Twilight confessions

UPDATE, 12/19, 8a: I’m feeling better about my Twilight addiction all the time. Per People, December 17:
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I just read the first book, it’s ridiculous, it’s like crack cocaine. I read it for 10 hours straight until I finished it,” [Rosario] Dawson, who will appear in Parts Per Billion with Twilight’s vampire heartthrob Robert Pattinson, told People….
“I actually made a vow to myself not to buy the second, third and fourth book until Thursday, because that’s when I’ll be done with all this press, and I’ll be able to read over Christmas vacation.”
But, she adds, the addiction will cut into some quality family time. “My dad is going to hate me, because I spend zero time with him, reading these books,” she said….

[HT: proofreader Laura Loo]
UPDATE, 12/18, 9:30a: I just finished book 4! Whew! I’m free!
I quit reading fiction several years ago because I can’t put books down once I start. One can get away with reading several hours at a time when one is young, but not when one acquires a family, job, etc.
I previously blogged I saw the movie Twilight with daughter Daena a couple weeks ago. Here’s the trailer…

Then I did something I hadn’t done in a long time. I bought the book. The problem is the book is actually a series of 4 books. So you’ll note my blogging has been down the last week or so. That’s why. I finished book 3 last night.
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Friend Scott forwarded me several articles on the Twilight series. New to the obsession, I was unaware there were others like me. The books are categorized for young adults. Sheesh, what an embarrassment. But I read at there are “Twilight moms,” so I feel a tad better.
Warning, plot spoilers ahead.
Here’s the plot, per Salon:

The series’ heroine, Bella Swan, a 16-year-old with divorced parents, goes to live with her father in the small town of Forks, WA (a real place, and now a destination for fans).

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At school, she observes four members of a fabulously good-looking and wealthy but standoffish family, the Cullens; later she finds herself seated next to Edward Cullen in biology lab and is rendered nearly speechless by his spectacular beauty. At first, he appears to loathe her, but after a protracted period of bewilderment and dithering she discovers the truth. Edward and his clan are vampires who have committed themselves to sparing human life; they call themselves “vegetarians.” The scent of Bella’s blood is excruciatingly appetizing to Edward, testing his ethical limits and eventually his emotional ones, too.
The pair fall in love, and the three books detail the ups and downs of this interspecies romance, which is complicated by Bella’s friendship with Jacob Black, a member of a pack of Native American werewolves who are the sworn enemies of all vampires.

Sounds bizarre, but the books are actually romance novels. And I’ve been trying to figure out the allure. Salon nailed part of it:

But Bella is not really the point of the Twilight series; she’s more of a place holder than a character. She is purposely made as featureless and ordinary as possible in order to render her a vacant, flexible skin into which the reader can insert herself and thereby vicariously enjoy Edward’s chilly charms….

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The characters, such as they are, are stripped down to a minimum, lacking the texture and idiosyncrasies of actual people. What this sloughing off permits is the return, again and again, to the delight of marveling at Edward’s beauty, being cherished in his impermeable arms, thrilling to his caresses and, above all, hearing him profess, over and over, his absolute, unfailing, exclusive, eternal and worshipful adoration….
The “underdog strange girl” who gets plucked from obscurity by “the best guy in school” is the 21st century’s version of the humble governess who captures the heart of the lord of the manor. The chief point of this story is that the couple aren’t equals, that his love rescues her from herself by elevating her to a class she could not otherwise join….

But the other component I think makes the series so attractive is the loyalty and indulgence of the Cullens family to Bella.
To skirt on the edge of blasphemy, with vampirism aside, I think Edward represents the yearning in every woman’s heart for the knight in shining armor that is only satisfied in the person of Jesus. Read the nonfiction book Captivated. And the yearning for the perfect adoring loyal family we all have will also only be completely satisfied only in heaven.
Another interesting storyline is there’s no sex until after marriage. Bella wants to, Edward refuses. This is often attributed to Edward’s fear he will lose control and physically hurt or kill Bella. But there’s another reason given in book 3. Edward was born during virtuous times in the early 1900s, and he maintains those sexual standards 100 years later. “[T]his is the one area in which I’m just as spotless as you are.” Edward says. “Can’t I leave one rule unbroken?”
And in a feminist way Edward identifies the “why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free” phenomenon. He wants to marry Bella, but Bella is afraid:

“So that’s it. You won’t sleep with me until we’re married.”…
“[Y]es, you’ve got it right.”
“I think you have an ulterior motive.”
His eyes widened innocently. “Another one?”
“You know this will speed things up,” I accused.
He tried not to smile. “There is only one thing I want to speed up, and the rest can wait forever… but for that, it’s true, your impatient human hormones are most powerful ally at this point.”

Leave it to me to find scriptural and pro-life angles in a vampire book. Can’t wait to finish book for and get back to normal, whatever that is.

