Defending Twilight

TwilosophyDear Twilight,

I want you to know that I still love you, even though we really haven’t seen much of each other lately.
The other day at work, I was surfing the net like you do when there is nothing to do. I saw a random headline about what to do now that Harry Potter is over and so I clicked it. The post suggested many other series one could look into to fill the HP void, with a list of “Pros” and “Cons” for each suggestion. Of course you were in there, but I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that you’re only included because of all the success (ie money) the movies have had, and not because the writer thinks you are a legitimate story worth anyone’s time. Here’s why:

This is the part where Edward put Bella in a choke hold because talked to Mike Newton

Under the “Con” for Twilight: “the films portray a physically, emotionally abusive relationship in an overwhelmingly positive light. Also, the story involves a hulking teenage werewolf romantically bonding with a baby. Gross.” [I've bolded the part that inspired this letter.]

First of all, lol at the Jake/Renesmee reference – we won’t even go there. Then I was like, “Hold on, What?” I re-read to make sure I saw it correctly. Then I sat there going, “Physical abuse? What’s he talking about? Bella having to beg Edward for another go? Or wait, is this about the headboard?” It’s been nearly 3 years since my single reading of the books, so I even emailed TeamSeth to make sure that I wasn’t forgetting something. “Not unless you count the baby” she said.

This is the part where Edward bites Bella because she talked back

Ok, so Twilight, here’s the thing. Some people don’t like you. Some people even hate you. This is not new; we all know this. I can’t speak for anyone else, but personally, I don’t care if someone doesn’t like you. They can call you stupid, lame, childish, ridiculous, whatever. They are entitled to their opinions, even if they’ve never met you. We can’t control what other people think of us. I’m not going to argue with them or try to change their minds. I don’t feel like I need to stand up for your story; you can take care of yourself. But Twilight, this really kind of pissed me off. I mean, I can overlook the emotional abuse claim, because I think one could make a case for it and have a real discussion/debate on that subject. I’m not saying that Edward & Bella’s relationship is perfect or that it should be held up on a pedestal – this is a work of fiction after all. But to say that the story essentially glorifies a physically abusive relationship is not only completely false, but borderline slanderous; and ignorant…which I pointed out in the comments, in the most sane, tweedy, normal way possible. (I guess I was inspired by Moon’s Facebook comment.) Last I checked, I had 7 thumbs-down and no thumbs-up. I mean, I really can’t understand why someone would even say that. You’d think that a seemingly semi-professional blogger would take the time to make sure he actually knows what he’s talking about before callously making a rather serious (IMO) accusation about a popular story. I’m not even touching on what that would mean (if the allegations were true) about all the people, women especially, who love the story. I’m just trying to point out that it’s a false claim.

Twilight, I can’t promise that I’m always going to be around. Eventually, we will drift apart. It happens. But I can promise you that I will remember our time together fondly and will reminisce with others who also love you. And apparently, I will also be there to defend you, but only when you really need it.

I got your back,
Luludee

So what the hell WAS this guy talking about? Do you find yourself standing up for Twilight? Does Twilight really need us to defend it? Do people run away screaming when you do?

I still miss Moon, in case you were wondering:

Our internet game is ridiculous: LTR, The Forum, Twitter, The Store

Our internet game is ridiculous: LTR, The Forum, Twitter, The Store
  • varuna

    i agree wid u completely..!!!! i dont noe abt d oders bt here is a BIG THUMBS UP frm my side..!!!:D howevr it is, twilight u rock..!!!!!

  • alice_av

    I
    agree with you, i do not understand how this come to an abusive relationship? (
    and I will skip too the creepy baby part too) besides anything this is a work
    of fiction, and I guess even in our crazy minds we know that sooo if the don’t
    like it go a find something else to read, that’s something amazing that is call
    freedom to choose and we are lucky to have it…

  • GeminiGypsy

    When the books first came out, a lot of my friends read them and liked them. But when the movies came out, and they were ridiculed my friends changed their minds about the series. They started saying, “Yeah, I was hooked on it at first, but it’s really not that well written, and Bella is so whiny, and the series is just a gimmick.” Personally, I see what they mean about Bella being whiny, but I didn’t feel that too much when I read the series. I also think that the story is written from a teenager’s point of view- not a college english professor. And I think the series has become a little gimmicky with the movie franchise and everything, but I can still enjoy it. Go Twilight!

