Is New Moon the New Cool? -By Amita Benedetti

guest Mormon 31 Comments

New Moon

For anyone vaguely familiar with the Latter-day Saints, the many parallels between the Twilight Saga and the Church’s theology will be apparent.

As a mother of two and full-time secondary school teacher, I was adamant not to read the novels in spite of having been asked, begged and ordered a countless number of times this year, to do so, claiming I was far too busy. Nevertheless, as I have now seen both Twilight and The Twilight Saga: New Moon, I can not help but feel a slight sting of portentousness as I recognise I may have been somewhat rash to dismiss what is now a literary and cinematic phenomenon. Is it juvenile, hormonal, and pubescent diversion?  Absolutely!  However, its moral subtext is impossible to miss – more so in the sequel – and is a text worthy for analysis of how Christian ideology is portrayed in contemporary English literature. Having been subjected to serious doses of pathetic fallacy, Socratic irony and the author surrogate, through such literature as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, it is refreshing to find a text which engages today’s youth to those same concepts while retaining an unquestionably cool, sexy image.

Though many critics remain fixated on the story’s preoccupation with sexual abstinence, there is a myriad of other parallels which LDS youth can relate to. The narrative centres on the turbulent temptations of the archetypical Byronic hero – a hero who appears doomed to destruction, with a bleak, dystopian vision of a future he has created for himself in the realms of his own mind. However, he is slowly brought to believe that redemption is possible, even for an unworthy soul such as himself.

Latter-Day Saint theology, indeed the Plan of Salvation, outlines in no uncertain terms the concepts of redemption and free agency – the notion that all are “free to choose”, be it good or bad, right or wrong, life or death (see, for example, 2 Nephi).  New Moon could not possibly be criticised for its lack of emphasis on choice and accountability, not only in the case of Edward (who is persistently fighting his inner demons in order to be a noble and virtuous man), but in the case of Jacob who surrenders to his werewolf nature. Bella’s remark to Jacob, “It’s not what you are, stupid, it’s what you do, reinforces the idea that we are indeed capable of choosing our destinies and of ultimately becoming the person we want to be become, despite our innate natures.

The idea of sacrifice is expressed from the very beginning when Edward leaves to ensure Bella’s safety and thus is willing to give up the one person who gives meaning to his life. Moreover, the same notion is woven into the whole fabric of the plot through its blatant reference to Romeo and Juliet in the opening and closing passages of the film. Consequently, when towards the end of the story Edward believes Bella to be dead, he wishes to die himself. Unsurprisingly, when Bella discovers Edward to still be alive but in danger, she begs for his life in exchange for her own.  Beneath the literary comparison lies the Christian concept of charity as exemplified through Jesus Christ. Thus, the idea of sacrifice and unconditional love are central themes in the narrative.

There were also some interesting parallels which many outside the Church may not have picked up on.  I found the scene where the family unite to decide whether or not Bella should be converted rather amusing. What is not so humorous, however, are the unambiguous references to persecution and discrimination.  Anyone acquainted with the history of the church will be aware of the prejudice faced by the early Saints. The continual need to move from place to place, unable to settle permanently for fear of harassment or death, was a major feature of the early Church.  Intolerance towards LDS beliefs continues to some extent today.  This is epitomised in the Cullens’ hasty departure from their home and explicitly stated on several occasions by Edward.

The most striking connection between the Twilight films and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, however, is its focus on sexual abstinence and on marriage – a philosophy which has received some negative press since the release of New Moon. In our society which is fundamentally defined by superficial values such as instant gratification and a glaringly outward definition of identity, I must question whether we can afford to flippantly ignore the messages of restraint and ‘peer resistance’ which Myer presents.

The students who watched the film with me did not appear to mind the lack of sex.  On the contrary, they were rather touched by the old-fashioned romance which, by the way, is missing in most teen flicks of today. According to a friend who watched the film on the evening of its release, the last line delivered by Edward to Bella drew the biggest sigh, “I’ll change you on one condition…marry me, Bella.” I could not help but notice the manner in which the question was pre-fixed by the word “forever”. This line, to me, epitomises Latter-day Saint ideology on the family and purpose of life in a nutshell.

