Mormon vampires?
September 12, 2008 11:05 PM   Subscribe

LDS Sparkledammerung IS HERE! The crypto-mormonism of Stephanie Myers' Twilight series. (Spoilers, image heavy, extreme derisiveness)
posted by Artw (47 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
No discussion of crypto-mormonism is complete without a mention of Battlestar Galactica. So I'm mentioning it.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:13 PM on September 12, 2008

"Twilight" fans -- and the series' author, Stephenie Meyer -- are considered pretty intense, sometimes even batshit, even by typically-lenient scifi/fantasy Internet fandom standards.

For detailed examples, check out their long history of over-the-top wankery, as chronicled by the fine folks at Fandom Wank. The stories about the Twilighters fighting with the Harry Potter fans are especially fun.
posted by Asparagirl at 11:23 PM on September 12, 2008 [3 favorites]

All I know is that the Twilight series is set in Forks, WA. I've been there. If I had to rate anywhere in North America I would least like to live, it would be Forks, WA.

The conceit is that because it literally never stops raining in Forks, vampires can go out during the day. But I'm serious. It literally never stops raining in Forks. Great, you can go out during the day. And get wet. That's all you can do.

Not even a vampire would put up with that shit. I live in Portland, OR, and am no stranger to rain, but even I have a limit.
posted by Caduceus at 11:28 PM on September 12, 2008 [4 favorites]

Well, I dunno about you, but I definitely feel like I'm having a bad LDS trip.
posted by louche mustachio at 12:00 AM on September 13, 2008 [3 favorites]

posted by Nattie at 12:28 AM on September 13, 2008

Due to overlapping social circles within several 'fandoms', I've been hearing about these books for a loooong time, reading the gushing from acquaintances and putting up with all of the worshipful fan churn. Based on other "paranormal romances" recommended to me in the past, I assumed this was more bad writing and trope-on-a-rope and wooden I avoided the books like a plague, fancy marketing efforts crashing pointlessly at my feet.

My nieces are also both very into these books. It was one thing when I assumed it was just general drek and tee-hee-girls-like-bitey-things harmlessness. I am now plotting what baskets of books to buy them to erase this crud from their minds. Also debating whether or not to send them to this SPARKLINGLY hilarious knackering of the series, but can't figure out how to do it without sounding like the judgmental ol' spinster auntie they secretly know I must be. Basically, I save my killjoy tendencies for bigger stuff that I'm willing for them to hate me over (until they realise I was right all along, of course).

Stoney321's rip-roaring skewering is worthy of a prize of some sort, enhanced mightily by the priceless image gags sown throughout.

Thank for posting, ArtW. Good stuff.
posted by batmonkey at 2:09 AM on September 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Does Twilight have a magic hat? Because that's by far the most rocking thing about Mormonism (oh boy, that South Park episode).

Man I'd pay good money to see a big smack-down between Potterites and Twlighters... I'm imanging something like the climax of The Wanderers only a bit more whimpy
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:40 AM on September 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Oh and Sparkledammerung is awesome... I see there's a part 2 (and more), but I think I'll leave that for another day so I don't get all sparkled out
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:10 AM on September 13, 2008

Sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion.
posted by kcds at 5:13 AM on September 13, 2008 [5 favorites]

Twilight is such an awful book. I'd love to find a link on why it's so popular with it being so poorly written? Bella has got to be the most annoying character in any novel (I know it's YA, but seriously?). I just can't imagine why so many people are drawn to this series. I asked my friend, who first recommended me to it, and she said it was only because of Edward. "Yea, the writing sucked.. BUT EDWARD!"

Thanks Artw! You made my day a little brighter to face.
posted by czechmate at 5:19 AM on September 13, 2008

I kind of hate myself for loving the Twilight books as much as I do. They were like delicious candy that I could not stop consuming. Terribly written delicious candy.

For extra lulz, check out the hilarous Growing Up Cullen.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 5:49 AM on September 13, 2008

I'm so glad that I read this and not the books. I have friends who think that they're "amazing" and now I can pretend to care/know the plot. Awesome!!!

