Twilight: harmless fun or dangerous fantasy?

A (slightly edited) conversation I recently participated in:

  • I have now spoken in person to three adult LDS women who have seen this movie in the past 36 hours.  They just gush about it, you can’t get them to shut up, and they all plan to see it again within the week.  What am I missing? Also, all three commented at length and favorably about the amazing bod of some guy in the film.  Turns out he’s 17.  Adults in their 30s lusting after underage teenage flesh, how creepy is that?
  • I’m not sure I’d call it “creepy” per se (said bodies are of mature young men, not little boys) and I wouldn’t want to start an anti-Twilight puritanical witchhunt, but I’m sort of stunned by the double standard. I teased [my wife] at dinner tonight about it, suggesting she was in love with Edward because she sure as hell doesn’t like the film for its dramatic brilliance, and that my enjoyment of Transformers had NOTHING to do with Megan Fox’s hot bod. (Not entirely true.) Bottom line: cut the Twimoms some slack, but don’t beat-up men for also enjoying the (non-pornographic) female form. Is there room in Mormonism for a healthy appreciation for sensual images, or is it all verboten? If so, let’s note that men are not the only guilty party. I think Mormon men have taken too much of a battering recently.
  • I’m all for healthy, lusty sexuality. You’ll not find a puritanical bone in my body — honestly– and I’ll just leave it at that. What bothers me is the double standard. Also, and this is a huge personal pet-peeve of mine, is that Twilight furthers the (I believe harmful) notions of female sexuality that so many of the Disney-fied princesses do — laying in wait for a Prince to come and awaken you and claim your sexuality for his own. Nonsense. I think this pervasive notion of half-baked sexuality is the root of a lot of problems. The princess lies, like Sleeping Beauty, waiting for some outside source to sweep her off her feet, thereby absolving her of knowing and owning her own sex, and letting him show her the ropes. Twilight carries this even farther, IMHO, because of his chaste restraint. It’s ALL lusty eyes and unconsummated toothless (sorry) insipidity. It bothers me terribly that so many grown, supposedly sexually mature women are blown away by this crap. It bespeaks an undeveloped sexual maturity in the group of women en mass, if not individually.
  • I honestly don’t know any adults IRL who have made much of a big deal about the books or movies, but I am wondering if the Mormon female participation in the Twi-mom movement is because the “group-think” allows them to become part of a public conversation about sexuality and acknowledge that they are sexual beings?
  • The disgusting thing  is the idea that women here are supposed to fantasize about being totally sexually inert/powerless — at the mercy of superior male domination.  The double standard here is not about ogling a shirtless almost 18-year-old — that’s a relative non-issue — it’s the idea that women are so infantalized that middle-aged women are dreaming of being like sexually powerless (inferior) children in relation to the 17-year-old boy. This is further illustrated by the contempt shown for the female character in this “romance.”   No one likes Bella.  Why would you?  This chastity/rape fantasy is apparently driving some women crazy, but while they are fantasizing about the woman’s role in the story, they are simultaneously finding it contemptible, in an unfortunate example of self-hatred.
  • I’m not sure that I would characterize the fantasy as only being one about women being powerless.  I think that there is also a strong element of the thrill that Bella experiences at being so desirable that she can control people like Edward.  It’s a kind of power, even if it comes from sex.  The two fantasies are definitely intermixed,
    however.
  • I was out to lunch today with a friend and then we went to New Moon.  It was pretty much what I expected.  Not that great, but tremendously fun, including the audience participation — laughing at all the wrong places because it was absurd and earnest all at the same time.  And the kid is seriously hot — like textbook hot — as is Megan Fox. I don’t have rape fantasies, I don’t want to sleep with a 17 year old, I like Anna Karenina, and realize the Twilight books are craptastic page turners.  The movies are about as enjoyable as the popcorn.  All in all a good Saturday afternoon.
  • My anecdotal experience is that the “problem” you speak of is really overstated.  Almost all of the women I know in our ward who are with [my wife] at the movies like it in virtually the same way described above:  They cheer in a silly fashion, and they know they are cheering in a silly fashion, and just think it’s fun. There are a few who are certainly true believers, but they are definitely in the minority.

Comments

  1. Teaneck, New Jersey says:

    The romance genre involves feminine inexperience and being at the mercy, so to speak, of the forces of physical and emotional attraction. (Um, s- s- sexuality.)

    Its the young adult and/or old fashioned reticense of the tale that makes it embarrassing/hokey/something to be made fun of? Or is it romance itself that comes across as kinda hokey to many?

    ….Geez, let’s see. Is the “sexy” movie __9 + 1/2 Weeks__ a “romance”? Hey, in what way does this movie lend itself to being thought hokey? After all, it’s **also** about a similar obsession, as doesn’t its lede, a **male,** find himself, in a way, at the mercy of the, um, attractiveness of a **female?** (And, was the female character in this movie likewise a bit of a..”sensually awakening” ingenue? sorta an innocent, experiencing passions anew? I forget.) I suppose some feminists and other moralists take exception to both scenarios, to some extent. But they are simply escapist tales — about, in the 1st case, the possibility of romance (yeah, and, um, s-s-sex), or else, in the 2nd case, about a two-and-a-half-month fling.

  2. I don’t know any women in the twimom mold.

    My personal beef with twilight is the horrible confusion between attraction and love. There is NOTHING to their realationship other than- she smells good and he is SO good looking, his eyebrows-his cheek bones-so statuesque…and on and on and on and on and on.

    No comments of actual admirable qualities-except for perhaps the ability to stalk but not rape, and the ability to be stupid around dangerous people just because they’re REALLY good looking, their lips are so ….

  3. Sterling Fluharty says:

    For some more sophisticated female perspectives on the recent movie, don’t forget this article that came out in the Washington Post a few days ago:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/18/AR2009111804145.html

  4. It’s emotional porn marketed to women. Hollywood has done a brilliant job of producing the most lucrative “chick flick” ever. How ironic that this phenomenon was sparked by a Latter-day Saint mom in Utah.

  5. It’s Sense&Sensibility – all literary attributes + vampires + more explicit sexuality. How’s that not going to attract a female crowd?

    I completely disagree with the notion of it being some kind of rape fantasy or powerlessness.

  6. My wife (at work on her PhD, who’s read the books and enjoys them but doesn’t take them seriously) says they remind her of High School, that overpowering crush on someone + hormones.

  7. sense and sensibility? are you kidding? in that book the characters talking with each other-they knew each others preferences, strengths and weaknesses, they aw and cared about how they interacted with family and friends…

    then we have new moon: he’s so exquisite I must jump off a cliff if I can’t look at him forever

    to hit the OP ask more women about Mr Darcy in pride and prejudice..I do know swooners in that arena

  8. Teaneck, New Jersey says:

    The Vatican (viz Monsignor Franco Perazzolo of the Pontifical Council of Culture): “This theme of vampires in Twilight [New Moon] combines a mixture of excesses that is aimed at young people. It is nothing more than a moral vacuum with a deviant message and as such should be something of concern.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1230021/Robert-Pattinson-hot-property-Twilight-sequel-New-Moon-breaks-box-office-records.html#ixzz0XcjfyfPo

  9. I haven’t read the books or seen the movie, but a group on Goodreads who did read the book have come up with the idea that Edward is actually some sort of guardian angel, and not a man at all. Also that the Cullen family represents a Latter-day Saint community. Those ideas seemed to make the books more palatable to me, even given the fact that I haven’t read them and don’t plan to read them. So I thought I’d throw those ideas into the discussion and see if they resonate with anyone. They sounded plausible to me, at least, and also made the books seem less objectionable.

