Monday, August 25, 2008

Goodness, True Love & A Rant

Last week, I felt compelled to watch Big Eden again. Sure, I've been building up to it for while - it's been about six months since I last saw it and that's about as long as I can go without my fix. And no, I'm not just talking my fix of the character named Pike, who I may have mentioned I have a huge, honking crush on - what can I say, I like 'em tall, dark and awkward - but my goodness fix. I know this movie is a fairy tale, a utopia, but still, every time I watch it, it restores my faith in humanity. But more about that in a little bit. Because the sudden need to see it now - not later, but now - came from what I was reading.

The Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer is all the rage among teenage girls these days and I read the first one a while back (spoilers about to abound). I liked many aspects of it (supernatural romances are wonderful entertainment of the fluffy healing kind), but had major quibbles with an equal number. Still, I wanted to know what happens, so in an episode of retail therapy, I got myself the second one. And the quibbles continued to grow. Basic plot line: Bella moves to small town, meets astonishingly beautiful, sad and tortured boy named Edward, they fall in love, he happens to be a vampire, ends up leaving her "because it's best for her", she's devastated, makes friends with Jake, who’s a werewolf (werewolves are the protectors against the bloodsuckers in that community, despite Edward and his friends abstaining from drinking human blood). Jake is also in love with Bella, but she remains hooked on Edward, despite believing he left her because she wasn't "good enough for him", he comes back, etc. Within the love story, the books are about the struggle to be good, to accept others for who they are and to lead with love and compassion. Except I'm having trouble seeing that point because the love story is pissing me off. With Edward, Bella constantly feels like she is "hideous" (in comparison to Mr. Beautiful), stupid and unworthy of his love, he spends an awful lot of time speaking sternly and disapprovingly to her, forbidding her to do things, she constantly tries to be "good" for him and even during the time she's with him, there's a fair degree of emotional pain involved. Jake, on the other hand, has a very sunny disposition, treats her like an equal, makes her feel good, makes her smile and laugh even when she's deeply depressed due to missing the leech Edward, does not forbid her to go on adventures, but has them with her, accepts her just the way she is and she feels that he is her best friend and "safe harbour". Sorry. That got long-winded. I have many feelings about this. Some of which I'm about to share.

WTF??? This is what we want to teach girls about love?? That true love = pain? That true love controls you?

(Brief sidetrack. I don’t like the term “true love”. If you’ve had more than one relationship – and these days, that’s most of us - in each one honestly loving the person you were with, if your latest love is “true”, that makes all the others false, doesn’t it? I think there’s just love. Different kinds for different stages of your life. Anyway, that’s a post for another day, now back to the rant)

That someone who makes you feel safe and happy and treats you like an equal isn't true love? That the height of romance is a controlling, condescending ass? Alright, so tragic romance is the pinnacle of swoon-inducing stories for the young and maybe, 20-30 years ago, I would have swooned like Bella does – can’t guarantee it, though, as I’ve always had a decided case of you’renotthebossofme-itis. And I guess it’s a definite indication I am officially in the next generation that all I can see in this story is a really alarming lesson for adolescent girls, because am I the only one who sees the beginnings of an abusive relationship in that relationship with Edward? It always starts with control and with a woman feeling stupid and unworthy and pardon me, but that's not romantic! I finally gave in, checked the Wikipedia page for links to plot summary for the next couple of books and am I ever glad I did - I might have had an aneurysm if I had wasted money/Audible credits on this crap. I’m just grateful that my niece Morgan isn’t 15 right now or we’d have to hire someone to de-program her.

And that's why I had to watch Big Eden again. Because it tells the story of a small town where everyone does their very best to live in love and no one engages in control, forbidding or restraining. Where they respect each other for who they are and more than that, where flaws are not just tolerated, but accepted as part of the whole package and so, if you love the person, you love the flaw, as well. It is a town that leads with compassion all the time and as for the love story? It's one where the choice is healthy - walking away from tormented, uncertain and not feeling good enough and into a safe harbour of happiness.

Nice antidote.

1 comment:

Cathryn said...

I just read this post after following the link you posted (thanks for that). I agree wholeheartedly. I read one chapter of the first Twilight book, because it was popular at the library where I worked, and I thought I should have at least a nodding acquaintance with it. One chapter was more than enough :(