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.
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.