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Saturday, August 29, 2009

I know the secret behind Twilight's success and it concerns me.

I am a creature of habit. Unfortunately, I am a creature of bad habit more often than good. One such bad habit is the compulsion to eat while I read. And since I like to read and do read often, this habit can be evidenced by my compounding waistline. :0) Another habit, for better or worse, is the need to crawl into bed, all ready for sleep, and read for a while before turning out the lights. This one gets me into trouble on the rare occasion that I am immersed in a five-star gripper.

The other night I had nothing to read before bed. I am still waiting (rather impatiently now) for my book club read, The Zookeepers Wife, to arrive from Half.com. This potential habit-breaking disaster (a bookless evening) set my heart to racing and my palms to sweating (never a good thing for someone with chronic eczema). So what did I pick up in order to satisfy this literary obsession? Twilight, of course. You see, along with our book club meeting this next month, we are having a little Twilight party to watch the movie with those in the book club who have not yet seen it. I thought I'd give myself a bit of a refresher course. Heaven knows I had plenty of time before the party. Well, this was two nights ago and I am now well into the third book of the series, Eclipse. You can imagine how that leap was accomplished. Let's just say my kids have had plenty of time for imaginative play while their mother has immersed herself (for the third time, I might abashedly add) in the story of Bella, Edward, and Jacob and their vampire and werewolf families.

So what is it about these books that appeals so strongly to female readers? I qualify that question with gender specification because I have yet to hear of a man who read the Twilight series more than once, went to book clubs, or planned parties or events or movie viewings with large groups of friends. This cult seems to be wholly owned by the estrogen camp. But what is it about Twilight that truly grips women? What is it that draws us in? And, in my case at least, what draws me in against my better judgment? I like the books, but I've never been able to say that I love them. However, as evidenced by the last two and a half days, I am just as easily captivated by them as anyone else. And part of me hates that.

What don't I like? Well, here's an example of a passage that really irritates me:

"Welcome home," I said while his cold lips pressed under my jaw. "I'm glad you came back."

"That's a very good thing."

"Mmm," I agreed, tightening my arms around his neck.

His hand curved around my elbow, moving slowly down my arm, across my ribs and over my waist, tracing along my hip and down my leg, around my knee. He paused there, his hand curling around my calf. He pulled my leg up suddenly, hitching it around his hip.

I stopped breathing. This wasn't the kind of thing he usually allowed. Despite his cold hands, I felt suddenly warm. His lips moved in the hollow at the base of my throat.

"Not to bring on the ire prematurely," he whispered, "but do you mind telling me what it is about this bed that you object to?"

Before I could answer, before I could even concentrate enough to make sense of his words, he rolled to the side, pulling me on top of him. He held my face in his hands, angling it up so that his mouth could reach my throat. My breathing was too loud - it was almost embarrassing, but I couldn't care quite enough to be ashamed.

"The bed?" he asked again. "I think it's nice."

"It's unnecessary," I managed to gasp.

He pulled my face back to his, and my lips shaped themselves around his. Slowly this time, he rolled till he hovered over me. He held himself carefully so that I felt none of his weight, but I could feel the cool marble of his body press against mine. My heart was hammering so loudly that it was hard to hear his quiet laughter.

"That's debatable," he disagreed. "This would be difficult on a couch."

Cold as ice, his tongue lightly traced the shape of my lips.

My head was spinning - the air was coming too fast and shallow.

"Did you change your mind?" I asked breathlessly. Maybe he'd rethought all his careful rules. Maybe there was more significance to this bed than I'd originally guessed. My heart pounded almost painfully as I waited for his answer.

Okay, call me a prude, but this passage just seems extremely inappropriate. Especially for the audience toward which these books have been marketed. Yes, I am well aware that there are worse things written and read out there, but if that is how we are going to establish standards, then I am ashamed of us. Just because it's more appropriate than something else doesn't mean that it is appropriate.

In my Church we place huge emphasis on the need to be chaste and clean when we arrive at the marriage altar. Sex should be saved for marriage, as making love is the ultimate and extremely private expression of procreation. "But Liz," you say, "they weren't having sex. Their clothes were on. They didn't do anything but kiss, for Pete's sake!" Yes, okay, I concede. They weren't having sex, that much is clear, but what grates on me is that Stephenie Meyer (who happens to be LDS) has written her characters right onto the line. I can't see how that deserves commendation. Not only should we save ourselves for marriage, but we should also stay far clear of any behavior that would encourage pre-marital sexual deviance (like, oh, lying in a bed together in the dark, making out). I have a friend who read the fourth book in this series side-by-side with her 12-year-old step sister the day after it was released. At one point she turned to her little sister and asked her, "what part are you at?" Her little sister responded and then asked hesitantly, "But I don't understand why the bed was destroyed and the sheets all ripped apart with feathers everywhere?" My friend was a bit mortified. She looked to her mom for help. How was she to explain an extremely personal, bedroom marital scene to a 12-year-old who had just been exposed to it through this literary phenomenon marketed toward adolescents? I feel so badly for the youth of this world; those who overcome will have stronger testimonies than any generations before on account of all the ambiguity this world persistently throws at them. They deserve better from an author who knows better.

But, personal religious beliefs aside, this also irritates me for all that it is unrealistic! (Yes, I just said that about a work of fiction). Apparently, Bella is all too eager to engage in sexual activity and Edward is wholly responsible for putting on the brakes. Edward made the rules. Edward decides what is and is not allowed. Edward, Edward, Edward. Bella enthusiastically lets herself feel those feelings that ought to be reserved for after marriage; she absolutely surrenders to those feelings. And Edward is in charge of saying, "no." Pshaw! The book is fiction, yes, but Meyer is a master at weaving the real world and the fictional world into an explosive blend that every teenage girl the world over is now pining for. Are teenagers just as good at separating fact from ridiculous fiction? Fact: humans exist. Fiction: vampires stalk the earth. Okay, that one was easy. Fact: we all want to have sex. Fiction: your boyfriend is in charge of screeching to a full stop when feelings best left for a marital relationship start to surface and heat up the couch (car, picnic blanket, etc.). Why are we feeding teenagers, and their mixed-up, confused emotions, to the wolves (no pun intended)?

Okay, so what brings a critic like me back for the third time around?

I graduated from BYU with a major in MFHD (Marriage, Family, and Human Development). I remember in one such marriage-oriented class, my professor said something extremely profound that I have never forgotten. At the very root of all our female desires is the need to feel cherished. The word cherish, in my opinion, aptly encompasses all those other desirable feelings such as love, appreciation, and admiration. It is THE word to describe how women would love to be treated by men. It is also the very word I would apply to Edward's treatment of Bella. He absolutely cherishes her. Men, on the other hand, have an innate need to be admired. That is their huge emotional pull. They have to know that their contributions to work, family, and society are admired by their significant others. Bella definitely admires Edward. In fact, she worships him, constantly fretting over their excessive inequality of talent, looks, physical abilities, etc.

But here, too, I am conflicted. Because again, while the work is fictional, it revolves around, is directed by, and incorporates human emotions. I think - and this is purely my own, personal speculation - but I think that assigning human emotions to a fictional (and practically god-like) character makes the rest of wish that our human counterparts could perform in a god-like manner while forgetting their imperfect, human state. The Chief is not Edward. Would I like for The Chief to cherish me the way Edward cherishes Bella? Sure, but he does not have the luxury of indisputable financial security, minimal responsibilities and distractions, and 24 hr. wakefulness to dote on me the way Edward dotes on Bella. And here, too, the danger of unreal expectations for teenagers is glaringly evident. Edward gives, gives, gives and never requires any return from Bella. He doesn't eat, so she can't cook for him. He's indestructible and stone-like, so I can't imagine a foot rub would be desired or effective. He doesn't sleep, so she can't tiptoe out of the room and give him the gift of sleeping in. She laments this inequality all the time, and he constantly berates her for her lamentations. Truthfully, though, which of us women wouldn't love to be constantly doted on with no expectation for the service to be returned and with no lessening of love from the constant giver toward the constant receiver? But, again, that's not real life. Humans need evidence of love. Edward doesn't. All he wants from Bella is her constant presence. That would drive the rest of us crazy. :0) We need more than just to be told we are loved; we need to be shown we are loved. I guess vampires don't share that need, but what is the message that teenagers are receiving from reading, and pining over, this great inequality? In another of those classes I mentioned taking at BYU, my professor taught us that one of the greatest murderers of marriage, one of the greatest predictors of impending divorce, is for one or both parties to enter the union with unreal expectations; expectations usually learned from fiction (movies, books, etc.).

Okay, my dad always tells me I'm too verbose and The Chief just asked me, after listening to the last two paragraphs, how long this post was going to be. So, I'll just leave it at that. I'm sure there is more that I could say (there is always more I could say). Sometimes I wish my brain wouldn't analyze so much, but I am of the opinion that everything we put into our brain and bodies - from books to movies to magazines to conversations to jokes to food to substances - everything effects us for better or worse. Everything absorbed will either draw us closer to our Heavenly Father or closer to Lucifer.

So what is the grand secret behind Twilight's success? Well, it should be evident in the fact that women are more jazzed about this series than men; we are single-handedly driving this phenomenon. Women and girls the world over are captivated by and envious of the female lead's masterfully cherishing boyfriend. I can read these books and see the unrealistic nature of Edward and Bella's relationship. Can the same be said for the impressionable teenager? What do you think?

Note: When commenting, please remember to refer to my family members by their pseudonyms to help protect their privacy. Thank you!

33 comments:

e said...

So happy you wrote this. I have serious issues with Twilight. I don't like bursting bubbles. I think its crap. We can do better when it comes to a love story. (and that has nothing to do with sex or no sex)

It's "Romeo & Juliet" except they live. Which sounds happy, until you realize the "love" is really obsession and objectification. (romeo and juliet is always sold as a love story...but it's not). I absolutely agree this is not written for young girls.

Some people's defense is that Edward is so verbal about not wanting to have pre-marital sex. But there's enough sexual tension to glorify kissing into the same level as sex.

Anyways. thank you.

Brooklet said...

hm, so much to think of. I love reading young adult fiction, meaning books meant for the 12-18 year old range (I know, I am real mature). I think that those books have a higher responsibility with what is written in them. There are a lot of things I don't like in twilight, that I cringe to think of a 14 year old reading.

I keep trying to write them down in this comment, but I can't be brief so i won't list them.

And besides, Bella annoys the crap out of me.

miriam said...

i hate these books for the same reason: it's what love looks like to 16-year-old minds and I don't like it because of how lame that is. same reason why i hated the 'da vinci code'. suddenly people are walking around thinking that the christ is a woman and jesus was just a really great guy stuck in a conspiracy.

not everything we read is true.

miriam said...

ps thank you for all of your nice comments on my blog. i seriously owe you for such wonderful, wonderful encouragement. one day we can live next to each other and i'll make you a delicious dinner. until then know that i am grateful for your kind words and think quite highly of you.

Jolene said...

I read the first book and thought it was ok, but then I started reading the 2nd, and I couldn't stand it. It drove me crazy. Bella was so annoying. I did finish it. I don't understand all the hype the series has gotten.

Laurie said...

Great post, lots to think about. I only read Book 1, because I hated feeling sucked in to the book and like Brooke said, Bella is so stinking annoying. Whenever I hear about Twilight books, movies, parties, I just cringe. I hated the "love story," I hated the obsessive love, it creeped me out, and most of all I hated that I couldn't stop reading the book, even though I didn't like it at all. Ick.

Scott and Megan said...

Ok- I was totally wrapped up, and then you stopped?!? I thought we were just getting to the meat! I'll just have to call you to hear the rest.

Lizzie said...

Thanks for all your comments everyone! You've given me a lot more to think about.

Miriam, I would love to live next to you except that you would probably steal any potential clients with your awesome photography! :0)

P.S. You don't owe me anything. I'm just paying forward what Evelyn was to me. (Does that make sense?)

M to the E to the R to the I said...

Love the Books. Don't let your kids read them, that's all. Lame parents. I wouldn't let my kids read them until they move out of the house, or get married. ;-)

Lizzie said...

It could be as simple as that, Meri, but then, does obvious parental responsibility negate an author's responsibility to be sensitive to his/her readers? Is Stephenie Meyer off the hook because we moms and dads should be involved and vigilant? If we were truly working as a community for the greatest benefit and well-being of these kids today, we'd be much more conscientious of our words, thoughts, actions, and expressions and how they are affecting the whole of society, not just those in our immediate circle of associations. It's amazing how many teens across the world have been affected by Stephenie Meyer's books. Is it not true that if she hadn't ever written them, or at least had kept them a bit more appropriate for the target audience, that parents wouldn't even have to be worrying about saying "no" to these particular novels?

Is it okay for me to take questionable photographs in the name of artistic expression, market them toward a worldwide audience, and guiltlessly leave it up to parents to make sure that their children don't see them? I think not. It would show a shocking lack of personal responsibility and accountability on my part.

Seems silly that the best solution for an ADOLESCENT romance novel is to tell your ADOLESCENT that he/she cannot read it until he/she is an ADULT. ;)

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Meri! I love it when people encourage me toward even deeper thinking.

ado said...

I think that the simple fact that Deseret Book has recently pulled all books of the Twilight series off of their shelves says a lot. (Although, I am not sure why it took them this long to decide it didn't meet the same standard as their other books did...) http://www.newmoonmovie.org/2009/04/lds-church-pulls-twilight-from-store-shelves/

Funny story: I actually got into a debate with my uncle about the themes behind twilight being lust and not love. He LOVES the books if you can believe it, and he thinks that the main characters share true love. If that's what the world is setting as the standard of "true love" then it's no shocker why fifty percent + of marriages end up in divorce!

ElisaBell said...

I'm glad you wrote this! I felt the same way when reading the passage you quoted. In fact, while reading "Eclipse", I had my mouth wide open while whispering "NO, Stephenie, NO!" I was very afraid that Stephenie would actually let her characters cross that line. I was disappointed that Bella would encourage Edward, even after he had stated his desire and belief to wait until after marriage.

My in-laws have a family blog which, a few months ago, was the venue for a heated debate on Twilight and whether or not it is pornographic. Romance novels are the pornography of choice for many women and there was even an Ensign article awhile back (I'll have to find the reference and post it later) where a woman shared how her addiction to romance novels had a damaging effect on her marriage. Although the characters DID wait until marriage, the effect, particularly on LDS women, seems to be the same as reading more "hard-core" romance novels. I see women walking around in shirts that say "My heart belongs to my husband but my neck belongs to Edward." Maybe it's because I'm more of a Jacob lover (I like warm bodies much more than cold stone, and guys who sparkle are way too metro-sexual for me) but I think such statements are insulting to a spouse. I would hate for my husband to feel like he has to compete with a fictional literary figure. He already feels threatened by Mr. Darcy! :)

I could go on and on with things I like or dislike about Stephenie Meyer's books but what annoyed me the most is that Bella did not seem to mature. Truly, I believed that eventually Bella would stop going on and on about how gorgeous Edward is. Edward's love for Bella seemed much less shallow but even after marriage and childbirth, Bella still acted like a teenage girl. *Sigh*

Sara said...

This is a really interesting topic (who am I kidding, all of your topics on here are interesting, even when I don't agree :) and considering I just got chewed out yesterday at church for not knowing that women are into pornography just as much as men....we had a weird/funny/not spiritual lesson for all our youth, and one of the bishopric kept "picking on Sister F", which is fine by me, I don't get offended easily. I was actually torn between total confusion and trying not to laugh. Anyway, babbling. The whole point was that the bishopric guy asked me why pornography was so dangerous to "mothers in Zion", and I said, "What? I didn't think women used porn". So then they all laughed at me, and I went home to ask Ratchet what on earth women could possibly be attracted to in pornography?!! He thought for a while, and then said, "I think pornography for women AND men is lusting after the perfect man/woman, in books, on tv, in movies, and not appreciating their husbands or wives....so women could get into romance novels too much and that qualifies." Here I should say that I liked the Twilight series, and the books are back on our Deseret Book shelves up here. I would love to be cherished! And I totally believe that my husband compares to Edward in the "perfect man" category...he also fights a constant temptation to kill me. HAHAHA....

Anonymous said...

I agree, Liz! I haven't read any of the Twilight books...never was all that interested actually. I've always preferred real-life stories over fantasy. The excerpt you quoted wasn't even written all that well. But we definitely shouldn't be pushing unrealistic models for relationships on our teenagers or exposing them to the ones we don't want them to emulate!

Lizzie said...

Dear ElisaBell,

Edward has NOTHING on Mr. Darcy. :0) *Sigh* *Swoon* *Dead faint* And Mr. Darcy stands on that pedestal as a real, imperfect human, without the petting, snogging, hovering, controlling, and model physique to "up" his appeal. I like my men real. Do you think I could find a bumper sticker that says just that? :0)

Sara,

I think this is quite possibly the funniest thing I've EVER heard!!

"I totally believe that my husband compares to Edward in the "perfect man" category...he also fights a constant temptation to kill me."

I have been laughing and laughing and giggling and snorting since I read that. Thanks for making my week (so far)! :P

Anonymous,

Good points!

Scott and Karin said...

Everything I wanted to say has already been said. I read the series one time. I liked it okay, but was really disappointed in the last book. Right after I finished it we had a fifth sunday lesson in which the bishop asked us not to read it. He called it "verging on pornographic" and that we needed to stay as far away from those things as possible. I think that says a lot about Stephanie Meyers.

La said...

Lizzie
Question about the poll. I am assuming that "no more" children means there are already children that have been born. So why isn't "be happy that god gave you what he did and raise those children in the best way possible" an option?
just a thought!!

Lizzie said...

Good question, La!

Actually, if this were really my situation (and it very well could be if my body was adversely affected by my ectopic pregnancy last year), then I would answer that I just know my family is not complete yet. If I felt like we were whole as is, I'd let it lie and enjoy these boys I love so much. But "give up" is not an option for me. My family is not finished growing. So if this was the same situation for you and you were told you couldn't have the rest of your kids naturally, what would you do? Does that clear it up? :0)

P.S. I would add your option to the poll, but it won't let me without deleting the whole thing and starting over fresh. Blah! ;)

Freckles said...

You have a valid point , Liz. The world is in a sad state in the fact that sex sells. It's everywhere. I read the books and thought they were ok, but I'm an adult. I couldn't picture preteen girls reading them. The one that gets me the most is that even fast food companies like Carl's Jr have now resorted to using large breasted beach babes to sell a HAMBURGER! Really, is that even necessary? Does that really increase sales? hmm.

Also, I disliked the Harry Potter books for the same reason. The first book was truly a children's book, but every one after that was not! It's sad to see YOUNG children going to those movies! I hate to see products marketed to the wrong audience, but it seem no one knows where to draw the line anymore! It's all about the $$$!

Lizzie said...

Hm. I'll have to read Harry Potter again. I can't remember anything even remotely like Twilight petting in Harry Potter. It's been a while, though. It seems that J.K. Rowling was more about defining a regular social experience that most teens encounter. Meyer, on the other hand, pushed past definition and into description.

Example:

- I remember Rowling mentioning snogging. Not much more.

- Meyer, wouldn't have stopped at "snogging." She would have described exactly what that entailed down to the exploring limbs, eager lips, and insatiable, heated emotions.

Does any of this even make sense? If I'm way off base here, just ignore me. I've been meaning to read Harry Potter again for a long time now. I think you've given me the perfect impetus to do so. Gotta make sure Rowling is an author I want to give honorary placement on my bookshelves. :P

Freckles said...

Oh, I forgot to clarify, I wasn't meaning anything sexual with her novels. I meant that they have so much evil and scariness that for young kids I think those novels aren't good choices either. Especially when you see 5 year olds at the movies and know they're going to have nightmares!

I guess it's all in the way you look at things, she is a fantastic writer, but once again, her novels should have been marketed to adults not children or she should have written them all like the first one.

My mom teaches 5th grade and began reading them to her students, but had to stop at the beginning of the second book because she didn't think they were appropriate for that age and neither did the staff.

Anyway, long story short, we need to protect our children from more than vulgararity, but evil too.
As you read them again, you'll see what I mean. : )

Lizzie said...

Oh thanks, Freckles! I was utterly confused. :0) I see what you mean now and I concur. I distinctly remember balking at how young some of the Harry Potter movie attendees were when I went to see it after it came out.

Travis and Ashley said...

This post made me a little sad...not because I don't agree with what you are saying, because I totally see your point, but because now I feel horrible for loving these books! Haha! I have never found myself wrapped up in a book so much, I went through the first three books in three days, I just couldn't put it down. It was like being in high school all over again, fantasizing about that perfect guy who was going to sweep me off my feet and take me away somewhere where we were going to be happy forever. I imagined myself as bella (I was pretty ordinary like her) and the fact that she got the perfect, unattainable guy, not only because he thought she was "yummy" but because he wanted to know every thought that went through her mind. I mean, what high school teenage girl doesn't think the same thing when she dreams of boys and her perfect guy. The book made me giggle! Haha!

But then, you finish the books and you move on. If there is one thing I want to teach my children, it's to understand that fiction books are meant to take you away to a place where your imagination runs wild and where "real" life doesn't exist. Whenever I jump into a book, it's to take me away from all the troubles of my life and to take me where the author intends to take me.

That said, I would definitely let my OLDER teenage daughter read this book (I don't think 12 year olds were Meyer's intended audience). I would also use it as an opportunity to teach her the difference between fantasy (because a book about vampires and werewolves is definitely fantasy) and real life. Also, I wouldn't mind my 16 year old daughter to think she has to only date "edwards", because it will take her a couple years to discover that they don't exist and I secretly don't want her to date until she is 18, haha!

Anyways, I seriously could go on and on but I know I am boring you... :) That said, I would much rather my daughter reading the Twilight series than reading gossip girl where rich teenagers are constantly having sex and doing drugs like thats how normal teenagers are supposed to act. I would much rather my daughter reading a book where it does have a guy asking to wait til they are married and to try to find someone where being with them for eternity isn't long enough. If I had a choice...thats what it would be.

And I think we need to give teenage girls a little bit of credit....`

Lizzie said...

You never bore me, Ashley! I value your opinion. I'm sorry this post made you sad. I was trying to be very clear that I am captivated by the books, too, which is partly why I am frustrated with myself. Because if I really look at it in terms of how everything entering my body is also affecting my spirit, then I feel like I shouldn't like the books. But, even after having written this post I'm still finishing up the series (for the third time). Granted, I'll probably give the books away after this, or sell them, but dangit, I'm gonna finish! :0)

I guess in the end the greatest danger I see in Stephenie Meyer's books is that the line between fiction and reality is extremely blurred. Yes, the characters are fictitious - vampires and werewolves - but their feelings are not. Instead, their feelings are distinctly human, real. And I could make a strong case for the fact that these books are more about a passionate and emotional love story than they are about epic battles between fictitious forces (just read your first paragraph again as to why you loved them so much). ;) So where does that really leave teenagers (and the tweens who aren't supposed to be marketed to, but who are definitely as much a part of this phenomenon as the rest of us)? Teenagers aren't rational, logical creatures. That much has been researched and attested to time and time again. I can see it of myself in hindsight! (And this is where I commend your responsibility in being determined to discuss with your children whatever literature they are reading. Bravo!). So I absolutely worry about the millions of others out there who don't have any parental buffer as they are reading these descriptions of very sacred, very human emotions being aroused, encouraged, and glorified.

I have to disagree with your assessment that we "need to give teenage girls a little bit of credit." I think now, more than ever, we need to be more vigilant and protective against the barrage of immoral messages floating around out there. They need parental advocates! They need protectors and defenders, not facilitators and "justifiers." They get enough of the latter in the very loud, very obnoxious Hollywood. Yes, Edward was adamant about waiting until after marriage to have sex, but Bella was sending a different message entirely. She whined and moaned about being restrained. She begged Edward to have sex with her. She tried to seduce him, for Pete's sake, deliberately attempting to break his resolve with pouting lips and sneak-attack make-out sessions! I just can't see how it would be responsible for me to allow my daughter, my impressionable, teenage daughter, to read a book which glorifies provocative and arousing hanky panky, then turns around all pious and tries to teach that sex should be reserved for marriage. I'm afraid the second message will lose to the first since in REAL life, it is not reasonable to expect teens to be able to go as far as Bella and Edward do without going all the way. We need to be encouraging them to stay FAR, FAR away from that line rather than flirting with it.

Lizzie said...

I agree that Twilight is probably better than other things out there that teens could be reading, but is it the BEST thing that teens could be reading? No way! I would much rather have my daughter reading The Book of Mormon than Twilight, so why would I settle?! In a line-up of horrible, awful, okay, good, better, best, why would I choose "better" for my child when "best" is out there available for the taking?! Or, okay, maybe The Book of Mormon isn't a fair comparison because it isn't even in the same genre. How about Shannon Hale? I love her books. They are also for adolescents and they captivated me just as much as Twilight did. But they are clean. Clean, clean, clean. I could let my daughter read Shannon Hale without hovering, wondering what page she's on and if we need to have "the talk" yet. Know what I mean?

Well, Ashley, I'm crossing my fingers hoping you won't boycott my blog! :0) You've returned the favor and made me think. I LOVE to hear all sides of an argument and discuss and debate. I think debating must be like a drug for me. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and please do share if anything else comes to mind!

Travis and Ashley said...

oh stop, I would never boycott your blog! Haha! Every once in a while I like to play devil's advocate and I am probably just justifying me reading the books. I guess it's more about having someone goes as far as saying these books are pornographic makes me wince.

I also love Shannon Hale, just finished the Actor and the Housewife and was crying through the book, but when I first read Austenland, I had to wonder if she was LDS because of some lines crossed there, but at least those books are in th adult section.

And of course, I would much rather my daughter read the Book of Mormon (that has to be implied)!!

Lizzie said...

I agree with you there. I, too, cringe at calling these pornographic.

Shannon Hale is LDS! And I haven't had a chance to pick up Austenland yet.

I feel that we are kindred spirits, you and I. I am constantly playing Devil's advocate, much to the chagrin of those around me. :D

*Sigh* Sometimes I get really sad about all the muck our children and their children are going to have to wade through to make it back to our Heavenly Father. But then I think about all the lovely things, the things of beauty and wonder, that the Lord has given us to feast our souls on, and I remember that we have help. So much help. I just hope I can help my kids, through example and encouragement, to find those things and keep feeding their souls instead of starving them with telestial second-bests.

Travis and Ashley said...

That is the key to raising kids, I hope. I know that I have so much to work on and I hope to be a better person and to instill in my kids to try to live at a higher standard than I did...so, many one day we will both be blessed with girls and will actually have to experience those teenage years and at that point, I may have a different perspective.

Thanks Liz for listening to my rants! Haha! Hopefully I didn't offend, sometimes what I am thinking doesn't quite come out the right way...:P I was talking to hubby and we both know I am just trying to justify reading it, so I think next time I read it, I will definitely have an open mind (I have only read #4 once).

Oh, and you should read Austenland, I thought it was great...one of the more entertaining austen interpretations.

Marilee said...

Wow, there are obviously some strong feelings out there on both sides about this. So much to say, but I will try to organize myself and be brief.
First, I will say that I really enjoyed the series. I've read it all twice now. (My husband, by the way, has read it three times - he is much more of a romantic than I am). I definitely agree with a lot that has been said. Yes, there were some scenes that were definitely "on the line", to use Liz's words. Would the story have been better without those? Absolutely. The same thing I think every time I go see a movie and have to close my eyes or walk out. All those movies where we say "oh, if only they hadn't put in that one part..." So annoying!
I will say that I was glad to see that in the end, once Bella really thought about it, she decided that they were going to wait until after they were married to have sex. Even when Edward says, no, I'll give you what you want now, she stands her ground and says they are going to be responsible and follow the rules (see the last chapter of Eclipse).
Would I let my teenage daughter read the series? Depends on her maturity level. Definitely not before 17/18ish. And we would definitely be having discussions about love romance, relationships etc. (In playing the devil's advocate, I will say that I saw an interview with Stephenie where she claimed that she asked the publishers to put a sticker/warning on Breaking Dawn that it was not appropriate for kids under the age of 17 but the publisher said no.)
Unless we put our kids in a box or move to a secluded mountain, I think we need to know as parents that 1) they are going to see, hear, and be influenced by things and people that we would rather they not be, no matter how hard we try to shelter them and 2) that only emphasizes the importance of teaching them standards and what the spirit feels like so they can learn to discern for themselves what is good and what isn't.