    I only jumped into the discussion because someone was trying to tie the dreadfulness of Meyer’s writing to her religion, claiming that it was typical of it in some way. I spoke up with an objection to that idea.

    Just because I keep getting involved in these discussions, please don’t make me read the books. They sound really dreadful. =)

  10. Yes Britt. Sense and Sensibility, minus all literary attributes (i.e. good writing, plot, depth, character development, etc.)

    It’s a romance with vampires.

  11. A better label than “emotional porn” might be abstenence porn, and has been labeled as such by Christine Seifert, a professor of communication and writing at Westminster College in SLC. An article titled “Bite Me! (Or Don’t)” was just included in the Best Sex Writing 2010 (not erotica, but a discussion of sexuality edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel). The entire piece is excellent, but refers mainly to the books, not the movies. I quote this particular passage that might be useful for discussion:

    “In reality, the abstinence message—wrapped in the genre of abstinence porn—objectifies Bella in the same ways that “real” porn might. The Twilight books conflate Bella losing her virginity with the loss of other things, including her sense of self and her very life. Such a high-stakes treatment of abstinence reinforces the idea that Bella is powerless, an object, a fact that is highlighted when we get to the sex scenes in Breaking Dawn. 
Of course the paradox is that the more Meyer sexualizes abstinence, the more we want Bella and Edward to actually have sex.”

    Source here.

  12. To me, the commandment to be careful what we take in from the media involves things exactly like this. I heard enough about the books to realize they’re not the sort of thing I’ll find good (lovely, virtuous, of good report, etc.) So I’m avoiding them. Can’t avoid all the talk about them, but that’s okay.

    Also, if others find them good, then that’s good for them. But just because millions of people are reading these books, including my nieces, doesn’t mean I have to read them, so I’m giving myself permission not to. =)

    To me it’s not about which swear words a book or movie might have, nor about whether they show nipples or people having sex. To me it’s about whether I’ll feel uplifted spiritually by the book or movie, or whether it will leave me with a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. That’s why I avoid some things that to others might seem fine, and enjoy things that others might find objectionable. Not that any of that is so earth-shattering, just I want to say it because sometimes it seems as though there is only one LDS standard for media, when I think in actuality there are as many standards as there are readers / viewers. So I’m glad that President Hinckley made that distinction clear.

  13. I agree that Twilight is abstinence porn, but surely it is Edward more than Bella who is objectified by readers. In general, what I find interesting about this discussion in Mormon circles is how it keeps illuminating the Mormon double-standard that chastises men for looking at porn but doesn’t consider books or images that turn woman on to be porn. We never discuss female use of porn. Does this division about who can look at porn and what constitutes porn reinforce the notion that Mormon women are asexual?

  14. I went with my wife and a group of other LDS 20-30 year olds to New Moon. (plenty of moms, too) One thing that I did observe and talked to my wife about: I’ve noticed that in movies when men take their shirts off, women/girls in the audience will litterally cheer and scream out loud. I’ve never noticed a situation where a girl stripping topless or in their underwear has had an audible cheer from the men in the audience. I don’t know what to make of that, but was just somewhat suprised by it. My wife agreed with my observation and said it might have something to do with men being afraid of looking like perverts, but that women can get away with it.
    Again, no real point here, just an observation. My disclaimer: I’m not just a jealous husband. I don’t have the body of Jacob, but I’m certainly better built than Edward.

  15. I agree the impetus behind the Twilight phenomenon is Edward, not Bella, but the argument for examining Bella is she is whom the female readers will to relate. By examining Bella, we are examining the psychology of the readers. When we look at Bella we see she gives control of her own virtue to Edward, even stating that he can control himself better than she can, thus perpetuating the idea that it is a man’s decision to engage in carnality and women are helpless. Edward is so beautifully perfect that she cannot resist him. This places the decision for penetration (both of neck and loins) back in the hands of the man who is empowered to make the decision on continued virtue, not the female. She has decided to come so tantalizingly close to the carnality that she is no longer able to control herself. I disagree with this literary metaphor IRL, and feel that Bella goes back to the mindset that female sexuality is for men to control and decide.

  16. Along with #14, there are a few other previous BCC posts on Twilight:

    Ecliipse, or Dating into the Eternities

    So I watched Twilight last night…

    Twilight also came up in the 50 Conversations about one thing, about pornography

  17. I like the fact that we’re analyzing brain candy as if it merited critiques worthy of the best literature ever written.

    I have four daughters, and these books resonate with them as escapist fantasy because they actually can relate to the hormonal angst of teenagery AND the desire not to give in to it. They want to love someone completely but not have to worry all the time about being pressured for sex. They want to find an Edward because he won’t try to take advantage of them – because he is attracted to them (the whole of them) but has self-control. Silly, stupid, deceived girls!

    Series summary:

    A lonely girl and a misunderstood “guy” are attracted to each other; they have an on-again, off-again relationship; their feelings simmer along; scary and exciting things happen to them; they never give in to their desires; eventually, they get married and then the sex is fabulous.

    What a horrible message! Yep, definitely porn – ’cause, you know, anything that arouses any kind of sexual tension just has to be porn. Also, can’t let these silly teenage girls like something that older, more intelligent women don’t like. After all, those older, more intelligent women know better than those silly teenage girls.

    I just find it ironic that women castigate the author for not empowering Belle, then turn around and criticize other women (regardless of age) for not seeing it their way – effectively refusing to allow them the power to make their own decisions by labeling something “porn” simply because it includes sexual tension and not what they view as a “strong” female protagonist.

    Silly, stupid girls!

    Who’s demeaning whom?

  18. Clay Whipkey says:

    Just wanted to make sure that credit gets preserved, since print stuff takes so much longer to publish…

    Sunstone will soon be publishing an issue featuring some really good Twilight analysis (mostly of the complete book series). And I mean really good analysis. Holly Welker and Maxine Hanks gave a preview of it at the last symposium.

    Teaser: you will NOT believe where Maxine Hanks goes with it.

  19. Clay Whipkey says:

    Ray, I was surprised my self by how much literary analysis was available from the Twilight books, but trust me, its there.

    BTW, about this:

    They want to find an Edward because he won’t try to take advantage of them – because he is attracted to them (the whole of them) but has self-control.

    The thing you are missing is that it still concedes too much control of sex to men. The Twilight story is about a girl who wants sex (she is the one pressuring) and it takes the unusual will of the man to both save her virtue and her life. She would sell herself out, and die, if it weren’t for his righteousness.

    Also, this criticism isn’t about teenage girls being stupid, its about promoting a picture of the male/female sexual dynamic that still does not give girls a healthy role model. Yes, I am saying that teaching young women that they have to find a good man to keep from having sex (otherwise they will be “taken advantage of” wtf happened to the agency of the girl?) is unhealthy.

  20. “Teaser: you will NOT believe where Maxine Hanks goes with it.”

    I’m gonna go out on a limb, and say, oppressive male priesthood?

    Just a guess…

  21. Sterling Fluharty says:

    Right on Ray (#18). We should really be worried about young female readers who want to relate to an average girl in the novels they read. And heaven forbid they should want to know what true love feels like.

  22. Clay, the point is that my daughters and just about every other teenage girl who has talked about the books in my presence understand your concern perfectly. They just disagree.

    My daughters don’t want a man who will save them from themselves. They want a man who will love them, spirit AND body, but control himself and wait until they are married – to have mind-blowing sex when they feel it’s appropriate. They are torn between what they feel and what they want, and they want the person they love to feel the EXACT same way – but be patient and strong and controlled enough to act the way they themselves want to act.

