12/10/08

Twilight: Will Someone Just Gives Those Vampires a Twinkie.

Much has been written about the phenomenon that is Twilight, the vampire/romance young adult series of novels (the first of which is now a very successful movie).  Many far more hip and industrious writers than me have used their ink to explain its success.  The most current theory in circulation is that teen girls like Twilight because -- unlike their real life experiences -- the responsibility for sexual restraint rests entirely on the boy, Edward, who is also a vampire.  It turns out that Edward refuses to have sex with Bella, the protagonist, because he knows that if he loses his self control he will probably revert to his vampire instincts and kill her.  

That may be true, although since romances are traditionally about women's abilities to civilize untamed men I sort of doubt it.  Bella's very inaccessibility is what tames him.  What strikes me about the books is the almost pathological self control that is glorified in the book.  In fact, the book seems to me a sort of fable about anorexia.  It's a stretch, so hear me out.

Edward lives with a "family" of vampires that refuses to hunts humans and, instead, hunts wild animals, like bears.  They see themselves as being akin to vegetarians.  Bottom line: they "eat" but once every few weeks.  They do not consume any other foods.  They do not even seem to drink water or soda.  Nonetheless, they are repeatedly described as looking like supermodels.  

Basically, they are those girls you worry about when you see them cross the street.  They practice a kind of self control that most of us cannot fathom because they, too, want to look like supermodels.  They don't eat.  Like the vampires in Twilight, they are voyeurs.  They watch other people eat, or they pretend to eat, and then throw away their food when no one is looking. 

For a lot of girls, this extreme sense of self control, whether it manifests itself in anorexia or not, is an important part of girl culture.  

More on this tomorrow.  

6 comments:

Cafe Observer said...

As far as we K9's are concerned, both sexes of de homo sapiens are uncivilized -- especially the political subspecies.

Susan C said...

I haven't read the books or seen the movie, but I know plenty of teen girls who are gaga over the series.

This is an interesting take.

pasadenaadjacent.com said...

I like a good stretch. I just heard about this book/movie from "walking with Mary". Girl culture is a mystery to me. It must play out differently among race, class, rural, urban and suburban. The writer Karen Armstrong talks about anorexia within convent culture... another stretch but maybe another tie in
The Spiral Staircase

altadenahiker said...

I think you're on target, which means we haven't come so very far afterall.

Margaret said...

CO: Just so you know, I don't think men are uncivilized. I married a perfectly lovely one myself. What I meant to say is that a theme of romance novels is that the women in them are able to change the male heroes.

PA: I'm glad you mention The Spiral Staircase. It's a brilliant book, and it's especially meaningful to me because my suffers from the same health condition as Armstrong.

Misha said...

Seriously, I find that so off. That's not the intention behind the characters at all, and I highly doubt that the author, Stephanie Meyer, wanted to make a generation of teenagers anorexic. It's only logical that the vampires in the story don't consume human food, and their beauty is there, as one of the main characters described it, as a genetic implement that is used by the vampires to lure the humans in, such as the smell of a flower lures insects in.
I personally read the book, and the attention was not at all fixated on the vampires not eating, why, Edward encouraged Bella to eat whenever possible, and the family of vampires even made her food when she came over to visit, despite the fact that they themselves do not eat it. The focus was on the love story, of course.