(Read the Summary first)
this article is also posted to support midnightqueen12's reaction to twilight; as well as amy2609's 101 reasons why Twilight sucks, as well as my article of why anime is much greater than twilght; and of course, other booksie members' articles concerning the flaws of twilight series. This article contradicts any other articles that support Twilight's 'positive points'.
Arzim's Rebuttals (part 2 of 4)
(The ultimate reasons why Twilight SUCKS)
1. "Edward is abusive"
2. "Fantasy does not excuse a lack of realism"
3. "The books are sexist"
4. "The books (Twilight specifically) have no plot/character development"
5. "Bella and Edward are in lust, not love"
6. "Bella is an idiot (aka Meyer tells and doesn't show"
7. "Imprinting IS sexual no matter what (aka imprinting is sexist and pedophilic)"
8. "Twilight sends bad messages... and it DOES matter"
9. "Science: Why Nessie can't exist"
10. "Science: Meyer fails at it"
11. "Choice: What Feminism isn't, and what Bella doesn't have"
Twilight has no plot
Antitwilights would say: “Twilight has either no plot or a very, very tiny one”
Fangirl: “Bella and Edward’s love story is the plot” and “James trying to kill Bella is the plot”
As you’re all no doubt beginning to realize, I really love throwing definitions into the mix.
"In literature, a plot is all the events in a story particularly rendered towards the achievement of some particular artistic or emotional effect. In other words, it's what mostly happened in the story or novel or what the story's general theme is based on, such as the mood, characters, setting, and conflicts occurring in a story.
The concept of plot and the associated concept of plot construction, also called emplotment, has developed considerably since Aristotle made these insightful observations. The episodic narrative tradition which Aristotle indicates has systematically been subverted over the intervening years, to the extent that the concept of beginning, middle, end are merely regarded as a conventional device when no other is at hand."
Merriam Webster says:
"The plan or main story (as of a movie or a literary work)"
Plot is a tricky subject, particularly in literature. For this reason, I apologize in advance for the rambling and confusion that is sure to follow throughout this post.
Problems arise when one attempts to draw up a definition of plot;
either the definition becomes too open (calling “everything” plot, i.e. the characters and their arcs, the events in the story, the theme etc.) or
narrow (calling only literal benchmark events plot, i.e. 1. Bella comes to Forks, 2. Bella meets Edward, 3. Bella and Edward fall in love (debatable)).
With Twilight, there come problems with either definition, so to be fair (since the average Twilight fan admits that in terms of linear plot events, Twilight is pretty lacking) let’s look at the open definition in particular.
"Character arc and development"
"A character arc is the status of the character as it unfolds throughout the story, the storyline or series of episodes. Characters begin the story with a certain viewpoint and, through events in the story, that viewpoint changes.…
Character development may refer to the change in characterization of a dynamic character, who changes over the course of a narrative."
Let’s consider characters. There is a complete lack of character development in the book, thus removing the idea of character arc as part of plot. Bella does not change in any essential way from page 1 of the book to page 400 (or however many pages there are) aside from meeting and “falling in love” with Edward. She is the same character. Meyer does not reveal that she becomes more or less trusting, more or less prone to anger, more or less kind, more or less world-wise, or any other possible changes for other characteristics. At the beginning of the book, she worries about her mother. At the end, the fact that she worries about her mother is the crux of the events-based “plot” that forms the dubious climax of the book.
Neither does Edward experience any great transformation as a character aside from his relationship with Bella. As a vampire, he is naturally unchanging, sort of preserved forever as a 17 year old boy, and Meyer does nothing to change this perception. He is presented as something of a loner, and that is the only characteristic to change simply by virtue of the love story. Aside from that, there IS no character to change in the first place; Edward, like Bella, is very much a blank slate on which the reader is intended to imprint themselves in order to live the story through Bella’s shoes and experience their personal vision of the “perfect man” with Edward as the vessel.
Meyer gives token “characteristics” to both characters (Bella is clumsy, Edward plays piano) but neither of these are true intrinsic traits which define the characters’ actions, wishes, and intentions. Rather, Meyer gives us traits which are focused outwardly rather than personal to each character, such as Edward’s jealousy over Bella’s friendship with Jacob. Given that he had no one to be jealous of in the past, this is not so much a character trait as it is an after-thought, a reactionary plot device to advance what little conflict there is in the series. Everything Edward focuses on and thinks about surrounds Bella; this is not a character which represents a three-dimensional person so much as the perfect (and non-existent) fantasy man. For this reason, Edward HAS no character of his own except for that which applies to Bella. Thus, the plot in terms of character arc is completely absent because there is nothing within Edward to change in the first place.
