Thursday, September 2, 2010

On Twilight.

OK.  A few people have asked me about this. 

People (particularly women) love Twilight

I told you how I got started here.

Many a screaming teenager would lead you to believe they love Twilight because of Robert Pattinson.  And Taylor Lautner.

But, there are deeper things at play here- things a Twi-hard may or may not have articulated to themselves, but- there are many, many reasons why this story gets under your skin, and does something that sticks.

I majored in English, by the way.  I could talk story all day long.  I paid a lot of money to do this for 4 years.

Here are five observations I've made...

1.  This story is epic.  Mythic.  Not a myth, as we say it, to mean a lie, but rather, a story that transcends the reality we see every day to show us a "heightened" reality- to take us up out of our daily life and show us echos of the real great story we're a part of, that we're meant for- by taking us through a fictional story.  In essence, the myth allows us to see reality more clearly.  Not at every page turn, people, but as a whole, yes it does.  We're caught up in a great story.  And I mean in our real lives.  And great stories like Twilight can wake us up to what's stirring in the makings of who we are- of what our purpose is.

2.  So like I said, the bones of this story are epic.  Incredible.  The plot is intelligent, especially if seen through to the end.  However, the books are written in such a one-dimensional, simplistic way that I'm basically ashamed of them the entire time I'm reading.  But, after using a great amount of my own imagination to give the story greater depth, I'm pleased.  I'm still annoyed at Bella's incessantly frustrating inner-monologue, but I get it- I accept her character as-is.

But this calls up a point-  the stories are simplistic to read.  Accessible.  Anyone can read Twilight.  You could say this is to be celebrated, or mourned (many people say Twilight got them reading- that makes me twinge, but that's a cultural problem for another post...), but it's true.  The story excludes no one.  Bella is an accessible heroine any woman can identify with.  So largely, we do.  And then we're all wrapped up in the story.

And another point- because of the style of writing, I can interject my own thoughts, my own imagination- I project my own creativity into the story to make it my own.  And so I get all wrapped up in the story.

3.  Edward Cullen is an American Epic Hero.  For ages, cultures have created them, and told the stories over, and over.  Why do you love Edward so much?  There's one reason.

4.  The story displays strong, enduring commitment- commitment of family, friendship, and yes, of course, romantic love.  Again and again, they're tested, they fight the challenges, and they get victory.  And these are not static relationships- they are dynamic- always growing, evolving, gaining depth.  By the end of Book 4, all these loves have come full circle.  It's beautiful.  Bella and Edward are not likely to fall in love like this in real life, but like I said in #1, this isn't real life.  That's not it's purpose.  It's an epic.  And it inspires our hearts' depths to know the same fullness of commitment.  Don't be ashamed of that.  You were made for it.  Not for a human man to complete you, but for your Maker to complete you.  Stories like this wake up that desire for eternal, sound, heart's completion.

5.  Robert Pattinson.  Taylor Lautner. 

And honestly, women are projecting their love for #1-4 on Rob and Taylor, and Taylor's abs, and that's a big part of their appeal.  Also, because he's Robert Pattinson.  And because of the 8-pack.  Women are human, after all.

These are a few of the reasons I've observed for the Twi-Mania that outsiders just don't understand.


Rob said...

Sick. People have been giving the same excuses for pornographic writing for years. If you feel you have to get emotional fulfillment from reading/watching a fictional story about love, good luck... like I said, people have been doing it for years. You don't need to explain yourself... it's ok. You're human, right? I'm sure lusting over a guy doesn't mean anything as long as nothing happens, right?

I don't expect you to approve this... I just know you need to be called out that lusting over someone other than your husband is sin... and your glamorizing it and excusing it is shameful.

I've been kind in not calling you out before and I'm sorry. I should have done it sooner. What happens when your children do what you're doing to a real Rob and Taylor? Will you rebuke them? Encourage them? They will become emotionally committed to someone else far before they know the consequences.

I've struggled with real, literal pornography since I was a child and I know what seeing it does to someone who's visually stimulated. Seeing someone with such an impact give in to emotionally-stimulating video and literature in the same way that I gave in to visually-stimulating video and literature (albeit more public and prideful) makes me sad.

I hope you see the light some day.

Megan said...

Rob, I'm not sure that you actually read what I wrote, and certainly you've never read Twilight. You also haven't truthfully considered anything I said- I feel you've projected your pre-formed, strong opinions of a larger topic on me, without hearing me. You also took my thoughts on Twilight, let's say, I'm at A. You travelled all the way to Z with your assumptions of my personal life, or that, after all I wrote, I'm personally lusting after fictional characters. It makes no sense. Can someone treat Twilight the way you explain? Yes they could. But to throw sweeping accusations at me that this is how I experience it is absurdity.

