Sparkles, Vampires, and Spitefic
The interpretation of art and literature depend partly on the context of the times. In turn, art and literature change as perspectives shift: we acknowledge blatant racism in a writer of five-hundred year old fame, but look beyond it for art because that institution was socially acceptable and even encouraged in cultures of that time. Meanwhile, we reject the ugly -isms in newer work—typically. I’m honestly not sure where to start with the Twilight series. An ramble full of false starts like this has been in my head for years, though only the movies have been inflicted on me. But there is nothing more hilariously cathartic than an old-fashioned flame or a parody, so I did those to myself. You have to know the monster to kill it, right? Generally, immortality is tragic. I’ve found that most good fantasy / science fiction that intends to make you think treats it as such as least a little, especially in front of humans’ unfortunate tendency to age. The elves of Middle Earth understood. Winnie Foster decided not to drink the invincibility Kool Aid. Voldemort was generally understood to be an ass, but a pitiable one for his skewed priorities. Meanwhile, Bella Swan says to a controlling stalker who is supposed to be a protagonist: I wanna have fangs and sparkle in the sun like you Edward omg!! but with more florid prose and twenty em dashes. I don’t have to prove Twilight is trash. (That horse has been beaten to death twice. With a spoon.) You already expected it, even knew it, from the first mention of vampires and romance back in 2009, to say nothing of sparkling. It’s fine to enjoy poorly constructed love triangles and self-inserts, but it gets creepy when the power dynamic borders on abuse. I’ve had a weird fascination with this series because of curiosity about its popularity and its premise, which led me to Twilight deconstruction fic. This type of “fan”fiction is sometimes straight parody, sometimes not, but the best ones are always kind of sad because they acknowledge a human girl gave up her life willingly to become a notquitedead, notquitealive parasite. I’d read more supernatural YA fiction if it didn’t shy away from getting philosophical about death. Instead we get, well, snooty apple catchers who enjoy going to high school over and over again. Shudder. Some deconstructions even deal with all the vilified women of Twilight, or even give the most cardboard characters personalities and regrets. I thank them for their bravery. Because normal teenagers don’t say holy crow when they swear, and the natural territory of vampires is the horror story. *Sunshine by Robin McKinley has some pretty great vampires. They’re ugly, vicious, frightening, and lost, and that makes them all the more human. It was a little too much for me when I first read it since it has some graphic scenes that are definitely not for young teens, but what sticks with me most is a really well done friendship.