An argument against this might say... “But the point is that Edward wasn’t truly “alive” until he met Bella, so his character arc happens when he meets Bella”
Wanting to kill her one day and then deciding that he can’t live without her the next does not a character arc make. And the idea that he wasn’t truly “alive” before Bella only reinforces the idea that Edward is just a blank slate; no real person (or even half of a person) simply exists for 100 years as a transient being with no personal characteristics and quirks and traits (talking old-fashioned does NOT count). Going from a “nothing” character to a one chock full of reactionary traits (e.g. wants to protect Bella) is not a character arc nor is it character development.
“But Edward is caring, loving, smart, awesome, sweet, sexy, psychic, hot, etc. etc., so yes he DOES have personality”
Most of those supposed characteristics are subjective in the minds of readers (“sexy”, “hot” – just because Meyer says so doesn’t make it true) and some of them are flat-out contradicted by the text (“caring”, “loving” – go read the ‘Edward is abusive’ thread).
Even if those WERE characteristics, they undergo no important changes or development throughout the series, so they’re irrelevant to the plot (which is the discussion at hand).
"Theme" Wikipedia says:
"In literature, a theme is a broad idea in a story, or a message or lesson conveyed by a work. This message is usually about life, society or human nature. Themes explore timeless and universal ideas. Most themes are implied rather than explicitly stated.Deep thematic content is not required in literature; however, some readers hold that all stories inherently project some kind of outlook on life that can be taken as a theme, regardless of whether or not this is the intent of the author."
Most Twilight fans say that the “theme” of Twilight is supposed to be the “love” story of Bella and Edward. While this is obviously a woeful ignorance of what theme means, it does provide an interesting opportunity for me to really explore the merits of this supposed love story.
Let’s preface this argument with some words from Stephenie Meyer:
"Unintentional and rubbish [in answer to the question if vampires represent satan]. No offense to your friend. It is possible to read TOO deep into a book. They're just vampires."
It’s interesting to me that Meyer calls an attempt at the basic identification of a metaphor “reading too deeply” particularly because I’ve heard that same argument many times from Twilight fans especially in the sexism and abuse discussions. It’s a popular argument (apparently learned from Meyer herself) to say that because the sexism/abuse was unintended, that it therefore doesn’t exist. This is obviously silly (and an argument I’ve covered before) so I won’t get into that too much except to say that the actions characters take (and in Bella’s case, her thoughts (or lack thereof)) DO send a message (the theme).
In Twilight’s case, that message is almost certainly unintentional but it is projected quite clearly nonetheless; the message of sexism and abuse being acceptable.
Since Meyer herself argues that the books are NOT sexist and that the notion of Edward acting abusive is “hurtful” to her, it’s fair to say that she did not intend for that theme. So what theme, if any, did she intend to portray?
…I can’t think of one,
and neither can the Twilight fans I’ve asked that question. They all say that “it’s just a love story.” While I disagree with them, I think it’s safe to say that the unintended theme (sexism is a-okay) and the intended “it’s just a love story” are debates for another day. For now, let’s just say that Twilight has a deadbeat theme and therefore, no theme contributes to the plot.
Since characterization and theme have been chopped down at the knees, I must turn my attention to the more narrow view of plot which is the basic step-by-step unfolding of events.
1.Bella moves to Forks.
2.Bella meets Edward.
3.Bella and Edward “fall in love” (given that this happens in about two weeks I really don’t know if it counts, but I’m giving Twilight the benefit of the doubt)
4.James comes after Bella.
5.James bites the dust (couldn’t resist, sorry).
Plot is incontrovertibly tied with conflict and that is another reason the antis argue that Twilight has no plot. Meyer supposedly used Pride and Prejudice as inspiration for Twilight, but the actual conflict of Bella and Edward getting together was resolved in a few pages; Bella whines about Edward shooting death glares at her, Edward disappears for a week, Edward comes back and starts following her around like a puppy dog.
Twilight fans argue that Bella trying to figure out what Edward was is another conflict. Given that the readers are told on the inside of the dust jacket that Edward’s a vampire, not only is this NOT a conflict for them, it’s more an annoyance. And once Bella finds out what he is, rather than being disgusted or afraid (a more likely response and one that could have led to some true conflict with Edward trying to win her trust or something), she is totally fine with it… that’s some pretty anticlimactic conflict resolution, if you ask me.
Then James comes. Most antis accept the James-wanting-a-taste-of-Bella as the main conflict of the book, yet it comes into play around 2/3 of the way through the book and reads like it was an afterthought, a conflict that Meyer tacked on once she realized that the book had no plot. It’s resolved easily enough considering the length of the book as a whole, and Bella escapes with a broken bone or two and no doubts at all about her relationship with a the guy of the same species as the guy who just hunted her down and nearly killed her. Whatever.
