The Friday Rant: Yeah, I went to see Breaking Dawn. What of it?

Is it just horrible that my husband and I went with our 19-year-old daughter to see Breaking Dawn? It was a matinée — 11:00 on a Thursday morning — so we didn’t think we’d have much company in the theater. Surprisingly, we did. Another guy! With his wife/girlfriend. And a real manly guy, big boots, trucker hat, flannel shirt, puffy vest. (He really loves his wife/girlfriend.) A mom and her little girl (dude, my mom never let me skip school to go to the movies). Another normal-looking couple. A couple of women. A girl all by herself, way back in the back row. I wished I could sit with her and discuss the movie, but maybe she really just wanted to experience it and needed alone-time to do it. Or maybe it’s the 15th time she’s seen it and she had finally run out of friends.

So does that make me a loser? The books have experienced the expected backlash. Anything that does well seems to require a lot of sour grapes at some point. Millions of people buy the books, women of all ages love them (my 75-year-old MIL and her sisters read them before I’d ever heard of them, for crying out loud; my mom was embarrassed to admit she had too), the movies have broken attendance records, Stephenie Meyer has made bunches and bunches of money. But the books are poorly written, the love scenes are cheesy, Bella is boring, blah blah blah.

Sour grapes! Sure, there are better-written books out there. I loved the Shiver books for the almost lyrical writing, for example. But Stephenie Meyer does one thing very well: She makes us feel emotions. When Edward leaves Bella in book 2 (?), Bella’s agony is easy to relate to. Bella’s “ordinariness” gives girls hope that some day, someone will finally see something special in them too. And Meyer captures the feeling of being a teenager in love for the first time. Teens yearn for what Bella has. Adults remember having what she has.

I read a comment about middle-aged women who wish they had an Edward in their lives. Dummy — we already did. We all had that first love, and we remember and maybe are a little embarrassed by how we behaved, dumping our friends to spend every moment with the guy, dreaming of the perfect wedding, spending hours thinking about him. I’m lucky: I married the guy. (Okay, so I was a junior in college when we met. I was a late bloomer. A micro-bloomer.) I adore him in a completely different, adult way that is so much better. But I smile every time I remember the infatuation stage of our relationship, that feeling that we couldn’t get close enough, that there weren’t enough hours in a day to be together in. It was fun, and that’s what teens get from these books: A fun read that makes them long for a love like that.

So let people enjoy the books and movies, and stop acting like Stephenie Meyer is the Antichrist. What’s with the fury other writers unleash on the woman? Each of us has talents, and her talent is story-telling. If she’s not the world’s best writer, so what? No writer should be “apalled” to have done what books are supposed to do: Make readers happy. Not all readers, but a good chunk of them.

The fact is, if you tell a great story and connect with your readers, you don’t have to have the best writing skills technically. If you’re fantastic at the craft and mechanics of writing, but your stories are boring and readers don’t connect with your characters, nothing will save it. No one will read it.

If you’ve got both, bonanza!

Now, I agree, Edward is a stalker, and if my daughter were dating him, I’m kick his vamp butt. Watching someone sleep night after night is seriously creepy. The message that kids shouldn’t have sex before they are emotionally ready for it is great. The message that you should get married at eighteen so you can have sex isn’t. The message that you should change yourself fundamentally and give up everyone else in your life to be with that person is bad.

But this is where parenting comes in! I discussed all that with my daughter, what was good and what was bad, and the discussion matured her view of relationships. Sometimes you have to watch someone else screw up to see what you don’t want to do. Every character doesn’t have to be perfect and noble and always make the right decisions. We can learn a lot from flawed characters.

So, about the movie … Wow, was that boring! The wedding went on and on, and I thought Bella was going to throw up all over her white dress. The time on the island could have been shortened into a montage of happy memories. How romantic is chess, really? My husband wanted Edward and Jacob to fight and was disappointed in how wimpy Edward was. Their continued animosity could have added a lot of tension to the middle of the movie. The wolf/vampire fight was too short, too dark, too easy. Come on, just a few bite marks, guys! Torn clothes, broken bones, slight maiming quickly healed. When Bella was turning, I wanted to see more of what she was feeling inside. The one flash of her screaming in her mind didn’t convey the agony of turning into a vampire. I had the feeling the movie makers just didn’t have the energy to really delve into anything negative.

And I’ve never understood why she chose Edward. Jacob is cuter, warm, and doesn’t require anyone to die to be with him.

It was a long book, and they had a decision to make. They could have hit the high points and had one fast-paced, long movie. People would have sat through three hours for it. Or they could split it into two movies and had two shorter, slower-paced movies. I would have opted for one fast movie, but I understand they’ll make a lot more money with two.

I usually don’t like movies made from books, but I’m glad they were so true to the books for the kids’ sake. A lot of teen girls love this series. They’re consumed by it. For heaven’s sake, let them enjoy it. Let’s don’t get all elitist about it. I hate when people make kids feel guilty for liking something FOR KIDS. One day they’ll grow up and read “real” literature, but they’ll remember Twilight fondly, like you remember your first crush. Even if you’re so glad you didn’t end up with the guy.

Especially if you did.

About alisaacarter

I am a writer of young adult novels, wife, mom of three, lover of animals, former magazine editor, reader of anything paranormal, and coffee fanatic.
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