Fifteen years have passed since the first Twilight novel came out and the teens who were once enamored by it have moved past their adolescent obsession with the rather irrational and potentially disturbing aspects of its vampire-loves-human story. But Stephenie Meyer recently released the fifth book in the series, Midnight Sun, once again training the spotlight on the problematic premises set up by Twilight which the next books in the saga build upon.
With Midnight Sun, Meyer had the chance to expand the Twilight universe, add details about Edward’s family, and give a better insight into the world of vampires. Though it does manage to provide a slightly better introduction to the Cullen siblings and the Denali Coven of Alaska and how their powers work, most of it is happy being a scene-to-scene remake of Twilight and reliving the glaring issues it had.
Romanticizing an unhealthy relationship
From the very beginning, Twilight sets a very damaging example for it largely teenage, mostly female fanbase – that if a boy is rude to you, ignores you, and is stand-offish, he is secretly in love with you. While Edward Cullen was depicted as every girl’s idea of Prince Charming, his actions said the opposite. His “romantic” gestures for Bella included being controlling, possessive, violent, extremely selfish, and expecting her to obey him without question – the entire chapter 18 of Twilight is Bella attempting to put forward her opinion and him shooting her down.
Throughout the first book, Edward stalked Bella and broke into her room repeatedly to watch her while she was sleeping. It wasn’t romantic, it wasn’t flattering, all it was borderline creepy and abusive. In Midnight Sun, Meyer tries to make up for the countless criticisms leveled against this particular plot point by making Edward reflect on his stalking behavior and agree that he is a “sick peeping Tom” only to continue doing it. And even worse was Bella finding his stalking romantic and endearing when he later confessed about it.
The sun, a vampire and…glitter
Tales of vampires going up in flames in sunlight have been done to death, and apparently, the only way Twilight could introduce originality was by making its vampires sparkle in the sun instead. Vampires remain literature’s most loved and alluring supernatural creatures because of their combination of being dangerous, breathtakingly beautiful, and graceful at the same time. A glittering vampire is none of the three.
The weird fixation of men on Bella
For some weird, unknown reason, Bella becomes an instant object of attention for every man in her 50 miles radius the minute she steps in Forks High School. Edward’s “fascination” is understandable – she smells more appealing than other humans, for some reason his power of reading minds doesn’t work on her, etc. But when it comes to the other teenagers like Eric, Mike, and apparently the entire male population in the school as told by Edward in Midnight Sun, they are inexplicably blown away by an ordinary girl with no discernible characteristics.
A stickler for stereotypical gender roles
The relationship Bella and Edward shared wasn’t just unhealthy but it also made space to accommodate every dated gender stereotype. The core of their relationship is based on Bella being weak and vulnerable to which the strong and powerful Edward is attracted. This problematic sexist setting was established from the very scene where Edward rushed to save her from the van, fulfilling his role as the knight in shining armor to her damsel in distress.
Throughout the books, Bella’s low self-esteem is on full display as she continuously berates herself for being unattractive and anti-social in comparison to the “inhumanly beautiful” vampires. Twilight promoted the image of women being desirable if they are dull, submissive, and pretty much unable to make decisions about their own life.
Boyfriend-1, Family and Friends- 0
Twilight made it seem as if it is a must for a girl to dump her life, her friends, and her family the moment she gets a boyfriend. Bella was making some good friends in Fork High School but she chose to ignore them in favor of her single-minded obsession with Edward. Even her father Charlie, whom Bella always mentioned as being very important to her, took a backseat in her life after she redesigned her whole existence to revolve only around Edward. In the later books too, when Edward went out of his way to keep Jacob out of her life, she was okay with losing a friend who helped her when she was going through a mental breakdown.
These “flaws” set the precedent for a whole new load of illogical and often disturbing plots in the next three novels of the series – whether it was the highly codependent relationship Edward and Bella went on to share or Jacob choosing a newborn as his future romantic partner.