April 12, 2016

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Conversation about "Twilight," Part Two

I'm talking about the YA fantasy novel Twilight with my writing buddy, Towson U. Professor of Psychology, Cyndee Kalodner.
Cyndee, once I recovered from that “can’t put the book down” feeling, I thought about Edward and Bella’s relationship.
As a feminist, I have serious problems with Twilight. Should we be teaching girls that – in sexual relationships – they are prey and men are predators?
Edward waivers somewhere between safe and dangerous; he’s a good bad-boy. But it bothered me that he’s always swooping Bella up, cradling her, watching her sleep, rescuing her. In a way, he’s making her a perpetual child. Bella can’t become a woman (literally or figuratively) as long as she’s with Edward. It’s implied that Edward realizes this, but Bella is clueless.
You have a ‘tween daughter who’s read the series. What do you think about the predator/prey issue?
CK: Never thought about it that way. I saw it as a sad situation in which a guy wants to be with a girl, but he can’t because he would have to make her a vampire in the process. I see him as beneficent and frustrated. I see her as your more typical teenager, in lust with him.
So, if I'm planning ahead to the day when my 9-year-old daughter will read Twilight, I should see it as pure entertainment. Hopefully, she won't model her romantic relationships on Bella and Edward.
Bella wants Edward to make her a vampire, but author Stephanie Meyer doesn’t have the character realize how separated she’s become from her parents and her own life. I think the real Bella would seriously weigh what it means to give up a normal life – especially having children. Isn’t this an unhealthy obsession, or am I just projecting myself onto the character?
CK: I think she sees the advantages to being a vampire – you don’t have to eat, sleep, or worry about the more mundane things that HS students have to deal with. He is all knowing, while she has to study and do schoolwork (even though she is portrayed as smart). Not sure she has focused on the disadvantages. Isn’t that how kids make bad decisions at that age anyway?
That's a good point.
I’m taking a break from the Twilight series, so reading the books doesn’t become my unhealthy obsession. Will you read the next book, New Moon?
CK: Already started it. If I want to talk to Elena (my 12-year-old daughter), I have to know what happens next. I expect to read them all.
Sounds good, as long as you promise not to tell me what happens.


Babu Writer said...

So far I have a fairly strong opinion. I think our Edward Cullen is manipulative from the get go. Asking her all those questions. He requires her to have no secrets from him although he hardly knows her. He must know everthing. Ordering drinks for her before knowing what she wants. Giving her orders, "Get in the car," etc. Getting her all worked up and -- he knows what he is doing, he has been 17 forever --and then withdrawing. Undermining her confidence and independence at every turn. "Be Safe," he writes, and it is almost a threat, to emphasize his view that she is not capable of existing without him. Literally she gets lost without him. Then cutting off her relationships with others; she's out with the girls but to be with him she must withdraw from her crowd. Making her lie about her whereabouts so she can be with him and only him--this further isolates her from poossible support from her peers. And then he glows in the sun. He is a god and wants her to know it. Swearing her to secrecy--he must control what she is allowed to say to others. This guy is bad news in my book. Although she is smart and "wants" him, she is never his equal and the book allows this. And she is at risk for bad choices such as Edward because of the dysfuntional father relationship as well as the dysfunctional mother relationship. She is the "parent" to both parents, in different ways. And I am only on page 300 of Book 1. Been to Hot Topic with my 12 y o and seen the goth/emo kids hanging out at the Twilight section with their nose rings and pink hair (mine stays well away) and I wonder what sorts of parental relationships they live with. Also wondering what EG and MB would have to say about the writing and the themes!

Author Amok said...

Hey, buddy! I hear you on this. For a "smart girl" (the narrator describes Bella this way, but the character doesn't live up to the adj), I was really troubled by how quickly Bella was willing to give up parents, college, career, having a family. To me, it was a teen beach book with some dangerous messages for girls. You're right -- I bet EG and MB would have a lot to say about it. Edward watching her sleep without her knowledge? Stalker! And we're telling girls this is okay as long as the guy really loves you?