The Twilight Saga: New Moon is not a unique story in any way, shape or form.  As a film, it does not boast any awe-inspiring cinematic genius. So what does make these films as popular as they are?  I can’t attribute it to the irresistible good looks of the lead man or his sexy leading lady; the books were bestsellers long before the films were made. Nevertheless, it seems clear to me that Myer’s resurrection of old-fashioned values has struck a chord with many people.

Am I “converted” to the Twilight phenomenon?  No! Will I be reading the novels, even out of mere curiosity?  Probably not.  I am, nonetheless, excited about the trendy new slant the books and motion pictures represent of traditional and, seemingly, ‘uncool’ values in today’s ‘cool’ society.

Comments

comments

Comments 31

  1. Just for your information

    Meyer grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, a member of a large Mormon family. She attended Brigham Young University, where she received a B.A. in English in 1997. She married Christian Meyer in 1994, and together they have three sons. They continue to be active members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Meyer claims to have never seen an “R” rated movie.

  2. hmmmmmm. (I’ve never left a comment here before, but Stephenie Meyer gets me going.) I have many thoughts here (I’ve backspaced and rewritten three times now) but what I will say is this: I think Meyer’s novels are the female equivalent of porn. They present an idealized version of men, especially in Edward: uber-protective, and always attentive, and when he’s moody it’s just because he’s ruminating over Good and Evil. Real men aren’t like that and I think of all the teens who are SO invested in the books & movies…their first years of marriage might be rough.

    And that’s not even mentioning all the women who are nuts over the stories. Take me out of my real marriage and put me into Bella’s and Edwards!!! 😉

    As an aside: in the books, when Bella is ruminating over how much she doesn’t want to get married, she says something like “I don’t necessarily think that marriage lasts forever.” It’s only Edward who does. I can’t say more without ruining the rest of the series for you, though, so I’ll stop!

  3. I too have not read nor will make any effort to see these films. Partly because I am just a little contrary. But i really enjoyed what you have to say. My only issue is that is it dangerous to flirt with cool for our youth. I have seen the first and the tone of it was not far removed from other teen films, only in that they did not go through with it. The blood still pumps and the hormones get going. I think it is only adults that recognise the subtly of what is happening and we have to keep pointing it out to the kids who probably now ahve a glorified image of the sexual connection that pervades the dating period (esp. among LDS). It seems they may learn to push the boundaries as a sign of their attraction and i am not convinced that is a good thing. But i think this is really well written. I wish I could capture what I would like to say so concisely.

  4. Amy, there isn’t a female equivalent to porn. It seems that you are judging too much in a novel writtin by a Mormon woman. Be careful about making judgements because it has a way of coming back to bite you in the uh…..neck.

  5. Twilight and vampire series in general are popular for one main reason: Heterosexual females are in love with homosexual males.

    I have been a vampire literature (and to mention Meyer’s books even in the same breath as ‘literature’ causes my skin to shrink)connoisseur my whole life. The themes are the same: Vampires are society’s gay men. They dress fabulously(!), they are sensitive, sexual (but not QUITE to the point where they can really ‘go there’ with the female protag because they are in ‘love’ with her and don’t want her to have their cruel fate), and they are a mystery to women (the women never understanding why the vamps don’t just succumb because, hey, deep down, don’t men really want a woman?)

    Ask any woman whose BFF forever is a gay man. They’ll tell you. Every vampire written or portrayed is that elusive, beautiful gay guy we all want as our BFF forever because he sees who we TRULY are and doesn’t JUST want us for our knickers.

    The reason teens eat this crap up is because it speaks to their level of development; teen girls are not ready to dive into sexual relationships, but they are no stranger to sexual tension. TENSION, people, that’s what keeps people turning the pages, not some antiquated return to “Family values”. That is a stretch bigger than believing that a hot guy like Edward would put up with Bella’s moody, self-involved, whiny character in real life.

