Sunday, February 12, 2012

TINSTAAFL

In high school my economics teacher taught me about TINSTAAFL (There Is No Such Thing As A Free Lunch) and the concept has been with me ever since.  Simply put, everything in life costs someone something.  This concept does not just apply to economics, but to every aspect of life itself.  Consider Newton's Third Law of Motion.

What does this have to do with writing?  Conflict.

Every story should have conflict.  Without conflict there is no story.  If no price is paid then there is no conflict.  It's as simple as that.

No matter what our days are like, whether adventurous or boring, we pay a price for every action we make.  The price may be time, or money, or pride and sometimes even our very lives.  But everyone pays.

It is well known around my house that I do not like the Twilight series.  Now before I get into my rant, please know, I do not think that people that love Twilight are stupid or anything like that.  My wife is actually a huge fan of Twilight (both the books and movies).  I'm just going to explain what I have against it.  I have an old saying.  Opinions are like butts.  Everyone has one, and most of the time they stink.  Crass, I know.

Spoiler Alert.  If you haven't read the Twilight Series and don't want to know how it ends, stop reading here.

Okay, one of the first things I don't like about Twilight is Bella herself.  She is a very annoying character; awkward and self-conscious.  Now, I know that we are all that way sometimes, but she takes it to a point that distracts from the story.  She is beautiful and popular, yet her self-esteem is so low that she sees herself as ugly and boring.  Beautiful people often feel this way, but Bella pontificates about it so much that I couldn't stand to read about her.  Have you ever been around a very skinny person who complains about how fat they are?  Annoying, right?  Now place that same person in the midst of people who actually have a weight problem.  All of a sudden their self critiquing becomes insulting.

The main issue I have though is that Bella's little adventure costs nothing . . . at all.  For four long books she whines and complains, sometimes like a petulant child, about wanting to become a vampire.  So, how does the series end?  With Bella getting everything she wants.  That's not a bad thing, but it should cost you something.

Does Edward die?  No.  Jacob?  No.  Her parents?  Her friends?  Any of the Cullens?  Does she die?  No, no, no and no.  Instead, after four books of tantrums, Bella marries Edward, gets pregnant, becomes a vampire, and even has the baby with very little pain to her or those she loves.  There is no war between the Wolf Pack and the Cullens.  And no big showdown between the forces of good and evil (a.k.a. the Volturi).  It ends with a very anti-climatic live-and-let-live compromise.  Sure a few vampires are ripped apart, but so what?  No big loss.

An adventure should cost something.  Vampire Bella doesn't even crave human blood.

I know these are just stories.  Vampires and werewolves don't exist (that I know of), and it's all in good fun.  But every story has an underlying message.  A moral, if you will.  What is the moral of Twilight?  Complain long enough and you'll get everything your little narcissistic heart desires.

Now compare Twilight to Harry Potter.  Harry is a victim of circumstances beyond his control.  Bella pushes her way into trouble like a spoiled child.  Harry, though he loves being a wizard, would have been happy just to get away from his abusive family.  Bella feels entitled to immortality.  Many people die to protect Harry and bring him to his goal of defeating Voldemort.  Harry is humbled by this to the point that he willingly sacrifices himself to save the others.  Bella gets everything her little bratty heart desires, and it cost her nothing.

In my humble opinion, the story would have been much better had Bella died in childbirth, or Edward by the hands of the Volturi, and the baby comes along to set matters right.  But what do I know?  Stephanie Meyer is a billionaire, traditionally published author and I'm just a blue collar shlub who earns less than a pittance on my self published stories.  And I'm sure there are many who will claim that something so bad would never have captured the attention of so many.  You might want to read this.

I will admit to a bit of jealousy, but that still doesn't sway my opinion.  It's just not a good story.  But don't take my word for it.  Many wiser heads have made their own observations.

Before you strike out to write me some hate mail please remember:

I don't HATE Twilight.  I only dislike it.
If you do like/love it, that doesn't mean I question your intelligence or sanity.
It doesn't mean I think Ms. Meyer doesn't deserve every penny she's earned.
And last, but not least, it's only my opinion, and much like my butt, it sometimes stinks.

3 comments:

Angeline said...

I've neither read nor watched any of the Twilight series. From what you say, they seem to be entirely pointless.

But then, she is a billionnaire... There's no accounting for the taste of the masses, is there?

But then, I've not read the books, so my opinion means nothing really.

James Garcia Jr. said...

I try and keep Twilight at arm's length, so I'm with you on that. You are right about there being no free lunches, too. Good point. Thanks for sharing.
New follower here!

-Jimmy
http://jamesgarciajr.blogspot.com/

Gabriel Beyers said...

Thanks for the comments. I don't want to discourage anyone from reading Twilight. Stephanie Meyer obviously did something right. Maybe I just don't get it because I've never been a teenage girl or I've read too much Stephen King.