49 thoughts on “Twilight confessions”

  1. Ha! Jill, nothing wrong with that.
    If you’re gonna do something, then I say don’t do it half-assed.
    Nothing like really getting into something you like… : )

  2. “Leave it to me to find scriptural and pro-life angles in a vampire book.”
    There’s a Swedish vampire movie called “Let the Right One In.” The title is from a Morrisey song.
    It explores a lot of issues in a subtle and touching way. More emphasis on loyalty and friendship than on gore. One of the best vampire movies I’ve ever seen… and just when I was thinking they couldn’t possibly go anywhere new with a vampire movie.

  3. I was more of a Smiths fan… but I did go to his concert on his first solo tour. Northrop Auditorium in Minneapolis UofM campus, I think it was 1994 or 1995. He was a hoot! A bunch of women rushed the stage and tore his shirt off. He kept singing and walked back stage, still singing, and put on the exact same shirt again. All toll, he had three or four of the same shirt.

  4. Yeah, I’m a much bigger fan of The Smiths than Morrisey’s solo work, but I like both. As for the shirt incident…I guess he was prepared?

  5. My daughter has all the books. I think she was on #2 when I found out she was reading them and forbid her until I could read #1. I didn’t get around to it but asked other parents and read a few pages here and there. She’s bought all of them and now read them all.
    I can’t keep up with her, you’re right about not being able to read all day Jill, I’m with you. My husband has refused to get me books from the library anymore because I don’t do anything else when I start a book. My new years resolution for 2008 was to read as many books as I am years old. I’m almost there and I only have a couple weeks! Maybe I’ll start counting short stories. ;)

  6. “Edward and his clan are vampires who have committed themselves to sparing human life; they call themselves “vegetarians.””
    It makes sense because in real life vegetarians are amazingly gorgeous and mysterious with super-human strength and speed and morals above reproach. The message of this book is obvious: become a vegetarian and you will be pretty much perfect.

  7. I too was sucked into this series and I’m neither a teen nor a mom. I read the four books in four straight days, which means my routine was something like: sleep, eat, read, eat, read, eat, read, sleep, repeat. But this is a really great post, Jill. Your interpretations are fascinating…I never thought of it that way! Thanks for sharing!

  8. Jess,
    sorry to burst your bubble..but if you read the book a little bit more, you’ll find out their “vegetarian” diet means satsifying their blood lust thru animals rather than humans..
    ..cattle/ cow/ deers….
    yeah, they’re “perfect”….

  9. Hey Mods – Jill has been taken captive by a cult – this might call for some intervention!!! ;-)
    Jill – your observations are almost exactly the same as my eldest daughter’s – she described it as an abstinence, Christ-like story, and with the same caveat – leave the vampirism aside. (Hard to do when that’s a central plot device.)
    You need to do some background research and you’ll see why it’s plotted, packed and promoted the way it is… I think the more you understand Mormonism, the more you’ll see the parallels in the story, and understand the perspective, even though it’s fictional.
    The series swept through our church youth group – we’re still discussing it from a biblical standpoint.

  10. I have to say that I’m afraid to begin the Twilight books. I have a weakness for misunderstood and tragic characters in books (and in real life, though thankfully I did not marry one!). The thing is, I think not only do we relate to the girl in the vampire stories…we relate to the isolation of the vampires themselves, on some level.
    I actually adore Gaston Leroux’s Phantom of the Opera. I don’t think it gets any better than Erik, and I often see him reflected in many of the vampire-type stories as well. I was immediately drawn in by the character.
    “He had a heart that could have held the empire of the world; and, in the end, he had to content himself with a cellar.” -Leroux

  11. Bobby, btw, my little girl got into the college that was her first choice. No Dartmouth in her future. She’s so happy. Seems like only yesterday she was riding on my shoulders.

  12. ” No Dartmouth in her future.”
    Noooooo! :)
    But congrats to her, and to you Hal. I hope she does well in college. I can’t imagine how hard it’s going to be to have to see her off, though. My goodness, do I dread that day…

  13. well, we’ll have video IM, and cell phones. Much different from when I was in college. (I was the last generation to bring a typewriter to College I think)

  14. Jill,
    I haven’t read the Twilight series by any means. I do know that without fail, all the girls in our teen group at church have or are going to read it. I definitely concur on your insights.
    I haven’t read Captivated either, though I have bought it and intend on reading it to better understand the other gender a little better. I have read it’s male counterpart, Wild at Heart, and was totally taken back at Eldredge’s insights. I kept finding myself just saying “Right on” over and over.
    The great point behind Wild at Heart, and I’m sure of Captivated, will be how society has enshrined our image of men as that of Homer Simpson or Peter Griffith… bumbling idiots. I think most women do long for the knight in shining armor as well. Jesus (God) is that perfect image. Men are made in that image. Women, likewise, are also made in God’s image and reflect his beauty, his captivating nature and need to be loved.

  15. I don’t know — I hate to sound like a snob but the minute I hear that something is wildly popular amongst the general population, for instance like Harry Potter, etc., I become turned off.