    Bella has hot guy number one after her, and hot guy number two vying for her…this is every young girl’s dream come true. It is a tired, age-old theme that never ceases to snag the teen and tween’s (as well as the unfulfilled, bored housewife on occasion) aching, needy little heart. Vampires are cyclical in literature and pop culture; we will get bored of sullen Bella and tortured Edward just like we got bored of Anne Rice’s sullen Louis and tortured LeStat, and we will move on until the tide turns and vampires are ‘in’ again.

    This is no cultural phenomenon because Stephanie Meyer is so a) talented, b) moral, or c) blessed because she’s never seen an “R” movie. This is timing, luck, and knowing what makes a tweens heart go ‘pitter-pat.’

  6. “It seems that you are judging too much in a novel writtin by a Mormon woman. Be careful about making judgements because it has a way of coming back to bite you in the uh…..neck.”

    Bite away! 😉

    I think when anyone, Mormon or not, writes a novel they put themselves out into society for critique and criticism. (Which is, after all, a form of judgement.) I don’t have any problems with Meyer as a person. I don’t, in fact, KNOW her as a person, so anything I say isn’t a reflection on her as a person, or as a Mormon. What I DO know is what my reaction to her books is. Her religion, which happens to also be my religion, doesn’t make her novels excempt from criticism.

    Julieann: Exactly! I love what you wrote and agree with it wholeheartedly!

  7. Please, vampires do not represent the gay community. Today I give thanks for my wonderful wife who is not a basket case. She can read a novel and enjoy it for entertainment value.

  8. #9

    Uh, no, vampires don’t represent the gay community. Try to go a little deeper here, if you can. I’m talking about a metaphor for female sexuality.

    How lucky that you have a wife who can read with vapidity. How fortunate for you! And I can tell she’s got the same luck.

    #7 & #8 For women who can think, I say…brava!

  9. So much material, so little time on this Thanksgiving holiday. First, I must give thanks to a religion that is steeped in blood sacrifice, symbolic partaking of flesh and blood and the promise of eternal life. Without all that, I would have no understanding of all this vampire hulabaloo.

    First, Amita. I suggest you go back and actually read the books. You are judging the ability of the books as literature to convey “pathetic fallacy, Socratic irony and the author surrogate” through a mainstream, pop culture movie? Yes, and Shakespeare is better taught through “Ten Things I Hate About You” and “She’s The Man.” Not to be nit-picking, but by “pathetic fallacy” do you mean that vampire’s are really inanimate objects and Meyer’s commits the pathetic fallacy by treating them as humans?

    Second, Amy. Nice pop culture reference to female porn. Scantily clad men in apron’s doing housework and equating that to pop culture vampires. Funny.

    Third, JulieAnn. I think you are grossly underestimating the power of vampires on the human psyche. We all want eternal life in body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s but not subject to the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to. (Shakespeare ended that quote in a preposition, so I can too.) I disagree that Vampires in modern Pop Culture resemble the gay buddies on Sex and the City. Vampires are more sexually riveting. Vampires are tortured by the entire Madonna/Whore dichotomy. They want to sink their teeth into anything that moves, but there is always the Madonna, the virgin, the one girl who he just can’t bring himself to penetrate. Modern women writer’s have dressed up the Vampire as a gay buddy to hide how frightful they find aggressive male sexuality. Vampire mythology is so rich that it accomodates all of these types. The Madonna respectufl Vampire plays particularly well into Mormon theology, since it is indicative of most sincere adolescent Mormon boys who want to penetrate everything, but pick one shining light out of the Laurels to hang on to for their pure fantasies. I don’t disagree that the recent spate of effiminate vampires from Lestat to Edward has some of those elements, but there is more going on here.

    Which brings me to Javelin. Vlad the Impaler anyone? I think your patriarchal nature has lapsed into phallic nom de plumes. Your wife is cooking dinner for you right now I’ll bet. Who is winning the game? I agree with JulieAnn, it must be nice to have someone to actually be able to read the family scriptures each night. That is what JulieAnn was saying isn’t it?

    I’ve got to go bite some neck.

