26 December 2011

On Twilight

A few months ago I resolved to read the first Twilight book, to see for myself what all the fuss was about.

The first couple chapters were slow going (also, since I'm semi-resolved to only spend time reading it if I've done some devotions that day). The melodramatic inner life of an angsty teenager. But once elements of plot started to take shape, it made for somewhat easier reading.

I'm about 200 pages in now (out of about 500), and somewhere around the 150-page mark, I read a sentence that gave me a future post idea (Top Ten Worst Sentences...?):

"Desolation hit me with crippling strength." (page 145)

Every few pages there's a sentence that just makes me cringe for one reason or another. Sure, the writing style depends on lots of adjectives and adverbs. But more so it's the ideas that give me pause.

Before I started reading it, I was discussing some of these thoughts with a friend, and we had a difference of opinion as to whether this was actually a damaging influence on one's worldview or just a fun diversion. Certainly, there are things that I read for escapist fun.

But I still feel fairly strongly that there's a lot of untruth in the fantasy that the book provides. Mostly, the myth of salvation in the romantic Other. Edward has been described as "perfect" several times already, not to mention other flowery variations on that theme. Even more explicitly:

"I wanted nothing more than to be alone with my perpetual savior." (page 166)

Ugh. The book takes true things--being cared for and protected by a lover, for example--and turns them into false idols, packaged as something that we want and must have. To my eyes, Edward is a creepy, domineering stalker with no sense of boundaries. But Bella (and perhaps the reader, by proxy) gives herself over to him as her total fulfillment.

I think I rail against the myth so hard in my heart because it's a fantasy that I know I'm prone to myself. Daydreams and imaginary conversations. Idealized mates. But it's not real, and it's not something that I need to encourage in myself. People are people. Marriage can be great and true. But never a substitute for Jesus.

Anyway, I will probably finish the book at some point, at which point I might be willing to see the first movie. I do not plan on reading the rest of them.

Then I'll probably re-read Harry Potter VII to wash the taste out of my brain. Yes, it's an escapist page-turner, too. But throughout is love, sacrifice, friendship, family, loyalty, endurance through trials, a host of truth.