    This story resonates with young women, because it describes the life they are living and the feelings they are feeling. It’s not high literature; it’s fantasy, and it connects at a spiritual level with what many women want – especially women and teenage girls who have a man in their lives who WON’T control himself.

  23. I read the first five pages of Twilight, was bored out of my mind, and then sold the book. That’s all I have to say about that.

  24. Wow, this is a wonderful discussion of my characters. It has given me a couple of good ideas for my next book:

    -Bella sports all camo outfits
    -Bella carries large handguns (think tomb raider)
    -Edward knowing that he can’t match Jacob’s shirtless body decides to start taking roids.
    -Edward and Bella go through the post honeymoon blues. Their lack of sex leads them to marriage counseling.
    -And best of all…hot lesbian vampires! That will give the guys something to look forward to when the book makes it to the big screen!

    Anything else you’d like me to get into the book?

  25. Clay mentioned the Sunstone issue that is in production, there’s a preview article up here:

    Saturday’s Werewolves – The Doctrine that Makes Stephenie Meyer’s Lycanthropes Golden Investigators

  26. Hi Stephanie.

    Congratulations on your successes. To get a guy like me (who loves Buffy, btw) more interested in your books, the sex must be there. Not because I’m some lecher that wants to read about sex, but because it deprives the characters of the resolution that tears at their souls, which, if left unfulfilled would lead to developmental and psychological problems (think of the crazy single guy in his early 40s who flirts with a 20 year old at a stake singles dance). I tend to agree with those who call your vampires vampires with no bite (thus no fun). Let the blood flow!

  27. I think they’re mostly harmless fun, except by such readers and spectators who are determined to have them be otherwise. And as for the Twi-fans, women were screaming at famous guys they don’t know back in 1964 when the Beatles landed in America.

    Really, there are internet boards for Jane Austen fans where adult women go on and on about Mr. Darcy, and in particular as played by Colin Firth. Bridget Jones _Edge of Reason_ has Bridget’s disastrous interview Colin Firth.

    I saw the New Moon movie this weekend, and I’ll probably go see it again this week so I can see it without the annoying screaming. One scene includes the discussion of whether or not a Jacob gets to hold Bella’s hand. That’s a teen romance I can relate to.

    One of my daughters always hated Twilight, the other is not interested anymore. But while she was interested, Edward was a great way for me to talk about all the things to avoid in a boyfriend.

  28. Stephanie, I’m most impressed with your growth as a writer-your plot lines have improved with each book, as has the cohesion.

    For me to be interested in a romance there would have to be love…not attraction, but actual kindness, gentleness, respect, patience, perseverance, goodness-a depth of understanding each others’ character-having deep principles in common….and much less elongated descriptions of statuesque beauty.

  29. Anonymous Male says:

    A few observations:

    1) A large phalanx of young married women in the married grad student ward I attend follow the books and films obsessively, with missionary zeal. A sizable group attended a screening of the new movie last Friday. In the more, ahem, candid conversations about how much they love the books, several of the young women in question speak openly about the fact that reading the books arouses them sexually. I have also spoken with some of the husbands of said women who liked it when their wives read the books and found them arousing.

    2) What strikes me most is not the fact that Mormon women (like lots and lots of other women) love the books or movies or Edward, but that, in this particular case, they seem comfortable shutting off certain communicative filters. Sure, they might have liked [insert Matthew McConaughey taking his shirt off on a boat flick of choice here], but they didn’t boast openly about how sexy and irresistible they found him. By far the most interesting consequence of Twilight that I’ve seen in my limited experience — and this is not, in itself, a bad thing, mind you — is that, at least when it comes to describing specific Twilight reading/watching/daydreaming experiences, it has given Mormon women permission to talk frankly and openly about sexuality. And not just sexuality in general and non-specific terms — about their own, personal sexuality.

    3) Our culture and religion teach women that the only kind of power they have over men is sexual attractiveness. A power our puritanical modesty rhetoric (“living pornography”) forbids them from actually using. It sounds like, in this series, female sexual power is restored without the volatile danger of actual sex. Bella can be living pornography without wearing short shorts or tank tops. She can use sex as a weapon without submitting to intercourse.

  30. MikeInWeHo says:

    “Bella can be living pornography….”
    re: 30 But isn’t that morally problematic for a Mormon?

    I think emotional porn is the correct term.
    What do the Twilight movies do? Make hundreds of millions of dollars by arousing people. Sound familiar?

    It’s just that in this case the ones getting aroused are women and the content is less (visually) overtly sexual.
    Personally I don’t think it’s a horrible thing. It’s just odd that somehow legions of female fans, even LDS ones, don’t seem able to see what is going on.

  31. I am having to read New Moon because my 12 year old daughter read it and I want to be able to discuss it with her.
    I’ve read enough ABOUT the series to have strong opinions. Here they are.
    1. It is not written poorly.
    2. I don’t like Bella hating herself and thinking she isn’t good enough for Edward.
    3. I don’t have a problem with the guy being the one to put a halt on sex. I think that is a positive message for America to hear. Everyone else they get the message that a guy just needs a willing woman and he is always willing. A guy who loves a woman loves her and isn’t out to just get laid.
    4. I don’t like how physical (both the emotional desire and the emotional pain) it all is for 12 year olds but my husband felt like we had no choice but allow her to read it.
    5. I don’t like her wanting to make permanent life choices in high school about relationships. (I encourage my children to realize that they probably won’t end up marrying their high school crushes).
    6. I like that there is the concept of waiting for sex and saying no, that you don’t have to give in to all your physical appetites. Another positive message for America.
    7. Girls and women like romantic stories. Like many traditional feminine attributes it is belittled by men and by society. I think it is wrong to expect us to be ashamed of liking romantic stories. I do, however, think it is disrespectful to only discuss how hot guys are. Both genders should be taught to be more respectful and I got to have that conversation with my 12 year old and 10 year old just today.

  32. Is #25 really Stephanie Meyer? It sounds like a joke.

    I think that there is also a strong element of the thrill that Bella experiences at being so desirable that she can control people like Edward. It’s a kind of power, even if it comes from sex.

    Yes, I think there is a lot of truth to this.

  33. I don’t like how physical (both the emotional desire and the emotional pain) it all is for 12 year olds but my husband felt like we had no choice but allow her to read it.

    I know what you mean. That’s how it was for me and my 9 year old with Harry Potter. I never read the series. Others have told me that the books get darker and darker, and they wouldn’t allow their children to read past book 3. But, my son was eating the books up and wanted to read them all. What could I do? I couldn’t say no. He read every single book in 12 weeks. He’s my first of 5, and I am getting the feeling that I will not be making many choices for my children.

  34. You people have way too much time on your hands. Read the book or watch the movie, but don’t have a cow over whether it is of “good report” or not. It’s just a fantasy like any other thing in our lives. Please, no more holy ghost impressions!

  35. I agree that it is nice in pop culture to see a man able to exercise some virtuous restraint, but here hasn’t the pendulum swung back too far?

    I’ve been thinking more about how in the LDS culture the female form is sacralized in the open by men (hushed tones about the holy mother, modesty emphasis on women in YW) and this isn’t the case for women and the male form. If my wife catches me looking too closely at a victoria’s secret ad, I may get a playful swat, but it doesn’t work the other way around. Are elements of the equivication between porn for male consumption and “emotional or abstinence porn” for women and girls the need for the battle of the sexes to have refering points? We both have certain drives that are sought out in pop culture, but does how women look for theirs openly while men feel the need to hide their less lofty thoughts have to do with men wanting their women excited and women fearing philandering?

  36. #25, nice one.