(No, really. I'm glad. Saves me some precious time that I can use reading SRS LTRTR.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:50 AM on September 13, 2008

Okay, this is all too much for me to handle at this early hour, so can someone who's actually read this stuff tell me whether the Native American werewolf dude finally just bangs her like a machine gun and then she's all like, "Screw you, mom and dad! Screw you, creepy neutered vampire cracka! My awesome werewolf boyfriend and me are blowin' town and hittin' the road in a sweet '68 Caddy, and there's no lookin' back!!" And then she puts on shades and a black leather jacket and flips everybody off on her way out the door, and vampire dude cries. And then it turns into Badlands, only with monsters and shit. Because if so, I am there.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:10 AM on September 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

kittens for breakfast - keep reading, the awful resolution to that is far worse than you can imagine.
posted by Artw at 7:16 AM on September 13, 2008

*gets popcorn for this AWESOME fandom train-wreck*

Why is it every time I end up on Journalfen, it's because of Metafilter?
posted by gc at 7:23 AM on September 13, 2008

keep reading, the awful resolution to that is far worse than you can imagine.

You're not kidding... OH... MY... GOD.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:01 AM on September 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

This is a series targeting young girls, grades 7-8-9ish. Why on earth would your friends be recommending it to you?

Unless I'm very much mistaken, and you MeFi members are, in fact, young teen girls. In which case I've been very foolish this last eight years or so that I've hung out with you.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:07 AM on September 13, 2008

Anne Rice + V. C. Andrews = Stephenie Meyer. Her official website is just as odd as the parodies people write of her work. I was perusing it recently, at least the Twilight section of it, because I had just read the book and was blown away by it for various reasons.

"I know the exact date that I began writing Twilight, because it was also the first day of swim lessons for my kids. ... I woke up (on that June 2nd) from a very vivid dream. In my dream, two people were having an intense conversation in a meadow in the woods. One of these people was just your average girl. The other person was fantastically beautiful, sparkly, and a vampire. ... the vampire was just so darned good-looking, that I didn't want to lose the mental image." "Sparkly"? "Darned"? Twilight was a New York Times Editor's Choice book? Say what?

A page of all the cars driven by her vampires. See, Edward's Volvo is not a boxy Volvo! Stephenie's brothers picked it out for him, and they are "in the literal, clinical sense" obsessed with cars. Also, on this page I learned that one of her brothers is named Jacob, which is the name of the character who becomes Edward's romantic rival (if the "Team Jacob" and "Team Edward" t-shirts I've seen in the window of Hot Topic are any indication.) Does that strike anyone else as strange, naming a romantic lead after your brother?

She set her whole book in a real town that she didn't visit until after the book was finished. "We spent half a day at La Push, and that was even more uncanny. Unlike Forks, there were no differences between my imaginary La Push and the real thing. I spent the morning expecting every minute that we would turn a corner and run into Jacob Black." I would say that expectation was figurative, but Meyers also says (again, in my first link) that "All this time, Bella and Edward were, quite literally, voices in my head. They simply wouldn't shut up." Literal voices in her head like her brothers are "literal"-ly obsessed with cars, or... ? This really sounds like Anne Rice claiming that Lestat writes his own books, and Rice has always seemed quite serious when she asserts this.

The official Twilight FAQ. This illustrates that either her readers are too unsmart to figure out basic plot points in the books, such as that scene that opens the book is a flash forward, or whether Bella gets bitten at the end of the novel. This pains me, but not as much as the fact that readers do not grasp the symbolism of the apple on the cover in spite of the fact that the book's epigraph is a quote from Genesis. However, this was the page on which I found out that in Japan, the book is broken into three volumes, and these are the titles of those volumes:

The Boy Whom I Love is a Vampire
Blood Tastes Sadness
The Vampire Family in the Darkness

I love you, Japan!
posted by cirocco at 9:17 AM on September 13, 2008 [4 favorites]

Is it also Laurell K. Hamilton who also claims that her characters literally talk to her... or some other similar writer? My google-fu is weak on that.

