Monday, July 5, 2010


I have never been one to get caught up in fleeting fads once they have taken a life of their own. For example, I never watched The Crying Game, nor do I ever intend to watch it, since I did not get a chance to see it before everyone and their cousin said it was the greatest movie ever. Likewise, I will not be watching several other Oscar winning movies. The same is true for books as well. Fortunately, I read the Harry Potter series before it became a runaway train, and was able to enjoy it before everyone ruined it for me.

The latest fad is of course Twilight and all its related vampire books and television shows. Now I am a fan of vampire stories for the simple entertainment they can provide (think Blade and Underworld), though I never got into Ann Rice. But seeing how everyone is going crazy about the Twilight saga, I thought I would give it a shot. I ended up borrowing the audio CDs from my public library and listening to it on my drives to and from work. And since my commute is only about ten minutes, it took me awhile to get through the first two books. I also watched the first movie.

Now, I know that Twilight was not written with my demographic in mind. Not by a long shot. I am, however, quite disturbed when I do think about the demographic for which it was written. Twilight was written for young girls, from tweens to teenagers, and possibly even twenty-somethings. And given the incredible response to the series, it clearly speaks to them. What is disturbing is not that so many young females love the series, but that this is what young females find appealing.

Let us break down the story, or at least the first two books in the series. You have a seventeen year old girl who is special in that she is immune to many of the powers that some vampires possess. Which, to everyone else who is normal, is a completely worthless power. She happens to then be transplanted into a town where both vampires and werewolves live and falls in love with a vampire. Or whatever seventeen year old girls consider “falling in love”. As far as I can tell from the books, it means exaggerated shortsightedness mixed with both selfishness and self-deprecation. About ten percent of the story is fantasy with stories of werewolves and vampires and confrontations between the different permutations of them, and the remaining ninety percent is Bella (the main character), whining and pouting and pretending to know what her life is all about at the ripe old age of seventeen.

Bella is seen as the protagonist here. And because the targeted demographic is female tweens, you do not just write characters for whom your audience could cheer, you write characters that with whom your audience can identify. This means that most teenage girls can see themselves in Bella. Not a good commentary on teenage girls, sadly. There have been videos of teenage girls swooning over the cast in real life, clearly unable to make the distinction between fantasy and reality. Ah, the future of the world.

Now I am sincerely hoping that the final two books will somehow redeem the series, but given that I have come across some of the major plotlines, I think it will not. I think I will only become annoyed at the inconsistent liberties Meyer takes with vampire and werewolf lore. Maybe TBS will reair the Blade series.