  37. I agree with #35. I had the same reaction to criticism of Grand Theft Auto. It is just a harmless fantasy video game. Just like any other thing in our lives. Kids can totally tell the difference between killing, theft, prostitution, and drug dealing in a fantasy virtual world for fun, and doing those things in real life.

    Art has no real influential impact in our lives, and if you think it does then you have too much time on your hands.

  38. I don’t like Twilight that much, but I teach 6-12 grades, so it has somehow become a large part of my life. My school is mostly Muslim Turks and the girls were having a deep conversation about how great it would be if Jacob converted to Islam.

    I did think that it was creepy, however, when my 26 year old cousin earnestly told me that she was saving herself for Edward. What does that even mean??

  39. It’s kinda like nuns, Jill.

  40. alextvalencic says:

    As a 26-year-old male, I have read the Twilight series, and I found it to be exactly what I exacted: fun pop literature that was meant for a demographic group much younger than myself. But since I teach fifth graders, among many other things, I decided to read the series so that I would know what my students were talking about.

    I enjoyed the series as fun pop lit and will most likely read it a few more times. I think that the biggest problem is people trying to read too much into the “message” of the books. The entire series is based off a dream that Stephenie Meyer had one night. I don’t think she was trying to write an elaborate treatise on teenage sexuality. I think she just had an idea, started putting it on paper, and kept going.

    One other thought: for those saying that the sexual tension in the story makes for uncomfortable situations, I can’t help but think of what my father-in-law (an historian and an amateur writer) has so often told me: all stories need conflict. As some famous author said (source obscure), “The cat sat on the mat is not a good story. The cat sat on the dog’s mat is.”

  41. Steve Evans says:

    Word to the wise: Stephenie =/= Stephanie.

  42. Ah, thanks, Steve.

  43. Lots of good stuff here. I haven’t read the books, but know many people who have (most of whom are not LDS.)

    JKS, I like your comments very much. Perhaps one reason women rave about “hot men” is because it’s socially acceptable to do so, but not to talk about how romantic the story is. Does anybody remember the (funny but) scornful routine about “The Bridges of Madison County” on SNL with Teri Garr a hundred years ago?

    (No, I didn’t think so…)

  44. “Twilight furthers the (I believe harmful) notions of female sexuality that so many of the Disney-fied princesses do — laying in wait for a Prince to come and awaken you and claim your sexuality for his own. Nonsense. I think this pervasive notion of half-baked sexuality is the root of a lot of problems. The princess lies, like Sleeping Beauty, waiting for some outside source to sweep her off her feet, thereby absolving her of knowing and owning her own sex, and letting him show her the ropes.”

    I’m not sure this is an accurate description of the story. I’m no expert, but from what I have seen, Bella is just as much the agressor as Edward is. She didn’t just wait for him to ask he rout, she went after him and keeps going after him, even when she finds out it’s unsafe, and even when he tries to break up with her. There may be a lot of things that are wrong with Twilight, but Bella as shrinking violet waiting passively for her vampire prince ain’t one of them.

    “How ironic that this phenomenon was sparked by a Latter-day Saint mom in Utah.”

    She’s from Arizona.

    “he’s so exquisite I must jump off a cliff if I can’t look at him forever”

    She’s not killing herself. She jumps off the cliff to force Edward to come back, because she discovers that he is watching over her and appears whenever she does anything risky. (This also shows that she is not some passive pansy. She’s doing what she believes she has to do to get Edward to back). She even jumps on a plane and flies to Italy to save him for crying out loud. And this girl is too passive? Not in charge of herself? BS.

    “It’s just odd that somehow legions of female fans, even LDS ones, don’t seem able to see what is going on.”

    Mike, you’re wrong on this one. Trust me. They know what’s going on. My 13 yr old daughter does know what’s happening. She knows why she likes the books and the movies, and it’s not all about sex, but she (and we as her parents) are aware that sex is part of the appeal. My question is, so what? Are you going to shelter your teenage children from all sexual issues? If you think you can, better think again.

    jks #32, I agree with most of what you say. I disagree strongly with these books or movies being referred to as “porn” of any sort. I think we are overusing that word because it has a certain impact. There is no porn involved in Twilight. You can dislike the story because it’s too overwrought emotionally or romantically, but it ain’t porn.

  45. re: 45
    Oh that’s right, isn’t she from Mesa or something? Anyway, I hear that’s just South Utah anyway. :)

    You also make a good point regarding the definition of the word ‘porn’ — there is no concensus. There’s a whole separate BCC post just waiting to be written on that one. I probably define it more broadly than you do.

  46. “I hear that’s just South Utah anyway.”

    Ha! H.I. McDonough would disagree:

  47. Latter-day Guy says:

    MCQ, while I agree that “porn” is probably too strong a word, I can see why one might be tempted to use it. One of the destructive aspects of pornography (of the good ‘ol traditional variety) is its effect on relationships. Specifically, it tempts and conditions men to be demanding, demeaning, and full of unreasonable expectations when it comes to their girlfriend/fiancée/wife.

    While Twilight is certainly not as pernicious, it might tend to create unfair expectations for men too. A young woman will never find a helpmeet who is simultaneously 1) blessed with a model’s good looks, 2) perpetually young and in great shape, 3) filthy rich, 4) totally infatuated/passionate, but 5) with super-human self control (and strength, and speed), 6) possessing myriad talents, from amazing musicianship to speaking a dozen languages, 7) not put off by her deep insecurities––that characteristic alone made me hope for the (permanent) death of Bella Swan, etc., etc., etc. (Oh, and yeah, he’s also telepathic AND sparkly).

  48. Any obsession that I witnessed with the series stemmed from the reading of the books rather than ogling hot bodies on the big screen.

    I think this article attempts to read deeper into the psyche of female audiences rather than enjoy a book / movie for what it is.

    I am a hetro male and enjoyed the films and books for what they are.

  49. LdG, again, so what? Are you saying that people always expect to find movie characters in their relationships? Or is it just women that are too stupid to know that movies are not real?

    The logic being applied here means no one should ever watch any movies except documentaries.

    Maybe we should just use a disclaimer:

    Danger! These characters are not the same as the guys you will find in your singles ward. Do not be fooled, this is not real! Watching this movie may cause you to suffer from perpetually disappointed expectations, and the poor geeky guys you date may have inferiority complexes. You have been warned. Proceed to drool over Edward and Jacob at your own risk.

  50. BTW, again, the porn comparison is completely misapplied here. The destructive effects of pornography have little or nothing to do with creating unrealistic expectations in men or women. Porn is destructive because it is spiritually and morally deadening. One of the very real tragedies of misapplying the porn label to twilight is that you are trivializing the very real swath of destruction that real porn causes. I suggest you knock it off.

  51. Latter-day Guy says:

    Are you saying that people always expect to find movie characters in their relationships? Or is it just women that are too stupid to know that movies are not real?

    I had hoped that you’d understand that the list of Edward’s attributes in my comment was something of a joke. However, I would actually agree that Hollywood in general (and lots of other media, no doubt) might––with an airbrushed, made-up semblance of perfection––create unrealistic and destructive expectations for some.

    To wit, this clip.

    The destructive effects of pornography have little or nothing to do with creating unrealistic expectations in men or women.

    Really? Huh, that’s funny, ’cause I could have sworn that I had heard something about… hang on a minute…

    Ensign, July 2007 (Gray)

    When a person views pornography and becomes aroused, the body experiences the same arousal patterns as in a real sexual encounter. When this behavior is repeated frequently, the body and the mind become conditioned to certain sexual images and behavior, which can create unrealistic and unhealthy expectations of what a sexual relationship should or will be. Such expectations carry over to marriage, creating pain, distrust, conflict, confusion, and betrayal of trust between spouses.