  10. JulieAnn,

    #6,

    Vampires are cyclical in literature and pop culture; we will get bored of sullen Bella and tortured Edward just like we got bored of Anne Rice’s sullen Louis and tortured LeStat, and we will move on until the tide turns and vampires are ‘in’ again.

    I got bored after five pages. Personally I think Joss Whedon did a much better job at presenting the sexual tension between the girl and her vampire lover. It did a fabulous job in Season 2 when their love was consummated and it changed both of them completely. The tension did not end, sexual release did not end the tension because sex was not the answer to their love.

  11. Ulysseus, I of course agree. But we weren’t speaking of the whole trajectory of vampire lore. We’re speaking of the recent popularity of the cultural phenomenon of the Twilight series and the direction vampires have taken over the last couple of decades (although Count Dracula was quite a dandy).

    So yes, unlike a Nerf javelin…ehem… I am able to go a little deeper than an ant’s swimming pool.

    And in #9’s defense, I bet they can BOTH read the scriptures at night….and get a darn-lot out of them, too!

  12. Dan and for all those who don’t want to do a Google Search on Josh Whedon —

    Josh did “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, a piece of pop culture sacrament of which I did not partake. But I must say that Dan’s comment about sexual consumation although something to be devoutly to be wished for, leads into that undiscovered country to which no traveler returns unchanged — even if you wait until you are married.

    As for pop culture vampires, I liked “From Dusk to Dawn” best — go figure.

  13. Uly, I helped with the stuffing, just finished washing the dishes, and transfered the turkey from the oven to the electric roaster. Can’t watch the Lions game because my son is watching the Imagination Movers. This is the one where Maggie is learning how to march and play the trombone at the same time. Have seen it over ten times during this last year. Sorry, but I don’t fit your male stereo type.

  14. On this Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for the Internet. For Javelin, bursting my pompous bubble. I’m also thankful that I am blessed with the ever constant process of learning not to take things too personally and maintaining my sense of humor. I’m also thankful that I have had the good fortune to miss repeated showings of Imagination Movers — who knows what would happen if I’d been subjected to something like that. Have a fantastic Thanksgiving, Javelin, from one male stereotype to another.

  15. “You are judging the ability of the books as literature to convey “pathetic fallacy, Socratic irony and the author surrogate” through a mainstream, pop culture movie? Yes, and Shakespeare is better taught through “Ten Things I Hate About You” and “She’s The Man.” Not to be nit-picking, but by “pathetic fallacy” do you mean that vampire’s are really inanimate objects and Meyer’s commits the pathetic fallacy by treating them as humans?”

    Despite my own claim that I would not read any of the Twilight books, I did so, over the weekend, though I didn’t quite succeed in finishing. I began from the middle somewhere and worked my way towards the end, and then backwards….I thought it might offer a more interesting perspective. I am not sure it has. 

    I would, however, like to respond to Ulysseus who feels that neither the Twilight books nor films have any literary value. Though they are not to my taste, necessarily, as a teacher of English Literature, I cannot undermine the power of pop culture in engaging teenagers with literary devices. I teach Shakespeare as coverage of British literary heritage, as well as Bronte, amongst others. However, when teaching teenagers in a school where over 90% of students have English as an additional language, it is more than a little difficult to engage them with texts as difficult as the ones you have mentioned. British secondary school teaching has changed immensely over the last decade, indeed even in the last five years and popular culture is now far more acceptable as a way into teaching. Not only has my department agreed to include Twilight as a cross-reference piece with Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, but we play ‘My Immortal’ by Evanescence all the time for the teaching of Carol Ann Duffy’s ‘Havisham’ and other popular music to engage students with poetry.

    Thank you for the pathetic fallacy comment, by the way; it was very funny and put a smile on my face.

  16. I got this from a different website, but find it very good:

    If a boy is aloof, stand-offish, ignores you or is just plain rude, it is because he is secretly in love with you — and you are the point of his existence.

    Secrets are good — especially life-threatening ones.

    It’s OK for a potential romantic interest to be dimwitted, violent and vengeful — as long as he has great abs.

