Dec 7, 2009

Here I am, admitting in public that I strongly dislike and disagree with the Twilight series. I have lots of friends and family that love (or at least devour them the second they come out) the books & movies and I have not wanted to cause offense, so for the most part I have tried to keep my thoughts to myself.

An author at Meridian Magazine has written a fabulous article on why she is opposed to the series and as it sums up my thoughts so well, I will just link to hers and save myself the typing time (seeing how it is 12:45 a.m. and I should really be asleep!).

Here you go: Emotional Intimacy in New Moon as Salacious as Physical Intimacy

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  1. Thanks for posting that article. I agree with it entirely. I read 2 of the novels and my thought was Meyers portrayal of Bella’s relationship was VERY VERY unhealthy. Bella has no other outside interests, hobbies, thoughts or life besides Edward. If my daughter ever has a strong desire to read these (please, no) I would use it as a teaching moment and have some thorough discussions. In my opinion, poor Bella was in essence a loser with no life, someone to be pitied.

  2. The thing that is really scary, is teens and grown women alike are swallowing this hook, line, and sinker. A lot of them can’t even differentiate between these stories and real life… I heard recently of a woman who is constantly comparing her husband to Edward and asking him why he “can’t be more like Edward”. I’ve read a lot of books with characters whose morals did not match mine (probably more than I should) but the Twilight series scare me more than those because nobody is eating, sleeping, and breathing those books. Good article!

    • tracy

      Exactly! To me, it is like pornography of the mind because it is changing the way people think about love and relationships. It is teaching girls how a man “should” treat them and creating a situation where they will be disappointed with anything different than Edward’s style. It is glamorizing the false, lustful, obsessed “love” and setting it up as a standard. It is being promoted as a chaste book when it is so NOT chaste. No intercourse does not equal chastity.

  3. On a lighter less philosophical side…Bella is just an obsessive, lonely, misguided and often times stupid girl…where are her parents? Where is her mother? The books and movies have come AND gone in our home. I think the storyline is hideous and I am simply unimpressed by any of it. Thumbs Down!

    • tracy

      Yes, she is, but are the readers seeing that, or are they somehow looking at her behavior as something to emulate? Is it making it into their minds that what she does is okay? Certainly a lot of girls and women are looking at Edward as someone they hope their boyfriends and husbands will emulate.

  4. My last word on this….I am sure some readers…. probably millions of readers are Twilight obsessed…eat, drink and breathe the series….how sad for them…but, my thought is that smart young people especially those with influential parents AND grown adults with more sense do not want to emulate Bella and Edward…dream about Bella and Edward because they are simply not interested in Bella and Edward and have far better things to fill their time and thoughts then think about Bella and Edward. I will also admit that under duress I saw New Moon…COMPLETE waste of time and money….it was worse then I even imagined it could have been…its a ridiculous story not even slightly entertaining.

  5. Anne

    Oh my. This is quite the controversial subject. I watched the first show three times. Loved it! I’ve not read any books. I can see how kids could go in an ill-advised direction and become sorely obsessed. I can see how it could mess up their thinking about dating and making judgements. I’m so glad that people care — on BOTH sides, because I’ve seen far too much apathy in parenting. I think when parents see the show with their kids, talk about it, scoff at how ridiculous it is and the kids are then armed to tell their peers how pathetic it is, it’s better than having kids get sucked in to the whole movement without parental involvement. I’m glad so many in your circle care so much.

  6. jessica

    I don’t argue that the fan base for the Twilight Saga appears to be made up of some unstable, crazy people — young adults and full blown adults alike — but I cringe at the thought of eschewing the books completely because there is so much to discuss in them, not only with our teenagers but with book clubs and colloquia groups.

    I’m often confused by some groups who renounce the Harry Potter series or this series completely while remaining able to embrace other broken books such as The Lord of the Flies — which is one of the most terrible, awful, godless books I have ever had the displeasure to read.

    The story idea behind the Twilight books is fascinating! I love the idea of hidden moral parable (don’t jump all over me yet, I’m not referring to the flaws in her idea of chaste) wherein monsters overcome their natural tendencies to strive for something good. As a closet novelist, I wish I would have come up with this idea because I would have taken it in another direction completely, but still find it intriguing to follow Meyer’s ideas. My point is there are some redeeming ideas to discuss in these books along with the more unhealthy, unstable, and flawed ones.

    I believe these books do have some dangerous situations and ideas that an unguided teen could come away with if allowed to read them without supervision or any follow up discussion. But for me personally, I enjoyed all the books and both movies but for different reasons than perhaps the masses did. I spent three years in a very controlling, manipulative, us-against-the-world-type relationship — and these books, I feel, could, with the right perspective, open up a facet of conversation with teens which would touch on many of those pitfalls I wish I had been smart enough to avoid.

