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December 06, 2009

How Twilight Works

The Oatmeal explains the structural appeal of Twilight, a must read for would be hack writers everywhere (via jvon).

First off, the author creates a main character which is an empty shell. Her appearance isn't described in detail; that way, any female can slip into it and easily fantasize about being this person. I read 400 pages of that book and barely had any idea of what the main character looked like; as far as I was concerned she was a giant Lego brick. Appearance aside, her personality is portrayed as insecure, fumbling, and awkward - a combination anyone who ever went through puberty can relate to. By creating this "empty shell," the character becomes less of a person and more of something a female reader can put on and wear. Because I forgot her name (I think it was Barbara or Brando or something like that), I'm going to refer to her as "Pants" from here on out.

An excellent point, if one that might be made of many lead characters who were also pants (Luke Skywalker, Seinfeld, Ted from How I Met Your Mother); we have the rest of an ensemble cast to represent Galenic personality types. Read the rest, of course, I only want to emphasize it is the unreality of Edward Cullen that makes it possible for him to be perfect in the eyes of Twilight fans. He is a vampire, he does not exist and consequently he may assume the form of a Platonic ideal; flawless and with no life of his own he is entirely unthreatening.

It is not as though this is a particularly new approach to marketing fiction to girls. I spent my undergraduate years being hectored by a variety of harpies in positions of authority power about unrealistic male expectations of women produced by pornography. A bit rich considering Jane Austen and the quivering mess that is the feminist literary canon.* The Twilight franchise only adds a few more volumes to a heap of Lucy Maud Montnography, a genre dedicated to the idealization of imaginary love interests and the generation of unrealistic female expectations of men, not least of which is the denial of biology. Men think about sex pretty much all the time and enjoy pictures of naked women and no progressive utopia will change the fact short of neutering every man alive and turning to a future of genderless English, tofurkey basters and human cloning.

Edward Cullen has no balls. Next they will elect him President.

* Nothing against Jane Austen, you understand. She would have skewered contemporary feminism on a sly rhetorical darning needle.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at December 6, 2009 08:43 AM


Edward Cullen has no balls.

And Buffy shows us just how right you are!

Posted by: Varenius [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 6, 2009 10:46 PM

I think I've posted twice on Margaret Atwood.

Once more than I thought necessary.

Posted by: OregonGuy [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 8, 2009 12:25 AM