Okay, I’m going to get a little ranty up in here.
I held off reading Twilight for a really long time. I didn’t even pick up the first book until after all four in the series had been released. I thought (and still think) that the absolute craziness surrounding this story is just that…a whole lot of crazy.
But one day I was bored and figured “What the hell?” I bought the first book and could. Not. Put. It. Down. Then I blew through the rest of the series in about a week.
Twilight is a love story. It portrays true love as something obsessive and all-consuming and angsty as hell. Do you remember being fourteen? Yeah, it’s a lot like that.
It is important to remember that Twilight is also fiction. It’s total fantasy: fantasy creatures, fantasy scenarios, fantasy love.
There’s an article that keeps cropping up on Facebook and Twitter called Top 20 Unfortunate Lessons Girls Learn From Twilight from Wired magazine (which is written by a man who admittedly has not read the series and is being posted mainly by people in my Facebook friends list who I suspect have also not read it). And it’s beginning to piss me off.
Here’s the thing: I am totally fine if you do not like Twilight, don’t want your kids to read/watch Twilight, and think it’s the biggest waste of time and energy that’s ever hit the face of the earth. There are plenty of things that are wildly popular that I feel that way about (see, football). I don’t think it’s fair, though, to declare this series Bad For Young Girls and walk away.
Parents, you are responsible for what your child is exposed to, but you also have to realize that you can’t protect them from everything you never wanted them to know. I heartily agree that Twilight’s love story is unrealistic and unhealthy, but you know? If my 15-year-old wanted to read it, I’d let her (or him). I would just make sure to talk to them about relationships and help them process what they’ve read. It is not Stephenie Meyer’s job to teach my kid about healthy relationships; it is my job. Would I let my eight-year-old read Twilight? No. I think some of the content and themes are too mature and too complicated. But that is my personal opinion.
My overall point is that I don’t think it’s fair for people to pin all the responsibility of the lessons their child takes away from Twilight on the books alone if they are sitting on their hands when it comes to actually finding out what their kid is thinking, how their kid is interpreting this story. I actually think that if your kid is into Twilight it’s a great opportunity to open a dialogue with them about healthy and realistic relationships and how they differ from the relationships portrayed in Twilight.
I very much enjoy Twilight because it is an escape and I expect that’s the reason most people like it. Meyer is definitely a character writer; Bella, Edward, Jacob and many of the other characters are compelling and likable. It is easy to relate to them. I guess I just wish that people didn’t feel the need to get so judgmental and offended by something that they just don’t like. Because it’s not their choice of escape, they feel the need to condemn it or belittle it. But you know? EVERYBODY has some form of escape or another because we all need those ways to disappear from our realities every once and awhile. And just because my escape happens to include vampires and werewolves and unswerving, obsessive love doesn’t mean I’m any worse off than anybody else and it certainly doesn’t mean that my expectations of relationships are convoluted or problematic. It’s called taking it with a grain of salt, or using my critical thinking skills to make a judgment about the role that this series plays in my life. It is not a starring role, but it is a fun one. I think it’s entirely possible for Twilight to play a similar role in the lives of young girls, with a little guidance and WITHOUT a judgmental attitude about it.