Teens struggle through their ‘Twilight’ years

Why are vampires all the rage with teens right now? Because “Twilight” isn’t just about vampires, it’s about misunderstood vampires. The poor, high fashion, upscale undead who look like they just stepped out of a cryogenic spa and went shopping at Goths “R” Us. Nobody understands them. Does that sound like anyone in your house? Maybe your teenager? Being misunderstood is practically the definition of being a teenager. Well, they think they are misunderstood. The truth is, we understand them all too well. After all, we were teenagers, too, once.

Critics who think “Harry Potter” is about magic and “Twilight” is about vampires are missing the point of these books and movies completely. They are about teen angst, heartbreak, awkwardness and unease. They are about the feeling that the only purpose grown-ups have in life is to make teenagers miserable.

“Why do I have to study history? I’m not going to be a historian.”

“Why are you always spying on me?”

“Why can’t I go out with Billy? He’s got his own motorcycle.”

“Everyone else has a tattoo.”

“Just leave me alone!”

“Don’t drop me off in front of the school, I’ll get out here.”

You can see why being a vampire with superpowers or a magician with an invisibility cloak would come in handy in dealing with your nosy, control-freak parents and school bullies. I’m still not clear why being undead would make you incredibly strong and able to travel instantaneously from place to place. It seems to me that being undead would make you weak and cranky.

But even the vampires have problems. The main issue: having to go to high school when you’re 108 years old. That has got to suck in a big way. “This undead guy’s got a gym bag in his locker from 1918. You can smell it in Nebraska.”

And think of the age difference. Maybe it seems like a lot now, she’s 17 and he’s 108. But just think, when she’s 25, he’ll only be 116, which doesn’t sound like such a big gap.

In case you missed it, the good vampires in “Twilight” don’t drink real blood, they drink animal blood, which is not, as everyone knows, as nutritious and sweet smelling as human blood. He’s not just good looking, he’s practically vegetarian! What’s not to like?

Of course the other kids at school make fun of him. They don’t understand why he’s so pale. He can’t come out of the vampire closet because ... well, that’s not really clear. I can see how it might be difficult for a teen to tell everyone how much they like show tunes, but it seems that telling them you’re a vampire would be the thing to do right now. You’d get invited to all the best parties. Everyone would want you to play blood pong with them. They’d definitely want you on the football team, since you can teleport. If you can stop a moving van with your bare hands, there’s no telling what you could do to the visiting team’s offense.

But even your peers don’t understand your twisted vampire love for a non-vampire. That’s just over the line. They might as well be grown-ups.

Jim Mullen is the author of “It Takes a Village Idiot: Complicating the Simple Life” and “Baby’s First Tattoo.” You can reach him at jim_mullen@myway.com

Copyright 2009, Newspaper Enterprise Assn.

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