Someone at a party was giving me shit for not wanting to read Twilight just last night. When I pointed out how completely bass-ackwards it was to have Vampires SPARKLE in the sunlight, and why does Edward have to fly, anyway, why can’t he just summon a My Little Pony and they can go riding down a friggin’ rainbow together, it pretty well ended that discussion.
Because the point is to turn something scary into something that is not.
The point is to turn the kind of femininity that culture accepts into something that girls actually want. Or, rather, to turn what girls actually want into the kind of femininity that culture accepts.
It's like every spunky literary heroine's decision to submit to her "one true love" - from Anne to Jo and everyone before, after, and in-between - expanded into an entire story rather than just shoved into a perplexing epilogue.
Which is annoying and not terribly healthy - especially left unchecked and unexamined - but is certainly better than the lack of explanation found in most stories of similar popularity. Now and previously.
Because the fact that so many girls want an entire story explaining this - and are increasingly unsatisfied with the ending - is a little bit revolutionary. Meyer certainly didn't set out to be revolutionary. If she had, the books wouldn't have gotten increasingly worse. It's also certainly no Buffy. But it serves a purpose. And that purpose is something other than to drive anyone who isn't a teen girl batty.
Also, and most importantly - teen girls like them.
We just had an extremely successful fantasy/scifi movie come out that was driven by and starring teen girls/young women. This may not be the holy grail, but it is s a good thing. yes?
I'm not arguing that anything that girls like shouldn't be thought of as good. I'm certainly not arguing that Twilight in particular is above critique.
But could we lay off the "omg teen girls are such girls" that most laments of the popularity of the series boil down to? Especially from feminists?
And while we are at it, let's ditch the unspoken and ridiculous assumption that teen girl's literary habits are fueled by the fact that they are idiots incapable of understanding the idea of fantasy and wish- fulfillment. As if Gossip Girls only became popular because teen girls are not only the shallowest creatures on the planet, but also believe everything they read. Yeah. That would be great, too.
ps - the first book was pretty damn good actually, btw. it was no Tithe or Valiant, but I would hold it up against most of L'Engle's realistic fiction for teens any day. which isn't really a fair comparison, but you get the point.