Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My Prickly Thorn With Twilight: Mormon Overtones

I just can't seem to get this thorn out from under my skin!

Since I began writing "Dandelions In The Garden," a historical novel based on the life of Elizabeth Bathory, also referred to as the Blood Countess, I've been asked for my opinion on "Twilight," and Meyer's depiction of vampire lore.  First, I'll give a bare bones background on my main character.  Elizabeth Bathory is often connected to vampire lore and the mythology of Transylvanian and Romania.  She is a descendant of Vlad Tepes, the Impaler, who is credited for being the inspiration for Bram Stoker's novel Dracula.  In addition to her lineage, it is widely believed that Elizabeth had a fetish for blood and torture.  She was rumored to bathe and drink the blood of virgins believing it prevented the aging process giving her eternal beauty and quite possibly immortality.  During her reign, it was recorded that over 600 young women went missing from the region.

To get straight to the point, my problem with the Twilight Series is mostly a theological one.  Vampire history and lore is established and stems from a cultural base that should not be absent when writing on the subject.  Despite the modern content, I believe it is the duty of a responsible writer to take the historical mythology into consideration, and then create the conflict or spin.  Anne Rice does this beautifully in her novels.  She shows a respect for the lore, how it came about, and how it still affects beliefs and struggles, including superstitions and practices, which are still apparent today.

I don't have a problem with the writer of Twilight being Mormon, nor would I have a huge issue if she at least made one of her characters Mormon.  In fact, that would make much more sense and frankly, a better story.  However, her characters do not display or express beliefs of any kind, but that doesn't mean Joseph Smith's LDS teachings do not present throughout the descriptive language and practices within the story.  In this case, the word "imprinting," is appropriate.  Meyers imprints LDS propaganda all over the place and upon her characters.  She admitted during an interview, "Unconsciously, I put a lot of my basic beliefs into the story."  If your characters have the same general beliefs as the writer, than sure, do it.  However, if it is not made known or revealed to the reader through the story, than it is confusing to unconsciously insert such beliefs and in my opinion, a very lame practice of the craft.

For anyone familiar with the Book of Mormon it is easy to discern the deeper theological themes woven through the story, from the Mormon re-interpretation of the Fall of humankind, to the overcoming of natural man.  Meyer states that, "The concept for the 'Twilight Saga' series came in a vision."  She openly admits she's never read a vampire book or watched an R-rated movie and that her experience with sexual tension is a natural byproduct of her strict Mormon upbringing.  Even the marriage ceremony in the book is indicative of the temple sealing ceremony that takes place in the sacred room within the Mormon Temple.  (See more by clicking on links below).

And if you're still not convinced that the Book of Mormon doctrine greatly influenced not only the themes, but word by word descriptions, take a look at this passage and decide for yourself.  Remember, LDS members have a celestial concept of the afterlife and strive to be God-like.

Twilight:
“His white shirt was sleeveless, and he wore it unbuttoned, so that the smooth white skin of his throat flowed uninterrupted over the marble contours of his chest, his perfect musculature no longer merely hinted at."
Mormon passage: (compare with)


“He had on a loose robe of most exquisite awhiteness. It was a whiteness beyond anything earthly I had ever seen; nor do I believe that any earthly thing could be made to appear so exceedingly white and brilliant. His hands were naked, and his arms also, a little above the wrist; so, also, were his feet naked, as were his legs, a little above the ankles. His head and neck were also bare."
My issue is the lack of awareness by the author and the ignorance of history as it applies to lore and mythology.  She is obviously very schooled in the verse and practice of Mormonism and took liberty to do her own imprinting.  I was taught that it is crucial for a writer to be aware of what they are doing both thematically, descriptively and when developing character and plot ay all times.  For an author to be unaware, well, I'm sure most writers would agree with me, it's just bad practice, craft, and writing.

Resources:

Big Vampire Love:  What's So Mormon About Twilight
Twilight Saga:  Mormon Theology
Twilight Vampires and Mormons
Twilight Author's Mormon Faith:  A Big Influence In Books and Film





1 comment:

  1. After those scathing remarks, I'm sure Stephanie Meyer will be crying all the way to the bank, LOL!

    ReplyDelete

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