[DWJ] Twilight and New Moon (Was: Discussing now: What?)

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at Proffitt.com
Wed Aug 1 14:02:34 EDT 2007

I won't discuss these because I have difficulty being charitable about them.
Though we have talked about them before, a couple of times, starting back
when _Twilight_ was my pick for best new novel of whatever year it was
published.  Had a long argument with a sister-in-law about them recently and
was accused, for the first time in I believe fifteen years, of being unable
to "get past" the fact that it's a vampire novel and thus can present any
kind of crap as acceptable.  You know, 'cause it's not real or anything.
(See what I mean?  This is as charitable as I get.  Though mostly I'm out of
charity with that particular relative, who is so hard-headedly rational that
she finds it difficult to imagine that people might experience life
differently than she does.)

But I really want to agree with Deborah on this point:

>think one of the reasons the inner 16-year-old loves these books
>so much is that Bella, the heroine, is so personality-free that
>she basically acts as a placeholder for the reader. She doesn't
>have to have anything in herself, because she exists to be the
>in-story embodiment of the reader's obsession with her demon
>lover, and of the demon lover's adoration of the reader.

This is the definition of the successful romance novel, isn't it--the
vicarious experience of the main character's life.  Since I seem to have
turned into the designated apologist for unpopular or marginalized
literature, I've had to explain this to people who just don't get why
bodice-rippers are so popular.  (Why do I care what anyone thinks of a
subgenre even I don't like much?  I don't know.)  Not that I would
characterize _Twilight_ as a bodice-ripper or even a straight romance, since
there's a lot more going on, but I think this placeholder effect is at the
heart of its appeal.  It does make me wonder if Bella's character or lack
thereof was by accident or on purpose....

Melissa Proffitt

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