Friday, November 20, 2009

Ah, teen romance

With New Moon in theaters now, I've been thinking about the whole Twilight saga again. I enjoyed the books and the first movie. I'm planning on seeing this movie. But I have a few concerns about the appeal of Edward to teenage girls - it must be the mom in me.

Edward is a stalker. Really, Bella didn't like him at first and if she hadn't decided he was the love of her life, she could have gotten a restraining order against him. He snuck into her room at night to watch her sleep. He followed her. If he weren't the romantic hero of the story, it was the perfect set-up for a horror story.

And then there's the whole Bella wanting to die thing. Life is precious. That she wants to throw it away because she can't imagine any experience that could be worthwhile is very sad and scary. Are we now encouraging young women to not live for themselves? That they have nothing unless they have a man? Education is only necessary if you don't have a rich guy?

And the whole Romeo/Juliet vibe. Why does every teen romance in pop culture need to involve the melodrama of "I can't live without you. I'll [literally] die" and then often follow through? Really, breaking up hurts, but it isn't fatal. Lovers throughout history have parted and survived the ordeal, usually gaining wisdom and learning from the experience, painful though it may be. Wouldn't it be better to show teens how to survive a break-up?

I have to say I'm on Team Jacob in this one. At least he's still alive! Or even Team Human Guy. (I do have a soft spot for Jacob and wonder what the series would have been like if he got Bella in the end.) The fourth book in the series was my least favorite. I found the themes disturbing and actually thought it seemed familiar - maybe Anne Rice's Mayfair Witches series? I really think one of those involved a similar type of birth, but I haven't re-read to verify.

All that being said, as an adult who is capable of separating real life and fiction, I really did like the books and found myself escaping into the travails of Bella, Edward, and Jacob. I laughed and cried at the appropriate moments (with an occasional cringe as my inner adult jumped in.) I just hope all the teenage girls going gaga over Edward understand that romance shouldn't be that traumatic. And death is never the answer.

Update: There is a good review of the New Moon movie here that identifies some of the same type of themes I found disturbing.

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