Ella, Crazy Ideas, and Analyzing the Merit of Twilight

I have always been prone to over-the-top ideas. As my family and friends can all testify I get at least one of these a week. All of a sudden, I’ll come racing into a room or call someone usually speaking a little faster and more animatedly than the average person ever should because “I’ve got the most amazing idea! You’ve got to hear it!”

Most of the time, by the time I’ve finished pitching it, it becomes entirely clear that whatever it was is completely impossible. No, I cannot go to Burma (my eight-year-old dream). No, I cannot start running a summer-time day care center underneath the deck (I was ten). And no, I cannot coerce anyone into letting me cut their hair (one month ago). Yet, without fail, another idea comes along that seems shiny and wonderful enough that I just have to pitch it to everyone, “because it’s going to work this time, you’ll see!”

So this afternoon while doing college applications supplements, I started thinking about what fascinates me so much about young adult literature and happened to glance over at my bookshelf. As I scanned over the titles, I noticed the Twilight series, books that I have not touched since I was fourteen and in eighth grade, having written them off as poorly-written, trite, and sexist. And then I got an idea, a beautiful, beautiful idea.

I’ve read a lot of articles recently about the series because the latest movie has come out, and nearly everyone’s assessment of Twilight and the films seemed to match my own–that they were an embarrassment to literature and sullied the genre of young adult fiction. But as I stared at the books’ spines, it began to occur to me that maybe that might not be true, that maybe it was horribly judgmental and unfair of me to be so derisive. They just might have some sort of merit, after all.

What if I sat down with the books and movies and then wrote an essay or article about them. Is sexism really at play? Why is it that most feminists don’t like the book? Why do people think that Meyer’s religion plays a role in the book? And how on earth did a story about centuries-old, sparkly vampires and a girl whose heart always seems to be beating erratically (I would have dragged her off to a cardiologist less than fifty pages into the first book) become so popular? There has got to be an explanation for this other than people enjoying a story of forbidden love. And I am determined to figure it out.

Two hours later, my mother came home to discover me annotating with sticky notes, furiously scribbling in a notebook, and searching JSTOR for more information. I had already sent Cecelia a text message in which I struggled to refrain from using capitals to express my boundless enthusiasm, “because seriously, this is going to be the best thing ever.”

Of course, now is a very inopportune time to fall down the rabbit hole of an exciting new project. I have a million things to be taking care of. No one is going to be happy if I don’t do the laundry, finish my college applications, take care of the cats, or send out a Christmas newsletter that says, “some things happened this year, and no one died.”

So I’ve put the tempting books and notebooks in the guest bedroom’s closet and am going to try very, very hard not to open it back up again until I truly have the time to throw myself full force into the project.

And as always, you can also find me on tumblr at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, if, you know, you’re into that kind of thing.

3 thoughts on “Ella, Crazy Ideas, and Analyzing the Merit of Twilight

  1. I think there is always a market for the equivalent of ‘fairy tales’. Nobody expects Sleeping Beauty to be ‘fine literature’ and have gritty realism. I’m not sure why romance novels and Twilight should be any different.

    A little drama, a little emotional pang that a reader can echo, and boom, off to the next one.

    I’m more miffed at the miscasting of vampires as the good guys. Soul-less undead predators don’t make good boyfriends, ladies. Just sayin’.

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