The ‘Twilight’ Mystique – And Why It’s Undeserved

Published 6 years ago by , Updated February 15th, 2014 at 4:25 pm,

Beyond his decadent declarations of love, there isn’t anything remotely appealing about Bella’s love interest. Much of the descriptions of Edward are about the way he looks, the story emphasizes his beauty and desirability–he glistens in the sunlight. Edward’s perfection is only skin deep, he spends much of the time isolated through despair and self-loathing.  Though Edward sees himself as a monster, he draws her closer by acknowledging his own danger.

Ever since the first instance between Bella and the van, he’s particularly aware of everything she is doing. He appears to supplement his own self-hate with stalking: watching her sleep, eavesdropping on her conversation, reading her classmates’ minds and dictating her choice of friends. At one point he encourages her to lie to her father then disables her truck, all the while having her held at his house–and here’s the kicker–for her own safety. After constantly telling her to stay away from him because she may be hurt, he does everything he can possibly do to keep her near him.

Ordinarily, attraction between two individuals develops because there’s an exchange of some kind. Jerry Maguire famously said “you complete me” and based on that premise, it’s unclear what Bella’s attraction to Edward actually is. Ignoring the aforementioned personality flaws, she continuously runs into trouble and he keeps saving her–albeit using his stalking methods. Yet Bella seems unaware and falls helplessly in love, like a gazelle would fall in love with its hunter.

It is also unclear what Edward’s attraction is to Bella exactly is, if not to feed on her. She’s not exceptional in any way, because readers are given little insight to her motivations. It’s difficult to believe that what is revealed about Bella is so special that he hasn’t encountered someone like her in his 104 years of existence. Therefore, the attraction must be her scent and the fact that he can’t read her thoughts. As a substitute for character, Bella’s appeal is based on magic. She was born different than anyone else he’s been in contact with. The proper analogy, in the non-fantasy world, would be an endless love based on the way someone smells without the aid of perfume and/or the color of their skin. The superficial premise, from which both of these deep loves hinges upon, is childish and should be unbelievable to young adults. And I don’t mean unbelievable in some great and profound way, it’s absurd and appalling.

As vampires, the Cullen family goes against common lore. Along with extending these accusations to recent material, I’d like to call attention to classic depictions of vampires. Nosferatu, Dracula and The Count are the original vampire stereotype that should be noted and referred to when discussing vampires. There’s nothing particularly innovative about drinking animal blood, it’s been done before, and calling them vegetarian is ridiculous (synthetically engineering a plasma supplement, as in the Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood series isn’t new either). True Blood gets some things right, like not being able to enter a home without an invite, but Meyer’s vampires avoiding the sun because it makes them stand out comes off as a cheap argument to blend into the crowd. (I’ll refrain from being too overtly offensive but I will say I wouldn’t put on a gorilla suit to hang out with the other apes.) I’m just scratching the surface since Vampires have been around since the Ancient Greeks and Romans but I would suggest anyone planning on writing a vampire story to, at the very least, read up on its history.

twilight movie cast The Twilight Mystique   And Why Its Undeserved

I am willing to suspend my disbelief and excuse Meyer’s broken “rules” of vampire lore, if the characters are worth it. I can accept their deep love for one another if it’s grounded in understood attributes. In reality, we choose our significant others so there must be a difference between one and the other–there needs to be a difference between Bella and all the humans Edward has come across during his “life.” Bella is also making a choice in choosing Edward over all the other human boys fawning over her. If it makes no difference, I’m in the dark as to how any one can fall endlessly in love with someone when it didn’t matter who was chosen. There had better be a good reason why someone chooses to say “I do,” just like there better be a good reason why a predator is falling in love with its prey–after all, humans are cattle to the vampires.

And the opposite must also be true, a human must have better reasons than “he looks good, and smells good too” if an adult story is to be told. If the argument remains as previously stated, Edward loves Bella because he can’t read her thoughts and likes her scent or Bella loves Edward because he looks good, smells good and stalks her just in case she might need saving, then King was right and Meyer has done little to prepare her readers for an adult romance.