    Sure, I can discuss those pitfalls without any aid from Meyer, and I certainly hope to do so with my own children — but imagine being the Mia Maid leader facing a room full of girls who have not only devoured the books, but own t-shirts that read, “Bite Me, Edward.” I imagine being able to discuss the dangers of emotional intimacy and premature familiarity in a context they can understand and relate to could be helpful — and being able to do so in a way where you don’t come across as a stodgy Twi-hater would be doubly beneficial.

    My father is a bishop, one who has never liked sports and has a lot to say about idol worship and the addiction that lies in becoming a fan; yet he watches the major games now (or at least pays attention to the scores) so that he can participate in conversations about the games with the youth (and some adults) in his ward.

    Obviously, my argument has some major limitations and holes if you put it to more extreme examples (should the Bishop go do drugs so he can relate to his addicts? Of course not), but I thought I’d offer a different point of view anyway.

    • tracy

      Thanks for the viewpoint and maybe if I was working with the youth who are obsessed with these I might have to read them in order to be able to talk with them about them. I also see how they can be a positive experience for a youth and a mom together and discussing them and the series of poor choices Bella makes. BUT, I believe they are far more dangerous to the moral fiber and the belief systems than obviously evil books like The Lord of the Flies (which I never, ever want to read again and completely agree with you on!). People overwhelmingly are disgusted by The Lord of the Flies, 1984, Catcher in the Rye and reject the choices the characters make. In this series, people are glorifying Bella’s, Edward’s, and Jacob’s choices. The books are being presented as being clean and girls are learning that as long as you don’t have intercourse you are still chaste.

      I DO wish that you could work in Young Womens and help these girls navigate the tumultuous world of modern teenage-hood as I think your ability to relate with them would be FABULOUS!

  7. jessica

    Woah. That was really long. Sorry ;o)

  8. Anne

    Oh my heck! I loved that comment! Excellent debate going on here!

  9. Kari

    Here is an article that I recently read on this topic:

    I enjoyed it and agreed with it and I appreciate the article that you sited as well. Also, Anneladee Milne had similar things to say at the mothers retreat in Eden in September. I’ve been thinking about asking her to write down her thoughts for me. They were great.

  10. jessica

    First of all, ugh! I’m so happy the world we create for ourselves in the gospel spares us of the kind of dating scene that author describes. Can you imagine finding your soul mate, your eternal companion via a cheap hookup in a bar?

    Second, I like the author’s point though. Sex, and the idea of sex (for young girls) is primarily about love and always has been. The reason romances as pure and lovely as say, Anne and Gilbert or Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are appealing is because our sex tends to daydream about true love, marriage and children and these stories highlight good men and a more chaste, more simple time. Good men didn’t dishonor women, and love was about forever, not a one night stand.

    Imagine all these girls out there who are being raised by modern women, having safe sex talks rather than abstinence talks, but who still, by their very natures long for something real. Edward probably seems like a dream come true. A guy who wants no part (broadly speaking) in premarital sex, one who wants to get married, one who does not want to take away his girlfriend’s soul — quite literally.

    I know there are flaws in the story of course, but I do understand the appeal.

    I ought to quantify all of my statements with the fact that I do not have a teenage child at this time, and I wonder how I’d feel about these books if I did. I imagine I’d be okay with an older teen reading them as long as we discussed them together, because I do believe they offer a lot of things to talk about. I find the TJED idea of discussing a bent or broken book and how to repair it, how to fix the story wildly appealing to my writerly mind.

    Doesn’t it make the Twilight series a broken or bent book if the masses are finding the bad choices good? Doesn’t that still allow for the books to be read and discussed and not banned completely? I’m curious, because again I don’t know what my reaction would be if I had a teen. The Golden Compass series, are books I have avoided because the author was so forthright in stating his atheist motives for the books, talking openly about how he hoped they would influence children to question what he called the God Myth — but perhaps I’m being a hypocrite there, because obviously books can be harmful whether the author intended it or not.

    Oh my goodness this is getting long again, I’ll quit. I do have a question for Kari if she’s checking back in — I liked your post, if you have a child who is interested in something you’ve banned, do you explain why you’ve chosen to ban it? Would you allow a child to read something you deemed harmful if they were extremely curious and interested, but read it along with them so you could discuss the issues?

    Stopping for reals!

    • tracy

      GREAT post Jess! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, I love learning from opposing viewpoints and you have helped me understand some of the appeal of the books. I’ll tell Kari to check in to answer your questions.

