Some thoughts on New Moon

It seems I’m a little behind the times.  I tried to read those books, but couldn’t.  I watched Twilight for the first time the other day.   My wife devoured them all, and given that I don’t spend my life locked in a closet, I’ve absorbed a bit more.

I’m therefore not an expert on these things.  But what I know disturbs me.

At the center of all these New Moon books are some very unhealthy messages.   Ironically, underneath the mask of hipness, Gothic cool, and un-traditional super natural themes, there is this sub text which is the very worst part of traditional views of women. 

More specifically:

Begun with a protagonist whose name is Bella… Beauty.  It’s o.k. for people to be beautiful.  But names are powerful things.  It’s not o.k. to have nothing but beauty.

And if you had to boil down all this, what it’s really about is a girl with no power except her beauty.  There is nothing to attract these super natural, powerful men, except her attractiveness.   We can dress this reality up, and talk about how she smells, or the fact that people can’t read her mind, or whatever… But what it comes down to is that we have this person whose only real quality is her attractiveness, and she is found to be appealing.

And her only real decision is which of these men she will choose.  It’s a foregone conclusion that she must choose one of them in order to be complete.    The rabid fans mostly designate themselves as “Team Edward” or “Team Jacob.”  My wife, after having seen the movie last night, shared something interesting, perhaps with out realizing it.  There is also a team Switzerland.  As one might guess, Team Switzerland is neutral on the matter.  However, my wife quoted one of them as saying “We don’t care which one she ends up with.”

Interesting that there’s not a team saying, “You don’t need either of them.”

As I reflect on that twilight movie, it occurs to me… if Edward wasn’t a vampire, the relationship would have been nothing other than abusive.   I suppose the only really new twist on the whole thing is that while their is the old fashioned “Save the bad boy from himself” thing going on, there is also this “Make me as bad as you” thing going on in Bella’s desire to be turned to a vampire…

The Saving the bad boy  from himself mentality  is not a good thing.  It goes back before James Dean, at least to the 18th century Gothic novels, filled with brooding and mysterious counts being redeemed by the innocent maidens who happen into their castles.   I wonder how many women have been encouraged to believe that it is their responsibility to change despicable men by this idealogy.  I wonder how much abuse has been tolerated.  I wonder how much inexcusable behavior has been excused, because the guy is misunderstood, or dark, or talented, or an artist, or tough, or what-ever.

However: It’s heading in the wrong direction to encourage the maidens to embrace the darkness, evil, whatever. 

There are so many problems caused by girl’s who don’t see themselves as competent and powerful.  Both men and women are ruining themselves believing that they need another person to complete themselves.   What we take into our hearts and minds does impact us… And that’s why I think that these New Moon books and movies are pretty dangerous things.

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jeffsdeepthoughts

The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

2 thoughts on “Some thoughts on New Moon”

  1. I haven’t read or seen these stories, although I hear an awful lot about them from the teens at church! Your observations are interesting and important. Here’s a question: do you think the author’s Mormonism has anything to do with promoting these sorts of perspectives?

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  2. My wife has some history with the mormon church, so we’ve discussed it some… Her insights (as always) strike me as perceptive.

    In Mormonism, the whole goal for men is to eventually become little mini-Gods of their entire world. There wives are baby-making machines, and there destiny is to be eternally pregnant, as they populate the world the husbands have dominion over.

    So yeah, I’d say there certainly seems to be a connection; if nothing else, the idea that women are really just an accesory to the divine men is very mormon.

    The end of the whole saga she found deeply disturbing and mormon as well, but that’s a different topic for another time.

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