My Conclusion? By my definition, Twilight has no plot. Events happen, sure, but they aren’t accompanied with and don’t effect change in character development, thematic development, and conflict. Instead, Twilight is 400+ pages of whiny rambling and immature gushing over the elusive perfection that is Edward Cullen, a tabula rasa of a character and no more real than a three-legged gnome casting love spells on unsuspecting Elvish citizenry.
Edward and Bella are in lust
Antitwilights would say: “Bella and Edward are in lust, not love”
Fangirl: “They say they love each other all the time” and “Bella and Edward are soul-mates” and “Bella and Edward can’t live without each other” and “Bella and Edward are perfect for each other”
As always, let us begin with definitions: "Lust"
"noun: 2: usually intense or unbridled sexual desire : lasciviousness 3 a: an intense longing : craving <a lust to succeed>
Transitive verb: to have an intense desire or need : crave; specifically : to have a sexual urge"
"Lust is any intense desire or craving for gratification and excitement. Lust can mean strictly sexual lust, although it is also common to speak of a "lust for men", "lust for blood" (bloodlust), or a "lust for power" (or other goals), and to "lust for love". The Greek word which translates as lust is epithymia, which also is translated into English as "to covet"."
"Infatuation is the state of being completely carried away by unreasoned passion or love; addictive love. Infatuation usually occurs at the beginning of a relationship. It is characterized by urgency, intensity, desire, and/or anxiety, in which there is an extreme absorption in another. It is traditionally associated with youth. "
Bella tells us, Edward tells us, and Meyer sure as hell tells us that Bella and Edward have true love. They are soul mates. Bella’s lifeblood—her very essence—sings to Edward’s soul.
The best part is that this incredible true love (“Better than Elizabeth and Darcy,” Meyer claims, “better than ‘evil’ Heathcliff and selfish Catherine!”) happens within the first five seconds of meeting each other. Amazing, I know—who’d have thought that people could realize their love for all eternity with one glance at the other’s stunning, gorgeous, sparkling mug?
Well, I don’t.
And the antis don’t.
And all the evidence in the series points to, “No, B & E are not in love.” Lust? Given by the amount of times Bella tries to corrupt Edward’s delicate Victorian sensibilities by employing her lascivious feminine wiles, I’d say that’s a yes. Infatuation? Every other word is “ZOMG, Edward is so hawt!” and “I lurrrvveee him!” So yeah, the word is infatuation.
The fact is, there is no indication anywhere in the series that Edward and Bella are compatible mates. They don’t ever have conversations (aside from how wonderful the other is and/or “I’m dangerous, stay away!”), they don’t ever do anything together (what’s wrong with seeing a movie or reading a book together? They watch Romeo and Juliet in the first book but that was a thinly-disguised plot device for the express purpose of comparing them to R&J [ironically apt, given that R&J were in lust as well] and for the gag-worthy suckfest of quoting the lines at each other).
Of course, it’s not their fault that they aren’t compatible—it’s the fact that there’s nothing to be compatible with. Bella and Edward are empty tabulae rasae and as much as Meyer wants us to believe that they have twu luv, she shoots herself in the foot by not giving them actual personalities. When a character’s only trait is his “hotness”, there really cannot be any basis for a true-to-life relationship and thus we get the lust-fest that is all four books.
Twilight fans disagree with me and will say, “but it’s fantasy, and this is true love!”
The deus ex machina of true love does not simply erase the necessity of character formation and development. True love does not replace the need for relationship building. Meyer attempts to distract the readers from this fact by emphasizing Edward and Bella’s “need” for each other and the supposed reality that they simply can’t live without each other.
On the basis of what, I ask? What is it about Bella that Edward cannot live without, and vice versa?
So in lieu of forming an actual emotional connection, Meyer chooses instead to romanticize suicide. This is potentially my biggest problem with the entire series; the idea that an author writing a young adult series would ever, ever romanticize or gloss over or present suicide as “acceptable” or “understandable” is absolutely unforgivable.
I don’t care if Bella wasn’t “actually” trying to commit suicide when she jumped off the cliff, it was a suicidal act by virtue of the fact that she was willing to potentially end her life just to hear Edward’s voice again. And don’t even get me started on the Edward-goes-to-Volterra bit.
In brief, it is not love when the two characters’ relationship is based only on looks and lust. It is sure as hell not “true love” because the participants are willing to kill themselves rather than face a future without the other. At best, it’s dangerous infatuation and at worst it’s a horrifically unhealthy and abusive relationship.