      As for me, I don’t think books should be banned. If someone takes the time to write something and a publisher publishes it, then let the market do its work. Generally if it is worthy of attention, it will stand the test of time and be around forever, if not, it will disappear into the discarded book boxes of many a basement and burn pile. I do however wish some books weren’t wildly popular and being devoured by the masses without discussion with a wise and moral mentor/parent/grandparent. But since I can’t control that I just try to do my best in my circle of influence. If we have a moral people searching for education, the books they read will add to their education whether the books are broken, bent, whole, or healing. If we have an immoral society, the books being read are more critical because people are reading them without a firm foundation of right/wrong, good/bad, true/false and they are looking for justification for their choices in life.

      If my child really wanted to read something that I disagreed with I would try to dissuade him or her by teaching them why I was opposed. If the interest persisted and I felt the issue was more detrimental to our relationship than the reading of the book would be, I would read it with him/her and discuss it along the way while praying for the child to learn the lessons God wants him/her to learn from the book.

  11. jessica

    I wonder why all your comments say they were posted on the 7th of December…

    • tracy

      Yes, I have been wondering about the comment dates as well…how should I fix that?

  12. jessica

    Thanks Tracy! I think this discussion has been fun. As someone who has enjoyed the books, I don’t have much opportunity to discuss the heartier issues about them as most people around me seem to be what they call Twi-hards and sigh a lot about how scrumptious they think the werewolves are.

  13. Kari

    In response to Jessica’s question for me, I always tell my children why something is not allowed in our home or why it is being removed from our home. I suppose I would have to ask why they were extremely curious or interested in something I deemed harmful before I would consider reading it with them. Do they feel the Spirit leading them to that thing? Is it part of their life’s mission to experience or discuss it? I would pray to know if it was something we should share together for their benefit but usually when I have deemed something harmful it has been through the Spirit in the first place. I strongly believe that there is danger in materials that mingle righteous principles with unrighteous ones in a deceptive way. To me, that is Satan’s plan. Is there another book or movie that can illustrate a point to my child in a more effective way than the materials in question? Is their interest in the book or movie instigated by it’s popularity within the masses? If that is the reason then I don’t feel it is a valid one. Thus far, most of my children have trusted my judgement on these types of issues but what I really want is for them to come to a point where they can get those answers from the Spirit so that they are using the same measuring stick that I am.

    (Sometimes we remove things from our home that aren’t necessarily harmful but simply a waste of time. I often let the children take part in those decisions.)

    I hope I’m not going too far off on a tangent here. I grew up in a home that was not guarded against pop culture but rather embraced it. Television and peers were more influential than absent parents and I grew up with a ‘90210’ mentality. As I have grown into an adult I can see a great deal of damage that it caused in my life which led to a lot of pain, etc. I now view things differently. The time we have on earth is short. The Lord has given me these children to teach and prepare them to live in a celestial realm. When people ask me (in response to my decision to homeschool), “Aren’t you afraid they won’t fit in?” my answer is an emphatic “NO!” I don’t want them to ‘fit in’ to a telestial world. They are celestial beings and they won’t be staying.

    When “Harry Potter” came out and it was all the rage, I didn’t really know much about it. I wondered if it was something that I wanted to pursue. I felt the Spirit tell me not to. So I didn’t. Later I read a great article in “The New American” magazine about it. They compared it to “The Lord of the Rings”. The author of the article said that in “TLOTR” there was absolute right and absolute wrong, whereas in “Harry Potter” there was moral ambiguity which left readers confused. The article also indicated the author’s (JK Rowling’s) involvement in witchcraft in her personal life. After seeing one of the HP movies, I was in agreement with The New American’s article and I was glad I made the choice I did. At other times, I have prayed to know which books I should introduce to my children at different times and have always felt led by the Lord in those choices which have often been life changing for them. When “Twilight” came out and everyone was talking about it I wondered if it was something that I wanted to read/watch. Again, I felt the Spirit tell me not to so I haven’t. I have learned through MANY instances of not listening to that guidance that I am usually sorry when I go against it. Would my life have been ruined forever had I read “Harry Potter” or “Twilight”. Probably not. Is there no value whatsoever in these works? Clearly the talent of these authors is immense. But is there something better I could spend my time doing? Is there something else I could read that could reach inside of me and change who I am forever? What if I chose to read “Twilight” instead of “The 5000 Year Leap”? What if I spent my life reading “Twilights” instead of “The 5000 Year Leaps”? Good, Better, Best? The philosophies of men, mingled with scripture or absolute truth and righteousness? When I choose to read books like “Lord of the Flies” it is with the understanding that they are what they are. As Tracy indicated, some of these books are being touted as moral and good when in reality they are not.

