Flirting with Danger: New Moon's Victim Stereotype
- Friday, December 11, 2009
You may remember that last year, Mark Earley on BreakPoint reviewed the film Twilight, which was all the rage. Now there's a Twilight sequel, which is drawing millions to the box office.
I can't tell you to just go back and read that earlier review because New Moon, the second entry in the series, has a brand-new set of disturbing and possibly even dangerous messages for young girls.
If the story in Twilight was a textbook case of an unhealthy relationship, New Moon is a study in how not to break up. At the beginning, the vampire Edward leaves town with his family, leaving behind his teenage girlfriend, Bella, for her own protection.
Bella responds by going nearly catatonic for three months, withdrawing from family, friends, and classmates. From there, she goes steadily downhill.
Bella discovers that every time she does something dangerous, she has a vision of Edward scolding her. So she proceeds to go for a motorcycle ride with a biker she meets on the street. She tries driving a motorcycle herself with no instruction, thus resulting in a bad accident. And finally, she nearly drowns herself while cliff jumping in a lonely spot.
Do I even need to point out what's wrong with this picture?
In fact, both Bella and Edward show an appalling disregard for their own lives, not to mention for the way their actions might affect others. Edward romanticizes the idea of suicide, repeatedly stating his determination to kill himself if anything bad ever happens to Bella, and telling her, "You're my only reason to stay alive."
Bella herself has an abnormal fear of aging, longing to remain eternally young like Edward. She's so afraid of growing old that she panics on her 18th birthday. And she doesn't care that becoming a vampire might deprive her of her own soul; instead, she tells Edward, "Take it, I don't want it."
My colleague Molly Wyer has written an excellent study guide on Twilight, which you can find at BreakPoint.org. She writes that "even though Bella knows that Edward is...constantly tempted to drink her blood, she does not pull back from the danger. Instead, this terrifying possibility seems almost to add an edge of excitement and danger to their relationship. While Edward's vampiric attraction to blood is clearly wrong...Bella wants to become a vampire as well. She longs for what is forbidden."
Yet another troubling aspect of the story centers on Jacob, a rival for Bella's affections. New Moon reveals that Jacob is a werewolf, meaning that, just like Edward, he could seriously endanger Bella if he ever lost control of himself for a moment.
Essentially, this means Bella has to spend her life walking on eggshells around both of her romantic interests, not daring to make either one of them upset.
Do we really want to be presenting what looks like a classic abuse victim as a role model for young girls?
If your kids are at even remotely interested in the Twilight craze, or if they read about it or get involved with their friends, you need to sit them down and talk to them about some of these issues. Teenagers swept off their feet by New Moon need to know that in real life, danger isn't romantic or glamorous.
It's just plain dangerous.
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