And yes, from a brief look at smeyer's web site she seems/writes like some half-baked fan of herself
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:57 AM on September 13, 2008

This is a series targeting young girls, grades 7-8-9ish. Why on earth would your friends be recommending it to you?

Unless I'm very much mistaken, and you MeFi members are, in fact, young teen girls. In which case I've been very foolish this last eight years or so that I've hung out with you.

Just because that's who the series targets, doesn't mean those are the only people who read it. Harry Potter was targeted to a YA audience, yet everyone on the freaking planet (except me, apparently) read it. The Twilight series is overwhelmingly popular, even with women in their twenties (those would be the ones recommending it to me).

I mean, heck, I'm reading The Amber Spyglass right now and the whole His Dark Materials series is targeted for 12 year olds. It doesn't mean that I'm 12, it just means that this is a really good book.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:19 AM on September 13, 2008

Is it also Laurell K. Hamilton who also claims that her characters literally talk to her...


I would say that writing about vampires makes you crazy if it wasn't for Jim Butcher and Kim Newman and Charlaine Harris.

Because Anne Rice, Laurell K. Hamilton, and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro all seem to have a little bit of trouble distinguishing fantasy and reality, and now Stephenie Meyer appears to be joining their number.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:43 AM on September 13, 2008

Hmm. Kim Newman does dress like teh propreiter of a victorian freak show though.

Octavia Butler wrote about vampires... AND THEN SHE DROPPED DEAD!
posted by Artw at 10:46 AM on September 13, 2008

See also: The Most Popular Book In The Whole World

"I'll consider it with my brain," I shouted.
posted by Foosnark at 10:50 AM on September 13, 2008 [4 favorites]

cirocco, I feel the need to amend your formula:
(Anne Rice + V. C. Andrews) / catastrophic brain injury = Stephenie Meyer.
posted by batmonkey at 11:09 AM on September 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

five fresh fish, the book does have a primal appeal as a page-turner. Stephen King wrote (in Misery, I think, which is about obsessive fandom) that the only essential talent of a fiction writer is the gotta. That is, the reader engages with the story to the point where she's gotta find out what happens to the writer's made-up people, and will set aside everything inessential in her real life in order to get to the last page.

Having the gotta doesn't make you a literary genius, it just means it's hard for people to put your books down. If you can't tear yourself away from something, you must be enjoying it on some level, ergo you might recommend it to a friend. Conversely, there exist writers who are talented with exposition, dialogue, theme, etc. (I don't think Meyer scores a lot of points on those fronts) but whose works are unmarketable because they just don't have the gotta. Twilight has the same flavor of gotta that Wuthering Heights does. That's right, I just compared Meyer to a Bronte sister and I will seriously defend this position to any Heathcliff fans who want to throw down! Heathcliff the Bronte character, not the cartoon cat.

Nattie's link above, with its Twinkie analogy, does an excellent job of distinguishing between quality and enjoyability.
posted by cirocco at 11:15 AM on September 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

I hate this series so much, more so because there are teachers and librarians and women who are supposed to have two brain cells to rub together, who are recommending this book to teenage girls. I think if caught, these women should have their vaginas revoked.
posted by FunkyHelix at 11:35 AM on September 13, 2008 [3 favorites]

This is a series targeting young girls, grades 7-8-9ish. Why on earth would your friends be recommending it to you?

I'm not close to teenager age, however my friend is a big fan of YA novels (which should've been my first clue) and I like her taste in music, so I thought maybe her book recommendation wouldn't be too bad. Now I know better.
posted by czechmate at 12:31 PM on September 13, 2008

I'm with FunkyHelix: I think any grownup who believes that the "STALKING IS LOVE" shit is anything other than toxic needs to be quarantined from teenagers.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:34 PM on September 13, 2008

Holy shit (4rl), excellent link: "batshit" so apropos for vamps & their lovers. I'd advise FunkyHelix to think twice about your curse since it seems way too in line with the cryptomormon idea of hell for a woman.

However, before you get as righteous as the Righteous, back off the hate. I teach "real" literature at a research university with a degree from a v v prestigious institution, and trashy novels like these are my mental junk food. Love them. Read all four, cringingly, turning the pages and having a blast. Let me keep my uterus if I suggest it isn't entirely misspent time.

