Does anyone care what we are feeding our teens?
Deborah Collins, Host and Executive Producer of Celebrate Women Radio, answers questions about her upcoming programs slated for the week of June 28, 2010 (on The Word 100.7 FM in Dallas, Texas, or online 24/7 here) dealing with The Twilight Saga and the release of the third move, Eclipse …
QUESTION: From pop culture pundits to professors to pulpits, it seems everyone is riding The Twilight Saga train. As a follow-up to your radio programming last year on the previous Twilight books and movies, you are devoting a week of programming to discuss this topic. However, you are not riding the same train of thought, so to speak?
ANSWER: You could say I am trying to stop a runaway train! I have seen the first two movies and have major concerns about how the books and movies are affecting young impressionable "tweens" and teens. In all the media coverage, the viral Twilight feeding frenzy, there are a few things that no one seems to be talking about. Like Bella's poor self-image; her sick "obsession" with Edward and thoughts of suicide. This girl spends all her time fantasizing about a toxic relationship with a vampire. Not to mention how women of all ages are obsessing and fantasizing about Edward—even married women!
There must be a real void in women's lives, if they are focusing so much time and attention on a fictitious teen romance.
Q: One issue you are especially passionate about is the figure of Bella, the female lead character, and her self-image. You have said that she is a poor role model for young girls. Elaborate on this please.
A: As I watched the first two Twilight movies and the dynamics surrounding Bella—her self loathing, absentee mother and a father who is clueless—I was shocked at the media hype and how so many moms are fueling this "obsession". Not to mention how Bella is disconnected from the normal teen school activities and social life. She is so depressed and desperate to be with Edward, that she engages in dangerous activities in hopes that he will rescue her. This story line is an example of how distorted the public's perception is and how media, women and young girls are overlooking some very destructive behaviors. For months after Edward leaves, Bella continues in depression, becoming catatonic, even suicidal and where is her father?
There is no adult to intervene in her life. In real life, we would be horrified that a parent would be so negligent. Without intervention, Bella eventually snaps out of her depression and turns to a teen werewolf who she manipulates to get to Edward! Another dead-end relationship!
Let's look at Edward the vampire. He is dark, moody and has nothing going for himself except his supernatural powers. He is not happy being a vampire and mopes around, a loner. And Bella, who has nothing particularly good going for her at this point in her life is drawn to him, obsessed with him and that's a good thing? We would never tell our teens that this sick unhealthy behavior is acceptable!
Q: You also have some strong concerns about the words that people are using to describe the so called Twilight phenomenon. Could you address this?
A: Yes, it has become a feeding frenzy! It's being said that women and girls are "devouring" these books and movies. To devour means to eat voraciously, or ravenously; to consume destructively, recklessly, or wantonly. Women and young girls devouring The Twilight Saga would imply that there is a void, an emptiness, a hunger that is not being satisfied. What is this craving that is causing females to "ravenously, destructively, recklessly and wantonly consume" these novels and movies?
It is not just teens who are obsessed with the The Twilight Saga. Women of all ages are devouring these stories in order to escape. Why the strong need to escape in romance novels, a fictitious story full of exaggeration? Has the lack of heroic endeavors and chivalry in our society created such a void in our hearts that we obsess over a fictitious so-called love story about teens, vampires and werewolves? Edward is not a hero! He is a tortured vampire who wants to drink Bella's blood. He can offer Bella only one thing—a wretched existence where she will never eat food again and will constantly fight against the urge to kill others. Oh, and don't forget that she will lose her soul and live like this eternally! Somehow, we overlook these minor details because he "seems" gallant, chivalrous, and romantic!
Bella is so miserable that she is willing to do anything to be with Edward. She obviously wants to be transformed from the insecure, hurting, pitiful creature that she sees herself to be, to being like Edward—a so-called reformed serial killer with supernatural powers who is not happy with his "authentic self." She is willing to overlook the dangerous and destructive aspects of this toxic relationship to be with him. Again, in any other context, we would be getting her into counseling immediately. Instead we are cheering for her to be with Edward! This is what some are calling a phenomenon. I call it crazy, toxic and destructive.
Q: What is your opinion on the Twilight moms' websites, clubs and various other venues where it's been said that moms are bonding with their daughters through The Twilight Saga?