    General Conference, October 2004 (Hinckley)

    [A letter from a wife:] “I was stunned, hurt, felt betrayed and violated. I could not promise him forgiveness at that moment but pleaded for time. . . . I was able to review my married life [and how] pornography had . . . put a stranglehold on our marriage from early on. We had only been married a couple of months when he brought home a [pornographic] magazine. I locked him out of the car because I was so hurt and angry. . . .

    For many years in our marriage . . . he was most cruel in many of his demands. I was never good enough for him. . . . I felt incredibly beaten down at that time to a point of deep depression. . . . I know now that I was being compared to the latest ‘porn queen’. . . .

    Besides which, I said quite clearly that creating unreasonable expectations was only “one of the destructive aspects [plural!] of pornography.”

    One of the very real tragedies of misapplying the porn label to [T]wilight is that you are trivializing the very real swath of destruction that real porn causes.

    For heaven’s sake, MCQ. I began my comment (#47) with: “I agree that ‘porn’ is probably too strong a word,” and later, “Twilight is certainly not as pernicious.”

    Nevertheless…

    por·nog·ra·phy (pôr-nŏg’rə-fē) n.
    1. Sexually explicit pictures, writing, or other material whose primary purpose is to cause sexual arousal.
    2. The presentation or production of this material.
    3. Lurid or sensational material: “Recent novels about the Holocaust have kept Hitler well offstage [so as] to avoid the … pornography of the era” (Morris Dickstein).

    Whether you like it or not, “porn” is not uncommonly used in sense 3––for instance, referring to the Saw movie franchise as “torture porn,” or a film review calling 2012 “disaster porn.”

    I suggest you knock it off.

    Perhaps, one day, you alone will be entrusted with the keys to the lexicon lock-box, and you’ll be able to keep the world safe from definitions you dislike. Until then, common usage will probably still play a role in describing what words mean.

  52. Latter-day Guy says:

    Crap. Forgot /blockquote after the first two lines. Sorry.

  53. Twilight et al is not porn. It’s erotica. PG rated erotica, but erotica nonetheless. A lot of men have found it heated up their relationships with their wives. I even know women who asked their husbands to read the books because they thought it would “improve their romance.”

    My theory about its popularity among LDS women is that it allows them to experience the sexual excitement of erotica without the guilt of the real thing.

  54. A lot of men have found it heated up their relationships with their wives.

    A recent conversation overheard at the water cooler:

    He: What’s up with the bite marks?

    She: Oh, it’s a Twilight thing. You wouldn’t understand.

  55. alextvalencic says:

    Steve (42) don’t know if that was directed to me or what, but also word to the wise: The author of the Twilight series is Stephenie Meyer, not Stephanie Meyer.

    Regarding the discussion of the series as “emotional pornography”

    Pornography is the degrading representation of women AND men is sexually-explicit situations relating intercourse. It is classified loosely within three levels: soft-core (no nudity), medium-core (no clothing except over the genitalia), and hard-core (full nudity).

    When it comes to literature, there must be an accompanying description of these things. Harlequin romances abound with them. Twilight? Not at all. There is no depiction of explicit intercourse within the Twilight series. Even when the sex act finally occurs, the story conveniently fades out and then fades back in afterwards.

    Twilight is full of love and romance and teen angst. That isn’t pornographic. That is life. Its audience is full of girls in love with the hot, charming, perfect guy who can do everything. That isn’t pornographic. That is life. Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam. Scarlett and Rhett. Bella and Edward. It isn’t pornography. It is literature.

  56. It is literature.

    Now, now, Alex.

  57. alextvalencic says:

    I didn’t say it was “great” literature.

  58. John Mansfield says:

    This looks like the place for the Kate Beaton perspective:

    Dude Watchin’ with the Brontes and Ooh Mister Darcy

  59. John Mansfield says:

    Beaton’s latest is on-topic too.

    “Goethe! Is it really you!”
    “Aw, not another one. I bet you’re not here because of Faust.”
    “The Sorrows of Young Werther addressed my very soul.”
    “Yes, well–”
    “For I too pledge a love eternal. She it the most beautiful creature that I have–”
    PLEASE, get to the part where you kill yourself.”

  60. I think you’ve misunderstood a lot of why women like Twilight.

    It’s about a moody girl, that’s got issues.

    Most girls have gone through that and they relate to it. The ones that haven’t, really seem to dislike the book.

    Of course I’m generalizing. I’ve been told the writing is such a layman’s style narrative that really sucks you in, almost like you’re reading a compelling diary. Never read it, so I can’t comment, although I’ve had to sit through the first movie several times playing in the background and the moody-ness just drives me nuts.

    But I really don’t have any problems with the concept of it being just fun fiction. The problem is when it becomes too obsessive.

    Btw, I haven’t seen Transformers 2, but generally I don’t like movies with sexy/scantily clad women. I certainly appreciate my wife looking sexy. But it makes me feel uncomfortable to have to sit there looking at, or awkwardly look away/misfocus my eyes at some imagery that I know will not do me any good, and could cause me some harm if I let it consume me (exaggerated I know).

    Really, it just distracts from the movie and evokes an awkward feeling. Perhaps the new twilight movie will be the same for some women with all the bare buff chested men?

  61. There is a weird double standard regarding discussions of sex and attractive members of the opposite sex in rank a file Mormondom.

    In my circles I have sat numerous times at parties and watched otherwise upstanding married LDS women go thru magazines and ogle half dressed men and openly talk about their sex appeal in mixed company.

    I have never seen this occur among LDS men. If men sat around at a party looking at SI’s swimsuit edition there would be trouble. Can somebody explain this double standard to me?

    I tend to agree with MCQ @ #54 that Twilight is not &orn. Not even close. Its closer to Jane Austin then %orn.

  62. Since there is a side post on porn it would be important to mention the real problem with porn. It’s about fantasy, not body parts. Porn robs a person on the quality of their life. Too many mormons focus on the body parts which is silly.

  63. I guess I can see where a lot of people are coming from on this. I’ve never read it, but can take people’s word that it is more or less clean in the traditional sense of the word. And I think the phrase “emotional porn” is probably a bit heavy handed. For most readers and viewers, I am sure this stuff is harmless fun

    Yet, I can see why people might be concerned about the content of this class of literature due to the broader set of attitudes, ideas and expectations some people bring from the film and books. A lot of why we believe innappropriate images of women are harmful to relationships is that they can affect the expectations and desires of men in ways that are unrealistic. Is it possible that some of this kind of work can similarly distort some women’s expectations and desires toward men, i.e. have the same effects as graphic images of women? My experience is that the answer is yes (disclosure: I am a single man dealing with a Twilight crazed dating pool. An over age 25 Twilight crazed dating pool. Seriously). My bottome line: I’m happy people are having fun with Twilight, but things can go awry with this kind of fantasy.

  64. Here’s why there’s a double standard: Mormon women have been told over and over again that men are more visually aroused than they are, as an explanation for why they are responsible to “help” men control their sexuality by dressing modestly. If they are good Mormon women and believe their leaders on this point, OF COURSE they think it’s less dangerous for them to ogle magazine pictures. After all, they’re not visually aroused like men are.

  65. Kristine ftw.

  66. Based on my vast Twilight experience (I sat through the first half of the first movie with my wife), to the extent there is any damage done by the whole experience, it’s aesthetic. And while I would argue that aesthetic harm is real harm, I like some dumb movies, too, so I don’t have much of a leg to stand on on the movie side. (The horrible writing of the books–I’ve thumbed through a couple pages–is the true harm, but it’s no worse (and very likely better) than Dean Koontz and pretty much any author I’ve seen advertised on the subway.)

