Forever :: A heartfelt thank you to the Twilight Saga

Celebration and support of music and the arts is one of my key goals of lyriquediscorde. When I state keep art alive, I mean it truly and completely, and whenever I post anything here it is in hopes that my sharing will enlighten and encourage others to share their own stories and art and music that touches their lives, as well as for others to discover and re-discover music and film and art that they may love, and to hopefully inspire others to go out and see a show, buy an album or a few tracks of an album, see a film, watch a television show, visit a museum, or at least give a shout out to the art and artists that matter to them.

I do not intentionally use this space as a soap box, or a platform to vent. I also try my hardest to not review things I know I will not enjoy because frankly there is plenty of negative press and reviews and statements out in the world for all of us, this is not what I want this space to be. So, I tend to review albums I love, talk about music and film and television that I enjoy, and on the occasion when a band or artist, show or film, does disappoint me, I do say it, but I try very hard not to demean or get ugly.

I believe in optimism, in hope, in love and kindness, and in following one’s bliss. I also believe very strongly in telling people when they do things you appreciate, or when they do something that touches you. Put something positive in the world every day, it is not a hard thing to do, and it gifts back to you, as well, in the way you perceive the world and yourself in it.

Now, this is not to say I am some without a care, skipping and singing all the time (well, maybe singing), always happy kind of girl. I have had a rough go of it in this life, and I carry a heavy load of worry and stress and troubles. Music saves me daily, and writing about it gets me breathing and keeps the anxiety attacks on the other side of the door. I have bad days, I am not an ever-optimist, and I feel a lot of ugly things sometimes, but I do not want to throw them into this world. I want to put out what I aspire to feel in my life.

So, what you may ask, does this have anything to do with the Twilight Saga, Breaking Dawn Part 2 and the ever criticized “sparkly vampires” of Stephenie Meyer? Forgive me while I do vent a bit, and perhaps be self-indulgent in dragging out a little platform, stepping up on it with my boots on, and getting a little preachy here. This does not happen often, but I feel overwhelmed with emotion today about this, so being as this is my little place on the internets I am going to indulge a little today and allow myself to get this off my chest. My darling readers and listeners, I suppose this is me saying you have been warned.

The Twilight series of books came into my life around the time that my oldest daughter and I were at odds. The closeness that we had always and ever held was being significantly tested as she was in the throes of adolescence and I was at the end of a relationship that had turned very dysfunctional. She did not understand my choices and pushed at me vehemently and in hurtful ways because of them. I, on the other hand, did not like what I was seeing in her life and in her friends lives, as for me it mirrored a certain time in my life far too much, and I did not think she was ready for the potential consequences of all of that (I will never say I regret a certain time in my life, but I would not necessarily recommend it to anyone). We were becoming a kind of cliché of mother and teenage daughter that I never thought we would be, and it hurt far more than I think I ever expressed.

Then along came Twilight. I had bought the book for her a year prior, at a friend’s recommendation, for a holiday gift. It had sat untouched for a year and then one day I was on the hunt for something new to read and I picked it up. She soon picked it up, as well. We were both reading it, and started to discuss it, and the discussions grew into conversations that grew into a slowly building bridge between us. Each talk about the book mended something in the both of us, and suddenly we were making time for each other, and making room for each other’s thoughts. We would drive up the mountains by our house and talk, away from what was going on in our home and in our lives, and escape into the characters. We would talk about what we would put on a soundtrack for each book, we would make mix CD’s that we would  share with each other, and we would talk plot and characters, and in-between all of that, we would talk about us.

Soon to follow came some major life changes for both of us, and looking back at all that chaos that ensued, I know we both clung to these books and the music that we attached to them to help get us through. These books, as flawed as they are (and are we not all flawed, as well?), helped us make it through some very tough times, and for me, they will always matter in a very big and real way.

Last night I sat in a theater and watched the final installment of the film version of the Twilight Saga. Despite the film’s flaws, and yes, there were some, I thoroughly enjoyed it, more than I thought. At the end, when Bella shows Edward her view of how she fell in love, and persisted in, loving him and the way it all faded into shots of all the actors who have graced these stories on film, I became overcome with emotion in a very unexpected way. I found myself sitting there in the dark crying my eyes out.

I was crying because my daughter, the one who these books helped to mend so much between her and I, was not there with me, and it did not feel right not having her there, and it hurt. I was crying because this is an ending and I had forgotten how much I had hung on to all of it, for dear life, for so long. I was crying because it dawned on me suddenly that I had never finished reading the last book because I did not want to get to an ending, not yet. And, well, I cried because of all the things I have lost, and all the things I have gained, and because deep down I am a romantic and I do love the forever kind of happy endings, that although terribly unrealistic, still get to me, and still keep me hoping for the best.

I hate that there is so much hate out there for these books, and films, and that so much of that hate is thrown at the actors and artists involved in all of it, and that all that hate is thrown at anyone who deigns to say they got some kind of joy out of it all. I mention to people that I was seeing the film last night and I watched their face cloud over in judgment and I see the shift in perception in how they see me, and I get honestly quite upset. How does enjoying something that others deem not cool or intelligent or hip enough suddenly mark you as not cool or intelligent or hip enough? Why do people feel the need to judge others for the art they enjoy? Why do so many think it is okay to slag off others for liking something that they may not like?

And, also, why is it okay to have an actor’s face appear on screen, in this case Kristen Stewart, and have multiple male voices shout out “whore” in a crowded theater? What gives anyone the right to make that kind of demeaning judgment on someone’s life that they do not know? As if we all have lead such perfect lives, without flaws or mistakes? It was pretty sickening to me to have to explain to my other daughter, ten years young, what that term meant and why people were yelling it. Why are we still shaming women in this way?

I know, very vividly know, how it feels to be judged for choices in my life, for mistakes and for my own flaws. I know how it feels to have ugly words thrown at me, and it hurts me to witness it happening to others – that is not what I want to ever be okay in this world.

For all the criticisms of Bella and Stephenie Meyer from women for her weaknesses, I shudder at the backlash, hatred, and ugliness that gets launched at Kristen Stewart, a young woman, by some of the same people who say that Bella, and her creator, are anti-woman. How does this all add up? No, Bella is not Buffy, and she is not a role model, but are we not all capable of creating our own selves? Since when does a fictional character need to speak for all women?

The truth of it all is, for me, that the books and movies are flawed. They are not the stuff of great literature or great filmmaking, but they are also not the source of all evil, nor are they the antithesis to intelligence. It is okay to enjoy escape sometimes. It is. And, it is okay to love something flawed, at least I sure hope it is, because I am very flawed and enjoy the love I feel in my life. The truth is, I have a lot of love for the Saga, and I always will, and if that gives you permission to think less of me, to say ugly things to me, or to decide to not read me, so be it.

But, just for a moment consider this question, why do we need to say such ugly things to people out of judgment? What do we gain from calling someone stupid or uncool for what they enjoy, or for calling someone things like whore and slut for their personal decisions, and mistakes, in a life that is not yours? Why can we not understand that we all different, we are all flawed, and we all have our own pains and struggles, and our own ways of getting by, and maybe some silly series of books and movies with sparkly vampires helps us survive, sometimes, and that is okay.

Honestly, I am sad to see it all end. And I am truly thankful for what their presence in my life has gifted me, and truthfully, those characters and stories will stay with me forever.

A Thousand Years :: Christina Perri

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