    If a boy tells you to stay away from him because he is dangerous and may even kill you, he must be the love of your life. You should stay with him since he will keep you safe forever.

    If a boy leaves you, especially suddenly (while telling you he will never see you again), it is because he loves you so much he will suffer just to keep you safe.

    When a boy leaves you, going into shock, losing all your friends and enduring night terrors are completely acceptable occurrences — as long as you keep your grades up.

    It is extremely romantic to put yourself in dangerous situations in order to see your ex-boyfriend again. It’s even more romantic to remember the sound of his voice when he yelled at you.

    Boys who leave you always come back.

    Because they come back, you should hold out, waiting for them for months, even when completely acceptable and less-abusive alternative males present themselves.

    Even though you have no intention of dating an alternative male who expresses interest in you, it is fine to string the young man along for months. Also, you should use him to fix things for you. Maybe he’ll even buy you something.

    You should use said male to fix things because girls are incapable of anything mechanical or technical.

    Lying to your parents is fine. Lying to your parents while you run away to save your suicidal boyfriend is an extremely good idea that shows your strength and maturity. Also, it is what you must do.

    Car theft in the service of love is acceptable.

    If the boy you are in love with causes you (even indirectly) to be so badly beaten you end up in the hospital, you should tell the doctors and your family that you “fell down the steps” because you are such a silly, clumsy girl. That false explanation always works well for abused women.

    Men can be changed for the better if you sacrifice everything you are and devote yourself to their need for change.

    Young women should make no effort to improve their social skills or emotional state. Instead, they should seek out potential mates that share their morose deficiencies and emotional illnesses.

    Girls shouldn’t always read a book series just because everyone else has.
    When writing a book series, it’s acceptable to lift seminal source material and bastardize it with tired, overwrought teenage angst.

    When making or watching a major feature film, you should gleefully embrace the 20 minutes of plot it provides in between extended segments of vacant-eyed silence and self-indulgent, moaning banter.

    Vampires — once among the great villains of literature and motion pictures — are no longer scary. In fact, they’re every bit as whiny, self-absorbed and impotent as any human being.