I agree the "moral" of the stories is highly dubious, but there's research showing that reading crap when you're young won't scar you for life -- in practice, the habit of reading anything can mature into better stuff as you become an adult. This is based on a conversation with a Master of Library Science (MLS) degree holder with considerable work experience.

What's wrong with the occasional sci/fi-fantasy novel? or whodunnit, romance, pompous biography, self-help book or formula fiction genre of your choice? I spend a lot of time reading on the internets. It ain't literature. It's fun.

Even more fun when people get the joke. Thanks, Artw. Love it.
posted by woodway at 12:58 PM on September 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

"What's wrong with the occasional sci/fi-fantasy novel? or whodunnit, romance, pompous biography, self-help book or formula fiction genre of your choice?"

Nothing. This is none of those, though.

I've now put myself through a few chapters to make sure I'm not throwing the baby out with the bathwater and, man, I'm with those who are stunned this was even published.

But, I guess if Lauren Conrad can write a novel, this kind of thing is bound to get through and the marketing machine at Your Favourite Mass Market Publisher will make it as big of a hit as they possibly can.

Sad. So much more interesting/fun/better written/hilarious/sexy/et cetera ad nauseum writing out there. To each their own, I guess. At least it's pushing me to get off my butt and put together stacks of other books for the young ladies in my life to consider devoting some time and attention to.
posted by batmonkey at 1:38 PM on September 13, 2008

Agreed, if they read & enjoy the books you suggest, may laurels crown thy head! Stephenie Meyers has made enough money to keep her great-grandchildren riding in luxury vehicles. Your Favourite Mass Market Publisher made a financially sound investment.

The young ladies in your life might grow up to be admirable intellectuals, even if they swoon over the Twilight saga. Send them to classics, but perhaps suggest similarly "trashy" books to get them hooked on reading. Tamora Pierce, author of the (Wild Magic series and Protector of the Small books) creates strong heroines. "Literature?" No. But they should be an exciting read & way more likely to get the young ladies you know hooked on reading than Wuthering Heights or even Cold Comfort Farm -- highly recommended, if you haven't read it :)
posted by woodway at 2:23 PM on September 13, 2008

I've been reading Cleolinda Jones's commentary on the rest of the books, because I was curious where the story ended up (oh, that damnable gotta) but not curious enough to get through another two thousand pages of teen vampire angst. The third book actually has explicit Wuthering Heights references!
Bella: "Well, I hope you're smart enough to stay away from someone so selfish. Catherine is really the source of all the trouble, not Heathcliff." This is probably the most self-aware statement in the entire series so far.
If anyone was wondering whether the batshit insane factor drops in the sequels, the answer is: HA! And if your feminist skin was set crawling by the first book, that skin will go from crawling to walking to running by the time you get to Eclipse. Then your skin will explode at Breaking Dawn. Explode.
posted by cirocco at 2:40 PM on September 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm in my mid-twenties, and I have a college-age sister and a sister in middle school, and we all have a variety of friends, and I swear every last female in our acquaintance has read Twilight. This would be something to celebrate, except that everything about this series is appalling: the politics and worldview, the narrative structure, the prose (jesus GOD, the prose). Reading them makes me physically uncomfortable. My 19-year-old sister, on the other hand, downs them like candy even though she knows they're terrible. cirocco's post above about the "gotta" is absolutely accurate: the books are naked wish fulfillment.

But the prose manages to be both purple and banal; the same words are used over and over again (dazzle, chagrin, beautiful, marble, etc); and the characters don't speak: they murmur or growl or whisper or snap. The power dynamics of the main relationships are creepy and subtly anti-feminist, and the whole concept of "imprinting" is troubling (at worst, it's quasi-pedophilia; at best, I've heard it described as "emotional incest," where the relationship between a child and a childhood authority figure transitions into a sexual relationship -- with all the attendant inequality and squick that carries). It's just a terrible, terrible book, and yet millions of young girls are infatuated with the picture of love that it presents (stalkery, agency-depriving love).

