Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Vampire books: Romanticizing Bad Relationships

It's kind of funny, but kind of not.
When I first read the Twilight books, I kept thinking, "Holy cow! This girl is in a terrible and possibly abusive relationship! And.. I think I'm supposed to think it's romantic!"
And then, of course, those books cast their crazy magic spell on me and I devoured them in about a week's time. But even as the series went on, it became clear there was something wrong with that relationship. Let's break it down:
Girl meets Boy. He has some terrible secret that only the girl knows. She can't tell anyone else because they "won't understand". Others will be afraid of him, and will definitely tell her to break up with him if they find out the truth. Only Girl understands Boy. Only Girl can love Boy the way she does. She can't believe he loves her the way he does. There is always the threat/possibility of rejection from Boy. She must change if she really wants to be with him. Girl must convince Boy that loves him enough to change for him.
Shall we go on?
There was one part of the book that was particularly creepy to me. No, not one of the fight scenes. It was a scene where Bella and Edward are in her room and getting ready to go to sleep. Of course, since Edward is a vampire (spoiler?) he doesn't need to sleep, eat or use the bathroom. Bella has to excuse herself, even though she doesn't want to leave him for even a minute, to use the bathroom. Romantic? No, Gross.
Then there's my new favorite television show, The Vampire Diaries. Seriously - I love this show. It's so well done. But, it has the same issue. The main vampire Stefan has been jonesing for some human blood ever since he had a taste of it a couple of episodes ago. So he starts lying to everyone around him, including his girlfriend Elena, and hiding his habit. He can't control the drug, er, blood addiction. He even starts attacking humans, specifically a schoolmate of Elena's. When Elena finally finds out, not only does she put herself in harm's way to help him, but she continues to protect him, because no one else will understand.
My fear is this: I read these books/watched the shows & movies as a woman in my late twenties. I've seen bad relationships, I've sat with friends and comforted them as they tried to or refused to leave actual abusive relationships. This happens more than you want to imagine. So why are we letting young girls think it's romantic to date a troubled and misunderstood bad boy? Girls: if he's troubled and misunderstood, there's a reason for it. Save yourself the drama and take yourself out of the equation. Find a boy who won't need you to change, and who you can tell your friends and family about.

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