There’s no question the Twilight series of books from Stephanie Meyer has taken the world by storm. Teen and pre-teen girls as well as grown women are swooning over Edward and his hunky vampire brethren. The second movie in the series, New Moon opened last night to packed theaters. I’ve spoken with several educators who are big fans of the series. The problem is, Twilight is bad for kids (and adults.) The writing is horrible and the message the books send to young girls is all wrong, which is why the books should be studied in school.
Why study bad writing?
Getting teens to read is a good thing, and Twilight is accomplishing that goal. Since the kids are reading the books anyway, why not use it as an opportunity to show what not to do when writing fiction? The Twilight books are a case study in poor grammar and purple prose, have huge plot holes (although, really, there isn’t much of a plot at all,) fall back on lazy literary devices to get out of jams, lack any sort of character development, and break several other rules of fiction writing. At least one of these books should be required reading for every creative writing class in the country.
Sending the wrong message
In addition to the bad writing, Twilight sends the wrong message to young girls about relationships, romance, and independence (or, in Bella’s case, dependence.) Some have hailed Twilight as a shining example of abstinence, to be held up as an example to teen girls everywhere. The problem is, the main character (Bella) drops everything (school, other relationships) and allows her entire existence to be wrapped up in her adoration for Edward. The overarching message is that abusive relationships are cool and girls should allow themselves to be defined by the boys they obsess over.
How is that a good thing?
Michele Catalano, in her review of Twilight had this to say:
Bella, presented as a strong willed, independent girl, throws herself into a situation that she knows could endanger her life. Her absolute dependence on Edward to even breathe – she can barely exist when she’s out of his sight line – is both worrisome and disturbing. Her every thought is about him. Her every movement is dictated by her obsession with him. She throws herself at him to the extent that she is willing to be turned into a vampire just to spend eternity with him. Edward plays on all Bella’s emotions like a man who gets off on adoration. He follows her, he appears in her room at night, he listens in, telepathically, on her friends’ conversations. He is there in every dangerous situation brought on by Bella’s clumsiness to rescue her and make her feel like she just could not make it another day alive without his knighthood. I don’t know about you, but over here we call that stalking. Yet Bella seems unperturbed by Edward’s hovering and unflinchingly goes headlong into a dangerous, life threatening, almost one sided romance with him.
Time for some examples
Not convinced that Twilight is bad writing that should be studied in order to avoid the same mistakes? Hopefully these examples will help you see the light:
He lay perfectly still in the grass, his shirt open over his sculpted, incandescent chest, his scintillating arms bare.
-You’ll find similar examples of adjective abuse throughout the books. It would be difficult to find a sentence that doesn’t overuse adjectives.
Time passes. Even when it seems impossible. Even when each tick of the second hand aches like the pulse of blood behind a bruise. It passes unevenly in strange lurches and dragging lulls, but pass it does. Even for me.
-Please tell me you understand just how bad that passage is. Please?
Before you, Bella, my life was like a moonless night. Very dark, but there were stars –points of light and reason….And then you shot across my sky like a meteor. Suddenly everything was on fire; there was brilliancy, there was beauty. When you were gone, when the meteor had fallen over the horizon, everything went black. Nothing had changed, but my eyes were blinded by light. I couldn’t see the stars anymore. And there was no more reason for anything.
-Just shoot me. Shoot me now.
After he left, I sat at the old square oak table in front of the three unmatching chairs and examined his kitchen, with its dark paneled walls, bright yellow cabinets, and the linoleum floor.
-Thank you, Ms. Meyer, for wasting our time with useless details. I realize it helps fulfill your word count, but c’mon.
The room was cut in half by a long counter, cluttered with wire baskets full of papers and brightly colored flyers taped to its front.
Perfect example of a dangling modifier.
-I could go on (and on, and on, and on,) but I’ll spare you.
Finally, the movies
The second of two movies opened last night to packed theaters. Both movies will sell a lot of tickets, but both have also been trashed by the critics. The first movie received 49% on the Tomatomenter (meaning, out of 193 reviews 98 were bad.) The second movie is faring even worse, currently at 30% (91 bad reviews out of 130.) Here are just a few examples of what people are saying about the Twilight movies:
No, it’s not as bad as you think. It’s actually worse.
The film adaptation of Twilight isn’t nearly as bad in its own medium as the source material was, though it’s still quite a chore to endure.
The narrative is choppy, the pace is slow, it’s way too long and, well, not a lot really happens.
A big bowl of adolescent romantic mush garnished with horror-lite action scenes and a rushed road trip, The Twilight Saga: New Moon is a mess.
The first sequel to Twilight has the feel of a placeholder … but Twi-fags*, like Bella, have mastered the art of willing themselves to see only what they want to see.
*edited especially for drakengard85