    • Anonymous

      psht. Bella is nothing. Tell ten if they want an scamper of an actual whiney character, tell them to read Crescendo, the second book of Hush, Hush. His, reading that second book literally made me so crabby reading it. And I got so frustrated with the very teenager whiney-ness.

      Bella is nothing to that

      • Anonymous

        *puts on copstache

        But Bella is very non-whiney for a teenager.

      • Anonymous

        *puts on copstache

        But Bella is very non-whiney for a teenager.

  • Anonymous

    “this is the part where Edward bites Bella because she talked back” hahahah!
    There’s something in here, too, about how women are, apparently, completely empty headed and need protecting from Big Bad Mormons who are going to convince them that any Abuse Is Awesome! Did you know the female brain is incapable of separating fact from fiction? It’s True!

    • Anonymous

      Wait, are you saying that a hot vampire is NOT going to fall head over heels for me and sweep me off my feet!? But I thought that kind of thing happened all the time!

      • Anonymous

        I read a very negative amazon review recently that talked about the series as if it was a how to relationships and sex guide for teenage girls. Pretty funny. I can’t imagine reading a book and being offended by the fictional characters experiences.

        • Anonymous

          Although, I guess I can appreciate that Twilight probably has had more of an impact on teen girls than most how to guides would. I have no girls, so I cannot fully feel it though.

      • Anonymous

        No, obviously it WILL. Hundreds of books about this very subject can’t be wrong, can they? Also werewolves. And sometimes zombies.

      • Anonymous

        I firmly believe that it will happen someday. Keep the faith Luludee.

  • MariaCecilia

    Interesting letter! Yes, I believe that Twilight sometimes needs standing up for, meaning Twilight does get an unfair amount of uninformed abuse, not that people are entitled to their own opinions. (I, for instance, tried reading the Vampire diaries part one this summer and gave up. It kind of sucked. But that’s just my opinion.)

    This particular question has been raised before and I think it’s because of the disparity in physical strength between Bella and Edward coupled with his initial bloodlust and wish to kill her. (sic!) Plus he IS uncommonly jealous and over-protective of her, even though he tries to tone that down when it annoys her. So even if Edward is NOT physically abusive I think those critics feel that he is a threatening presence much like real-life abusive, controlling partners, and that is enough to set people off.

    I try to explain Twilight calmly and tweedily when people scoff, and they may roll their eyes, but usually they concede that I may have a point. Of course I never tell them about the extent of my obsession. THEN they would run away screaming! :-)

  • Stacey

    Of all the things to call Edward, I would not use abusive. Stalker? Yes. Peeping Tom? Affirmative. OCD? You betcha. Bossy? Absolutely! And this is coming from a Team Edward.

    Most critics that use the erronous abuse angle are the ones who have never actually read the books.

    Here’s my bigger issue with the Edward character and in a much bigger way Bella. (I love the books, but find myself struggling with this from an adult point of view.) Edward is a very controlling personality. That’s who the character is, but a strong Bella could have been a great balance. Bella from the most part lies down and takes it and when she does stand up for herself she feels bad for standing up to him. Her lack of self esteem colors her interactions with the men her life. I kept wanting to yell at her, “Just do what you want! He’ll deal with it or he’ll eat you. Whatever. Just grow a backbone!”

    I kept having to remind myself that this a teenagers POV and I had moments like that myself when I was young. But as a mom to a little girl, I want her to have strong female role models to mirror herself off of. Don’t get me wrong, I do love these books, but maybe if Bella had a little more Anne of Green Gables in her it would make Edward look less like a jerk. I need to take off this tweed…it’s making me dizzy!     