  17. My opinion on twilight(books)

    Some will say my my opinion is all wrong, and that I’m taking it too seriously and it’s not that big of a deal. Are you sure? They will play down my thoughts and say that I am over-reacting . Really? Read On.
    These books portray relationships in a way that is not healthy. The main characters are obsessive, predatory, controlling . Would we be okay with letting our daughter’s boyfriend stay in her bedroom with her all night? With her sneaking out and not being truthful with where she is going and what she is doing? And with whom? Just because he’s a vampire and doesn’t have the same motivations – doesn’t make it safe. The father comes across as an idiot and lackadaisical with her supervision in this book and the daughter has no respect for him and his boundaries.
    Are these the kind of values that we want to teach our children? Why should we teach lessons to our children, and then say it’s o.k. to abandon them if it’s in a fiction book, and that it’s just a story.
    Twilight is about an out of place sophomore teenage girl named Bella who moves to a new town and falls in love with a handsome 108 year old, but frozen at 17, “vampire” named Edward at her school (108? with a 16yr old? would make him a pervert/child molester and pedophile but should biblical (or old-fashioned) morality get in the way of “true” love?) The story is about their intoxicating infatuation for each other and the consequences of a lustful vampire/mortal romance.
    Edward and his “coven” of vampire family are vowed “good” and “vegetarian” vampires as they only feed on animal blood rather than human blood. Yet, Edward wants to bite Bella every time the sexual tension gets too high. But she loves him regardless and is willing to step into his “eternity” no matter the cost!
    Sounds like a trite story, but the shocker is that many Mormons are attracted to this spiritually dysfunctional romance and worse, are attempting to give mormon applications to its demonic premise suggesting this be acceptable discussion. Some mormon women on Internet sites are using the story, to initiate Bible “studies” and discussion on so-called “mormon” principles to be drawn from it. A new “mormon” twist on demonic deception is invading our values!
    I’ve told my wife I thought it too improper for her, because it glamourizes the subject matter”, she said ” it was just for entertainment. So be it. But here are some thoughts for you to think about.
    Now here would be a good place to examine exactly what a “vampire” is and ask, can Mormons honestly consider it OK for teens (indeed anyone?) to crave a relationship with one? For centuries, vampires have been part of folklore and mythology, understood to be ugly, dark creatures of morbid horror, close to the dead, sometimes known as the undead for they claim eternal life (no help from the Gospel) and subsist by feeding on human blood, roam in darkness, avoid the light, and are enemies of the human race.
    This repulsive concept was changed with the popularization of Bram Stoker’s famous 1897 novel about a fictionalized vampire Count Dracula, who was presented as an aristocrat Transylvanian nobleman. He was imbued with supernatural powers, superhuman capabilities and a lustful passion for beautiful ladies whose blood he became addicted to. His blood sucking was two-fold – to maintain his (eternal) “life force” and eventually befall his victim with the curse of vampirism and ultimate death. And then later on with the TV show “Buffy” and another book by Anne rice” An interview with a Vampire” which in my opinion Twilight is a copy with a few twists. Now no matter how resplendent the “vampire” is portrayed in mythology and fiction, in Scripture blood drinking and creatures of darkness are judged as despicable by God. Also, Scripture explains fallen spirits as those who deliberately chose to follow their leader Satan (Isaiah. 14) and deny their Creator God. For this choice, they are damned with eternal separation from God and an eternity in the Lake of Fire. (Rev 15.)
    Let me ask you a question. Are any of these subjects ennobling or uplifting? Do you think that any activity,reading or learning about any of them would be accompanied by the Holy Spirit?====================================================================================================================================================================
    A housewife named Stephenie Meyer “received” the story of Twilight in a dream on June 2, 2003. she had little to no prior writing experience with only a B.A. degree in English and had to learn from the Internet how to submit a book proposal. She tried a few times and “miraculously” got published with a $750 thousand dollar publishing contract! Miraculous happenings have been known to come from powers of darkness, remember he’s a great imitator and in this case, no matter how it’s sliced, God would not use vampires, sexual tension, lust, boyfriend worship, and teenage romance to spread His Gospel of eternal life and salvation.
    Meyer, a Mormon mother of three, states that some of her inspiration in writing her vampire saga came from a band of musicians called Marjorie Fair. “For New Moon, they were absolutely essential. They can put you into a suicidal state faster than anything I know . . . Their songs really made it beautiful for me.” Also an inspiration for one of her characters was a band called My Chemical Romance. She states, “It’s someone . . . who just wants to go out and blow things up.” That’s nice.
    Scaringly, Meyer’s fictional character Edward took on the “terrifying” form of “real” spirit when it leapt from the pages of her saga’s and communicated with her in a dream. She says she had an additional dream after Twilight was finished when her vampire character Edward came to visit and speak to her. The Edward who visited her in the night told her she’d got it all wrong because he DID drink human blood, and could not “live” on ONLY animal blood as she wrote in the story. She said, “We had this conversation and he was terrifying.”
    Conversation with spirits (saying they need human blood to suck!) and frightening dream visitations by spirits are part of occult communication. And still she wrote more books about him-what drove her to do so….money? And now Who is she influenced by?
    On May 6, 2008, she released her adult novel, The Host, which is about “invading alien souls” that take over a person and get them to do what they want. This behavior is called demonic possession, a state Jesus came to set captives free from. Meyer’s so-called fiction “crosses over” to severe occult philosophy.
    The Subject matter in these instances are vile in the eye’s of the Lord. Secret combinations, undead,and bloodsucking are to name a few.
    And no matter how you try to pretty it up or down play it, these things should not be spoken of, read about, nor seen by any member of the Church if we are to have the Spirit to be with us.
    The commandment is to “read out of the best of books”…
    Some would say that I’m over zealous, it’s just abook…And they might be right.
    But I feel that far too many lds women/girls/people are too easily justifying this as just a story.
    The questions you should ask yourself before you judge me on my opinions of this book are. How do you feel when reading it , and who’s putting those feelings there, what are your emotions and thoughts and are they pure and wholesome. Then ask yourself Is it inspiring, uplifting, faith promoting, good and praise worthy and would in be in accord with the gospel and finally does it invite or push away the Spirit. …These are questions only you can answer..
    Then ask yourself is my opinion the wrong one…. Just something to think about.