Twilight provides none of those qualities. The characters are bland and over-used archetypes, like punch-lines of a common joke. The story isn’t particularly special and doesn’t have any interesting twist and the experience probably isn’t like anything you’ll feel after junior year of high school–that’s assuming you’ve grown to a young adult. The series is cliche and chalk-full of overblown dramatics. There’s nothing worth taking from Twilight and applying in real life, and what’s there will only make things more difficult when it comes to adult interactions. Hopefully, the defending arguments will lead to something along the lines of “vampire is a metaphor for differences,” and to that I say it’s been done before: Bram Stroker’s over-sexualized Dracula was partly used as a metaphor for syphilis and vampires were people with venereal diseases. Put Twilight down, it’s not worth the 400+ pages it’s printed on and there are better stories available that have something worth taking from.

I realize it may be slim pickings at PG-13 and the Young Adult sections, so I’ve made a point to give you some suggestions. Hopefully, you’ve heard of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer. The creator, Joss Whedon, originally created Buffy Summers to offset the cliche of “the little blonde girl that gets killed in every horror movie.” In terms of text, I’m told L.J. Smith’s Night World series is volumes above Twilight‘s lack of detail and nondescript storytelling. Both series have humans falling in love with vampires, but they’re based on good reasons. (But if you want to get a hold of something really vampiric, try Interview with the Vampire. Not for adolescents, but the book and/or the movie are great vampire stories.)

In some sense, I hope the draw to Edward isn’t because of our society’s apparent lack of chivalry. I’m aware that most guys don’t walk on the street-side of the sidewalk and don’t open doors for women, but that isn’t the general rule for the entire male population. Sadly, we are the last of a dying breed, but it’s important to respect one another as human beings and to hold women in the same regard as men would hold themselves. Without equal contributions from both, there is no civilization.

On a final note, it’s an intriguing coincidence that we have these two calendar days–Friday the 13th and February the 14th falling back to back: I hope the essence of these dates (and romantic-fantasy) is found in your real life: a little danger yesterday and a little love today. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Source: USA Weekend, via MTV

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  1. @Kristina
    I agree with @Bill Blume perspective, he reiterates the point I made in the article. There isn’t anything that Edward has not crossed before. In 104/108 years of living, he’s likely to have encountered someone who is self-less and has inner strength. The combination is more rare, but falls flat in making Bella unique.

    Being the “damsel in distress” does not require a cry for help, just being the one that always needs saving. She is hardly orchestrating the plans to resolve her situations. Most of the time, she acts on impulse but isn’t thinking through the consequences. She’s hardly intelligently invested in the plot points, events just happen to her and there just isn’t anything she can do about it. The situations don’t make her any stronger physically or mentality, because she’s rescued out of them.

    I find it entertaining that you highlight two situations where she rushes to her certain death. It seems she hasn’t learned anything from the first instance, probably because she was rescued and now dependent on being saved.

    Jerry Maguire-
    Dorothy Boyd is a single mother, trying to teach a boy how to be a man, who is the only one to take a chance on Jerry Maguire’s new agency on the strength of his “memo”–not to mention the developing relationship between Jerry and her son, Ray, and the developing father Jerry can be.

    Refer to Reverend’s comment about “researching fiction.” The vampire phenomenon isn’t necessarily fiction, their folktales are present in nearly every culture.

    I’d suspect the draw to these books is the same attraction that Bella has to Edward–it’s the same phenomenon found in adrenaline addicts or thrill seekers. Adrenaline, or Endorphins, starts to build up and dissipates when the activity finally happens and a warm feeling fills throughout the whole body. This is best exemplified by the nerves before one steps onstage and the sense invincibility one feels after the performance.

    The same people will likely argue that “love is blind” and one cannot decide who s/he falls in love with–s/he will likely believe in “love at first sight.” But the truth of the matter is, lust happens at an instance and love is cultivated. If you love something, it’s no mystery to you why you love it. Over the time spent, it becomes clear why the thing you love makes your heart flutter and your mind think.

    I’m a bit surprised that no one has challenged @Nathalie’s comment–the book Bella is reading and what it might mean for her character. Wuthering Heights justifies the abuse of a significant other in the name of so-called love. After she’s bruised and battered by Edward in their wedding night, it’s quite alright, he just couldn’t help himself. The suggestion that somehow this is acceptable, furthers my disdain of the material.

    I find it intriguing that many deny the reasons for love that I’ve provided yet fail to enter a counter-argument that makes Bella unique, but also stands against Edward’s 104/108 years of living experience. To those that say that Bella is somehow special and no one else has been like her in a century, show me how. Ultimately, the argument returns to magic. And there’s nothing wrong with that, so long as you’re willing to accept people choosing for/against others based on the color of their skin, the way they smell or any other way they are born different.

