Monday, January 24, 2011

The Twilight Problem

Everyone's entitled to like or dislike Twilight. Maybe you think Bella should have ended up with Mike. Maybe you don't like the excessive description of the weather, the adjective overload, or how Bella describes Edward exactly the same way every time she sees him. Maybe you think their physical relationship should be more realistic. Maybe you happen to know that Nurse Cullen was a serial killer in the 70's and 80's, and that gives you a disturbing perspective on these things. Heck, maybe you're pro-choice and you think Bella should have had an abortion (it would have saved her kid from growing up with a name like Renesmee).

But those are dislikes. They're issues with the writing style, the world of Twilight, and the plot. I enjoyed Twilight the first time I read it, despite disliking some things. You can get past a dislike. It's much harder to get past a disagree.

I disagree with the principles in Twilight. Specifically, the kind of love the book seems to promote. Before you jump to conclusions, I don't think Bella and Edward should have had sex before they were married or anything like that -- my disagreement is much more basic. This saga is supposed to be the great popular love story of this generation (gag). But what does it say about love?

Bella sees Edward and is instantly attracted to him, and vice versa. I can deal with that -- love at first sight. It happens. They stay together despite the problems posed by a human-vampire relationship. Seems a bit masochistic of them -- but if they want to risk tragic deaths for love, fine by me. Bella wants to be a vampire so she can stay with Edward forever. All right -- undying love is taken a bit more literally than usual in this book, but I can stomach it.

It's New Moon where the problem begins. Bella dreams that she's old and hideous while Edward remains young and beautiful, and wakes up screaming. When Edward leaves her, she sinks into depression, faced with her own mortality (and human ugliness) as much as the pain of a break-up. 

That made me wonder: why does she really want him? Sure, they're in love -- but they've known each other a few months while Edward's lived for a hundred years, and Bella is a normal girl who (despite what Edward and everyone else keeps telling her) constantly mopes about her looks. Either she's seeking attention or she really believes she's plain and boring. She has horrible self-esteem -- and having a devoted boyfriend is a way to feel better about herself. A future as a sexy, eternally young vampiress with a sexy, eternally young vampire boyfriend is a plus too.

Reality check please. I know so many people who do this. They need attention, affirmation, and affection because of insecurity -- so they find it in relationships, expecting the other person to fix everything. They don't know how to be themselves because they fear being themselves -- or rather, they fear being by themselves. Many romances deal with this kind of insecurity, but most don't end up endorsing it. For instance, Eat Pray Love is about exactly this kind of woman in this kind of a relationship.

Then there's the Jacob Problem. Uh-oh. Bella and Edward's relationship can't get any more intense -- so after book one, the only way to keep interest is to introduce a rival. Jacob Black is Bella's best friend who helps her during her depression and eventually becomes a love interest. 

As a werewolf, he is also immortal -- he won't age as long as he keeps shape-shifting. BUT (key point coming up here) when a werewolf "imprints" on the person he's meant to be with, he will stop shape-shifting and grow old with them. 

Growing old together, making sacrifices, learning to value the little time you have with your loved one -- isn't that what makes true love, well, true?

So which does our shallow heroine "beautiful swan" choose? Someone willing to sacrifice immortality and special abilities to be with her? Or the life of an eternally-young, always-beautiful vampire?

She chooses Edward, of course. Edward, with a body like a Greek god, whose protective qualities from the first book get more and more intense until he's more like a father than a boyfriend (add that to the fact that he's 109). Edward, with whom she argues constantly about what she's allowed to do. They never really built up friendship and respect before diving into their romantic relationship.

Just to clarify: this is not about being "Team Jacob." This is about being "Come on, seriously?!" Throughout the books and movies, Bella is obsessed with her appearance, age, and the possibility of immortality. What are you saying, Stephanie Meyer? Is love only for the young and beautiful? Do old couples and "ugly" people not feel love -- or do they just not deserve love?

In my opinion, time means more when you don't have forever.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Guide to Effective Procrastination

As a college student, I'd like to think I know a thing or two about procrastination. I've been observing my activities this Sunday--the day before my first paper of the semester is due--and thought I would make a blog post with the aim of explaining my own practices and helping others to procrastinate more effectively. Here follows a list of things one can do to improve one's rate of procrastination.

1. Make a facebook note, diary entry, blog post... *cough*

2. Social networking sites. Remember that friend you haven't talked to in ages? Now's a great time to catch up!

3. Texting or talking on the phone. Same idea as #2. You suddenly remember your mother asked you to call--and you wouldn't want to be an irresponsible child, would you? After all, she's paying for your tuition...

4. Take a nap. It's been scientifically proven that sleep helps the brain's performance. Sure, you'll get around to that paper--after a nice long nap to replenish those brain cells. Just wait! The paper will be EVEN BETTER two hours after you should have started it.

5. Attend to vital functions. Eat a snack. Eat dinner. Hunt for the gum you know you don't have. Make some tea, or coffee if you're a coffee person. Use the toilet. Take a shower. Etc.

6. Make a "TO DO" list!!! This is one of my favorites. I made one today, in fact. On it were 14 items. I have completed--let me see....3. This over a period of about 6 hours. What can I say? Procrastination at its best.

7. Do something else. That not-necessarily-urgent chore or assignment you have that could wait but would only take just a few minutes to do now? Do it. Wash your dishes, or something. I washed the dishes AND read The Importance of Being Earnest. In doing so, I felt both accomplished in completing these small tasks and justified in procrastinating on my larger, rather more important ones.

8. Do part of the assignment. Start it, leave off for a while, come back, stare blankly, leave off, do #7. This way you can say that at least you got something done...even if it was only the header and title.

9. Go read! Reading's good, isn't it? Watching movies works, too. Today I watched part of Eclipse in the lounge while waiting for my dinner to cook. I also had my laptop out. Having one's laptop out is a very good way to look like you're doing something productive when you really just want an excuse to watch the vampire flick you haven't seen yet.

10. Read the requirements. This way, you can review what the assignment is and fool yourself into thinking you're actually making progress on it. To further improve procrastination on this point, open up the Word document and type the requirements at the top of your unwritten paper. There they will stay, for you to stare at and stress about.

11. Just do nothing. But this gets boring after a while.

My paper, in case anyone is wondering, is supposed to be about "Thought" in Hedda Gabler. I haven't even read the whole play...Luckily, the paper is only supposed to be 2 pages, even if the topic of "thought" is annoyingly vague. But I can't think of any more ways to procrastinate, so it seems I'll have to actually start it... *sigh*