The consolation is that not everyone is reading them uncritically: I've since had some great conversations with my sisters and their friends about topics that don't usually come up, such as feminism, appropriate behavior in relationships, literary criticism, etc. And I know we've all bonded over just how batshit crazy it is. Even the girls I know who enjoy the books couldn't believe all the shit that happened in Breaking Dawn.
posted by brookedel at 3:40 PM on September 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

I read the first three books in the series, because I will read anything and I have a special fondness for Edward, and I have to agree that the prose is labored and there is far too much, "First I brushed my hair, then I ate breakfast. I went to school. I opened my locker," type of dull dull dull filler. But I admit to having this vampire thing, so I read it for Edward.

The second book is depressing and too long, but introduces Jacob, your typical tragic werewolf, only with a neat Native American twist, who you want to hate because of course he is a competitor to Edward, but who ends up being incredibly decent. There's nothing sexual at all between him and Bella, they end up more like brother and sister, so the fact that he is named after the author's brother is not so creepy in that respect.

And I actually liked the third book, because it tied up a lot of loose ends and had a lot more of Edward in it.

Did I mention I like Edward? Despite the dazzle. But you really have to be a dedicated vampire lover from way back in Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's time to stick with it, because it's only Edward that makes it work on any level.

But teenage girls like that Bella is the heroine, because there is absolutely nothing particularly special about Bella. That's sad in a protagonist but it means that she could be YOU, and teenage girls naturally want to be Bella. After all, she's got a dazzling vampire boyfriend!

But my son tells me the fourth book was unreadable. His friends, all of them teenage girls who loved the first three, felt the fourth book was a sell-out, formulaic, you name it. And since I pre-ordered it, I'm stuck between wondering if I should even bother and hating to 'waste' a book I have paid for.
posted by misha at 4:46 PM on September 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

woodway, you're completely overshooting my objection. I'm not a literature snob. I'm also a vampire freak. FREAK, I tell ya! And, after checking out this chick's writing, all I see is bad, looney-bin fanfic that somehow got all the way to the top. I'd at least like to see some good fanfic get this kind of marketing push and publisher support (I'm not a fanfic person...they tend to dilute/pollute good ideas to make them more palatable for that one person's wish to be integrated into the author's world, which always seem too contrived and desperate for my tastes).

My deal is that there's no excuse for reading such bad writing and victim-y concepts when there's Robin Hobbs, Glenn Cook, Mercedes Lackey, Ray Bradbury, Patricia Wrightson, R.A. McAvoy, Neil Gaiman, Mark Halprin, Martha Wells, Phillip Pullman, Michael De Larrabeiti, Jacqueline Harpman, Patricia McKillip, Charles De Lint, Madeline d'Engle, Allan Cole, Lynn Flewelling, Connie Willis, Garth Nix, Piers Anthony, Octavia Butler, Ursula K. Le Guin, Mervyn Peake, Terry Brooks, Lee Thomas/Thomas Pendleton, Nalo Hopkinson, Eoin Colfer, Katie Waitman, Gregory McGuire, Poppy Z. Brite, Lia Block, Terry Pratchett, Walter Tevis, Anne McCaffrey, Jane Yolen, Mickey Zucher Reichert, Steven Brust, Daphne Du Maurier, Roger Zelazny, Ted Naifeh, ...and even Anne (nutball) Rice (at least she could still tell a rollicking and sexy vampire tale with some oomph and style, back in the day) V.C. Andrews, 3/4 of the romance novelists out there, and probably hundreds of others I'm going to kick myself for not putting ahead of several of these.

The thing is, they've read several of these authors already. And they've got a lifetime of reading ahead of them. I, after reading that tweaking and then going in and reading some of it for myself, I'm grossed out by the combination of negative messaging and bad writing. There are apparently girls basing entire personality ideals on this Bella idiot, and I'd like my nieces to have a few other choices at hand. I mean, as an early vampire love story enthusiast, I can't be too damned uppity. But I'm going to at least counter it with some quality writing and admirable characters, for the love of monkeys!
posted by batmonkey at 5:27 PM on September 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

I guess if Lauren Conrad can write a novel

For some very, very small value of "write" there.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:35 PM on September 13, 2008

I should probably name my daughter Isabella, or perhaps Serena, or Crystalina, or something else multisyllabic that ends in "a". Apparently girls with names like that have everyone in the universe falling at their feet, and only the cutest and tiniest of personal flaws to worry about.

