I said last week that Matt Lickona’s interesting review nonetheless didn’t tell me whether or not my daughter can watch the movie Twilight.
If you’re reading, dear, I just read Steven D. Greydanus and, ahem, you can’t.
Writing on his own site, DecentFilms.com, the Register’s film critic compares Twilight, helpfully, to Titanic. Both movies have found success by attracting one demographic to watch again and again: teenage girls.
“Though the class politics are reversed,” he writes, “this is essentially the same salvation fantasy embodied by Rose in Titanic, who was likewise rescued from ordinariness by an extraordinary love, offered by a wondrous young man with a poetic soul standing apart from ordinary society.”
A difference: Because of its Mormon author and her defenders, “Twilight has been widely claimed to resonate with conservative values.”
The virtues claimed for the story are chiefly respect for family and abstinence — in this case the vampire’s abstinence from consuming the blood of the girl.
Greydanus makes the good point that “vampirism makes a sickly, twisted metaphor for sexuality. Nothing like mutual complementarity can exist between humans and vampires — at least, not without completely rewriting vampire nature somehow. Vampires have nothing to give and everything to take; humans have everything to lose and nothing to gain. Humans may complete vampires, but vampires don’t complete humans, any more than a lion completes an impala.”
Greydanus gives an inch, and only an inch, to the movie’s supporters: “In part, [the] quest for chastity may legitimately form some part of Twilight’s appeal. At the same time, a narrative that wallows in the intoxicating power of temptation and desire, that returns again and again to rhapsodizing about the beauty of forbidden fruit, may reasonably be felt to be a hindrance rather than an affirmation of self-mastery.”
He quotes at length Gina R. Dalfonzo at National Review Online putting a final nail in the vampire’s coffin. Or stake in his heart. Or whatever:
“He spies on Bella while she sleeps, eavesdrops on her conversations, reads her classmates’ minds, forges her signature, tries to dictate her choice of friends, encourages her to deceive her father, disables her truck, has his family hold her at his house against her will, and enters her house when no one’s there — all because, he explains, he wants her to be safe. He warns Bella how dangerous he is, but gets “furious” at anyone else who tries to warn or protect her. He even drags her to the prom against her expressed wishes. … It gets even worse after the wedding night in Breaking Dawn, when Bella finds herself trying to cover up a multitude of bruises left by the super-strong Edward. That scene, which Meyer treats with appalling lightness — ‘This is really nothing,’ Bella tells her remorseful husband, insisting that the experience was ‘wonderful and perfect’ — should send a chill down the spine of any parent with a daughter.”
Do read all of Greydanus’ review; it covers much more.
And to my dear 15-year-old daughter: Let’s stick with Jane Austen, shall we?
— Tom Hoopes