So, I read Twilight yesterday, on the recommendation of NeighborGirl. And I have to say, I don't really get it.
It was an OK book. I would go so far as to say it was pretty good insofar as teenage goth chick-lit goes. And it did a very good job of capturing the overwhelming preoccupation and mindset of First Hormonal Lovey Lusty Surge and the extremes that one goes to when the object of one's preoccupation doesn't show up for class, etc.
So I can totally understand the appeal to that 13-24 group of girls, believe me. It is exactly how girls not yet in high school probably envision their future First True Loves: dashing and chivalrous but not at all sexually threatening. And it caters exactly to the deeply secret fears and fantasies of high school girls -- average girl plucked from obscurity and self-loathing by amazing heroic prince who spends every waking second looking out for her. (And he's a sparkle pony! Bonus! What girl wouldn't want a boy made of diamonds?) And again -- sexually non-threatening, but in a different way. If the deed ever did wind up being done, it's not like she could get fatally diseased or knocked up, or even caught by her dad barging into her room unannounced. What's not to like about that fantasy?
But .... that's where my understanding stops.
Do any men like this book? If so, why?
And why would any woman over 30 like it as anything more than a throwback to their teen angst? Why would any woman in her right mind go all gooey in the middle at the prospect of some guy sneaking into her bedroom to watch her sleep? I don't care how much you dig the dude, seems to me that is the kind of action sets a relationship back several notches on the trust front.
A friend of mine who shall remain anonymous unless she would like to step forward was emailing with me about this before I read the book, and she had pretty much the same reaction. And after reading the book, I have pretty much decided that the name Edward Sparklefangs is going down as my new favorite insult.
Maybe I'm just too practical. Not Your Average Blogger likes to tell me that I have a male sensibility, that I am a problem solver and not a romantic. That I am a "shut up and do it" type rather than a "let's talk this out and explore our feelings" type. I suppose he is right. I mean, I have my moments of needing a lot of space (and long-suffering girlfriends) to vent and sort through my emotions and opinions, but overall I'm pretty quick to make decisions and move on. My hangups tend to occur when the rest of the world somehow falls out of compliance with my decision and I am powerless to force it back.
So when I read a book with a narrator who feels alienated and average and confused and bewildered, my first reaction is not, "Oh, you poor thing," my first reaction is, "Oh, for god's sake. Suck it up. You're in high school. That's how you're supposed to feel."
And when I hear about women with teenage daughers kvelling over this book, well, I throw up in my mouth a little. Get over it, ladies. Cowgirl up. I understand the desire to go back and find that part of yourself that could surrender completely to some unattainable ideal, but think back a little harder. Remember how that guy you spent all that time obsessing about turned out to be kind of a dork? It's only in books and movies where that doesn't happen. Find some happiness here on Planet Real World, and set a better example for your daughters about how to thrive in a flawed existence. Really, there's nothing wrong with them reading and daydreaming about a sparkly vampire who will save them from getting raped in an alley. But having their mom serve as an accessory to unreality rather than as a voice of reason is just setting them up to actually get raped in an alley and hate all men for all time.
And to all those daughters out there -- Get real. Being in love is a lot more fun when you aren't being rescued all the time, and that adrenaline rush of goosebumps and tummy butterflies lasts a lot longer when you get them for someone in spite of the fact that he's not this graven image of perfection. If you can get that rush for someone sprawled out flat sick and feverish and clammy on your sofa with an entire box's worth of crumpled used kleenex balled and discarded around them on the floor, that is love. Ideals are easy. Reality is hard. Hard is way more worth it.
Open question: Do more relationships fail because women can't get over the obscene ideal of Danger As Hero leading man? Or do they fail because men can't get over the obscene ideal of Perfect Body as leading woman? Or do they fail when both sexes refuse to even take a flier at trying to at least a little bit live up to the other's ideal?