    • Anonymous

      This mama’s with you on not wanting my girls to be like Bella, Stacey.  And children’s literature definitely has a responsibility that way– Anne, Laura Ingalls, etc. influenced how I set out to live as a kid, when my character was most malleable.  I have no problem recommending the books to stable adults… but the relationship, as fun as it is to read, is not one I’d particularly want my girls emulating.  Of course, neither is Cinderella (marry a guy you’ve spent one night dancing with in order to escape a bad family situation– great idea!).  
      That said, I think the problem is greatly one of marketing.  Despite teenage (and pseudo-teenage) characters, it’s a pretty darn adult book.  Bella’s not a character you want your kids aspiring to be, but she’s one that makes sense to a lot of people with less-than-ideal families.  Of course she’s attracted to the controlling boy when she’s had to take care of everything her whole life.  
      In short, I’d hand Twi to an adult in need of an escape, some fantasy to aid in surviving the day-to-day grind.  But my girls won’t be reading it at 12.  We’ll wait ’til they’ve developed those critical reading skills and survived reading some quality relationships in high school English.  You know, stuff like Romeo and Juliet.  (Yes, that last sentence was sarcasm.)

      • Ms. J

        I totally agree with you and Stacey both.  I think the reason we enjoy Twilight – as adults - so much is that we do identify with Bella’s various qualities, and maybe even her weaknesses, ourselves.  Remembering out own insecurity when we were in high school.  I had a controlling boyfriend – NOT ABUSIVE – like Edward when I was in high school.  I think, if memory serves, that most teenage guys are controlling, not because they are abusive, but because they are immature.  Gotta remember that Edward is somewhat frozen in time as a teenager.  He never had the chance to have a first girl friend, piss her off, lose her and learn from it.  Also, he’s a vampire so the physical strength & ability to crush her skull while getting jiggy are very real worries to him.  So its not like he is threatening to hurt her, he really might if he isn’t in control. 
        But I also agree that Twilight isn’t really for young girls.  My daughter is 11 and I am just fine that she isn’t into Twilight.  Bella is definitely not a role model.  Although… there are some mighty fine fanfiction stories where she is quite snarky & strong.
        Anyway my personal love for Twilight is not daunted by the naysayers (as I was one myself before I actually read the books).  I just smile to myself & go to my happy place – in a meadow.

        • MariaCecilia

          I was discussing this with my husband the other day: perception and self-perception in Twilight. Both Edward and Bella seems to suffer from low self-esteem (teenagers, right?). But what is the truth? Is Edward right about Bella? Is she pretty and an exceptional, smart student, a selfless person? Or is she average, like she feels? Is Bella right about Edward, is he loving, beautiful and all-suffering or is he the selfish, controlling monster he feels himself to be? Is Bella an unreliable narrator? That’s why we need Midnight Sun, people; for comparative literature studies!

          • Anonymous

            Hooray for CompLit!

        • Anonymous

          Now fanfic, there’s something you don’t want to get your kid started on, though!  The off chance that they’d practice some creative writing skills is totally outweighed by the Pandora’s box of other stuff they’d discover!

      • alice_av

        I agree with you, it’s not something that a young kid should read, is young adult fiction. I’m not a mother but I kind of understand know why my parents did certaint thinks when i was younger and hate it back then, and now I totally understand why they did it.  It give you perspective and as you say critical reading skills when the time came lol, for example when I said in literature class in high school that I thought Romeo and Juliet were at bit dysfunctional, I mean for crying out loud they both kill themselves!!! my teacher was not amused …

    • ladyofthemeadow

      YES to all of the above (and much of what others have already said).

      I wished Bella was a little stronger, more self-assured character too. But she is a 16 year old girl, so it’s not surprising that she wasn’t stronger. When I first read the books, I thought Jacob was a better partner because he wasn’t controlling like Edward. Reading the books I was TJ, not TE (that changed).

      I think “abusive” is a little too strong. Controlling? Bossy? Self righteous? Stalker? You betcha.

      • Rob’smate

        I’m sorry to say  most people are not sure about themselves especially if they are in love. Twilight being written in her point of view it seems logical that it is written that way

        • Anonymous

          For a second there I thought I had become Rob’s ACTUAL mate!! Nope, still waiting for the future :(

    • ladyofthemeadow

      Oh and I love how you worked Anne of Gables in there :-)

      I can see Anne merrily putting Edward in his place. What a weird combination of characters to put in one story though.

