I've been watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer with the girls for the past few weeks, Buffy being one of my personal guilty pleasures. I am well aware that my devotion to the series is more than slightly ridiculous because I am, after all, MIDDLE AGED and a Church Lady of no mean stature.
I've mentioned here before that I am an ardent fan of the vampire genre in movie and literature, although I never could connect with Anne Rice's vampire series for some reason, and I seriously wish I had never read Stephen King's 'Salem's Lot, which I just hated. When I finally became aware of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series, three of the four-book series were already available and the fourth was published within two weeks of my starting the first book, named Twilight, of course.
I was really, truly offended by the Twilight books, not only for Meyer's breathless, fan-girlie, gothic-y prose, but also for her barely concealed hatred of women. Yes, I went there. And I believe it: Stephenie Meyer, in my opinion, has an inner loathing of women that she expresses in so many ways throughout her four novels, beginning with Bella's mother, Renee, a mental midget who chooses her new husband, Phil, over her own daughter; to Bella, who is soppily, ridiculously accepting of Edward's abusive behaviors that would have raised a red flag the size of Kansas in anyone with a brain; to werewolf Sam's girlfriend Emily with her ruined face and her homemade biscuits; to the spiteful, jealous Rosalie; to the bitter, vengeful Leah, Stephenie Meyer has given the young women of this decade a group of the weakest, most pathetic characters I've ever seen. My only comfort is that the male characters aren't much better, and I'm looking at YOU, Charlie, Edward, Sam, Jacob and Billy. Carlisle is not enough to redeem you.
Meelyn and Aisling were very disappointed that my husband and I wouldn't let them read the Twilight books. So many of their friends have read the books, after all. I wrestled with this last summer, even giving the books to my husband to read (he made it until the first pages of the fourth book and said, "For the love of God, please don't make me read any more of this crap," only he didn't say "crap") because I thought maybe I had the Twilight series pegged wrong and I was allowing my inner Church Lady too much freedom -- sometimes he helps balance me out. I felt that my instinct was correct when his final assessment of the four novels was, "I can see why teenage girls would think these are good stories, but as a parent, I have to say that these are truly horrible books."
So the books were out. But I can remember how I felt as a teenager when everyone else was allowed to listen to the Eagles and Aerosmith and my mom and dad wouldn't let me buy records like all my friends did -- I used to visit my friend Lisa and feel sooo envious of her stereo and her Peter Frampton albums. That was such a sore spot for me as a teenager that I remember it well to this day: it did not improve my relationship with my parents and led to a resentment that was somewhat alleviated when I went ahead and bought records anyway. So when the Twilight movie was released early last winter, I was hoping that we'd be able to take the girls to see it; that maybe it would be somewhat toned down and less objectionable, or at least that it would provide me with ample opportunities to point out Edward's glaring personal flaws and Bella's marginal intelligence, not to mention the Greek-tragedy type triangle that exists between Bella, Edward and her dad, Charlie.
The movie Twilight proved to be more acceptable than the book so we let the girls see it, which went a long way in fostering happy interpersonal relationships here in our home: Meelyn and Aisling no longer felt like the only teenage girls on the planet who hadn't seen the movie or read the books. We watched it together once in silence, and a second time with me adding editorial commentary that was extremely biased, one almost might say prejudicial. Heh. Because I am a mother and I am allowed to do that.
And then I began to lay some careful plans.
Summer began, and with the cessation of schoolwork came the gift of free time. Only, what to do with all that free time? Gas is expensive and Anne doesn't have a working air conditioner anyway, so none of the three of us was motivated to go anywhere; we hadn't yet paid our dues for the swimming pool, and Kieren was here after his driver's ed class was over for the day.
"There's not much to do," the girls sighed.
"We could watch some television," I suggested brightly.
Meelyn and Aisling looked at me suspiciously. After all, am I not the person who limits their "screen time" and insists they go off with a book?
"I was thinking," I said with elaborate casualness, "that maybe we could watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer."
"What the heck kind of name is 'Buffy'?" said Meelyn with scorn.
"It's supposed to be ironic," I answered. "You know, 'Buffy' suggests kind of a powder-puff of a girl, someone who pouts if she breaks a nail and uses aromatherapeutic linen spray on her sheets every night."
Aisling rolled her eyes. "Sheeesh, what an idi-- Hey!!!!!" she said indignantly.
"Actually," I continued, "she is anything but that kind of girl. Buffy rocks. She kicks butt and takes names. She would dust Edward's whiny, angst-ridden tushie in about three seconds flat."
"'Dust'?..." asked Meelyn.
"That means 'stake through the heart.'"
"I thought Edward was like marble, impenetrable."
"That's only because Stephenie Meyer is a big, fat cheater and she will not be forgiven for totally reinventing an entire genre of literature to suit her own lame, fangirl agenda," I said heatedly. "'Oooh, Edward, I love your sparkleee skin in the sunlight! Oooh, Edward, I love your sharp, venomous teefies, even though you have no fangs!!!!! Oooh, Edward, I love the way your family can cook Italiano using lots and lots of garlic; you're all so awesome, I bet you serve filtered holy water for drinking in a Brita pitcher!!!!" I sing-songed in a mocking voice.
"Okay," said Aisling in a resigned manner. "I guess we can try it."
So we did. There's a lot to teach kids from Buffy's tightly woven plots. I know that all parents certainly would not agree with me and I admit that using a series about a vampire slayer is an avant-garde method of teaching morality to teenagers, but please remember that it isn't my only method. In the meantime, the girls and I are enjoying the shows, analyzing the plots and talking about the themes presented in each episode and throughout each season's story line.
While I was doing a little mild research for the final two episodes of season two ("Becoming," Parts One and Two), I stumbled across this awesome video on YouTube titled "Buffy vs. Edward." It is a bit of comedic genius and explains EXACTLY what I feel about Twilight, the book, the series and all the stupid movies.
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