A: Mothers bonding with their daughters over this feeding frenzy makes me sick to my stomach. It is a sad day when grown women are so unfulfilled in their lives that they have an obsessive crush on young men, teens mind you, in the movies. The young men playing the vampire and werewolf roles happen to be very well built. Seriously, mothers are bonding with their daughters over "lusting" after teen boys and young men. What would these same women say and do if it was grown men obsessing with their sons over teen girls? Women would be outraged! Mothers engaged in fantasizing about toxic teen relationships can not be healthy. Not to mention that mothers participating in this type of behavior are endorsing Bella as a role model. This is not responsible parenting. Our reaction to the Twilight phenomenon is a sad indicator of how far we have fallen from our responsibility as being good parents and role models. It concerns me that an entire generation of teen girls is lacking secure, moral female role models in their lives. And no one is willing to address these aspects of the so-called phenomenon.
The same people who give the self-help gurus a voice about being "your authentic self" and not giving "your power away" and being around "good energy" are also promoting the Twilight feeding frenzy. Bella is not willing to accept her authentic self or listen to her "intuition" about heading down a dangerous path. So much so that she is willing to give her "power" away and be around dangerous "energy." Bella is obsessed, depressed and miserable. I think the so-called "universe" is trying to tell her something!
Q: Why do you think Christians and the Church so quickly and easily embraced The Twilight Saga?
A: We are made in the image of God and therefore are spiritual beings, with a soul who live in a body. It is part of our identity in Christ. We are hungry for things of a spiritual nature, for the supernatural and transformation. In my estimation, the secular world has recognized and tapped into the mysterious spiritual world where the church often has not. The sad part is that the secular world entertains us with "good evil" fighting against "bad evil". In many churches today, the Holy Spirit is ignored or not even allowed to operate. He has been "disabled" or unplugged. In my opinion, many in the Body of Christ feel powerless and are not experiencing true transformation so they turn to the Harry Potter series and The Twilight Saga to fill the void. Of course, these are counterfeit and many are easily deceived. Good Christians go to church, Sunday school, Bible studies, and small groups and then secretly "devour" The Twilight Saga behind closed doors because they are hungry for the Holy Spirit and good overcoming evil.
Some churches and ministries have gone so far as to embrace the books and movies and erroneously teach how Edward is like Christ! Something is seriously wrong when churches are so desperate to connect with the culture that they are watering down sermons to engage with their congregations and be consumer friendly. Some have gone so far as to have Twilight Bible studies! This is calling evil good and good evil!
Much of the allure about Twilight is that it appeals to our heart, or rather the unmet needs and issues of our heart. The driving need for escape, for romance, for the supernatural. We are investing enormous amounts of time, money and emotional resources on a fictitious toxic romance about the supernatural. Because we are not grounded in the truth of God's Word, and are not being transformed, we are easily deceived and drawn away from the truth to fill the empty void in our lives.
The imagery in Twilight is strikingly similar to many images and components in Scripture and in fact directly goes against God's Word. It is clearly prohibited in the Holy Scriptures to eat or drink blood and that drinking blood is detestable and an abomination to the Lord. The life is in the blood and Christ poured out his sinless blood to make atonement for our sins. Yet, many Christians, leaders, churches and teachers are comparing the lead male character in Twilight, Edward, to a type of Christ. I find that questionable at best and heretical at worst.
To hear more discussion with Deborah Collins about The Twilight Saga feeding frenzy and "phenomenon," please tune in to Celebrate Women Radio's special programs the week of June 28, 2010, coinciding with the release of the third movie, Eclipse.
Celebrate Women Radio
Real Women. Real Issues. Real Answers.™
Listen weekdays, 7:30 - 8:00 p.m. CT, on 100.7 FM in Dallas, Texas, or online 24/7 at www.celebratewomenradio.com.
Collins and special guests will discuss topics relevant to Twilight such as:
SEE ALSO: Flirting with Danger: New Moon's Victim Stereotype
Deborah Collins is also a speaker, author and Founder and President of Exceptional Women, a fellowship and networking organization for women in the marketplace. Click here for more information or visit her blog at deborahcollins.wordpress.com.
SEE ALSO: Taking on Twilight