  67. StillConfused says:

    I have not seen the flick and have no intention of doing so… it just doesn’t fit my style. But I would really freak out if I heard fellow grown women lusting over a 17 year old. That is just plain gross. I didn’t even like 17 year old boys when I was 17 (topic for another day I suppose). Can anyone say “statutory rape”?

  68. “It’s about a moody girl, that’s got issues.

    Most girls have gone through that and they relate to it. The ones that haven’t, really seem to dislike the book.”

    Hmm. I would definitely characterize myself as a moody girl who’s had issues, but I still didn’t like the book. I will admit it was a page-turner. I just felt a little empty after finishing it.
    I was told that it would remind me of falling in love myself, so I guess I was expecting more depth to the Bella/Edward relationship. I’m with britt on that; it’s all about physical attraction. I only read the first book, so maybe the series improves.
    I have no problem with other women enjoying the book. I do have a problem with older women giving younger girls the impression that the story is a good description of what true love feels like. It seemed more like infatuation to me. And I advocate swoony love feelings. There just has to be more to a meaningful relationship than that.

  69. I think we should have a post on this

    The women around me seem to not have any fear of being open about their attractions.

    I think it may have to do with the fact that almost all the porn talks are aimed at men. So the women somehow feel immune and unafraid of being open about this kind of stuff. men that did this would be openly considered flawed and unworthy

  70. Sterling Fluharty says:

    #65-66: OMG, you should have heard how the YM in my ward were mocking the YW yesterday before Sunday School about ogling over Jacob’s abs at the movie theater.

    #69-70: Maybe the meadow scene in the first book/movie, which was reportedly the essence of the dream that precipitated the whole series for the author, is a metaphor for the timelessness and depth of Bella and Edward’s relationship.

  71. Sterling Fluharty says:

    BCC Editor: I think the numbering of the comments changed when I switched browsers. My comments were pretty much directed at 65, 66, 69, 70. [corrected]

  72. I am not a fan of the books. I find them unreadable. But a woman I love and respect greatly is a big fan.

    One thing is clear – these books/movies are connecting with something that is very important to a lot of women in our society. I am simply floored by the fact that his is one of the highest grossing movie weekends ever. Bigger than the Dark Knight? Wow.

    I guess we’ll see if the numbers hit the floor next week.

    As a side note – here in New York City I routinely see women/girls from all backgrounds who are reading these Twilight books while riding the subways. Stephenie Meyers clearly has a huge fan-base right here in Manhattan. Her fan demographics seem to cut across most ethnic groups. Not necessarily what you would expect from someone who graduated from a university in Provo, Utah.

  73. I am simply floored by the fact that his is one of the highest grossing movie weekends ever.

    Yes, American women constitute a pretty powerful consumer group–who would’ve thunk?

    Seems to me that many folks are freaked out to see women–including and perhaps especially Mormon women–manifesting their emotional-sexual desires in a largely self-focused way (although it sounds like some guys are getting fringe benefits). Such abomination!!

    I’ve rolled my eyes plenty over the Twilight phenomenon, but I’m rolling my eyes even more about the indignant backlash–particularly the cries of double standards. Who exactly created the paradigm of female sexuality that’s now exploding in movie theaters across the nation?

  74. A few years ago I was at the in-laws, and the TV was on. Three of the four women there (all but my wife) were staring at the TV screen, fully attentive. A group of attractive dancing men, shirtless and sweating.
    I called my MIL out on it–had it been a woman in a bikini, and had my FIL been watching it with that sort of attention, she would have berated him to no end. Her argument? “But women aren’t attracted to physicality like men are!”
    The evidence (my anecdote and the success of Twilight) would suggest otherwise.
    Men are told to stay away from anything (other than their wife) that arouses them. Shouldn’t women have the same standard?

  75. Kathryn,

    My eye rolling usually takes place reading the critics getting extremely pissy about how Twilight trys to sell some kind of unnatural, evil abstinence agenda.

    On the whole boys/girls visual stimulation bit. Maybe socializing is changing some of that. I don’t know really. But I can tell you that a lot of teenage boys want to masturbate when they see errotic imagery. This absolutely pushes their sex drive further and causes them to completely focus on the wrong things in their relationships. Is this generally the case for women? I’m not one, but I suspect not. That’s not to say women don’t have a whole set of problems of their own with sexuality.

    But pointing out that men often get different counsel than women is about as obvious as pointing out that boys have a penis and girls have a vagina.

  76. Tim, YES, they should, which is why we should also have the same standards for modest dress for boys and girls, and quit telling girls that they are responsible for anybody’s lustful thoughts except their own.

  77. Sorry… only the first bit of my comment was directed to Kathryn, the rest was regarding some comments further upstream

  78. I haven’t read Twilight, but I agree with someone above who said part of the attraction is remembering the romance of high school days. I (painfully admit) that I LOVED the movie “She’s All That”. I made my husband take me to watch it in the theater twice. It was something about the dorky girl ultimately getting the best looking guy to fall in love with her that I liked.

  79. Kathryn, I’m confused — are you among those agreeing that there is “rape fantasy” written between the lines of these novels and that this is somehow pornography despite having no nudity or depictions of sex scenes. Or do you think that these accusations of “emotional porn” and “abstinence porn” (?) are ridiculous? Do you think that Bella is not in control of her own sexuality because (a) she entertains thoughts of sleeping with the boy she has a crush on but (b) does not do so at least in part because he does not take her, or do you think that it’s just a girl who toys with the idea but doesn’t and a boy who would like to but doesn’t (i.e. although poorly written and perhaps literarily empty, more or less a depiction of real life teenager-hood for those who prioritize chaste relationships)?

  80. Repeat after me, “Its only a movie, its only a movie, its only a movie, its only a book.”

  81. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    the latter on both.

  82. Dude. Its just a movie. Its fun. Its no different than any other chick flick. For my friends and I, its just an excuse to stay out late and get away from our husband/kids, while having a few laughs. Its not some lusty, sex driven party, even if we say the characters are attractive. And saying “Awww I love Edward, he’s so cute!” is based mostly on his CHARACTER, not his body/looks. So no, it doesn’t give you a free pass in oogling Megan Fox. There is a big difference in how the “sexuality” is shown in most normal chick flicks, and the “sexuality” in movies geared towards men. It all goes back to standard stereotype that women love men mostly for their character, not just their looks…but men are mostly visual, and don’t care if she’s dumb as a rock.

  83. What dumb rocks shouldn’t be loved? We’re all God’s children even the dumb, hot rocks…

  84. Mark Brown says:

    anon, # 83,

    Sleepless in Seattle is a chick flick, and people who like it do not exhibit the same intensity that lots of women do for Twilight. I think there is more going on here. A lot more.

  85. I finished reading New Moon. I actually kind of liked it (although I admit to skimming some). It is not porn. My daughter is happy that I am Team Edward.
    While I still have my opinions stated earlier, I look forward to seeing the movie with my daughter tonight and going out to dinner to discuss boys and romance with her. Our relationship is rapidly changing and even though it is difficult to adjust, I am determined to enjoy the ride!

  86. dumb cold rocks.

    oh and character? I’m sorry but as a mother of 6 daughters if I found out one of their boyfriends had been sneaking into their room and watching them sleep or lying down beside them i wouldn’t thank him for his great character. I would try to keep my husband from killing him and file a restraining order.

  87. Thankfully none of your 6 daughters know any vampires.

    It amazes me how seriously these books are taken. Particularly when they’re written so poorly.