  18. Amita– Thanks for your comments. I don’t want to hijack this post into a pedagogical discussion, partly becasue George gave us a nice email to forward to everyone on our “list” of mindless email recipients and LDSinsanity is trying to keep books away from the women, all while posting his own, but what the heck.

    One extreme difficulty with Internet communication (besides the two noted above) is that words are impercise and tone can be difficult to detect without a familiarity with style. I am not a literary snob by any meaning and unlike LDSinSanity, the women in my life can read whatever tickles their neurons. I was just trying to tweak you a little bit for the “pathetic fallacy” stuff. I think “author surrogate” would be the more interesting discussion for Twilight, given the Stephanie Meyer/Mormon obsession.

    Literature is a lot like scripture. Words on a page, some good, some not anywhere close to translated correctly, some that are there are usually misunderstood, some mindless drivel, some genealogical recitations, some weird names, some dying, some eternal life — its all there from Meyer to Moroni, Card, Orson Scott to Corinthians and Shakespeare’s Hamlet to Nephi 2:14. People get it on their level of understanding and education. Kudos to all your efforts to get the kids to read. I have comic book versions of Kafka, Dostoyevsky and the Book of Genesis, so I’m not too snobbish. And “Ten Things I Hate About You” is pop “Taming of the Shrew” and “She’s the Man” is pop “Twelth Night.”

    And Javelin, again my apologies, you would never tell your wife a book was “too improper for her, because it glamourizes the subject matter.” By the subject matter, I believe the crazy one was referring to fictional blood sucking for eternal life and his desire to have a 18 year old when he is 108, otherwise known as worlds and women wihout number.

  19. Ulysseus, thanks for the pop literary references in connection with Shakespeare – I am unfamiliar with them, but will definitely try them out.

    LDSSanity, I do agree with many of your comments – Twilight certainly is NOT an uplifting or edifying book (indeed, that wasn’t my claim). However, I don’t think my school will let me put LDS scripture, or any form of scripture on the English curriculum. I don’t teach in a purely LDS environment. In fact, I think I am the only church member in a school of over 1000 students and 150 staff! If you think Twilight is inappropriate, you should take a look at some of the other texts we have to teach at GCSE level (14-16 year olds)! Even Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Romeo and Juliet and Twelfth Night have their fair share of sex and violence…quite raw at times, too. In the environment where I live and teach, we can’t hide our children away from popular culture – the best we can do is to teach them our values along side the ones they pick up elsewhere, or teach them to focus on that which is good as much as possible. I have not allowed my daughter to see New Moon yet, but I am aware of the fact that most of her friends have and are talking about it. If I continue to say no, she will, eventually begin to push back. So, I will certainly be talking to her about what positive values are represented in the film, however, unspiritual it may be, so that if or when she does see it, she will focus on the positives rather than the reverse.

    As for Stephanie Myer, I really can’t comment on the manner or source of her inspiration, nor was my post seeking to pursue a judgement on her. I am not convinced her books were intended to be used for proselyting either, but as a member of the LDS church, is it not only inevitable that some of her beliefs have found their way into her writing?

  20. I am a LDS female teenager and have to say found a reel connection with the films and the books.
    I can’t be bothered to read all of your comments because I have a career to go get. But I’ll just let you in on the mind of us teens.

    We like the fact that the books and movies are wrong on so many levels. We girls like the fact that Edward is the ultimate man. ‘female porn’ PLEASE.
    I agree no man is really like that in real life. But the characters Jacob and Edward together have faults and boys who read about these two characters can only gain some good ideas of how to treat the love of there lives. With respect.

    I think the parallels you find from the books to Mormonism to be a little far out. So many things can appear to represent something when in fact they weren’t intended to represent all that much at all.

