So what I’m about to tell you all is something I’m really not proud of– it’s difficult for me to confess. I’ve managed to keep it somewhat on the down low since it reared its ugly head a few years ago, but for the purposes of this post you must know that I am a Twilight fan. Now that you know that, I feel the immediate need to defend myself: I am completely aware of how ridiculously awful Stephanie Meyer’s writing is. I am an English major as well as a Twihard, so I recognize that at times Meyer’s writing is cringe-worthy. More importantly, I recognize that the plot of each novel is more fucked up than the last. Anyway, I use my solid grasp on reality as an excuse to be able to enjoy Twilight guilt-free. Others, however, do not share my angle on the series. Instead, the numerous Twilight fans (most of which are thirteen year old girls) are hopelessly swept into the fictional world Stephanie Meyer creates. And young girls being enamored with a story that stars a main character (and heroine?) like Bella, is bad news. Bad, bad news.
So, what I want to discuss here is how idolized characters like Bella Swan are seriously a bad influence on the young girls that strive to be like them. If you don’t know already, Bella Swan is the ultimate buzz kill for any feminist. She’s passive, helpless, and spends most of the story being rescued, nurtured, or protected by her super-sexy vampire boyfriend. So it’s pretty obvious how this is probably not the best message for young girls. For more on the bummer that is Bella, read Lisa Schwarzbaum’s review of the fourth movie- it’s hilarious and (in my opinion) right on point: http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20483133_20518825,00.html . When I said before that the plots of the novels are messed up, I wasn’t kidding. The one that really takes the cake, though, is book number four (and movie number 3 and a half). Schwarzbaum is right in mentioning in her review that the fourth movie (out in theaters today) leaves us with the message that “marriage feels like a life sentence, weddings are miserable events, honeymoon sex is dangerous and leaves a bride covered in bruises, and pregnancy is a torment that leads to death in exchange for birth.” As a twenty three year old, I can interpret that message and laugh at it, but for the hundreds of thousands of kid fans, it’s not that simple. Instead, these tweens inspire to be like Bella Swan.
Anyway, it’s pretty obvious that the main character of this story is not one you should aspire to be. It’s the draw to her, and to the story in general, that scares me. So is it ok to support the Twilight enterprise just because I understand it as complete bullshit? I mentioned above that I tell myself it’s ok to succumb to my guilty pleasure because I acknowledge the story for what it is, which is pure entertainment. On the other hand, I’ve paid to see the first three movies in theaters (I still can’t believe I’m sharing this with the public), and I’ve spent a fair amount of time dedicated to reading the books. These days I’ve really been trying to put my money where my mouth is. I know it sounds cliche, but I think there’s a lot to be said for putting your time, energy, and money into stuff you really believe in, and in turn to resist supporting industries and systems that are generally evil (In this case, the whole Twilight craze). Anyway, I’ve battled with this concept a lot as I’ve come into feminism. Sometimes it’s definitely easier, but also just more fun to follow the somewhat less feminist-y path, after all no one’s perfect, right? So, what do you all think? Is it ok to let yourself have non-feminist guilty pleasures?