My husband sent me a couple of articles on the Twilight series written by Kellen Rice for PSA:
- ‘Twilight’ Sucks… And Not In A Good Way
- Twilight: A Follow-Up and a Promise
The articles are actually well-written critiques of the books, and I agree with many of Rice’s points about both the writing and the characters in the books. Rice should have expected the teenage girls to freak out over any criticism of the books they love, and I felt her second article — an answer to those critics designed to belittle them for their taste in reading — really could have remained unwritten. It’s hard not to respond to the critics, but it would have been wiser, in my estimation. One of the commenters she responded to in her second article insisted (albeit ungrammatically) that the main problem Rice seemed to have is that she forgot it was “This is a BOOK a FICTIONOUS BOOK” and another said, “YOU JUST THINK TOO MUCH JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE !” Yeah, I was cringing, too, but I think what these two commenters meant to say and couldn’t articulate for who knows what reasons, is that they understand the books are not a role-model for conducting relationships, that they don’t take them seriously, and that they understand they’re literary junk food. I, too, cringe at Bella’s “I’m-so-not-worthy-of-Edward” attitude. For reasons my own daughter can’t articulate, she thinks Edward is a jerk, and she is right. She is a fan of Jacob, who is a bit more realistic despite being a werewolf, and Bella’s relationship with him was slightly more healthy. I think what these readers were trying to say to Rice is that yes, we understand these stories are not models for our lives. We like them anyway because they’re like cookies or chocolate. I don’t think we really need to worry that an entire generation of girls is going to idolize the men in their lives or accept abuse at rates any more alarming than they currently do. Rice’s comparison to Uncle Tom’s Cabin (also not the most well-written read) are somewhat alarmist and, I believe, baseless. Harriet Beecher Stowe and Stephenie Meyer wrote for different purposes and audiences entirely. I can’t fathom the notion that Meyer is hoping to turn a generation of girls into Bella Swan in the same way that Stowe was hoping to examine the evils of slavery.
I had a student in my class who wouldn’t read. I pointed her to these books, and now she does. If you need to use cake as a lure, then I say why not let them eat cake? Will it always lead to Nabokov, Dostoyevsky, Shakespeare, and the like? Certainly not. But reading nothing at all won’t lead there either, whereas reading a little, even if it light, fun fluff, might lead somewhere. And if nothing else, that purple prose is good for vocabulary development. I think what Rice didn’t understand in her criticism is despite the fact that lots of impressionable teens are fans of the books, they fully understand it might not be a good idea to live the books. After all, despite fears by the Christian right, we don’t have an entire generation of readers thinking they’re wizards and abandoning Christianity for Wicca.
I think Rice needs to let the criticism of her opinion roll off her back and rest assured that she is right about a great deal, but she missed the big picture: sometimes folks like to read junk food books like romance novels, horror, pop fiction, and the like, and it’s okay. Even if it’s a steady diet, in my opinion. Because, as the commenter so astutely noted, we understand they are just fictionous books.
Update, 1/9/09: I appreciate some of you do not like the books. This is not really an “I Hate Twilight” Vent Forum. I see legitimate reasons not to like the book, but you know what, I enjoyed it anyway, and so do a lot of other folks. You don’t have to, and that’s really fine. What I am seeing is people who do not regularly read this blog chiming in on this one topic alone, and keeping up with the comments is proving onerous. I suggest you all start a forum where you can vent (or join one — I’ve seen one personally, and I would bet there are more). I am closing comments on this post. Thanks for visiting.