    Also I really don’t see what’s so wrong about the books or movies. A lot of you seem to think that they get to close to the line. I think they are only being honest and that’s only a good thing. In Meyer getting right down to it, it gives younger people more respect for what she has to say and makes teenagers more willing to consider her idea to not have sex before marriage.

    Don’t burst our bubbles we love it, some a little to much but at the end of the day it’s only teaching good morals. And also guy who said this stuff is ‘female porn’. I think men have a lot to learn from these books!

  21. Im sorry but I find it embarassing that anyone would claim New Moon is a good source for morals. And how can Edward be a good example of accountability? He believes that he lost his soul based on an event that he had no control over, right? That sounds like an awful attitude to perpetuate. Victim of attack loses soul. How is that an endorsement of accountability and that the choices we make determine who we are? Edward believes that the choice of someone else caused him to lose his soul (and value) forever. And Bella, are you joking me? Let’s teach young women that a depressed 100+ year old vampire is her soul mate, and that it is better to die than to be without this deranged monster. Let’s also teach young women twisted stories like “if he leaves you that means he loves you.” Let’s also teach young women that the thrill of riding on the back of a motorcycle of a dangerous man and doing other near suicidal acts will help us reconnect with our lost love.

    Please.

  22. 2 Foot High — I believe it was a woman (Amy So) who called it “female porn” and she did it based on the fact that Edward was the “ultimate male.” The term has expanded recently to include writing that depicts acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction. In modern colloquial terms it has been expanded to include pop culture fluff that is used to sell things, so you have food porn, violent porn and teen girl vampire porn. If Edward is the ‘ultimate male’ and unlike any man in real (as opposed to undead) life, then he is in fact “female porn.” Might I suggest Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre or Pride and Prejudice to expand your literary horizons. If that doesn’t work, try “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” with its zombie porn.

    Dexter — Did you purposefully select the name of the serial killer with a heart from Showtime for your post? If so, that was yet another pop culture bonaza here at MM. If not, I’m going to have to come to Amita’s defense and say that literature is exactly the place that you want to play out our moral tales. I mean if you really want to the literal route, age doesn’t mean much, since we were all hanging out together in the pre-existence, so we are all a lot older than 100+. Literature lets us explore our violent, sexual and emotional struggles on the page rather than in real life. We can eat of the fruit of knowledge without getting banished from the garden. Good heck man, the children are reading, let them read.

  23. When I wrote this review at the request of a friend, I wasn’t in fact aware of Mormon matters, and didn’t realise for a moment that it would caus so much controversy or debate! If I had any doubt previously about whether or not it is a worthwhile text to introduce into the curriculum at school, then I no longer do! I felt I had come across a text which would cause excitement in the teen community, while encouraging some dialogue around ethical / moral values. It appears, however, to have excited more than teenagers!

    Thank you all for your views – I do appreciate the dialogue. Twilight, as with literature in general, has, as Ulysseus states, its catharic value. However, while we are debating about the abomination that is Twilight, we should take a look at what else our kids are reading, or worse still, listening to – it could be far worse! Just to clarify, I am not suggesting we replace the scriptures with Twilght, but I do not believe that shielding our children from the world is the answer to our moral problems, nor do I believe in the magic bullet theory. If they are properly taught, they will have the ability to differentite between right and wrong and make informed choices. By hiding them in a moral bubble, we will only increase their curiosity and desire to explore. What we cannot afford to do is expose them ONLY to such literature without substantial exposure to the ‘best books’ as mentioned by LDSSanity.

  24. I have no problem with endorsing Twilight as entertainment. I simply disagree that it promotes good morals. That is not to say it should be avoided. I enjoy plenty of literature and film that does not promote good morals. But I am not preaching that the Godfather is a good source for morals. Similarly, I don’t think Twilight is a model of moral behaviour. It is simply a story, and I think trying to find a moral message runs counter to the author’s intent, and common sense. It is to entertain. Perhaps it also has value in providing a new perspective on things, but I don’t think it should be promoted as a model for how to live.

  25. Ulysseus,

    There was a post about the show Dexter? If so, could you provide a link? I find the whole media accountability issue very interesting.

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