Thursday, January 26, 2012

Call Me a Hypocrite: Why a Gay Liberal Loves Twilight

Bella Swan and Edward Cullen

Twilight is a love story by Stephenie Meyer, a Mormon from Arizona, told over the course of four books. It takes place in Forks, Washington, between Bella Swan and Edward Cullen. Bella is brown haired, brown eyed, has fair skin and is 17. Edward is bronze haired, golden eyed, has marble skin that sparkles like diamonds in the sunlight and is 107. Edward is a vampire. Forever stuck at the age of 17, he lives with his family, all vampires. They feed on animals, not humans, and live as normally within society as they can.
So one day my I’m asked the great question, “If Stephenie Meyer writes about vampires, then what kind of Mormon is she?” Well, just because she writes about vampires does not mean she isn’t somewhat religious. She is not one who “trembles before god,” but her views aren’t completely secular either. Her religious views are reflected in her books.
At one point, Edward hints that he believes in Genesis, not evolution. Bella’s favorite expletive is “holy crow.” The words “god,” and “Jesus” have never been uttered, leading me to believe that the lord’s name is not to be used in vain. In a book which involves several High School social scenes and several teenage moments, I have counted only two swear words. Both were stated in all seriousness by Edward, whose speech patterns are, literally, from Edwardian times, when he grew up. In fact, here are the exact quotes:
“I decided as long as I was going to hell, I might as well do it thoroughly.” Pg. 87
“Damn it Bella! You’ll be the death of me, I swear you will.” Pg. 363
What swear words, do you ask? “Hell,” and “damn,” to be exact. More colorful words do not exist in these books.
Edward Cullen as portrayed by Robert Pattinson
in The Twilight Saga: New Moon [2009]
Even the way Edward treats Bella is conservative. Her father is a police chief, and is frequently out. Edward sneaks in, and when Bella is done with dinner, he carries her, yes, carries her, to her bedroom.
You will ask me, “Alec, why do you like these books—and Edward—so much if he acts this way?” The answer, my friends, is why so many “secular” people love the Twilight Saga. Like thousands, I see the truth: that Edward does not treat Bella with condescension, but with reverence. And that is what makes him the ultimate ideal of a lover to women—and men—everywhere. That and the fact that he is extremely attractive, a fact only enhanced by his portrayal by Robert Pattinson in the films based on the books. The mother of a friend of mine, who is also a Twilighter, said to me, “Edward sure ruined it for men everywhere by being the perfect boyfriend.” The awkward truth is that no man can live up to the ideals Edward sets for a lover.
Stephenie Meyer makes a cameo in
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part I [2011]   
And then there is the whole issue of how I, a gay individual, can support Stephenie Meyer’s work. When I brought up the idea of seeing Twilight in theaters one of my ex-boyfriends, he said that he wouldn’t even consider it because Meyer is a Mormon. I thought to myself, “So, let me get this straight (no pun intended): a gay man who is half African-American is going to discriminate against a minority group?” A work of literature is a work of literature, and unless it espouses hateful rhetoric (Mein Kampf comes to mind), the viewpoints of the author should generally be left out of it. We all know what Lord Byron did with his spare time, and yet his works are superb. Just because one group discriminates against another does not give that second group the right to discriminate against the first.
If I had to say what draws me most to the Twilight Saga, it is the author’s faith. You can tell that Stephenie Meyer has deep faith in something. I have read a lot of works by many authors. Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Shakespeare, Whitman, and Dante are some. Even more than Twain, Stephenie Meyer has the ability to allow us to get to know her characters on the deepest of personal levels. Even more than Thoreau, she has the ability to let us commune with nature when we are miles from it. It just so happens that she is a Mormon. I DON’T CARE.

No comments: