Sunday, November 29, 2009

Stephanie Meyers' Appeal

I first heard about a book called 'Twilight' when I was substituting at Dixon Middle School. I noticed a commotion in the library among a few female students and a teacher. They were animatedly talking about something, although I wasn't sure what. Then I saw one of the girls holding a book and they were all pointing at it and I knew it was this particular book that was causing the commotion. As soon as I got a chance, I inquired about the book and found that it was called 'Twilight' and that not only students were very interested in it, but the teachers and parents as well. I got a copy as soon as possible, and continued on through the series, waiting with baited breath until the next books came out.

I loved the series, but became aware of a backlash of sorts by certain groups of people and as I tried to understand their concerns, I really came to understand more about human nature and fear of the unknown, fear of change, and jealousy. So I am voicing what I have found to be my truth about this series and about this author.

Stephanie Meyer was a literature major, not a writer. She makes no bones about the fact that she was just an ordinary stay-at-home mom before she came upon her literary success. She doesn't claim that she was an experienced or acclaimed writer. She simply acted on a dream about one of the chapters and went from there, keeping things away from her husband at first, because she wasn't sure what he might think of her writing. She used her writing as an outlet from the humdrums of motherhood and there are many of them, to go along with the major rewards. There are undoubtedly many many fans of her work. She has had unprecedented success in the literary world and now the film industry. This is undoubtedly very puzzling for many a seasoned writer, many who have been at it for years and years, with not even a fraction of the success that she has swept up, in this her first series. For example, there are the well-meaning, albeit slightly self-righteous Mormon (of whom Stephanie Meyers is one) critics, who would have had her swiftly stripped of her church membership but had to be satisfied only with the removal of her books from Deseret Books, for her blasphemy of talking about vampires, traditionally associated with the occult, and with insinuating that young people have sexual urges--how dare she--these things should not be talked about so blatently! Wake up and smell the green jello my friends, this is kindergarten fare compared to what every kid in Mormondom is exposed to. Then there are the published authors, even NYT Bestselling authors. They say that her literary style is awkward, obviously amateur, stilted and non-descriptive. Apparently Stephen King expressed the greatest disdain for Stephanie Meyers--and what? He must think that stooping to blatent descriptions of terror, gore, sex and violence is great literary form. They may be literary, I wouldn't even know. But I know that books like his have helped our society descend to such levels of depravity, heretofore unknown. It's called pushing the envelope just a little further.

What Stephanie has hit on is a theme that is rarely, if ever, explored. Especially in a secular setting. It lies mainly with the extraordinary character of Edward. Here is the world of what has formerly been known as evil, mysterious and full of self-gratification and she has singled out a group of vampires, who for the most part have managed to quell these urges for the greater good, so as to live in peace with their fellow earthly inhabitants. They have totally controlled their natural instincts, and the most extreme example is Edward, who although he still has these urges, totally buries them in order to show Bella that he loves her and not only just loves her, but will put her life, comfort and happiness before his own. In a less primary role is Jacob, who also displays some of these characteristics as he becomes more involved in Bella's life. What? Men who actually think beyond the next paycheck, the next meal, the next romp in the hay? Wow! The ones who do that kind of thing are mothers--they have their children under great duress, sacrifice for their children, do for their children and families and live for their families and others. Mothers would give their own lives for their children and those they love.  Women are taught to be future mothers and they have this kind of mindset. Not that some men aren't doing these things, but all of these things at once?  I really think it blows a lot of womens' minds to think a man thinks beyond certain stereotypical things.

But wait--haven't we all been told that we need to control the natural man in order to keep our second estate? Now I'm sure I've lost every non-LDS reader at this point. That's OK. That's why Stephanie Meyer is here--to bring back to recall, in wonderful, easy-to-understand story form! She has brought the main point of human existence to light in a way that is easy to swallow, non-religious, yet so familiar to so many in so many ways. We came here to earth to bring our own natural, temporal, human tendencies under subjection to our spirits. We came here to change the "creatures" that we are to more refined and God-like beings. If we are successful here, we will progress to greater levels. Isn't that essentially what Edward did? I really feel like this is why this series has such universal appeal. And the fact that it was written to young people, before they are covered over with the unfortunate crust of cynicsm. Maybe, just maybe, it will raise some young person's eye to the fact that you really can overcome this life, in its many forms of darkness, despair, discouragment and destruction. Or maybe they will just have a great read!

Whatever the reason that people read the series, I'm sure that Stephanie Meyer felt like she dreamed a silly dream and was just writing it down as an outlet. But what was her driving force behind writing the whole book and then the series? Was she looking to make a ton of money as an author? Not even! She wasn't even a writer. She didn't even know if she should be doing it, hence the initial hiding of the manuscript from her husband. There was only one person who even gave her book a thumbs up for publishing, and that is who she went with. Whatever the reason she decided to write these books, I feel like the world is a better place because of them!


Diana said...

One thing can be said about Opinions.... everybody has one. But I agree with what you have written. It has surprised me the amount of angst this book series has caused. For Heaven's's a story! Like Star Wars is real? Or Cinderella for that matter! (although this is more plausable.) I guess I could have used The Little Mermaid. No one got upset about a mermaid becoming that is going to happen. Anyway...It's a story. A good story in my opinion, but it's just a story.

Chastina said...

I agree with your post. I found the books enjoyable. I know a lot of people have not liked it, but we know that everyone has a different taste in reading material.

Richard & Natalie said...

BRAVO!!! Helena. A voice of reason in this moral deprived society we live in! I very much enjoyed this post and haven't thought about the books in several ways you pointed out, but I completely agree with. Thanks for sharing your spot on point of view!

helena said...

Thanks girlfriends!