  16. It makes sense because in real life vegetarians are amazingly gorgeous and mysterious with super-human strength and speed and morals above reproach. The message of this book is obvious: become a vegetarian and you will be pretty much perfect.
    Jess, you rock.
    Uncle Doug

  17. Eileen 2,
    “I don’t know — I hate to sound like a snob but the minute I hear that something is wildly popular amongst the general population, for instance like Harry Potter, etc., I become turned off.”
    I’m the same way. I was suspicious of the Harry Potter phenomenon–I resisted until something like three or four books were out. Then, of course, I ended up reading them all on the same day.

  18. Ugh. I heard that this series was like a less-well-written harry potter, but equally as addictive. So I’m not going there. I’m trying to read book 5 in spanish, and I’m only on page 325. It’s going to take FOREVER!
    Btw, I totally owned microbiology this semester. A!

  19. That’s pretty good PIP, congrats….
    We should do a thread on the ‘hardest course one has ever took’ or something like that.

  20. Yeah, I’m done! I haven’t entertained a reading addiction like that in many, many years, and then to stumble on a 4 book series to do so, whew.
    Kristen, 12/17, 12:04p: What a great resolution. Did you read mostly fiction or nonfiction?
    Melissa, 12/17, 12:36p: Can’t imagine reading all 4 books in 4 days. I saw an interview with someone from the movie who said they read them over a weekend. Glad you’re considering my thoughts. I’m not sure I would have had them had I not read Captivated.
    Chris, 12/17, 1:11p: Fascinating that your daughter had the same views. That’s neat that your church youth group is discussing it.
    The Mormon angle… I can see that, now that you mention it… living like beautiful and perfect gods and goddesses forever.
    Kel, 12/17, 2:35p: The thing is these families had a strong family bond, which I think is part of the attractiveness of the series. We all long for that, particularly in this day and age of fragmented families.
    Alex, 12/17, 5:33p (and Carla): Yes, do read Captivated. Modern day feminism disallows dreams of knights in shining armor, but I do agree there is that strong longing, however suppressed. But it can never be completely satisfied on earth. None of our longings can. My strongest longing at the moment is for justice and harmony.
    PiP, 12/17, 10:47p: Meyer did sometimes write amateurishly, which added to my confusion over my addiction. On the other hand, she often wrote very well and was very inventive. And by book 4 whatever amateurishness (is that a word?) there was was all but gone. Good for you on the Spanish read and Microbiology!
    Jasper, 12/18, 9:25a: My hardest courses were anatomy and physiology. I think I had a mini nervous breakdown in A&PII.

  21. Wow – Jill, welcome back to the land of the living…heh
    (On second thought – maybe I’m putting too much emphasis on blogging as a sign of life…hmmm)
    It’s probably a good (?) thing you saw the movie first, because my daughter said the movie wasn’t even close to meeting her expectations from the books.
    I had my younger daughter write an essay for me when she went to the movie.
    Looks like there is still room out there for good old-fashioned romance, although the guys have yet to read the books.
    P.S. – In case you forgot, Christmas is coming! ;-)

  22. “Does anyone else not have a CLUE what all this Twilight business is about?
    Posted by: Bobby Bambino at December 17, 2008 4:23 PM”
    Bobby, I didn’t have a clue until about a couple of months ago when my ‘tween daughter was on the phone for 2 hours waiting to get connected to the Harris Theater Box Office…hoping to get a ticket to a Stephenie Meyer “Concert” here in Chicago…
    Apparently, the theater website was swamped and went down an hour before the $20 tickets were supposed to go on sale…
    We tried ebay, ticketmaster, etc…and the tickets were selling for $200-$300+
    Daughter was almost in tears when she GOT her tickets…
    My curiosity got the best of me and I had to understand/check out what this “phenomenon” my sports-jock/ honor roll daughter was so obsessed about…and the rest, as they say, is history.
    Now, the big question is: Are you on Team Edward or Team Jacob???

  23. Posted by: Jill Stanek at December 18, 2008 9:51 AM
    Normally I read non-fiction but, because of my resolution, I started a book club with my friends from high school and we picked more fiction.
    We did read “When you are Engulfed in Flames” by Dave Sedaris, which I thought was hilarious. And on my own I read “Manhunt: The Twelve Day Search for Lincoln’s Killer” which I thought was very good.
    I think fiction is easier to read and that’s why most of my reading was fiction. But I’m a history buff so anything like “The Great Influenza” or “Devil in the White City” is my cup of tea. And anything on the Civil War, I’m hooked.

  24. Enigma,
    Landover isnt a real church. Its a site designed to make fun of Christians basically. The whole point is to “overdo” everything. Thats where the laughs are. Its automatically funny because its shocking and unexpected. Because I mean, thats what humor is, am i rite?

  25. Praise God, Jill! Thank you for your post about your love for “Twilight”!! I love it too and have gotten in loads of debates with people regarding the storyline, content, etc. I have found such goodness in the plot in regards to the pro-life message, chastity, faith, hope, etc. Thank you for your post… and thank you for your blog! We are blessed!

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