I’ll admit I used to be Twilight fan.
Even though she wasn’t the strongest writer I’d ever read, I used to be a little impressed with Stephanie Meyer’s attempt to create an expansive world—that unfortunately doesn’t begin to reach its fruition until the final act of the fourth book. I was able to look past her lackluster prose and praise her slow build of the impending-vampiric-battle subplot that encompasses the series. I even thought Meyer somewhat successful in her “bigger picture” approach to storytelling.
However, none of that matters anymore as I take a closer look years later and see how destructive a threat Twilight has become to not only the young teens and tweens of Meyer’s target audience but to the realms of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror as well. In crafting her three leads and the main romantic story, she does an extreme injustice those impressionable youths she writes for. Throughout most of The Twilight Saga, female lead Bella Swan is a clinically-depressed teenager suffering from poor self-esteem and body-image issues and has a morbid fascination with death; she attempts suicide many times over and thinks the most important thing in the world is having not one, but two, gorgeous young men fawning over her.
One of those is Jacob Black, the handsome, athletic, boy next door who would do anything for her, while the other is Edward Cullen, the intimacy stalker who sneaks into her bedroom at night to watch her sleep. Guess which one she chooses…
That’s right! The obsessive stalker who also happens to be a vampire that’s drawn to her only because her blood smells so damn delicious. As Edward’s obsessive possessiveness of his food bank grows ever more persistent, Bella thinks it amazing to have such a controlling partner for a boyfriend yet continues to flirt and tease Jacob, scratching behind his ears and nestling into his fur to keep warm during the cold winter’s nights. Did I mention that Jacob’s a werewolf whose blood runs hot all the time?
Monsters aside—as an older, more mature reader and devourer of horror-fantasy tropes, I am able to look past the cliched portrayal of this love triangle and focus on Meyer’s bigger picture of the looming battle between “good” and “bad” vampires.
Unfortunately, the teens and tweens of her target audience are not the “bigger picture” type. They don’t see how one action today can affect events weeks, months, even years from now. They live very much in the now. Also, by giving them Bella Swan as a role model, Meyer does them a great disservice.
In Breaking Dawn alone, Meyer teaches a young girl she should marry her overbearing boyfriend and that the night she loses her virginity is going to be a horribly violent experience in which her husband beats her within an inch of her life. All of this is okay though, because he loves her so much he couldn’t control himself.
Actually, neither is true nor okay.
Meyer’s Bella should have taken some lessons from Joss
Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer. If Angel had have treated Buffy like that, she would have stood up for herself and sent him to hell. Oh, wait—she did!
Twilight’s effect on sci-fi, fantasy, and horror (and good writing in general) is just as dire. The series offers none of the benefits the genre provides. In his efforts to broker peace between the feuding Star Wars/Star Trek clans, Trek’s George Takei even said, “There are no great stories, characters, or profound life lessons to be had in Twilight.” He goes on to ask that fans set aside their differences to combat this great threat.
I can’t fault Stephanie Meyer completely. After all, she has done what so many of us aspire to do, but on her next outing, I ask that she create a female character who is not afraid to stand up for herself and try to hold true to the core values of the genre. Until then, I’d like to join this Twilight Intervention Committee in bringing down the pansy-ass vampires who apparently bleed glitter or something…