      • MariaCecilia

        Actually, I think Edward is kind of like Anne’s Gilbert – you know, handsome, smart, every girl’s favourite – and then he falls for the intelligent redhead instead of the pretty blondes, and she just has a hard time believing it.

  • Anonymous

    I’m guessing the physically abusive accusation comes from the waking up with feathers and bruises scene.  Removed from the context of the story it’s an ugly idea.  Put it in the context of the story and it’s not.  Condon’s got his work cut out to make it work on screen… and if he missteps there will be so many more articles like this.  
    On the other hand, it could be Bella abusing Edward by causing him pain by burning his throat every time she’s within 100 yards.  Maybe that’s what he was complaining about.

    • Anonymous

      Hahaha! Good point! Edward is in a certain amount of pain whenever he’s around Bella…it’s always the quiet ones as they say. I just realized, Rob did an excellent job portraying that on screen!

    • Anonymous

      “On the other hand, it could be Bella abusing Edward by causing him pain by burning his throat every time she’s within 100 yards.”

      Hahaha. Torching his throat with fire! The pain!

      • Anonymous

        I read a fic once that really pointed that out. I love that she really pushes him, especially on the sex issue because OMG SRSLY. But on the other hand, isn’t she being a selfish bitch at bit, too? He is really struggling with the “Sure hope I don’t kill my girlfriend by accident!” thing, coupled with the competing urges of a normal teenager and a normal vampire. Ouch. Poor bunny. :)

        • Anonymous

          Not to mention the mores of a bygone era.

          • Anonymous

            yeah, there is a lot to get into here. which is why I get a bit stabby…Oh I do not have the time to GO ON…but I could. I could go on!

        • Anonymous

          Poor Bella. She can’t win. She’s spineless pushover or she’s a selfish bitch.

          • Anonymous

            I know. I actually don’t think she’s a pushover at all, esp. for a teenager, and I don’t really think she’s a bitch, either. (especially for a teenager! duuude, I just spent a week with a 15 year old. Damn. 0 to Bitch in 5 seconds…but I digress!)

            I also don’t think KStew is a bitch, which is also a debatable position. :)

  • Anonymous

    (My) getting into Twilight Pros:
    -The fanfiction. There is so much. This is not the case with every series of books/movies. You’re obsession can live forever through new FF.
    -A pretty good chance you’ll get addicted. Who wants to take the chance that you’ll invest time and money in something, only to have it collect dust and be forgotten. Pretty good chance of getting to enjoy a healthy addiction here.
    -Great online community to get lost in too.
    -May result in pregnancy. If not, will most certainly result in hot sexing with your partner, to whom you have now likened to Edward in any way possible.
    Cons:
    -You will go through an emotional roller coaster. That first depression you feel after finishing all the books (when you are still fully high with enthusiasm for it, there are no more books to read). The second depression when your obsession starts to fade, and you are left feeling empty. The third after you finish re-reading the books through all the way, and then realize you won’t be able to do that again for a while. I’m sure everyone has their own version of ups and downs.
    -You will be embarrassed by your obsession in some way. No matter how well you think you’ve come to terms with it. Guaranteed.

    • MariaCecilia

      Tell me about it – I’m in a slump right now, and trying to cure it with other books. Gayle Forman’s If I Stay and Where She Went kept me up half the night, but they made me cry too, so now I still feel depressed. *sigh* Sometimes, you just can’t win.

    • Anonymous

      Hooray for Fanfic!

    • alice_av

      The good thing about the ups and downs an this amazing community is that I had found great new books to read, a lot of good fun, and great people…

  • Anonymous

    have to add another pro. Excitement every time you read the word Twilight in any context. Who doesn’t like excitement?

  • Anonymous

    Great letter Luludee!