  2. “Twilight might have somehow become a replacement or a drug to those that live stafnant or ordinary lives.” – Carl Lee

    …Well I guess with this last note is a sign for me to go


  3. Wow Carl – that drug comment is over the top IMHO.


  4. How obvious does one have to be? What makes Bella unique is that she loves Edward as he is. I even said so in a previous post. He’s pretty consistent in that everyone in his life who loves him as he is he loves in return.

    Beyond that, Carl is using the modernized, misconceived definition of love – a noun. Nothing more than an emotion. Just because in time you can justify it doesn’t mean that emotion is more valid. It’s still just a biochemical reaction.

    Love is a verb, in spite of the widely held belief otherwise. If it’s not in action it’s not love, it’s chemistry. Highly manipulable, transient and changing. You have to give it for it to be love – and that is about choice.

    Bella gives Edward love by accepting him as he is, by hanging in there with him while he tries to work out his own fears and confusions, by standing by him (or trying to) even when she thinks it might kill her.

    Edward gives Bella love by fighting his nature, by enduring the physical pain he suffers to be with her, by working through his own fears of himself, of her “fate,” by trying to put her first (even when he screws that pooch).

    I could go on but I won’t. The emotion is icing, but it’s certainly not the substance of the story.

    Carl’s assumption that a story that sings to me must be filling my shallow, middle aged life is, I suppose, one possible explanation. But I suspect if you knew more about my life you’d question that assessment.

    Another possible explanation is that I find a reciprocal, active love so rare that it becomes a bit of a treasure. Something that stands out in a sea of mentally masturbated justification for half baked commitment – and all that it implies.

    Yeah, for me the interest in this discussion just went south too.

  5. Soo, you have actually given me more to ponder than Carl who, well, I won’t repeat his last comments, and what he thinks I feel when I read the books (very odd). Thanks for all the great posts …

  6. Why is it when people don’t understand something they have to think is wrong

    So to summarize your comments,

    Carl = Does not understand Twilight or why OTHER people would like it if he does not.

    Carl assessment:
    If you like Twilight = You are lame, boring and well just not to smart.

    One of the things I have found about all the people that like the Twilight books is that they are down to earth, kind, RESPECTFUL, and love a good argument.

    Twilight readers usually are the ones on the defense when people that don’t like the book are on the offensive…WHY?

    My two cents about LOVE… who really knows what it makes you fall in love with somebody…please if you know the answer tell the world! as far as i know we do not control who we love, we just do even when we love the wrong people…that is life isn’t it?

    This is not the type of conversation I like to pursue…it feels like you want to pick a fight.

    I like Twilight, no I am not 15 I am 37 yrs old happy with kids a great job…if liking Twilight makes me ordinary and boring…I guess I’ll take the label with a smile.

    Can’t really put it into words what Twilight is for me…as many others can’t really tell you why, I wish I could but I don’t know it.

    Hope you find the answers you are looking for

    Best wishes


  7. Ladies,

    There was one paragraph in particular in Carl’s comment that I thought was over the line. I’ve deleted that paragraph and I apologize for any offense.


    Vic Holtreman

  8. Haha with all these comments I guess I’m a little behind on reading this. I got this link through my cousin and I thought it was a very interesting article. Personally I completly agreed with it while it was talking about the movie. It was very poorly done. I’m not one to rag to much on movies from books Cause I understand that is a hard thing to do. All I really care is if the story makes sense and isn’t rushed. By making sense I mean someone who has never read the books could understand what was going on in the movie. My first thoughts were that if someone hadn’t read the books they would have thought it was supposed to be a comedy. All the dramatic parts were cheesy and I have to admit I went to the midnight showing and laughed out loud during many of the supposedly not funny parts. I was surprised that my sister loved the movie cause she had loved the books as well but to each his own.

    My problem with this article was when it suddenly moved from book and movie in the same paragraph. One minute I thought we were talking about the movie then all of a sudden it was attacking the books. To me that was just stupid, because The movie was DEFINETLY NOT the book. The book was SO much better than the movie! So to make a comparison was not really the right way to go.

