Better a Witty Fool than a Foolish Wit

Inner Workings of My Twisted Mind.

Sex and Vampires

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…”

He may have written it 150 years ago about a time that was over a hundred years before that, but it seems oddly prescient doesn’t it?  Or maybe it’s just that this opening to A Tale of Two Cities, is always the case, that every epoch is that of the best and the worst.  Even still, with our impending election, and what feels like the impending doom or success of the American experiment, Dickens’ words succeed in doing what every writer dreams of, making us feel.  They wrap us up and show us ourselves in a way that we otherwise might not see.  
It is no secret that I’m on the left side of the culture war that is tearing through this election and ripping at the seams of America.  And in my own opinion there is not much I can do but write and try to make people see themselves in a way they otherwise haven’t seen.  My goal is to show how we are as a society, in my writing (my fiction writing that is) and for the most part, in my life, I try not to judge people. I simply show, how we are, and how we relate, how we communicate, how we express ourselves.  I’m a firm believer in realism in my own work.  However, I don’t discount the need for fantasy as well.  I, myself, have never been one for pure fantasy.  I was loath to start the Harry Potter series (though I ended up loving it), I never have been able to get into Anne Rice (though I don’t discount her talents as an author), and I cannot get through even the first chapter of Lord of the Rings (I’m sorry, I’ve tried).  My personal prejudice toward fantasy (that only being that I’m not really a fan), had deterred me, up till now, from reading the newest of these extremely popular fantastical series: The Twilight Saga.  
I do work at a pretty hip bookstore, so I’ve heard about these books for a few years now, but they never really piqued my interest.  That is they didn’t pique my interest until I went to comic-con.  Yes, that bastion of nerddom has been, in recent years, infiltrated by Hollywood.  Some people hate it because of this, some love it, but I must say, it is nice to see Hollywood stepping up and taking notice of the fact that nerds go to movies, they watch t.v. and they read books.  My big pleasure at Comic-con was seeing all the cool stuff surrounding the Watchmen movie (don’t worry I’ll write about that before the movie comes out), but for many many fans at Comic-con, the excitement mounted around the Twilight movie.  Thanksgiving weekend will see the opening of this movie, and I guarantee you it will be huge.  But that wasn’t what convinced me to read the books.  No, it was the utter fervor with which the young (and old) fans of this series expressed that got me thinking I might need to experience some of this.
So five days ago, after staring at the first book that sat on my coffee table in the two months since Comic-Con, I finally read the first book in the series, and absolutely could not stop.  Four books in five days (and they’re not short).  I haven’t slept, I’ve barely eaten, I dream about them, but mostly I agonize over the meaning behind them.  Like most other books that create a big stir, I wasn’t a big fan of the actual writing.  I’ll admit that the writing wasn’t nearly as excruciatingly awful as the Da Vinci code, but it wasn’t great either.  These books are all about the story.  And the story is fantastic.  
Even still, as I was reading and got deeper and deeper in to the more and more serious and epic story line, it occurred to me that there were some underlying themes that I was not on board with.  Sure enough, looking up the author’s biography, she graduated from Brigham Young University and all that that entails.  Like I said, I’m on the left side of the culture war, and the author of these books is clearly on the right.  And because of that, these four books geared toward fourteen-year-olds brought up more emotion than I was prepared for.  
I’m going to give a few things away now, nothing major, but if anyone doesn’t want to know, I’d stop reading this until you’ve finished the books.  
The main character, a girl named Bella, falls in love with a vampire named Edward.  When they meet they are both seventeen, and Edward will be that age forever.  Now one of the things that people love so much about the book is the sexual tension.  Edward loves Bella, but he craves her blood more than he craves any other human.  Thus, they can’t have sex for fear that he will loose control and kill her.  Seems reasonable enough, until Bella decides she wants to be turned into a vampire (I swear, nothing I’m telling you gives anything away).  The classic vampire tension ensues.  Edward doesn’t want to be responsible for Bella missing out on life.  Bella doesn’t want to grow old and die while Edward stays seventeen.  Edward doesn’t want Bella to grow old and die but he doesn’t want to take her life away.  We all know these stories.  Here’s the twist.  Bella convinces Edward to make her a vampire if she’ll marry him.  Fast forward to Bella realizing that she wants to experience sex as a human…and here’s where I start to have problems.  Edward agrees as long as they can be married first.  