Vampire stories leave me cold, but only in practice. I'd love to read a story with a genuinely scary sexy vampire, but writers these days try so hard for the "sexy" that they fail entirely at the "scary."
posted by Countess Elena at 6:09 PM on September 13, 2008

If we lived in a truly perfect world, Midnight Sun would be about the Cullen family's lean years in 1970's Alaska and Edward's ill-starred, snowmobile-borne romance with young Sarah Palin. A parallel story line would involve Jacob taking his toddler-bride on the campaign trail to lobby Palin-McCain for more humane wolf-management laws. At the novel's climax, the Republican party's official wildlife policy would be decided on the basis of Dukes of Hazard-style auto duel on the beltway between Edward/Bella/Jacob/Vampo-tot and Cindy McCain.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 7:15 PM on September 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

This is a series targeting young girls, grades 7-8-9ish. Why on earth would your friends be recommending it to you?

Unless I'm very much mistaken, and you MeFi members are, in fact, young teen girls. In which case I've been very foolish this last eight years or so that I've hung out with you.

What, can't it be both, FFF? :-)

And trust me, it goes way beyond middle school girls. Back in March I spent a day on the set of the movie (I cover film for some magazines). I had absolutely NO idea what it was. Vampire movie they told me. Set in high school. Okay. I was thinking Lost Boys or something. There are very few 14 year old girls in my life. I had literally never heard of this thing before.

But one of the other reporters was a woman in her 40s probably. And she was about to faint. I swear to God, it was like Edward himself was right there brooding just for her. She was positively enraptured.

I soon got the sense that this was a huge freight train bearing down on genre fandom from some Lovecraftian extra-dimensional direction that they'd never thought to look and wouldn't until the freight train plowed through them. I started telling my editors they should really think about making this cover because it was going to be freaking huge. They thought I was insane. I would have too, before...
posted by Naberius at 9:16 PM on September 13, 2008

Meanwhile, my tragic tale of teen robot ninja and Aztec zombie angst lingers in some publisher's round file.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:32 PM on September 13, 2008 [6 favorites]

If I'm understanding the Smeyers phenomenon, Robocop, I'm guessing that it's because (a) neither the robot nor the zombie are sporting a sufficient encrustation of Swarovski crystals, and (b) They don't spend nearly enough time emo-ing out about virginity preservation. Which admittedly kind of makes sense, if you're a zombie. I mean, not to put too fine a point on it, but if your existence is such that you're trailing fingers and bits of scalp in your wake, your maidenhead's probably not looking all that well-starched either.

I am going to hell for that.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 11:21 AM on September 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

Dammit, robocop's plea makes me want to design up a MagCloud thingy just to publish his comment fables. This is an injustice I feel particularly keenly right now.
posted by JHarris at 1:03 PM on September 14, 2008

The robotic ninja is the sparkly one. He breaks into the museum where the aztec zombie is kept and after she sees his red blinking eyes sparking in the moonlight, she lurches out of her display and into the tumultuous world of unrequited love.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:45 AM on September 15, 2008 [3 favorites]

robocop is bleeding: "46The robotic ninja is the sparkly one. He breaks into the museum where the aztec zombie is kept and after she sees his red blinking eyes sparking in the moonlight, she lurches out of her display and into the tumultuous world of unrequited love."

I wish to subscribe to your newsletter, Sir!

Seriously, if you self-published your comments on Metafilter, I'd buy 'em!
posted by misha at 2:12 PM on September 15, 2008

Countess Elena, for a genuinely sexy scary vampire, please check out Suzy McKee Charnas's novel The Vampire Tapestry, and I can also recommend Steven Brust's novel Agyar, though not as strongly.
posted by cgc373 at 5:55 PM on September 23, 2008

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