    I would have to agree with Kristina on a few things she said. It is a fiction book, people come up with idea’s and really most writers use old idea’s or situations they’ve come in contact with before but try to make it more interesting from their point of view. To say a these books are dumb because they don’t agree with the original version of Non existent vampires is like saying Dragon heart is stupid cause the dragons aren’t horrible man eating monsters but talking sentient creatures. Or maybe some of you hated dragon heart to, lol. Point being to take an idea and twist it, makes a very interesting concept. I love seeing what people can do with a good idea. Now I understand that some people may not like that but that doesn’t make the change stupid as a whole, that’s just an opinion.

    The other thing discussed which I think is funny is the whole love story discussion. Since when has love been predictable? I doubt I’m the only one that has seen some couples that just didn’t make sense! To say they don’t know why edward could fall in love with Bella is laughable, he just did. The mind works in mysterious ways you don’t know what attracts some people and not others. The second part of this discussion being how did edward not find someone else he was attracted to in over one hundred years? Well, it was made very clear they kept to themselves so I highly doubt he would have had the chance to meet someone, he wasn’t even trying! One point I have with that is even though he DIDN’T fall in love with her because he couldn’t read her mind or her blood smelled good. THAT is what caused him to come out of his shell a little and see what she was like, and THAT is when he fell in love. I have no doubt that he would have fallen in love with some other girl if he’d given them the chance. But something had to happen to make him give more interest in her.

    I thought it was sad how much stephanie meyer was put down. I’ve always told my friends she was like a teenager with a good idea. I’m not a great writer either as you can probably tell from my comment, lol. However, it’s the idea that counts, the story that’s told. Stephanie had a good idea and whether she was planning on getting women hooked on this everywhere she had fun with it! She didn’t just write it down she put herself into the story and did her best. I think she did pretty good, the twilight series wasn’t perfect and after a little it did get old for me but that’s just me personally.

    Who cares if girls love it so much, it may be a little annoying when they yell in theaters or act like little girls. But how many girls do that for others things. It’s not for twilight exclusively, therefore it’s not to be faulted on twilight for that kind of behavior.

    I read the twilights and then read them to my grandmother who can’t read because of her eyesight and then my brother cause he isn’t a very good reader(although admitedly I had to edit for him in my opinion stephanie meyer went a little far in some aspects). I didn’t love them that much, I just like reading to others, see their reaction or to use expression.

    Part of the reason I like twilight so much at first was because I’m a romantic for sure. But it was made clear as the books went on that the romance wasn’t completly normal (haha that was obvious let me explain that more) Bella wasn’t in love with edward per say but obsessed. She loved Jacob normally, but the infatuation with edward coupled with the vampire’s power to have any being of the opposite sex devoted to them made Bella unable to escape. She was naturally drawn to him as part of the whole vampire thing. It seemed She was more addicted to him. How stupid would it be to take just under a year to get over someone (she was catatonic for almost six months!!!) then except them back immeadiatly after being hurt that bad. She was back to normal in no time. But it was part of the story, and not all stories ESPECIALLY in real life end up how they should to make everyone happy. I don’t believe her love was real just the same reaction any girl would have had to him but since he returned the affection, she was able to convince herself so thoroughly that what she felt was real.

    Haha in my opinion “The Host” is a much better book. It is actually more of a copy cat than twilight. As a girl I read a few animorphs and that general idea of worm aliens controlling bodies was a little too much like animorphs and I had a hard time reading it when I started. But she took that idea and turned it into something amazing (but I guess that’s my opinion). Now I’m getting off track, point is she did the same thing with that, that she did in twilight took an idea and changed it.

    Just really quickly I want to put where I stand. I hated the movie! I loved the first book! I thought the second and third book were interesting, and I didn’t care for the fourth. But I could care less if others like them to much or hate them. I just thought some of the arguments were funny and wanted to join in :)

  9. Ha, that would be my sister. And i do agree with everything she said! I would have said the same but why just repeat what she said. Great job Melanie. Me personally, I absolutely loved the first second third and fourth book! And loved the movie. I thought it was cheesy hilarious, and soo much fun to watch. But in no way did it give justice to the book. But thats just me…

  10. wow get a life;
    i loved the books; the movie couldve been a litle better
    but so wht if you dnt like them wht evr.i dnt really care if people like it or not; but writing hundreds or paragraphs bashing on stephanie is really sad.

  11. Someone’s keyboard doesn’t work right… :-D

  12. Okay, i’ve read some of the comments, i’ve got the idea of what’s being said. Okay I AM a teenage girl, i think that may need to be said, as no one else on here seems to be.