Rob said...

Megan, I promise I read your post. A few times, actually. And all your other posts, too (yes, all those ones about Twilight, too). And if your compliments of the book would have ended with your zealous approval of how the book is written, or how the main characters are American heros (and thus would have attributes we should pursue), or how this book ignites passion that we should accept and deeply embrace because we can say it's for God, we wouldn't be having this discussion. But rather you took the time in your literary commentary to analyze not just how the characters look, but how they look in the movie. Why? Because you've observed the 8-pack in these last few years? :)

"Also, because he's Robert Pattinson. And because of the 8-pack. Women are human, after all." Please, please explain what lust is. I appear to have been misinformed.

No, I haven't read Twilight, in the same way I don't need to watch/read pornography or other romance novels (those pre-formed, strong opinions).

Also, I feel as though you missed what I first stated in my comment. Do you see it? It's the similarity between addictions...

If you genuinely do not lust (in a biblical sense) after Robert Pattinson or Taylor Lautner, nor do you support those who do, but rather stand as an opposing voice against it, I retract my comment. I did indeed read your post (and others) with a pre-formed inclination toward Twilight being lust-inducing from conversations with Twilight fans and in reading your comments about the appearance of the male characters having sexually-attractive attributes I assumed you to have fallen into the same trap. If I am wrong, I apologize.

I do ask that you look at the other side of Twilight, Megan. There are many reviews over the questionable behavior of Isabella as well as the apparent abuse-accepting woman in the second movie... as well as the aforementioned lust thing.

Megan said...

I think a large part of this is the angle of my post- Twilight is an absolute phenomenon- like the Beatles- there are always good and bad sides to why things "catch on"- and the purpose of this post is to explore why, at the heart of the story, women are so engaged in Twilight. Because to an outsider to the books, the phenomenon doesn't make sense. If it could be purely physical, it would not be a fraction as popular- at ALL popular- have you got an example of any other cultural phenomenon that women are largely involved in in which it is about the physical attractiveness of men only? That's not what women's hearts resonate with.
This is an essay exploring Twilight and some of the core essences of the story that appeal to women's hearts- this is not pornography, or emotional pornography in it's essence- women could see it either way I suppose- but in it's essence, that is not what it is. And that is why discernment is essential for every Christian- the most innocent-seeming things can become a vice- and there's no way to avoid being tempted- so you can say yes or no to something, entertainment, etc, what have you- and stay true to your conviction- but it is important to see the essence of something and decide if it's not OK across the board- or if it is something you can urge people to discern, but not necessarily avoid altogether- if it's something you'll avoid, but not "wrong" for everyone.
Pride and Prejudice (all of Austen, really), Shakespeare, and on, involve the same core themes that could cause women to be emotionally unsatisfied with their husband, or with love relationships in general, etc.
So back to my point- this can't be a phenomenon because of the physical attractiveness of the leading men in the movie portrayals of the books- women, as a whole, do not respond this strongly to a pretty face, or abs- they respond to the things I mentioned in the essay- and see #5 again- Women project the core elements of the story (which echo their need for a complete love in God, among other things common to the human experience)- women project these things on to the characters, which makes them much more attractive- if they merely looked as they do, but were jerks, or even apathetic and just "nice people" there would be no phenomenon. How many movies with "pretty face boys" and forgettful, meaningless stories have come and gone like nothing? This one is different.
(cont. next comment)

Megan said...

These men ARE attractive- there is nothing lustful in observing attractiveness- and in honesty, we're going to notice this countless times a day as it is factual and we notice it all day long- lust (physical or emotional) takes everything a step (or many steps) further. And that is something that can't be measured. Some women may need to avoid Twilight if this is their struggle. Some do not. Some avoid Pride and Prejudice for the same reasons- I know women that do.
I also wouldn't say characters in books need to be role models by displaying every action in a way that is through-and-through strongly biblically correct. Discerning when thinking/reading/viewing means seeing a human act, and considering the complexities, as well as how things could go differently/better/ etc. And I have no idea who the abuse-accepting character is- I don't know what you mean. Sorry!

Ultimately, those outside of the phenomenon pen this series off as a bunch of teenage girls screaming after Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner and never think past it to the deeper heart issues- does their attractiveness matter to women? Of course it does play a part- they are not blind- but these men would not be attractive to women without all these deeper issues projected on to them.
That is the purpose of this essay- what is it about Twilight? Why do women feel so connected to it? These are the questions I had before, during, and after reading the series and I found it fascinating. These are my observations of the phenomenon. All these things women long for ultimately lead them to ultimate truth and meaning, and I find it amazing how stories- fiction and otherwise, can take us there, whether we know it at the time or not.