  88. It’s not the quality of the literature that makes it interesting to analyze, but the social phenomenon and attraction by especially women to the books and movies that makes them important to analyze. What is the attraction? It seems more than just romance and the character of Edward. Even the physical beauty of the actors doesn’t seem enough to generate this kind of mass appeal. So we should look to the special charateristics such as the abstenence theme and the perfect male who holds back from the brink of destroying the herroine and address questions about society, Mormon or mass.

  89. The only thing that kept me reading the books was wondering what super power Bella would get when/if she became a vampire.

  90. Susan,
    “It amazes me how seriously these books are taken. Particularly when they’re written so poorly.”

    The inability to write two compelling (scratch that—two arguably competent) sentences in a row hasn’t prevented Dan Brown from being taken seriously. Sadly enough.

  91. alextvalencic says:

    I love the snobbery that exists when it comes to literature. It is important to remember that different folks like different styles.

    As my awesome Children’s Lit professor once pointed out, any literature that gets young people interested in reading is good literature, be it Dr. Seuss, Captain Underpants, Beverly Cleary, Jane Austen, Harper Lee, or Stephenie Meyer.

  92. Yes, but when adults take Captain Underpants seriously, then there’s a problem.

  93. Just saw the New Moon movie for the second time this afternoon. :-)

  94. Latter-day Guy says:

    Heavens! Twice, just this afternoon?! How many times did you see it yesterday?!

  95. I love the snobbery that exists when it comes to literature. It is important to remember that different folks like different styles.

    Amen dude. I think the twilight obsession is silly, but those who arrogantly chuckle at the idea that Meyers’ books might qualify as literature are obnoxious, get over your pretentious selves.

  96. Mark, it is remarkable that you think this is porn or that there’s “more going on here”.

    You might actually be right that there is “more going on here” but in a different sense than what you seem to be implying. I’m starting to think there must something to the idea that people are saying there’s something wrong here simply because so many women are en masse enjoying the novels — therefore, especially in a man’s world, there must be something “wrong” here or something “else” going on, especially because the novels seem to celebrate the idea of not having casual sex.

    Do you think there might be a chance that this is just women liking something that speaks to them because when they were teenagers for whom chaste relationships were important despite their strong desire to act otherwise (like almost all people), they would have loved to win the heart of the guy that they liked despite not dishing out for him (or not being expected to dish out for him)?

    The real mystery is not why it’s such a popular story and enjoyable for many people (both men and women) but why it is provoking such ire. Who would have thought that a woman’s choice not to include pornographic material in her love stories would instigate such backlash — to such an extent that an attempt is made by our porn-drenched society to subvert the author’s effort by labelling the very absence of porn or sex in the story as “porn”: “abstinence porn”.

    It is like society is asking itself incredulously, “There’s not porn or sex in the story but it purports to be a love story and is immensely popular?” The answer seems to be “Well wait, not so fast, you’re not going to avoid the ‘porn’ genre that easily, Ms. Meyers. We’ve decided you’re writing ‘abstinence porn’, so you’re participating in our world of porn despite your best efforts.” Also, despite concluding that Meyers is writing porn after all, there is the strongly implied condemnation of her as puritanical, prude, etc. because she is “covering up” rather than “stripping down” in her books.

    Somehow, the Mormon angle is at work here too — a Mormon woman writing successfully about chaste relationships while at the same time openly acknowledging the sexuality that is at play in choosing to remain chaste until the appropriate time is just too much. So, it’s rape fantasy and abstinence porn etc. And yet Mormon women are just a tiny fraction of the readers of these books.

    Also, the insinuation that it’s only popular because Mormon women are oppressed and so they’re buying the books because they “support” Stephenie Meyers in her ability to break out of being “just” a housewife and in so doing are living a dream by proxy seems a very demeaning suggestion. Mormon women probably only form a small part of Meyers’ fan base. So it’s just a gratuitous swipe at the lifestyle choices of Mormon women to make such a suggestion. It might make more sense to just criticize those who choose to be stay at home moms directly rather than trying to do so through the proxy of women’s enjoyment of Twilight novels.

  97. I wish I was as incompetent as Dan Brown or Stephanie Meyer.

  98. Teaneck, New Jersey says:

    Speaking of Brown (or Stan Lee, the creator of Spiderman, or — Who was the creator of Batman?), if this post had been with reference to any of these franchises, would as many come to comment here expressing disinterest in seeing each’s blockbuster film treatments, also having been unable to enjoy reading these tales? Or is the sniffery quotient swollen cos Twilight’s a romance? (BTW, there’s interesting Salon articles sorta about this question linked to on the sidebar: http://salon.com/entertainment/twilight/index.html?story=/mwt/broadsheet/feature/2009/11/23/feminism_twilight .)

  99. john f ftw

  100. Okay, the scene that I don’t think I’ve seen mentioned here, but that bothered me more than any other in the books is the one after their wedding night.

    Bella wakes up the next morning covered in bruises. She was actually injured but she didn’t even notice because the sex was SO GOOD. All she remembers is that she wanted him to hold her even tighter.

    If you really love somebody, sex will be so wonderful that you won’t even care if they hurt you.

    Harmless fun?

  101. he’s a vampire, right? Not sure if there’s a textbook on vampire sex.

  102. philomytha, I posted a link to an article above #11, that discusses that scene among others. Fans have hated that scene for undermining the whole abstenence message, but I don’t have a problem with the scene personally. Once again, marrying a vampire has its perks and downsides. Hybrid offspring being one.

  103. I think people are missing the point here.

    What Twlight has done is unearthed deep seated erotic desires – to bang a vampire.

    Most humans, such as Dracula, evolved from vampires. It is only natural that at some stage in our evolution, our vampire libido would raise it’s head again.

    We should be more worried about being sexually attracted to vampires than whether Bella is putting out or not.

    Barry

  104. I think the twilight obsession is silly, but those who arrogantly chuckle at the idea that Meyers’ books might qualify as literature are obnoxious, get over your pretentious selves.

    So those who refuse to take the books seriously are taking themselves too seriously? Nice.

  105. @102 Dyson – Hmm, that article says that the fans that were bothered by that scene didn’t even care about the thing that bothers me. Weird. It’s not the hybrid offspring (well, except that the entire concept was gross from beginning to end), nor does it have anything to do with abstinence (they were married, after all). It’s that little girls everywhere are reading about how good sex = rough sex.

    Thanks for the link, btw. Good article, which I will be forwarding to my friends whose 11 year old daughters are starting to read Twilight.

  106. I think that girls might be able to see that there’s something different about having sex with a vampire. Hopefully, none of them will find themselves in that situation.

  107. No, you’re right. Not a big deal. It’s totally appropriate for children.

  108. Teaneck, New Jersey says:

    “The feminist in me wishes that Bella spent more time actually working on those motorcycles rather than hanging over Jacob’s shoulder as he wields his manly, er, wrench. The feminist in me wishes a lot of things. But say what you will about the “Twilight” films; they take female desire as seriously as a grad student from the early ’90s. … Haters may construe Bella as a passive victim eager to be served up as vampire meat, but she’s the subject of this love story, not its object; she’s the lover while Edward and Jacob are her diametrically opposed beloveds, one hot-blooded (Jacob runs a constant body temperature of 108 degrees), the other pale and cold as stone.—DANA STEVENS in Slate

    (as quoted in the NYT http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/20/the-twilight-saga-new-moon-juiceless-or-juicebomb/ )

  109. Teaneck, New Jersey says:

    “Meyer might be, as Oprah admiringly called her recently, a ‘black-belt reader,’ but as a writer, she’s strictly Dear Diary, and Melissa Rosenberg, who wrote The Twilight Saga: New Moon, is nothing if not respectful of her vapid prose. The movie, directed by Chris Weitz, comes off very much like Clint Eastwood’s The Bridges of Madison County — professional filmmaking applied to subliterary euphemistic trash, in this case couched in the jejune crush-fantasies of a Mormon mom stranded at home with three little boys.

