The Twilight Saga: A Boy’s Perspective

Twilight Cover Let’s face it, Twilight was written for girls.  Stephenie Meyer’s target demographic is the adolescent female, and while there are a fair number of boys out there for whom I weep nightly based on their love of Twilight, their numbers pale in comparison to the tweenie-bopper girls.

So I figure I’ll give you my take on the most “meh” aspects of the Twilight franchise and see if there I can provide any insight into why most of us boys just don’t get it.

  • Bella Swan.

Ugh. Being trapped in this vapid, clingy girl’s head for four novels is enough to drive lesser men off the deep end.  Bella is the type of girl I actively avoided—not clamored over—in high school.  So why then would I, as a reader, want to spend this much time in this type of person’s head or even be able to relate that a 100+ year old vampire would have or want anything to do with her?

Sure, I’m a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan and this is the same dynamic between Buffy and Angel, but I don’t like it in that series, either.  I just can’t see why an immortal would have anything to do with the relative equivalent of a toddler.  At least Buffy is an independent woman who can think for herself.  The best Bella ever does to assert her self-reliance is cooking her father dinner.

BellaIn the end, Edward decides to spend eternity with her, and that slightly disgusts me.  Maybe it’s my relatively feminist leanings or my own predilection toward having a wife who is a companion rather than someone I have to watch over and protect at every moment, but Bella’s too-quick seduction of Edward makes them both incredibly unrealistic and inaccessible to me. I don’t want to be near her because of her vapidity, and I don’t want to be him because he has to be near her.

  • The Writing

I’m going to have a whole post on this soon, but I’ll give you the TL;DR version here.  Stephenie Meyer’s writing is not geared toward a male audience.  From her love affair with the “beautiful” entry in the thesaurus to Bella’s first person perspective, the text is crafted without taking into consideration what most boys want to read about.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not your typical male—I hate sports, detest hunting, and typically prefer romantic comedies to action movies—but the emphasis on “romance” and the relationships in Twilight borders on absurd.  Bella’s infatuation with Edward is based almost entirely on her perception of his being pretty.  Or beautiful.  Or majestic.  Or seraphic.  Or any other word that sits with “syn:” in front of it in a thesaurus.

  • Team Edward vs. Team Jacob

I’m a proud member of Team I-Don’t-Give-A-Damn.  The whole debate of which boy Bella should use leaves me a bit dry.  Maybe it’s my outlook based on years of both failed and successful relationships, I don’t know, but I have a pretty solid grasp of who I’m in love with.

Team Edward So hearing about Bella’s confusion about who to pick as a mate and seeing these two relative undesirables pining over the girl of my nightmares makes me a little distant.  I just could care less about their high school angst, but again—I’m not the series’ target demographic.  I’ve lived through this type of experience and emerged the wiser.  Unfortunately in Twilight, Bella and Edward are not quite so lucky.  Edward “wins” and the crowd goes mild.

  • The Narrative is Decent, but the Execution Stinks

Given that I’m hosting an Anti-Twilight Week, my feelings on the franchise should be apparent.  Unfortunately, though, I also think that the story the series tells had the potential to be a worthwhile narrative, but Meyer emphasized the wrong aspect—the romance.  As an adult male reader, I don’t care about Bella’s crushes or boy troubles, though I think they could have made a relatively interesting side-plot.  These boy troubles are instead given center stage, negating my sustainable interest in them.

I actually like reading about Carlisle and the other Cullens.  They, unlike Bella and Edward, are mostly sympathetic characters who deserve to be more fleshed out and three dimensional, but aren’t because all Meyer cares about is writing Harlequin-lite romance novels that involves vampires instead of bodice-ripping Fabio clones. I lost interest in trying to care.

I love a good romance.  Note: “good.”  I like a romance I can get into, and most of the time, the romance—even in our real lives—exists on the periphery to other events.  I would be fine if Bella’s love triangle worked itself out among the Volturi escapades, but unfortunately, everything else—including life and death!—plays second fiddle to Edward and Bella and Jacob (oh my!).