    I read the twilight series before i knew about a film, before i even knew it was about vampires to be honest.. I read it for what it was, what it is; an interesting and captivating story. Im not the best to judge writing skills, but it seemed good to me.

    So, i guess i’m a ‘twilighter’ or call me what you will.. . i put myself in bellas shoes, i fell in love with edwards character.. all that jazz, i then saw the film, reread the series.. but i still despise this obsession with the books. it does now seem to be the ‘cool’ thing to do.. and people always seem to dismiss the story and blindly obsessivly love edward because their friends do.. and the actors ‘fit’.
    Like i said, i really like it, but even i dont think its worth all this cred.

    [okay i know youre going to find faults in my disjointed response, just voicing how i see things, and my side of this though (Y)]

  13. Twilight is not only for 13 year old girls, i’m 23 and i really like the book. It’s merely fantasy because as people say the perfect guy doesn’t exist, Edward cullen doesn’t exist, but I have to disagree because the meaning of perfect is very remote and depends on one person point of view because what’s perfect you it’s not perfect for me or the other way around. So there is a perfect guy for everyone and this movie sort of encourages people to believe there is love and there is perfect somewhere out there. When you see this movie or read the book it sort of takes you to this “Happy Place” because is purely screamng fantasy all the way ti’ll the end but is good because people like me who have children, attend college and have a husband that is less than perfect need stuff that can take you to a happy place. So on that note i think Stephenie Meyer did a great job writing a Saga this big, this exiting and this succesful.

  14. I sure am glad I just watch movies to enjoy them. How can you watch a movie and analyze the crap out of it like that? Geez, if you don’t like it, don’t watch it.

  15. Guess it’s a good thing you don’t write for a movie site, then.


  16. Kristina, your comment was so well-put. As for those that say this: “Though I haven’t read the books, nor seen the movie,” respectfully, anything you say about the topic loses all validity to me. The story is compelling enough to draw people in to wanting to be a part of it. I think the author’s talent lies in her characterizations and relationships.. the books have so much more than the movie (though I enjoy the movie as well, it seems like a brief outline of the actual book.. without all the great conversations.) Funny thing about everyone’s comments on reality.. I’m 28 and these books reminded me of when I was a teenager.. not literally, but the intensity of relationships, without sex, but in a very beautiful way, vampire story there or aside, she touches on relationships, and I think there is a deep connection to what is most important in life, true deep relationships, where people care about and are concerned for other people, and the idea of them lasting forever that women feel a great pull for in our cheapened society. It’s a romance novel, and an interesting story, but not in a cheap only lustful way that some commenters describe, not the way I read it. And if you get nothing more out of it than fluff, then just enjoy it. It’s a novel. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with reading for enjoyment. By the time I finally picked up on this trend, all the books were out, and I read all 4 in a week.

  17. The Twilight saga could have had WAY better casting. I critized it harshly as well and laughed at all the wrong times too! Dont get me wrong, I LOVED the books, I couldn’t put them down till they were done(not sure why, its just like an escape from my boring life. Made me feel like a giddy school girl, which I’ve NEVER been, not even IN school). But I think the writer has messed up on letting THAT cast ruin the movie!I HATE ROB PATTERSON! I thought his acting was lousy, and it was clear he didn’t read the book or he might have been better at Edwards roll. I do understand the teenage girl love of it. Most of them are blinded by the cast’s looks and not the talent!! Its the classic vampire thinks he’s a monster, and falls in love with a ‘teenage’ GIRL(not woman)who doesn’t think he’s so bad and its all melodramatic and such. But, once again, I have to admit I fell for the story in the books. But my imagination is wild and endless so I could picture it being less dramatic. Even though vampires are supposed to scary, not sparkly and romantic. I have mixed feelings about the story, but I still hate the movie with a passion.

  18. By the way, I agree about the relationships without sex. Its a good message being put out to all these teenagers. And that reading IS for enjoyment. No matter the story, or the plot or charcters. If you enjoy it, whats the harm? At least they’re in home reading and not out sleeping with the town and forming a reputation!

  19. i for one love twilight in fact i'm really adictid and all my friends are i dont think itss typical that stephenie meyer wrote a vampire romance. i think its brill !! best film and book and saga since the dawn of time it self

  20. i for one love twilight in fact i'm really adictid and all my friends are i dont think itss typical that stephenie meyer wrote a vampire romance. i think its brill !! best film and book and saga since the dawn of time it self