Why I love Twilight

I've been poking around a lot online (some would call it "obsessed." "Some" would be my husband.) and reading stuff about Twilight--generally snark, some articles, interviews with the cast (some members more than others are represented in my searches.)

It appears that the great majority of the snarky writers and of the haters seem to be up in arms (Shocked!) about a teenybopper book catering to an allegedly anti-feminist idea of a girl wanting a knight in shining armor and men being fairly dominant. Another group of them feels that a message of abstinence is antiquated and also anti-feminist. Most do not understand why, on Stephenie Meyer's sparkly earth, would grown-ass wimmins be reading these books, watching the movie, and salivating over them both. The general opinion seems to be that these are books FOR TEENAGERS, so ONLY teenagers should read and enjoy them. Anyone over the age of 16 who loves them is gross and wrong and needs to get a life. (Um, Harry Potter much?)

I sincerely beg of these people that they get off their high horses, take the sticks out of their collective bums, go soak their heads, or whichever command will get them off my dazzling, vampire-loving back.

Am I saying you're not allowed to dislike or hate these books? Not at all! What I find disheartening though, and there is a LOT of it on the web for any and every subject, is the poisonous disdain for people who do enjoy something you find stupid. As if you are the learned and wise one, while the 40 bajillion people who love scrapbooking, those creepily realistic stuffed cats, genre fiction, and Jesus are stupid and beneath you. And I'm a certified snob, myself! I'm sure you could go back through my very own blog and find a post where I am heaping scorn upon someone for liking something that makes me hurl. (Actually, I just looked and didn't find anything exactly like this. Whoosh! Narrowly escaped that little bit of hypocrisy!)

What I find irritating is that many (not all) of these posters seem to feel that everything they read is sensical, upright, empowering, deadly serious, and Good, while the Twilight books are brain-sapping, oppressive, and Bad. It's a freaking YA vampire romance novel! And if you think that much of the adult novels in the same genre are feminist tracts firmly grounded in reality and excellent writing, I have a bridge to sell you.

Yep, I've read a lot of those, too. And most of them suck. I've read at least 7 books by Sherrilyn Kenyon, almost every one of them exactly the same woman-hating, ridiculously bad, he-man saves the day after a sensitive woman heals his black soul bullcrap. It's a formula that I go to for comfort and brain-off entertainment. I am a seminary student with papers to write, deep stuff that hurts my brain to read, oft-conflicting beliefs to examine and juggle, and people's eternal souls to ponder and worry over, not least of all my own and my husband's.

I cannot frikking get my head into most "grown-up" contemporary fiction. It's boring! It's hard to slog through the thousands of new releases to figure out what I'll actually like and find something that itsn't about depressed middle class marriages where at least one person wants to kill themselves and they all hate each other. On the other hand, I can be reasonably sure that any urban fantasy or paranormal romance book I pick up is going to be a) kind of predictable, b) poorly written and edited, and c) at least 85% entertaining.

I first read Twilight in '06, because I love YA fantasy books, and it has vampires. End reasons. I remember thinking that it was only okay, and that while I didn't feel the need to go on to the next books, I probably would eventually if I was casting about for something to read. Two years later, enter 'Nette. 'Nette is in love with the books, and absolutely wanted to see the movie. I had half an interest in the movie, mostly due to the pulsing excitment of my h.s. girls and their enthusiasm for Team Cullen. So I semi-reluctantly went to see the movie on New Years Day. (really. Just last week. This thing is only 9 days old.) Though I didn't realize it right away, it was starting to crumble (my dignity, my sanity) right there.

I thought the movie was pretty good, with only a couple eye-rolling "OMG! We're so in love! OMG OMG OMG!!!!!1" moments. And, I'm sorry, but Robert Pattinson is seriously a beautiful boy. Seriously. So, I borrowed the 2nd book from 'NettaBobetta and read it that night. Then it was seriously all over. I had to know!!! I bought Eclipse (hardcover. ack!) and read it at the airports and on the planes. (I saw at least 5 other people in the airports w/Twilight books. All adults.) I went to church on Sunday (movie + 68 hours) and immediately went up to the first group of h.s. girls I saw, like a junkie needing her fix. "Do any of you have Breaking Dawn??!!" I thought I may have to go to someone's house to grab it, but one of those wonderful, obsessive girls had it in her car at church, so I was able to get it right away. Joy!

And you know what? I loved it. The teenage wedding, freaky rough sex (off-page, of course), creepy vampire baby, imprinting, non-fight- all of it.

Did I absolutely love every part of the books and think they're gems of literature and girls should be Just Like Bella? No! They're FANTASY. Escapism. Fairy Tales. Bella drove me mad most of the time, with her moping and defining herself solely based on the boys in her life and incessant lack of self-confidence. But find me more than a handful of teenage girls who aren't like that! Is that ideal? Of course not. Do you really think that traditional fairy tales build them up into strong, independent women? They're all about girls waiting for princes or the brave girls who will go ahead and die for the good of the weak men or their village. It's not pretty. But I can also guarantee you that my students at church also got a little sick of Bella's whining and they picture themselves as much more independent than she is. I think they also notice the love she has for her dad, but the crappy way she treats him, and they'll think about that. Yes, I worry a little bit about what example Bella & Edward set for them, but that's exactly why I'm going to talk to them about it. I'm going to ask them about Jacob's assault and Edward's controlling ways.

And I do appreciate the message of abstinence. I don't like that so much out there now tells teens that sex is no big deal, when it is. And you can live without it, even when you really really want it. You will live. You can talk. Even though it's not highlighted as much as it is with Jacob, Edward and Bella's relationship is barely physical, and they talk and spend time together and are deep friends. This is a good thing! It's actually pretty healthy to show a realistic view of sex instead of hiding it away and pretending that boys want it, girls don't, and it's not all that great, just keep it in your pants until marriage. Yes, I know that they *did* wait until marriage, at Edward's request, but believe me, I grew up in a semi-fundie school and you just weren't supposed to talk about or want it or acknowledge its existence. Only bad kids had sex. We weren't given any practical expectations, models, or advice other than "Don't!"

Why would I, a happily married, mostly completely satisfied with my life, almost mid-30s woman like it so much? As I mentioned before, escapism. Brain-off entertainment. Romance. Fun. I adore my husband and want to climb him like a tree most days, but that doesn't mean that I have zero bagage about my desirability. That doesn't mean that guys liked me when I was younger. It doesn't mean that I don't like reading about sweeping love and sex and immortality and strength after doing dishes and prying socks out of my dog's mouth. No, it doesn't make me wish I was Bella, or seriously pine over teenage boys (ick!). It makes me want my husband even more. It just stirs up romance in general, at least for me. That's it.

Does Robert Pattinson need to worry about me? Nah. I'd blush like an idiot if I met him, just like I did when I nearly met Alan Rickman, who is way too old for me. Pretty boys are nice, no matter their age. I'm human. And I love vampires. So nyah.