Saturday, July 10, 2010

Bella should kick Edward AND Jacob to the curb

Blogger's note:  As some of you know, I'm the managing editor of a weekly newspaper, which means I write a weekly column.  I might occasionally share them here. This appeared as my column in the Friday, July 9, 2010 edition of our local newspaper.

For decades, movies and books have helped shape our view of love and romance. In terms of books, it’s probably even been centuries. We take in these fictional tales and believe they could really happen. If you’re a hopeless romantic (like I can be sometimes), you may even put yourself in the story.

I took a class on this very topic one January at Buena Vista University. (In case you’re unaware, BVU has what’s called interim – a three-week long course or internship – between semesters.) We read love stories and watched some very notable films about love, including “Breakfast at Tiffany’s, “Pretty Woman” and “Fatal Attraction.” You see the range there. You can also see the evolution of the definition of love. “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” ends with an epic kiss. That’s a far cry from the other two.

Yet, Hollywood continues to provide love stories, which if taken literally, can create unrealistic expectations of love and romance. I see it currently with the much-loved and much-hyped “Twilight” saga. I cringe a little when I hear young girls (and even some women my age) describing Edward and Jacob as “perfect.”

I don’t say it, but I’m definitely thinking, “you’ve got to be kidding me.”

Edward, a 17-year-old vampire, basically stalks Bella at the beginning of their relationship. He shows up in her bedroom, and complains about not being able to hear her thoughts. At one point in the saga, he disables her truck so she can’t go see her friend, Jacob. This just screams control freak.

He also talks about loving Bella forever. This sounds romantic, but honestly, forever is a really long time - especially if it’s nearly impossible for you to die, as is Edward’s case. I’m not sure Bella knows what she’s really signing on for. I mean, she doesn’t have to worry about him snoring (because he doesn’t sleep) or putting the empty milk jug back in the fridge (because he doesn’t eat human food), but even if he gets over his stalker tendencies, he’s bound to have some annoying habits that would only become more annoying over the course of … forever.

Then there’s Jacob, a teenage werewolf. He’s also in love with Bella, and thus he’s incurably jealous of her relationship with Edward. Jacob follows Bella around like a, well, a dog, and when he gets mad – watch out. He says he can’t control himself when he gets into this rage, which, in my mind, sounds a little bit like an abusive boyfriend.

Bella really doesn’t have a good choice between the two, but she keeps them around anyway. I won’t ruin any more of the story for you, in case you plan on reading the books or seeing the movies.

I know I’m not exactly well-versed in the realm of relationships and love, but if any of my friends were in a relationship with either of these guys, I’d tell them to get out – fast. I don’t care how amazing Edward looks in the sunlight (he sparkles, by the way) or how breathtaking Jacob looks without a shirt. Their treatment of Bella is not acceptable, especially for someone they claim to love.

Now, before all the Twi-Hards start penning angry e-mails and letters to me (I like to pretend people read this column), let me state clearly – I love the “Twilight” series. I consumed all four books in the span of two weeks, often staying up much later than I should because I couldn’t put them down. I’ve gone to midnight showings of each of the three movies, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed them. By no means am I trying to turn anyone away from the series – I can’t hate on anything that gets people reading and opens up the imagination. I hope you keep reading and re-reading the series.

I just warn you to be careful about putting the male characters on a pedestal and making it impossible for someone real to capture your heart. Love is hard enough to find without any fictional barriers.

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