Because of the New Moon movie, Twilight is getting a lot of discussion in the media. Since the author, Stephanie Meyer, is LDS, a few articles have even taken a swipe at Mormon values, expressing the opinion that the unenlightened choices of the female lead are typical for patriarchal, female-disempowering Mormons. Read on, and then take a quick poll to share your opinions.
First, a few of the articles with their key points:
- Entertainment Weekly‘s Owen Gleiberman asks and answers “Edward Cullen, stalker? Yes, but so is the hero of the Graduate.” His point: This is a novel about a vampire, so stalking is the least of his sins (he compares calling Edward Cullen a stalker to accusing Dracula of trespassing and sexual harassment). He also lists many other films and books in which the male character could be accused of stalking (e.g. Say Anything, Pretty Woman).
- Entertainment Weekly‘s Owen G. talking about “New Moon: why its girl-driven success is good for the future of movies.” His point: most teen movies are geared toward males, so teen movies for females (even unenlightened, quivering female doormats) are a step in the right direction. He also lauds the lack of consummation as (kind of, in a retro-way) empowering to the female audience.
- Anita Singh of The Telegraph (a UK-based news source) reports: “Twilight sequel New Moon is anti-feminist claims professor.” The point: New Moon is not only anti-feminist in its themes, but who could expect anything else from such a patriarchal backwards religion like Mormonism? According to Prof. Sieber: “This is a film full of gender stereotypes—testosterone-driven male aggression, females who pine away over lost loves, boys who fix motorcycles and the girls who watch them.” As Anita Singh paraphrases Dr. Sieber: “Bella’s choices are influenced by Meyer’s background as a member of “the highly patriarchal” Mormon church.”
- Religion Dispatches bloggers Anthony Petro and Samira Mehta reveal the hidden Mormon theology of the Twilight Series in a post titled: Big Vampire Love: What’s so Mormon about Twilight? They include such Mormon parallels as: sealing and eternal marriage, chastity, and family values. The post does not beef about sexism or anti-feminism and treats the religious angle with curiosity and respect, not disdain.
- Graeme McMillan of i09 wrote a post: Official: Twilight’s Bella & Edward Are In An Abusive Relationship. This post shows that the relationship between the main characters in Twilight hits 15 of the markers of an abusive relationship according to the assessment questions from the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
Lest I get too far ahead of myself, here’s a list of the anti-feminist traits people have identified in the books:
- Bella is a typical “damsel-in-distress” waiting to be rescued and only comfortable when in the protection of a man.
- Bella never drives – only the men drive in Twilight. They literally are the ones responsible for Bella’s direction and movement.
- Edward acts not only protectively, but crosses the line into stalker / predator territory. His controlling behavior is abusive. (I suspect that abusive relationships are more the norm among those of previous generations, bloodsucking vampires, and fictional characters in general: Edward hits the trifecta on this one. No offense to Team Edward.)
- Bella suffers from low self-esteem. After a breakup, she literally wallows in the mud. Perhaps critics would have appreciated a nice Aretha Franklin R-E-S-P-E-C-T moment coupled with some cutesy shadow-boxing (a la Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail).
- Bella gets married straight out of high school, although the men in the books are all college educated. One wonders what her fall back plan will be should Edward encounter Buffy the Vampire Slayer at some future date. Slinging hash at the local diner?
Of course, many of the same criticisms (and more) could be leveled at The Little Mermaid (literally gives her voice away at age 16 to ensnare a man with her body language – wanting only to be a “part of YOUR world,” meaning Eric’s world, rather than making her own way) which we know was written by that uptight, patriarchal, right-wing, er, gay, show-tune writing duo: Mencken and Ashe.
So, time to weigh in with a few poll questions![poll id=”86″] [poll id=”87″] [poll id=”88″]
Confession time: I haven’t read the books or seen the films, so I’m just reporting what has been written in the media here. Regardless, that picture (above) is hawt!