied with their own relationships, they live vicariously through characters flat enough that anyone can insert herself in? Is it that people thrive on heavy gossip? Is this why so many teenage girls are obsessed with Gossip Girl? One Tree Hill? The OC? I don't get it. Can't people go and live their own lives instead of spending an eternity wishing they had the thrilling (???) drama of fictional characters? Trust me, there's enough real drama out there. You don't need TV and novels to provide it for you. No, you're not going to fall in love with a vampire, though. Sorry. But so what? Do you want to live in the world? Or do you want to live on TV?

I mean, on the one hand, some of the fun of reading is because things happen in books that don't necessarily happen in life and it's fun to pretend, for a few hours, that they could. But on the other hand, be careful what you let suck you in. It's a mistake to think that just because a character is described as good looking, that he is a good character. Just because a character is "hot" doesn't mean he's complex! Edward is in no way complex. Sorry. Neither is Bella. She's too flat. She has none of the complexities of human beings. She's too perfect. Making her a klutz does not give her realistic character flaws. It's very superficial. It makes no sense that every single boy in her school should be obsessed with her. It makes no sense that she has no sense of self-preservation. It makes no sense that she would not care that Edward has been spying on her every night the entire school year. Where is the tension here???

Our society seems to settle for stories that are way too simplistic if it actually thinks that a human girl falling in love with a hot vampire - and then nothing much happening except their constantly professing their love to each other and saving each other from random things - is a good story.

If you really want to read an exciting vampire thriller/romance, stick with Dracula. Seriously. Not that Dracula is spectacularly written either, but at least it's a much better story!

It actually truly bothers me that so, so, so many girls will become obsessed with a book, or a TV show, or a movie just because the guy is really good looking. Is everyone that shallow?


And if people can no longer tell the difference between something well-written and something trashy, then I mourn for our literary future. I really, really do.


SJ said...

Ha! I just came back from an NCSY visitation, and much of our Friday night conversation with the teens consisted of discussing Twilight (slash, hearing the girls gush about Twilight), as follows:

Are you an Edward or a Jacob? Edward is soooo beautiful! And he's sooo romantic--he wants to suck her blood, but he decides not to kill her because he loves her! Isn't that incredible?! I'm going to be standing in line outside the theater for hours before the movie comes out! If I could build a dream house it would have an IMAX theater with Twilight playing over and over again on repeat! Etc.!

It was very hard not to laugh. Or cry. Or something.

Bad4 said...

>>Neither is Bella. She's too flat. She has none of the complexities of human beings. She's too perfect. Making her a klutz does not give her realistic character flaws. It's very superficial.<<

That's my usual complaint against Tamora Peirce heroines. They're too perfect with some superficial flaw that is halfhearted at best.

Note to self: don't read Twilight. THough it seems to have passed me by.

Ezzie said...

You lost me at Twilight.

Erachet said...

SJ - Ow, my ears! My ears! ...I never want to hear anyone squealing over Edward Cullen. EW.

Bad4 - I don't like Tamora Pierce much, either. I have similar issues with her, like you said. Diana Wynne Jones is much, much better.

Ezzie - Good, I'm glad. Stay lost.

the apple said...

And the movie is just as bad! Why would they cast the lead character as someone who speaks in a monotone??

Liz said...

Because I wouldn't be ME if I was not arguing the position of someone other than myself (which is why some of my english essays sound like a debate with a schizophrenic)...

I think you're missing the point of reading Twilight and, to a certain degree, a lot of the iffy teenaged girl literatuer out there. The characters are allowed to be flat because the goal is not to create well rounded characters, the goal is to deal in wish fulfillment. Bella has no substance, because the reader, hapless and helpless teenager that she is, needs to find herself in Bella. The author certainly did. These books are pure wish fulfillment, the cotton candy of the literary world if you will. They look big and exciting and yummy, but they're saccharine sweet and, underneath it all, there's nothing really there. Which is fine, as long as you're not expecting to be FULL afterwards.
You read Diana Wynne Jones because she is a phenomenal story teller and you get lost in her story. You read Twilight as a blueprint to tell someone else's plot to yourself. Tamora Pierce is, I think, similar, but the character into which the reader places herself is far superior.
I think that there is something about modern culture that causes the masses to feel more at home with being the story than being told it. Even if that means a compromise in the characterization and telling of the tale.

Err, that was longer than I anticipated.

Erachet said...

I think you're missing the point of reading Twilight and, to a certain degree, a lot of the iffy teenaged girl literatuer out there. The characters are allowed to be flat because the goal is not to create well rounded characters, the goal is to deal in wish fulfillment.

I completely understand the point. My issue is - is this the future of literature? To be wish-fulfillment?

nmf #7 said...

Okay- Twilight is flat. But it's not the "future of literature". It appeals to the market out there- of girls searching for some wish-fulfillment, in some way.

I am not defending the book- just saying that maybe that is what the society wants. Oh, and Bella does get more complex (slightly) in that she is too self-sacrificing for her own good. (again, not so complex, but an interesting idea.)

Oh- and for those who dislike Tamora Pierce- try the Kel series. She has many flaws, don't you worry- a normal person with a normal life.

Scraps said...

This, my friends, is why I have absolutely no interest in reading [i]Twilight[/i] or any of the sequels.

Tamora Pierce writes brain candy, but my impression is that her brain candy is slightly better-written. I can read her stuff without throwing up, I just don't expect anything intellectual out of it.

If anyone wants to read a good vampire novel, Robin McKinley's [i]Sunshine[/i] was good, in my opinion.

inkstainedhands said...

I loved this post...

I was actually planning to make a post on Twilight sometime toward the end of the summer (and it would probably be long enough to fill up five posts), so when I saw the Twilight label on your blog, I was interested in reading what you had to say.

I think I have it even worse though.... During the school year, I am exposed on a daily basis to girls squealing about how hot Edward is and how perfect Twilight is. That is enough aggravation for me to want to write a 10-page essay on exactly why Twilight should not even be considered literature. And if I find time, that is what I plan to do.