A Long-Awaited Return, and a Confession

After what I’m calculating to be a month-and-a-half hiatus, I’m back on board with this whole blog thing. Surprisingly, I keep getting a decent amount of hits per day, which must mean I am extremely popular, probably with the ladies.

So what have I been doing with all this time you ask? Playing through countless video games? Digesting some work of great literature or film making? Studying intently for my future career as a wandering minstrel? Well… um… how to say this?

I did something bad.

The Forbidden Fruit

Forbidden fruit, how fitting.

Yes.

Yes, I know. Yes, I’m aware of that. Ye… If you’d just let me get a word in edgewise I’d be able to defend myself! Thank you.

Let me start this off right by saying this: Twilight is objectively one of the worst-written, most painful, downright embarrassing piece of writing I have ever come across. I am, in no way, save for the purposes of irony, a Twilight fan (Twihead?). I went into this experience hating hating hating Twilight, and I’ve come out no different.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Stephenie Meyer can not write. It’s as simple as that. She writes fiction at the level of, I’d say, a ninth grader. It feels like she wrote different parts of the novel in very different mental states. At one point, Edward, who typically speaks like (Meyer’s idea of) a typical teenager, suddenly throws out the word “ostentatious.” Then, seemingly proud of himself for knowing such a big word, he says it two or three more times about the exact same thing. I’m not bemoaning the use of big words, I’m bemoaning the lack of synonyms employed by the author here. Come on! Ostentatious? Really?

The dialogue is laughable, some of the “romance” awkward or downright creepy, the characters so one-dimensional you could calculate their gravitational field with nothing but the most basic of calculus (sorry, it’s finals week). There is no doubt, this book is deeply deeply flawed.

Look at Bella, for instance. She is supposedly smart, since she apparently reads a lot and took AP Bio at her old school, but she says and does stupid, stupid things. She’s clumsy, socially awkward, a terrible liar. The one thing she has going for her is her apparent attractiveness that has every guy in Forks swooning over her on the first day of school. Maybe she has a vibrant personality, but Stephenie Meyer doesn’t show us that.

Edward, on the other hand, excels at everything but secrecy. He is stronger, faster, and sexier than anybody else. Supposedly, he’s smarter too, but he underestimates Bella’s intelligence (a very difficult accomplishment, so apparently he’s pretty good at that too) when he drops constant, glaringly obvious hints that he’s a vampire.

SPOILER ALERT!!! DO NOT KEEP READING IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE BOOK AND YOU HAVE A PLAN TOO!!! Or do, it’s a pretty awful novel.

The most important part of Edward’s character through the eyes of Bella is that he is physically attractive (perfect, dazzling, like Adonis, looking more like a Greek god than anyone has a right to. These things were all uttered in the course of Twilight). Because of this, Bella falls madly in love.

“But Cody!” you say, “Bella does not fall in love because he is attractive, she falls in love because he is good to her and making great sacrifices in order to be with her!” That would be true if there was any evidence in the book of Edward being anything but a scumbag. The first day of class he is repulsed by her. More than half the time he’s yelling at her, quickly changing his attitude to “I’m never mad at you.” And laughing it off. No, Edward’s never mad at you Bella, he’s just mad around you and angry about everything you do and say. Oh, and he loves you very much.

Twihards will rush to Edward’s defense, saying that he saved Bella from the oncoming van, and that he doesn’t kill people, so that makes him good, right? First of all, murderer and paragon of goodness are not the only options. Secondly, for a large period of time, stopping the van is the only thing that Edward did to endear Bella to him, besides being ridiculously good-looking. Later, he says that the only reason he stopped the van was so her blood wouldn’t splatter everywhere, driving him into an uncontrollable feeding frenzy.

Oh, by the way, her blood is literally like heroin to him. As in, he is addicted to her blood. As in, they actually compared it to heroin in the book that was labeled one of Publisher Weekly’s “Best Children’s Books of 2005.” Also, he can’t read her mind. This should clue him in that there’s not much going on up there. Also, these are the only two reasons given for his infatuation. Oh, and she’s extremely beautiful or something.

So, all this ranting and raving, I must truly hate hate hate a thousand times hate Twilight, right? Well, I do, in a way.

If you say it a bunch of times, Twilight looks and sounds really weird. Twilight, Twilight, Twilight, Twilight, Twilight.

But coming out of this experience, I think I am a changed man, at least in regards to Twilight. Reading the book, I found myself enjoying it, 90% of the time because it was just so bad (Oh! She also takes Leia saying “I love you” and then Han saying “I know” from Empire Strikes Back and use it for Bella and Edward and pretend it’s original and their own little private joke and it pisses me off) it was funny.

But there were times when I found myself legitimately, unabashedly enthralled. These moments never lasted for more than a few pages until someone said something like “Bring on the shackles – I am your prisoner” and reminded me just how awkward and awful this little love story was. But they were there. I found myself, despite my best efforts, connecting to the characters on some fundamental level. Why? They are terrible characters, terribly written, doing terrible things to established vampire mythos. Everything on the paper says “you should not take this seriously.”

Here’s a little thing about me. I love the status quo. Watching films, reading books, I just like things to stay the same. I could watch the Hobbits frolicking about in the Shire for about the same amount of time the actual trilogy lasted and be content. I could read about Harry and pals just chumming about in Hogwarts with nary a sign of Voldemort and be right glad to be reading those books too (that’s how British people talk, right?). Twilight, for me then, is basically exactly what I want. They do nothing but lounge about and talk and kiss and then brood because Edward’s a monster and there’s no real conflict until the very end. Now, for any of the above examples, I would later tear the work to shreds from a critical, artistic standpoint (there is no art without suffering!), but I would close the book or leave the theater satisfied on some core level.

So I walk away with justification for my loathing, but also a new-found understanding. I hate the book, but it has its appeal. I understand how it could become such a runaway success. I understand how tweens can relate to the sexually frustrated Bella and/or Edward. I especially understand how people who should know better pick up and engross themselves in these novels. Mt step-mom would call them “cute.” I hate that word, so I will describe them thusly: ostentatious.

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