I’ve always sort of had inklings about this (and the election shenanigans going on with Sarah Palin and her stance on sex education and abortion have only served to solidify them), but I truly realized how much I am opposed to the concept of no sex before marriage when I read these books.  I am really avidly opposed to not having sex before marriage, I guess Erica Jong isn’t lost on me.  But let me back track a second.  I wouldn’t have such a problem with it, if it didn’t seem like people who believe in not having sex before marriage were getting married just to have sex.  
There was this show on MTV for a while called Engaged and Underage, about young people (18-21) getting married.  Now I know some of you got married at this age, but times have changed so I’m not judging your decisions.  The vast majority of the stories on these shows revolved around young people who were getting married for sex.  Yes, their beliefs were such that they felt they needed to be married to have sex.  I don’t have a problem with that particular belief, but I do have a problem with sex being a reason for marriage.  First of all, you DO NOT buy the car without test driving it first, REPEATEDLY.  And I, personally, am a firm believer in the premise that you don’t just test drive one car.  Sure, you might think that the BMW is amazing, but it doesn’t compare to the Ferrari.  
Okay, that metaphor got a bit jumbled, but I’m hoping you all followed.  Now, in regards to the books, I would not have such a severe reaction to the whole married at eighteen and not having sex before than if it wasn’t for what follows.  Though I must say, this element of the plot did wear on my stomach seeing as the age group that are the Twilight Saga’s most avid followers is young, like 11-18 kind of young.  And I’m sure many of the staunchest supporters will have a problem with my fiction if it ever gets done and is published, but they can write about my corruption of America when it does come out and they have a blog.  
My biggest problem came after the whole marriage, sex thing.  It was the babies thing.  More specifically, it was the abortion thing.  Now, we’ve got Mrs. Palin shaking up this election and all but saying that she is ready and willing to overturn Roe v. Wade.  She’s willing to take away our right, as women, to choose to get an abortion.  Her plan would make us, as women, go through the pain of giving up a child for adoption, even if we didn’t want to, even if we were against bringing another child into this world.  It’s one thing to have the choice, it’s another to have this be the only option.  And apparently Stephanie Meyer (author of Twilight) agrees.  Though it is killing her, and I won’t give up what happens, Bella does not abort the baby growing inside her.  It is killing her, and still, she doesn’t do it.  
In the context of the story, it might work, and does drive an incredible amount of the plot for the fourth and final novel, but my literature student brain sees the bigger picture, sees the pro-life agenda behind this plot point.  And the combination of no sex before marriage and no abortion, sent my liberal values through the roof.
I’ve never been one for censorship, and I’m certainly not suggesting anything like that, but I thought that the written word was the one place that we liberals held.  We’ve obviously lost the news media, but we have always held the novel, the pamphlet.  I feel like America is having it’s own age of Enlightenment, like little by little, we are being forced out of the cave and into the light, one by one.  The backlash, is of course huge, and those that want to keep things the way they are, dig their heels in to the dry, cracked earth, digging big trenches as they inch forward.  I guess what worries me is the notion that maybe I was wrong.  That maybe this age of Enlightenment is one where we do go back into the cave.  Where we pretend like all the advances made in the sixties and seventies never happened.  Where women don’t have the right to choose, and black men can’t be president.  
I’m not saying that any of this is present in the Twilight book series, but it seems to me that these are ideas we might soon have to face.  Are we willing to give up the war if we loose the battle?  Even if our numbers decrease, are we going to shift to the winning side or are we going to be the rag tag army that fights for social justice?  For true equality and true freedom?  Are we willing to move past the hurt and the hardships that seem so intent on keeping us down, in order to come out victorious?  Or are we going to keep up this contentious battle for government-implemented morality?  
Peace, Love, and Sexy Vampires,
Julia
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September 21, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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