    I have to say I’m pretty irked myself over this. It’s all about perspective and it appears that they are fresh out. Like you, yes, I can see where the controlling nature of Edward could be misconstrued an emotionally abusive relationship if one doesn’t keep a few things in perspective;
    -Bella is not going to a damn thing she doesn’t want to do. People say she was a pushover, but really, I don’t think she was as much as she gets a rap for. Edward told her she should stay away from him she didn’t. Edward told her she should tell her dad she was going to be Edward when they went to the meadow, she didn’t. Edward told her that he had to hide from James, she didn’t. He told her he would leave her human, she persisted. He told her not to do anything reckless or stupid when her left her, she did, to spite him (at first). she went to Volrerra. Edward told her to sleep on the flight home from Italy, she refused. Edward told her again he wouldn’t change her, she pressed it and went to his family. Edward told Bella he didn’t want her to see Jacob, she went to the reservation to see him anyway. Edward told her he wouldn’t have sex with her until she was changed, but she got him to agree to before… And so on. Sure she annoys the hell out of me many times (60% of Eclipse I “yelled” at her for being stupid). But she is stubborn and really doesn’t do what she actually has a problem with.
    -Edward isn’t controlling because he is a tyrant. You have to see the relationship from his perspective to understand where he is coming from; he’s over 100 years old, I know that I have a much better understanding that I don’t know it all and life is fragile at 30 than I did at 17, add 70-80 years of understanding on top of that. And super strength and immortaltality on top of that. Human frailties would seem like it was amazing any managed to stay alive at all. Then imagine that you found someone that was that fragile and you loved them more than you thought possible and every where you turn something or someone is trying to destroy that beloved someone, including your very own nature. It would make anyone want to do what they could to protect it (do you play catch with a delicate, expensive, glass heirloom? No).
    -Then there is the whole physical abuse. Really? I am proud if you for speaking up and correcting them Luludee! People want to say Bella is annoying, go for it. They want to debate Edward’s controlling tenancies, fine, I can see where they could take it there. But the physical abuse. *sigh* So does that mean the bruises I got on my low back that one time from this one position we tried banging against the edge of the dryer mean my husband is abusive to me? Like Bella, pain didn’t register, my mind was otherwise engaged, it was later wondering why my back was sore and my husband asked me about the bruises (“what bruises?”) that I’d connected the dots. And he’s not a super-strength vampire where reaching out to touch my hair could result in crushing my scull by accident.
    -as for Jacob Renesmee, I am well aware people won’t see their connection/relationship as non-romantic. Good freaking luck Condon!

    Alright I’ll jump off my soapbox because I forgot my point.

    • Anonymous

      I forgot my point a little too, thinking of all my own accidental sex injuries…:)

      Oh wait, no, my point is: YES. These books are about vampires. When we pick up these books, we are in the mindset of VAMPIRES. Sexy, sexy, supernatural beings. The things Edward does make no sense without that fact.

      Think of the series as All Human: none of those things would happen. Not just the superstrength and DeathBaby…it’s the Whole. Story. The fact of him being a vampire *IS* the story: how would you work out a relationship with one human and one undead death machine?

      Edward acts the way he does because Bella freaks his shit right out. He hasn’t the faintest idea how to conduct a relationship, and he screws up a LOT (which puts the “Edward is perfect” complaint out the window as well). The one bit in the books that did bother me was when he breaks her truck so she can’t see Jacob. That’s creepy. But, again, it’s really creepy if he’s human: but if he’s human, it wouldn’t happen. (no clairvoyance, no DeathDog threat, etc.) And people conveniently forget that Bella takes him to task about it, and the movie (MELISSA FEMINIST ROSENBERG) completely glosses over the big conversation they have about it. AHEM.

      • Anonymous

        Well for the sex injuries, that, hypothetical situation could have gone both ways. You’re not paying attention and people get hurt. At least Bella doesn’t have to worry about breaking his man parts… Or does she? Crap, she could knock that sucker right off if she wasn’t careful being a vamp now too and all, couldn’t she? Ouch! Good thing Edward can be put back together.

        I digress.

        I too was bothered (Bothered!) By the taking a truck apart, but in Edward’s eyes it was probably something along the lines of putting up a barricade so the child doesn’t run into the road and get killed because they don’t realize how dangerous it is. (I know people are probably going to knock me for making Edward a parent and Bella a child in that scenario but whatever.) Or you could use a person taking the keys away from someone who is intoxicated.

