Twilight Author Responds To Criticism That Bella’s A Bad Role Model


One thing you can guarantee about pop culture arguments is that they’re never truly settled. When Twilight was first published in 2005, it swiftly became all that (mostly) teenage girls could talk about, and after being experienced by other demographics, it became apparent that Bella was a terrible character and really not somebody on whom young girls should model themselves.

With the completion of the books and their movie adaptations, you’d have hoped that we could all put the madness behind us and move on, but since Stephanie Meyer realized that nobody cares about anything else she would wish to write, she’s gone back to the series that made her name with Midnight Sun, a retelling of Twilight from the perspective of Edward, and the whole sorry palaver has been reawoken.

When appearing on Remember Twilight?, a podcast series casting a retrospective eye over the saga, Meyer addressed the newly resurfaced criticism, saying:

“There are people who think Bella is not a great example for a young girl. And I think there are elements – yes, you should not get that caught up in a boy. If it’s a fantasy creature that doesn’t really exist, go right ahead, you have my permission. If it’s a normal human boy, yeah, take a step back, absolutely. Because this is a fantasy novel that is set in a world that isn’t real but at the same time I do think it’s good for girls to be like ‘I can be sure of what I want and not be afraid of what I want’.”

Meyer is right in that fantasy often operates as just that: worlds in which we can imagine idealized versions of our reality where everything ultimately plays out as we would wish it to, with none of the pesky unpredictability that intrudes on our envisioning of perfect lives. Be that as it may, it’s still a pretty weak non-response, essentially brushing off the comments by declaring that genre fiction is divorced from reality and therefore immune to criticism. She also doesn’t address other issues with Bella, such as her being an utterly bland character with little in the way of a functioning personality.

To be fair, her assertion that girls shouldn’t be afraid to go after what they want is one that should be encouraged instead of forcing them to conform to some nebulous ideal of societal decency that most people can’t even agree on, but the problem is that Bella’s utter passivity and lack of agency prevents this message from being adequately conveyed.

For everyone who will gleefully deconstruct Twilight’s myriad of literary shortcomings, it will have at least as many fans willing to staunchly defend it. There’s little to be gained, though, from repeatedly having the same arguments when both sides are unlikely to change their point of view, especially when even the author is keen to dismiss them.