    I don’t get the lure of vampire chic, but attention must be paid, if only because millions of girls on the cusp of adolescence and beyond — not to mention, after lights out, their mothers — groove to Meyer’s chaste, oddly bloodless, and nearly plotless saga of a troubled high school outsider who finds love and protection with a family of expensively attired bloodsuckers in red-gold contact lenses.“—ELLA TAYLOR in Miami New Times

    http://www.miaminewtimes.com/2009-11-26/film/the-twilight-saga-new-moon-too-much-angst-not-enough-saga/

  110. Teaneck, New Jersey says:

    Conversation (MP3 download) among male and female reviewers on Slate about The Twilight Saga: New Moon:

    [audio src="http://media.slate.com/media/slate/Podcasts/Spoilers/SS09112001_newmoon.mp3" /]

  111. Susan,

    So your position is that if someone doesn’t like aother person’s work, they should be cruel and dismissive?

    What I think is so offensive about the derisive comments here is that it plainly supports the idea that if you don’t personally think something qualifies as literature, then the best thing to do is be condescending and demeaning towards it. It’s like a bad scene out of some movie where the stereotypical Harvard academic elitists shun the kid from the wrong side of the tracks

    Obviously Meyer put a lot of time and effort into her story. But instead of saying something constructive like…

    “The Twilight books are obviously engaging to a large audience so kudos for that, but I think the author could really add some depth by including X,Y,Z”

    …some of the commenters here and lots of other places have chosen to be jerks about it. There’s a difference between light hearted teasing, and making outright snide comments with an air of superiority as though you are the grand bestower of the esteemed title of “Real Literature”.

    My point is not even about Twilight. It’s about the prideful attitude. It’s so wrong, and it smothers the timid people who might otherwise try their hand at creating something beautiful but are afraid to because they are afraid of how people like Kathryn are going to beat up on them.

    You are naive if you don’t think that the world has been robbed of many great works because an artist or a writer or a composer or whatever was afraid to show their work to the world for fear of what those who are wise might say about it.

    Anyway, that’s my rant.

    How about them Chargers though? First place in the AFC west! Not too shabby eh?

  112. Teaneck, New Jersey says:
    http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2009/09/30/its-official-football-makes-you-stupid “A study commissioned by the National Football League reports that Alzheimer’s disease or similar memory-related diseases appear to have been diagnosed in the league’s former players vastly more often than in the national population—including a rate of 19 times the normal rate for men ages 30 through 49. The N.F.L. has long denied the existence of reliable data about cognitive decline among its players. These numbers would become the league’s first public affirmation of any connection…”

    We need more data about watching football, of course, but the anecdotal evidence isn’t good.

    * * *
    P/s Oops, sorry for the bad link in my comment #110. Here’s a better one to the convo (spoiler warning: meant for ppl who’ve already seen the New Moon) between Slate’s Dana Stevens and Dan Kois of the Washington Post: http://castroller.com/podcasts/SlatesSpoilerSpecials/1334036

  113. What’s all this spam about, Teaneck?

  114. Teaneck, New Jersey says:

    @ John F.: if you follow the link its good quality spam w/regard to the phenomenon that is Twilight (incl. a lot of references to feminism plus the above football reference added for humor?)

  115. Teaneck, New Jersey says:

    (At risk being banning for consecutive postings…… ) I have very particular fascination with Latter-day Saint artists who succeed in the secular realm (accompanied with s well as with a much less focused interest in social phenomena in general) and so have researched New Moon’s critical reception extensively and want to share with BCC readers my observations.

    Among some general patterns I’ve noticed is that, for example, male reviewers tend to suffer flagging attention to the flick’s goings-ons moreso than female ones do. I can relate to that. Despite my interest in Meyers and the movies, I’ve seen neither Twilight nor New Moon and nor have I read Meyers books these movies are based on, so I can well imaging being less than riveted by the content of these romances. This might align with my experiences, as a male, with a significant woman friend of mine. Whereas I surf the Internet, she spends her evening watching episodic TV and many an evening I’ve found myself watching Grey’s Anatomy with her.

    When I see that she is going to TiVo up Grey, my reaction is ”noooooo!!!!…….” But, after the episode starts I can nevertheless keep my attention on what transpires and sort of figure out what the attraction of this TV series’ characterizations and plot might have for her. Another time I actually rented the DVD for the movie Sex and the City and watched it with her. I had read much online about this HBO series and so, as I watched the movie with her, I enjoyed theorizing about what characteristics of this drama made it so appealing to fans. Yet, I’ve never thought to myself since then, “Geez, I’d sure like to see a Sex and the City episode right now,” as my interest in it is truly of the most casual sort.

    Now, let’s say I was a paid movie reviewer and it was my job to pen something about either Grey or S.I.T.C.? What would I write? Well, I’d probably concentrate on whatever I found of interest, or what techniques I found effective, etc. Yet my praise would necessarily be tempered by my essential lack of true interest in the premises of both story lines.

    So, taking this observation and applying it to the Twilight phenomenon, I speculate that there must be something super effective going on in Meyer’s tales and in their cinematic adapatations, while also speculating that I myself would likely remain mostly immune to their charms (were I to somehow find myself actually reading them or viewing them).

    Why I offer these lengthy self-disclosures is simply to preface my observations about the slew of so very truly many, many, many reviews of New Moon that I’ve read by now from a whole gamut of sources. So here goes.

    The following will reference only the high brow reviews. And I qualify my use of high brow to say that I merely mean reviews found posted by “professional” reviewers, mostly in the so-called main stream media. ((I am reminded of hearing about Stephen King’s dissing of Meyer’s writing. Stephen King? Who high brow reviewers complement by saying “He’s good at what he does but what he does isn’t true literature”?))

    What I love about the many intelligent reviews is how much they truly are just ALL OVER THE MAP. And, I somehow think this might even be more the case than with other films(?) As examples: A slew of reviewers think that the book was really effective but the movie less so, then another slew of them found the book less effective than the movie. Some will say that New Moon’s director Weitz was less effective than Hardwicke, the director of Twilight and many will say the situation is vice-versa. Some say the three lead actors stand out over the plot or direction whereas some say that the story stands out over the skill of the lead actors. Some say some element of technique or styling was just wonderful whereas some say the same item was just awful. Some say this or that made them snicker to themselves whereas some give kudos to some of these items as one of their favorite stand-out parts.

    My own conclusions, drawn solely from reading all these reviews? THE WHOLE DRAMA IS A RORSCHACH TEST. Not only that, I think that Meyers is a masterful story teller who purposely designed it that way. For example, from what I’ve picked up, the personalities of the main characters of the romance are purposely left somewhat blank slates — the better for female reader’s and a female audience’s projections — and, either readers want to buy into this enterprise or they don’t. Those that do are marvelously entertained while those that don’t… “meh.”

  116. Teaneck, that’s about enough.

  117. I have to say that one of the things I enjoyed most about the movie is that during a romantic kissing moment, Edward was passionately holding on to….. Bella’s wrist. For that I have to say thank you to Stephanie Meyer.

  118. Here’s another link: Top 20 Unfortunate Lessons Girls Learn from Twilight: http://www.bspcn.com/2009/11/25/top-20-unfortunate-lessons-girls-learn-from-twilight/

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