2/22/2009

The Twilight series: Is it really just soft porn for teens?




It falls, officially, under the banner of “romance/fantasy/thriller.”

Teen lit with an edge, you might say.

And it is probably just what 35-year-old Stephenie Meyer set out to write when she invented her brooding blood-sucking vampire, Edward Cullen, his beloved mortal heartthrob Bella Swan and the tender tension between them for her blockbuster Twilight series, a set of four books which have now sold more than 40 million copies, have been translated into 40 languages and, last year, hit the big screen as a movie starring the freakily gorgeous Robert Pattinson and the comely Kristen Stewart.

The writing, literary critics will tell you, is hardly the stuff of Pulitzer worthiness — here’s a sample, if you haven’t had the pleasure:

“He grinned his crooked smile at me, stopping my breath and my heart. I couldn’t imagine how any angel could be more glorious. There was nothing about him that could be improved upon.”

Nevertheless, it is, as they say, a teen sensation.



Fans dress up like the characters and mob Meyer at book signings. The movie pulled in $40 million on its opening day, with fans lined up hours in advance.

In Vancouver recently, casting agents for the Twilight movie sequel, New Moon, set to be released for the 2009 Christmas movie season, were besieged by more than 300 young native Indian actors trying out for a specific role in the movie, some turning up for the auditions from as far away as Florida.

Meyer, the mother of three sons, says the idea came to her in a dream, in which a vampire was in love with a human girl but still wanted to, you know, suck her blood.

Herbie the Love Bug it ain’t.

It’s more dark sultry sexy vampire boy worshipping heaving-chested virginal girl, who is then literally hunted by his vampire family and bit badly on her wrist, and is then rescued by her vampire beau and whisked off to the prom for a night of dancing and unrequited sexual tension. Cue sequel.

So who’s reading, and watching, all this nonsense? Well, young adults — Twilight is said to be second only in popularity to the Harry Potter series — which means kids, preteens and teens mostly.

Which brings us to this email sent to me recently from a local parent of one of those Twilight fans:

I have been bothered by something . . . and wondered if you have thought about it as well. I know that you have heard of the Twilight series for young adults. My now 19-year-old daughter read all four books when she was 17 and 18, and loved them (actually, she loved the first, and enjoyed them less as the series went on, saying the writing was pretty poor, and the same things happened over and over).

My Grade 6 daughter (who just turned 12) is telling me that most of her friends (11 and 12) are reading the books, and becoming “obsessed” (her word). My older girl (smart, studying engineering at Queens, and NOT a prude) said that these books are definitely NOT for Katherine's age, but good for older girls.

I have read number one and parts of the others, and agree, for many reasons. My issue is with parents who are actually encouraging the reading (ie. “My 10-year-old must be so smart and mature to be reading such advanced books!”).

There are other series being read by young, like The Gossip Girl series, for example. It’s just soft porn (and superficial, mean, and poorly written), in my mind, and I can’t help but wonder: Have any of these mothers ever read one of these books?

And would they feel any differently if they did?

Good question.

I haven't read the books, but hope to hear from some of you who have.

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