    My daughters came home from their father’s home with a copy of the DVD “Enchanted”. This was a film that was made for children. Oftentimes I hear the argument that if it’s made for children it’s okay. It’s Disney! etc. Whatever. I watched “Enchanted” with my children. Cute idea… BUT… There is a scene where the female lead is taking a shower and the male lead who just met her the night before walks in on her and misses seeing her naked by a millisecond. (Or maybe it was just me who missed it by a millisecond.) Then when she is wrapped up in a towel she proceeds to fall on top of him just as his girlfriend walks in and assumes the worst. In the end of the film, two of the characters become cartoons in the land of make-believe and get married, while the two main characters remain human and are shown together, presumably as a couple, in his apartment with no indication of a marriage. In my estimation this film has just taught children that marriage exists in fairy tales but in real life we just shack up. This DVD was promptly removed from my home and my children know exactly why.

    Many films that are made for children nowdays are fraught with crude bathroom humor, sexual inuendo, disrespect, political agendas, and anti-family sentiments. I do not approve. Some of them do have a great message but are such an onslaught of overstimulation to the senses that I worry about my children’s brain tissue! I will be the first to admit that I am pretty strict about what I think is of value and what is worthy to make it onto the shelves in my home. But I am trying to raise the bar; to become a woman of refinement who is trying to raise children to be men and women of refinement in a world that has settled for the base and mediocre.

    I think that these are precisely the reasons that the Lord has chosen NOT to call me to serve as the Mia Maid advisor. I AM the stodgy Twi-hater! (There’s a part of me deep down that really struggles with that because I used to be very cool!) But there’s a really great gal out there who the Lord has in place for just such a situation. The Lord has another place for me within the body of Christ. And I think that’s okay. I also think that it is great that you have been able to find the value in “Twilight”, Jessica. Maybe the reason the Spirit deterred me from it was because I wouldn’t have had that insight and I would currently be adorned in a “Bite Me, Edward.” T-shirt! You never know.

  14. jessica

    Kari – what a great response! Despite my reading of Twilight and Harry Potter, we actually have very much in common — though I was raised in a home that did exactly what you are trying to do. Harmful things were removed and I went without a lot of things my peers did. We did not have television, movies had to be pre-viewed and approved (and the movies that got past my dad were never, ever, the movies my friends were watching (talk about a home library full of church movies and Hallmark specials!) my friends often marveled that I didn’t rebel but — and this is why I asked my question to you — I always KNEW why. I always knew why I couldn’t do something or participate in something or watch something, even if my father’s response was, ‘I just have a bad feeling about it.’ I’m not saying this wasn’t a hard, frustrating way to grow up sometimes, but I never did rebel because I understood. He wasn’t just strict for strictness’ sake, but because he was prayerfully, thoughtfully, and mindfully parenting us. I’ve followed his path in many, many areas as I feel extremely blessed to have been taught in this way. We do not have cable or video games in our home and movies of course are pre-screened or edited (my husband edits the Lord of the Rings movies which I can’t even watch without his handy fast-forwarding).

    I suppose I’m still a little confused. While I understand receiving a personal, spiritual warning about a particular book or movie and steering oneself away from it but this comment in particular:

    When I choose to read books like “Lord of the Flies” it is with the understanding that they are what they are.

    Can one not then also choose to read other broken or bent books with the same mindset? I’m enjoying this conversation other than the risk I put myself in of seeming like and sounding like some defender of these widely popular books when I am very far from anything resembling some crazed super fan, but instead read them for what they are and find so many interesting things to discuss in them. I have as yet, been unable to find ANYONE to discuss either series with me in a mindful sort of way as most people who do read them are crazy fans and those who don’t have STRONG opinions about them, yet have never cracked the covers!

    I’m continually frustrated by just how strong these opinions are when the individuals haven’t even read the books. I constantly hear comments like this one:

    The article also indicated the author’s (JK Rowling’s) involvement in witchcraft in her personal life.

    but in all my research have not been able to find any basis for these accusations. I’m only able to find harried articles written by various pastors who scream a lot about all things occult. I mean, these guys think MY church is a cult so I admit I am not convinced by their rantings.

    Anyway. I suppose I am at a dead end when it comes to being able to discuss the various right / wrong, wrong / right mixed up principles found in the books, but I thank you sincerely for taking the time to respond!

    p.s. we actually took our kids (with a big group of cousins during a family trip down to Utah) to see Enchanted. We were all appalled for the same reasons you mention. It’s a subtle lesson but I think it is real and very much intentional. Sad.

  15. jessica

    Ack, I typed that quickly w/ a baby on my lap. Sorry about any typos and incoherencies!

  16. jessica

    Shall I let this thread die a peaceful death? Probably. Just came across this this morning: and thought it was apt. It is partially why I find the series fascinating having been in a similar relationship, though my “vampire” was no well-mannered young man from a gentler century. He was a plotting predator.

    Anyway. Have the sinking sort of feeling I should have avoided this topic altogether!
    Carry on!