In the end, it’s hard to take Twilight seriously because it takes itself too seriously.  Full of melodrama and misdirected narrative, the series misses the mark of what could have been a decent to mediocre series.  While I understand that it is primarily directed toward adolescent girls, its popularity and attention expands that niche demographic to a wider audience, which is not nearly as unabashedly accepting.  As fantasy, Twilight fails.  As a romance, Twilight fails. The execution is just off.

Even as a boy who likes mushy, girly books and movies, I’d rather read Nicholas Sparks or Stephen King to get a pure-breed novel that actually uses genre conventions effectively instead of just hinting at their inclusion.

Comments

  1. Jennifer

    I’m just sad that New Moon didn’t come out during our honeymoon. It would have been lovely to be cut off from the inevitable media frenzy.

  2. What disappoints me about this notion that it’s written for tweentwits is that it’s pretty accurate. It saddens me greatly that these young women (and some older ones) want this sort of garbage. Is it any wonder why there are so many dysfunctional relationships out there?

    (And yes, I levy the same baleful eye at “romance” novels which are little more than sex fantasies.)
    .-= Tesh´s last blog ..LFG Comic Art Videos =-.

    • But at least romance novels are marketed as sex fantasies; Twilight is not.

      Readers don’t (or shouldn’t) expect romance novels to have any bearing on how real relationships actually exist, where Twilight portrays itself as containing a normal, functional, teen relationship except for the fact that he’s a vampire. Girls see that, expect that, and in turn, get in over their heads. Which is why I have no problem with Fabio-inspired covers on romance novels but really get irked at the subversion in Twilight.

    • @valkyrierisen

      I loved the first three novels. Frankly, I stopped reading after that. But maybe I’m more sympathetic to the stupidity of girldom. I read it kind of like watching a train wreck in the movies. You know the disaster is coming. You watch it with sick fascinating. You see all these great minds fail, and you think to yourself “this is how they screwed up”.

      I don’t read these books to glorify the stupid choices made by all those concerned inside them. I read these because it re-affirms my ability to make better choices. I wish people wouldn’t hate on the series, or the author, or the premises, and instead use them to discuss the implications of all the books communicate about girldom now, about relationships now, about silly fantasies versus reality, about where love becomes obsession.

      If you can’t enjoy the story, that’s fine. I couldn’t read Stephen King. Or any of the Ender books.

  3. “I don’t read these books to glorify the stupid choices made by all those concerned inside them. I read these because it re-affirms my ability to make better choices.”

    If only more girls (and boys) could recognize this! Can you maybe become a professional speaker and travel the middle school/high school circuit and let people realize what the novels imply about adolescent relationships?

    Also, I can understand no Stephen King. But no Ender? I’m shocked!

  4. I dunno Beej, spending a whole week writing about something you despise? Especially something that’s so easily despised? I’d rather read about something you *love*, something that takes wit and discernment to present, something that you can sink your teeth into.

    I now officially hate Twilight, because it’s co-opted this blog for a week.

    🙁
    .-= jane´s last blog ..Briar Rose Learns to Read =-.

    • Don’t worry, Jane. There are still going to be a couple normal posts interspersed between the Twilight ones. 🙂 I just posted a Stargate Universe one, tomorrow or Monday should find an opera review of the Fall of the House of Usher, and later this week, there will likely be a Dark Tower one, too.

      All between the lovely Twilight bashing.

  5. My wife was entranced with these novels. I couldn’t stand them. Thank you for elaborating on all of the things that I couldn’t articulate in my distaste for the series.

    • To add to my first comment, the movies are whole heartedly geared towards female audiences too, more than even a traditional romance movie I’d say. I’ve yet to talk to one man that hasn’t been turned off by the dramatic amount of make-up they put on Edward. I get it, he’s a vampire, but, come on. Lip stick? Seriously? Even worse is I caught him on David Letterman a while ago… still wearing lipstick. My wife surprised me by commenting on it before I could.

      • I actually liked the movie better than the book. Without it being inside Bella’s head, I was able to at least objectively see the action without it being colored by her infatuation.

        My wife makes fun of Robert Pattinson, too, but for quite the opposite reason. She says he’s believably unkempt and stupid looking in the movie based on the role. At least it’s in character in the film, as over the top as it is. What’s worse–and I agree with her–is that he dresses that way off the set, too, with his elegantly disheveled wolfman hair, ferocious eyebrows, and trademark scowl.