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And I’m not even a Twilight fan

July 29, 2008
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There are a lot of eyebrow-raising statements in Laura Miller’s new article about Twilight at Salon.com, “Touched by a Vampire”, especially once you hit page two. If I had more time, I’d actually comment on them, but as it is, I’ll just leave you with a couple of choice quotes:

[Bella] is purposely made as featureless and ordinary as possible in order to render her a vacant, flexible skin into which the reader can insert herself and thereby vicariously enjoy Edward’s chilly charms.

Wasn’t there a post (or comments in response to a post) similar to this at DA or the SBs recently? Not in regard to Twilight, but romances in general? Anyway, then there’s:

The YA angle on vampires, evident in the Twilight books and in many other popular series as well, is that they’re high school’s aristocracy, the coolest kids on campus, the clique that everyone wants to get into.

Yet the Cullens, although they don’t live in New York, are rich and fabulous. Twilight would be a lot more persuasive as an argument that an “amazing heart” counts for more than appearances if it didn’t harp so incessantly on Edward’s superficial splendors. If the series is supposed to be championing the worth of “normal” people, then why make Edward so exceptional? If his wealth, status, strength, beauty and accomplishments make him the “best” among all the boys at school, why shouldn’t the same standard be applied to the girls, leaving Bella by the wayside? Sometimes Edward seems to subscribe to that standard, complaining about having to read the thoughts of one of Bella’s classmates because “her mind isn’t very original.” But then, neither is Bella’s. In a sense, Bella is absolutely right: She’s not “good enough” for Edward — at least, not according to the same measurements that make Edward “perfect.” Yet by some miracle she — unremarkable in every way — is exempt from his customary contempt for the ordinary. Then again, by choosing her he proves that she’s better than all the average people at school.

And someone really needs to address this:

Such are the tortured internal contradictions of romance, as nonsensical as its masculine counterpart, pornography, and every bit as habit forming.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. July 30, 2008 1:24 am

    I read the whole piece, and found the discussion of the book to be interesting; I’m always curious to see what other people make of the series’ more hypnotic qualities, and I don’t feel that the author went too far astray in describing it.

    I *DO,” however, take issue with the romance statement. I’d say that erotica is to pornography as romance is to… say, sports. There’s mini-dramas and people guys root for in sports; underdogs, leaders, people who suffer constant defeat, and there are satisfying happy endings — wins. Romance is about as addictive as sports, and some people are pretty into sports. Erotica is quintessentially sex-focused, as is pornography, which is a whole ‘nother thing, to my mind.

  2. July 30, 2008 12:56 pm

    In my rush to post this yesterday, I neglected to mention that I must be in the minority of people who read Twilight but then didn’t bother with Eclipse or New Moon, so as far as Miller’s review of the SERIES, I don’t really have a problem with it. She pointed out some things I hadn’t considered and I have seen worse criticism of the books. (And, tangentially, I must say Miller wrote the most spot-on review of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix that I’ve read.) It’s when she moved beyond the series, to YA lit and romance, that she lost me.

    TadMack, I like the sports analogy!

  3. August 2, 2008 4:51 am

    Very interesting perspective on the Twilight series. I have read past Twilight and find Bella the most uninteresting narrator. I’d agree with her description of some things and like the previous comments, take issue with the romance statement. I plan to read Breaking Dawn just to have closure. Twilight was the best of the series thus far and here’s hoping she’ll close it out with a bang.

  4. Jolene permalink*
    August 6, 2008 10:47 am

    Just finished the final book in the series, and she makes excellent points as to why teen girls would be fascinated with this series. Liked the comparison between Buffy and Bella. Whereas Josh Whedon is a self-proclaimed feminist and comic book writer, thus his female characters are usually self-sufficient and complex. In comparison, Meyer seems more like a romantic with a soap opera complex. (Read the last book and you’ll know what I mean.)

  5. August 14, 2008 10:01 pm

    Maybe I should write this as a new post or edit this post to add the following, but whatever. I’ve finally got my thoughts together regarding this statement: “The YA angle on vampires, evident in the Twilight books and in many other popular series as well, is that they’re high school’s aristocracy, the coolest kids on campus, the clique that everyone wants to get into.”

    I think there are a couple of problems with this that detracts from Miller’s arguments, though I’ll admit that it doesn’t necessarily negate most of what she says about the Bella/Edward relationship.

    1. Instead of popularity, I generally think of YA vampire books in terms of secrecy and isolation–being forced to keep a secret, wondering who to trust. The only series I can think of that fits the quoted statement is de la Cruz’s Blue Bloods.

    2. In most YA vampire books, vampirism is a secret. If the vampires in other series are popular, it’s for reasons besides being a vampire. Take Stefan in The Vampire Diaries, who initially gets attention because he’s the hot new guy AND because he initially rejects the high school’s queen bee, Elena.

    3. The recent vampire boarding school trend would seem to imply that vampires are either outcasts or in danger in “normal” high schools–basically, not popular–so are forced to create their own schools for vampires. In the House of Night series, no one wants to be marked. Yes, the popular kids at these schools are vampires, but when everyone at the school is a vampire, that’s not saying much.

    Series I was thinking of: Blue Bloods, Evernight, House of Night, Vampire Academy, Vampire Dairies, the Morganville Vampires, Chronicles of Vladimir Tod

    Non-Series: The Silver Kiss, Peeps, Vampire High, Suck It Up

  6. December 17, 2009 2:07 pm

    Great site! Keep up the good work!

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  1. YA Wednesday: Reading, Alexie, Comic-Con, and Bella Live On

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