English Teacher Hates Twlight; Missing the Point.
I went to an orientation night at my daughter’s future high school. During the English segment, in which the English Teacher had 10 odd minutes to impart what our little darlings she said, “I loathe the Twilight series. If I see one more book with a vampire in it, I am going to scream!” She did have a funny little speech about why teens loved Twilight: like vampires, teens have a limited diet and if they can, sleep all day.
But even if she thinks that Twilight is absolute nadir of literary achievement she’s missing the point. Two of them actually. Firstly, there are two kinds of books, commercial fiction and literary fiction. Commercial fiction is the popcorn of writing, the fun, airy, entertaining book you pick up to take your troubles away, to remove you from a world in which you just found a joint in your son’s sock drawer or your big brother who has suddenly developed a fondness for cocaine and titty bars and his wife has no idea. Or toe cancer. Or waking up to a dead pet. Do I need to keep going?
Then there is literary fiction. The Great Books that make important statements and are taught in schools. Sometimes they overlap with commercial fiction and are bestsellers. A Fault in the Stars by John Green or To Kill a Mockingbird come to mind. Maya Angelou writes great ripping stories that are great literature.
I’ve digressed. What the English Teacher missed, in my mind is the one crucial thing that the Twilight Series did for teenagers.: it got them reading. They read in droves, multitudes, torrents. They bought the movie. They improved the economy.
Reading anything, even what other people call complete trash, is great. All reading is good. It opens you up to different worlds, even if that world is a complete fantasy that is meant to take you away from the one in which you currently exist.
I have read everything from Daniel Steele to Fifty Shades of Grey to Emily Dickinson to Isabel Allende to Dante, Milton and Cervantes. I’ve read more books than nearly everyone I know my age. My parents are ahead by a long shot. No book is meant to serve all people.
The important thing is to read whatever you want. Find time to read. That is what matters.
English teachers who make fun of Twilight without mentioning this one amazing thing about it are not of interest to me. Because if they bothered to spend their time reading it and still didn’t notice this, I don’t trust them to teach me about storytelling.:
(this is excerpted from an essay I wrote some time ago)Twilight is terrible teen book that was actually (secretly) ingeniously designed.You see, Stephanie made her main character so bland and described her so vaguely that literally anyone could self insert. Then she turned around and described Edward (the sparkly male vampire love interest) in such a specific way that he would fit nearly every girl’s male boyfriend fantasy. And not just by making a guy for stupid teenage girls who like hot white guys who will love them forever. But through pure descriptive talent.She repeatedly talks about how Edward is hot, but barely gives you an idea of what kind of guy he is, or how he dresses/what social genre he fits into. She says that he has pale skin and dark-ish hair, but that is about it. When she talks about his features she uses words like “stunning” and “deep”, rather than “chizled” or “big”. This forces you to make up a personalized idea of what this boy looks like, with only the barest of guidelines.Meaning that preppy girls pick up the book and imagine Edward as being kind of like the guy from the film Warm Bodies: A Hollister wearing dude who also happens to be a vampire.And by far contrast, goth girls pick up twilight and imagine something probably like a younger dark haired Lestat from Anne Rice’s Queen of the Damned.And neither girl would be wrong.This means that nearly every girl reading twilight is self inserting and imagining the boy of her dreams. Not Meyer’s dreams. HER dreams. She is reading a love story about herself where she falls in love with a boy who is not only the exact type of hotness that they like, but who has the added perks of being able to love them forever. This, of course, explains the book’s widespread (and even generational) popularity.Its like you picking up a book about some guy who is just like you (but slightly cooler enough that you look up to him a bit) who is pursuing a hot woman who just so happens to fit your own personalized taste in women. Like the book was written just for you. Somehow.Now, I’m not a twilight fan. Its not my thing, and I barely made it through the second book even though I was reading it when it was age appropriate for me (13-14).But, If you’re not stunned by the ingenuity of that, I don’t know what to say.
While this is true, Twilight is also a shining fucking example of abusive relationships.
ladyfabulous replied to your post “is anybody else already bored to their bones of the new Spider-Man…”I’m tired of movies not being Wonder Woman, Storm, or Black Widow movies.
RIGHT? for chrissakes. in this orgy of superhero movie fandom, surely we could squeak out a fucking Wonder Woman movie, something with a lady protag, but nope, we get even more balls-awful Wolverine sequels until the day we all sink to hell. gotta milk that manpain, by god
and really, after SPIDER-MAN 3, they should’ve just salted the fucking earth and left it fallow for at least a decade in order to atone for that poopcookie