Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Scary, Scary Twilight

Eastin was telling me that everyone she knew had seen the Twilight movie, except her. Which stunned me, because it's rated PG-13. Does nobody pay any attention to those ratings anymore?? How can everyone my 9-year-old knows have seen a movie that even proclaims itself that it is for teenagers and older?

Anyway, we got it from Netflix and I told her I'd watch it with her. Leslie had already seen it and didn't like it. She couldn't get into the book either. I wasn't really sure what to expect. I have a few friends (adult friends) who love the series, so I was hoping to find something there to appreciate.

I don't know that I did. Maybe if I looked deeply. But I was too distracted by the things in the movie that really appalled me to search for things to appreciate. Oh, heavens! I was up all night fretting over the Twilight phenomenon.

First of all, these two teenagers fall "irrevokably" in love with each other after just a couple strained conversations. They hardly know each other. Now, I realize that this is not unusual in movies and literature -- it's, in fact, my biggest beef with Romeo and Juliet. But it's still bogus and deceptive to young girls who do not have the experience and wisdom to distinguish true love from heady, immature infatuation.

More than that, neither of them ever look happy in the midst of this love affair. There is a pall of despair that surrounds the two of them through the whole movie--in fact, surrounds the whole town. That was Leslie's complaint about the movie: "There can't really be a town anywhere that is that depressing!" Bella makes several comments that seem to hint longingly at death (e.g. "Death is easy; it's the living that's hard."). As many young girls as there are out there dealing with serious depression and suicidal tendencies, we do NOT need to be romanticizing the idea OR giving them the impression that the way out is through a dangerous, forbidden love relationship.

But my biggest problem . . . I kept remembering students I knew when I taught high school who were being beaten up by their boyfriends. "It's OK. He can't help it -- he just can't control his temper. I know he loves me. He would never really hurt me. He always feels so bad afterwards. And I love him so much, I could never leave him." Scary, scary, scary. Women are killed entangled in those lies, and this movie seems to glorify and romanticize her devotion to this guy -- a guy who admits himself that he is dangerous and she shouldn't trust him. She calls herself a stupid lamb, as if that's a good thing. It's a horrible thing. We should never let our girls (or boys) believe that love is some emotional thing that overpowers you to the point of being unable to act wisely. That's not love -- that's something else entirely, something you should run from.

If this was an adult movie, I probably wouldn't react so strongly. But this is specifically marketed to young pre-teen girls who do not have the wisdom and mental wherewithal to analyze its content. They just feel an emotional rush at the romance and the cute boys and long to have that in their own lives. Scary, scary, scary.

I may be being melodramatic, but I would bet money that there is more than one young girl out there somewhere who is in a life-threatening situation right now because this movie (and book) glorified danger and despair to her impressionable heart and mind. I know I wouldn't want to have to answer for that on Judgment Day.

Plus, the boys simply aren't that cute. Seriously.

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