Marilee said...

It's me again. I just want to add that though I haven't explored the idea fully or totally thought it through, I was surprised by the comment about it being lust, not love between Edward and Bella. Though there is obviously a lot of physical attraction and some over-the-top romantic stuff, I don't think I would consider it lust. Lust is inherently selfish; they both always seem to be putting the other before themselves.

Lizzie said...

Hey Mare! Thanks for commenting!

So, I feel like such a disagreeable schmuck, but I don't think we're on the same page as to why Bella abstained from sex once Edward gave in. You say it's because she thought about it and decided to do the responsible thing. In truth, however, she felt so guilty for ever having hurt Edward by liking Jacob, that she resolved to never hurt him again and instead go along with whatever "crazy" expectations he was harboring about sex and marriage. If not for guilt, she would have given in quite readily. She didn't feel any moral compunctions against sex before marriage. Her eye-rolling attitude toward Edward's archaic approach to chastity never changed.

And, one could even say that her attitude is even more detrimental to impressionable youth considering the fact that she allowed his feelings to dictate her actions. She wanted to make him happy, so she opted to wait until after marriage to have sex. Well, what if it makes a boy happy to have sex before marriage? Are his feelings so dang all-important in that case, too?

I agree that our children are going to encounter smut out there in the world, but we ought to reserve total control over what music, entertainment, and literature are brought into our own homes. If they are going to be subjected to questionable themes "out there," then why compound the problem by willingly and readily bringing them "in here?"

Listen, I have to clarify that I am not intending to pass judgment on anyone who owns or likes or even loves these books. I have them in my own home, for Pete's sake! :D Though this discussion has helped me decide what I'll be doing with these books, I am no one else's judge or jury. I am just someone who thinks too much. :D

Marilee said...

I love our discussions! They always make me look at things from a different perspective.

I am in 100% agreement about being careful what we allow in our home, whether it is tv, movies, books, whatever. There is so much evil and awful things out there; our home ought to be a refuge from all that.

Next time I read Eclipse I am going to pay more attention to the end and Bella's motivations in deciding to wait until marriage. It always seemed to me that she decided that she was going to do things right, meaning in the right order, and that she didn't want to risk Edward's soul through immorality. If that's true, though, I guess it was more for his morality than for hers. But I will have to do some digging. :) Keep bringing up the thought-provoking questions - I love it!

Lizzie said...

Actually, you are right, Marilee. She does mention something about doing things responsibly and in the right order, but you're also right that all she's concerned about is his soul and not her own.

"I'm following all the rules, Edward. Your soul is far, far too important to me to take chances with."

I guess it just makes me sad that the one person standing up for sex after marriage also happens to be the guy who lived his life at a time when anything else would have been socially unacceptable. Now we've flip-flopped and it would have been nice to see Bella, the modern-day female, stand up for chastity. Instead, it's just fuel for the fire of those spitting out terms like "old-fashioned" and "tradition" as if they were cuss words.

Okay, so I just went to start a bath for the boys and now that I think about this more I recognize that if Bella is abstaining because she's worried about Edward's soul being affected by sex before marriage then that would seem to suggest that she must believe in some restraining factor. Or is her guiding light simply his satisfaction?

"Tell me why not, Bella," he demanded. "This had better not be about me." Everything in my world was about him. What a silly thing to expect.

I don't know, Mare. The more I read that last part of Eclipse, the more confused I become. And I'm already married! :D When Bella says she wants to do things responsible and right, by her own definition, that means "Everything in the right order. I will not leave Charlie and Renee without the best resolution I can give them. I won't deny Alice her fun, if I'm having a wedding anyway. And I will tie myself to you in every human way, before I ask you to make me immortal." But I'm not sure that a wedding would have been a priority human tie for her if not for Edward. She seems to be more determined to have sex with him before she becomes a vampire than to get married to him before she becomes a vampire. Does that makes sense?

Anyway, I see where you are coming from, but from my seat it appears that she is more self-sacrificing than moral.