Hello Out There,
This past week there has been a lot of hype about the new Twilight movie. While I have never read the books; nor, do I ever plan to, the entire saga has really been getting to me. To be fair, I did watch the first half or so of the first movie (and then fell asleep…) This is odd because normally, I love fantasy novels/movies. I adore Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Indiana Jones, etc, etc, you get the picture…
My issue is the negative ways female sexuality and empowerment are portrayed and how much girls are obsessed with “Team Edward” and “Team Jacob” – where is Team Bella? (More on this in the article below). Also the way that teen pregancy and marriage are romanticized–not to mention the heavy anti-abortion theme kicking around in this new movie.
Don’t get me wrong, Robert Pattinson is a bona-fide hottie, and I get the appeal of a fantasy flick, but I just hope that anyone who indulges in the Twilight series actually thinks about the major themes that the mormon author, Stephanie Meyers, is slamming into her readers faces.
So, I have been scouring the internet, reading various articles about the books and movies, and have generally become more and more disgusted the more and more I learn. The following is an excerpt from Ms. Magazine that is just one of the responses to the novels and movies. Basically, this post is asking everyone to just think about what you are reading/watching, and the true meaning behind it.
Talking Back to Twilight
By Carmen D. Siering
In Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga, a wildly popular four-book series of young adult novels, the protagonist Bella Swan—by all accounts a very average human girl—has two suitors. One is the unimaginably beautiful vampire, Edward, the other a loyal and devoted werewolf, Jacob. Fans of the books, and now a movie version, often break into “teams,” aligning themselves with the swain they hope Bella will choose in the end: Team Edward or Team Jacob.
But few young readers ask, “Why not Team Bella?” perhaps because the answer is quite clear: There can be no Team Bella. Even though Bella is ostensibly a hero, in truth she is merely an object in the Twilight world.
On the surface, the Twilight saga seems to have something to please everyone. Moms are reading the books and swooning over Edward right alongside their teen and tween daughters. Librarians and teachers are delighted to see students with their heads tucked into books, and since Twilight’s romantic sensuality is wrapped up in an abstinence message, all the kissing and groping appear to be harmless.
But while Twilight is ostensibly a love story, scratch the surface and you will find an allegorical tale about the dangers of unregulated female sexuality. From the very first kiss between Edward and Bella, she is fighting to control her awakening sexuality. Edward must restrain her, sometimes physically, to keep her from ravishing him. There are those who might applaud the depiction of a young man showing such self-restraint, but shouldn’t the decision about when a couple is ready to move forward sexually be one they make together?
Meyer insists that she sees Bella as a feminist character, since the foundation of feminism is being able to choose. What Meyer fails to acknowledge is that all of the choices Bella makes are Meyer’s choices—choices based on her own patriarchal Mormon background. In Breaking Dawn, the latest book in the series, Meyer finally allows Bella’s subordination to end as she takes her proper place: in the patriarchal structure. When Bella becomes a wife and mother, Meyer allows her to receive her heart’s desire—to live forever by Edward’s side, to be preternaturally beautiful and graceful, to be strong and be able to defend herself.
Director Catherine Hardwicke’s film version of Twilight remains true to the novel, but there are subtle changes that make it much more feminist-friendly. Kristin Stewart’s Bella is more outspoken and forthright, and Robert Pattinson’s Edward is much less condescending and overbearing. Their relationship seems to be built on equality and friendship, and includes scenes of mutual sexual frustration and restraint. Here is a Bella we can root for.
Excerpted from the Spring 2009 issue of Ms. – join the ms. community at www.msmagazine.com.
Carmen D. Sieringis an assistant professor of English and women’s studies at BallStateUniversity in Muncie, Ind. One of her research areas is popular culture and its influence in the lives of girls and women.
If you are interested reading more articles about the Twilight saga, here are a few to check out:
Bite Me (Or Don’t) – BitchMedia – by Christine Seifert
Film Review: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 – CBC News – by Eli Glasner