So, what's really going on with Twilight? Why are so many girls and women such fanatical fans?
I've been thinking about this since I began the series, and although there are probably several reasons, I think the main one is that Meyer has somehow tapped into a mass sense of insecurity and provided a heady, addictive antidote.
There's no way that young girls and/or women can live up to the ideal they're shown every day, over and over, on billboards, in magazines or movies or TV shows--everywhere, all the time. They, like Bella, just can't match the perfection of the immortals. Of course, in our world the immortals are created by camera angles, air brushing, and starvation diets rather than by a vampire's bite, but the effect is the same--a major loss of self esteem. So, Meyer takes an average young woman and makes her the object of someone's obsession. And not a creepy someone. A handsome, god-like, powerful, rich, sexy young man who could have anyone but who wants only her.
This is heady stuff. Suddenly, a young woman who's always felt that she's not good enough can be vicariously powerful. She has a secret hope. If Bella can get a man like that, so can I. I, too, can be the center of someone's universe. I can be his special brand of heroin. Meyer is providing an illusion of female strength and, in a sick way, boosting weak self-esteem.
Jonathan mentioned in an earlier comment that he was interested in what Meyer has done with the tropes of the romance novel, and I am too. These tropes--which are probably ingrained in the collective female psyche--have actually grown and changed as opportunities for women have expanded. They've morphed from the basic helpless woman/rescue motif into various patterns of heroes being forced to accept a woman as she is and learning to respect her as an individual and allow her personal freedom before he can win her heart and form a partnership based on equality. Darcy and Elizabeth are an early example of this evolving trope. I'm not a big reader of bodice rippers today, but I know that Stephanie Laurens' historical romances are big on the independent woman/equality theme. Meyer does draw on the tropes of earlier romance novels, but it seems she takes all the female insecurities (ignoring the heroines' strengths) and pairs them with extreme versions of the heroes' characteristics. To use Jonathan's earlier list and expand on it, Edward has Darcy's good looks, pride, and money, Rochester's moodiness, Heathcliff's obsession, Jesus's ability to save, and the "Christian romance"-bodice-ripper heroes' super-human restraint (I didn't know there was such a genre as the Christian romance bodice ripper, but it's an interesting concept). This, of course, makes for a very unequal partnership. Yet, rather than being angry over Meyer's portrayal of women, fans seem to feed on the idea of a really weak woman being able to mesmerize the ultimate-alpha-macho man.
I know that Twilight fans will argue that Bella becomes a strong woman. And they're right, in the final novel she does. But they need to look a little closer. She doesn't become a strong woman because of personal growth or a reliance on her own abilities. It takes a man to make her that way, and she still has to look like a supermodel.
Meyer may have tapped into a great social malady, but the antidote she provides is just a placebo. It seems to address the symptoms, and you feel better for a little while, but the illness is still festering underneath it all.
Now I'm done with Twilight. In the words of Forrest Gump: That's all I have to say about that.
Anything to add?