        I know it probably sounds like in my eyes, Edward can do no wrong, but I don’t, like you said, he screws up. A lot. But for a forever 17 year old hormonal teenager/100 year old vamp denying instincts to feed/losing his shit for falling for a fragile human, I think he handles himself tolerably well.

        • Anonymous

          BOTHERED.

      • operarose

        About the “injuries’ during Breaking Dawn, the way I always saw it was that it was a realistic detail, considering Edward’s strength. What if Stephenie (or Edward, that is) had not given Bella the injuries? Readers would then be laughing at how everything was just peachy and that a 100-ton marble statue didn’t harm Bella at all that night.

        • Anonymous

          This is actually the other thing people complain about BD for too– everything turning out too well in the end.

          • Anonymous

            I am totally okay with the bruising, I am less okay with Edward being all, ” I am not going to listen to you –like fucking grown up– and I am going to second guess all your decisions.” Jerk. (whispers: I totally forgive you, though!)

            I also hate the whole thing where everyone is paired up and it’s a big happy slappy ending. I am hoping it’s not that terrible in the movie.

      • operarose

        About the “injuries’ during Breaking Dawn, the way I always saw it was that it was a realistic detail, considering Edward’s strength. What if Stephenie (or Edward, that is) had not given Bella the injuries? Readers would then be laughing at how everything was just peachy and that a 100-ton marble statue didn’t harm Bella at all that night.

    • Suzyb49

      you said everything I was thinking, Bella always did what she wanted much to Edward’s chagrin!

    • MariaCecilia

      I was waiting for your reply, because I knew it would be long and well-informed. ;-)  I agree with you totally, just, like a typical parent, Edward doesn’t take into account the fact that Bella really CAN’T see his point of view, because she is a human teenager. But I appreciate that he learns to try and listen to her, not just go all “I know best what’s good for you” on her. Compromise! (Another word for marriage…)

      • Anonymous

        “I was waiting for your reply, because I knew it would be long and well-informed”

        Meaning; “I knew it would ber long because you’ve prone to long-winded tangents with a lot of detail because you’ve read the books far more times than is ‘ normal’.”? :)

        See? I rock at more than just practically having the books memorized, I also rock at reading between the lines.

        • Anonymous

          you and I should teach a class. Graduate level, obvs.

    • Anonymous

      Wow, I forgot all those ways in which Bella did exert her independence. Excellent points all around! So much to say and discuss regarding possible emotional manipulation, which turns Twilight into a teaching tool through discussions. I seem to remember someone around here once saying that reading about E&B’s relationship enlightened her to how messed up her own was and it inspired her to bail. That’s a great thing!
      No glorified physical abuse here! Just angst and sexual tension ;-)

  • operarose

    I sometimes get the feeling that bloggers who say these things about Twilight are just looking for an easy way to make themselves seem smarter and more intellectual and “higher-than-thou” than the “masses.”

    But the joke is really on them, because in actuality it shows that they can’t even read something before critiquing it (amateurish!) or even if they do read it, it shows that they didn’t read it well enough and just grabbed some of the ideas or conceptions they found floating on the surface, without thinking too hard. 

    Also, why would you want to prove to “the masses” that you are all superior via a post about Twilight? Why not grab some real, meaty literature and comment on that instead. It’s like trying to be a food critic by critiquing a fast food cheeseburger for not having the right kind of cheese when in fact a serious food critic would be eating some sort of canard in a red wine reduction sauce with currants. Or something. 

  • operarose

    I sometimes get the feeling that bloggers who say these things about Twilight are just looking for an easy way to make themselves seem smarter and more intellectual and “higher-than-thou” than the “masses.”

    But the joke is really on them, because in actuality it shows that they can’t even read something before critiquing it (amateurish!) or even if they do read it, it shows that they didn’t read it well enough and just grabbed some of the ideas or conceptions they found floating on the surface, without thinking too hard. 

    Also, why would you want to prove to “the masses” that you are all superior via a post about Twilight? Why not grab some real, meaty literature and comment on that instead. It’s like trying to be a food critic by critiquing a fast food cheeseburger for not having the right kind of cheese when in fact a serious food critic would be eating some sort of canard in a red wine reduction sauce with currants. Or something. 

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