I usually don’t talk about pop culture, but Twilight is too big and too wrong to let off the hook.
The target audience of Twilight is young girls between the ages of 9 and 20. This demographic is extremely impressionable, and as with anybody, they’re most likely to be influenced by those they respect and admire. If your child owns a Twilight poster with Edward and Bella’s faces on it, they obviously look up to those people even if they’re fictional characters…especially since children have a hard time distinguishing between reality and fantasy. So of course children are going to be influenced by the role models of Edward and Bella.
As a parent, it would be irresponsible to allow your children to read and watch Twilight because it’s chalked full of themes that provide horrible influences on young, impressionable girls. None of the things I’m going to say here haven’t been said somewhere else 1000 times, which is all the more reason why you should be ashamed of yourself for failing your children if you’ve encouraged their exposure to Twilight.
1. Twilight says that Pedophilia is acceptable.
Edward is 109. Bella is 17. This is the definition of pedophilia, but in the story, it’s okay for them to have this relationship because Edward looks 17. In real life girls idolize Edward. They want to fall in love with Edward. Since they can’t have Edward they need a substitute: someone real who is much older, wiser and stronger than them. The only stipulation is that the older person has to look young. Twilight drives home the theme that pedophilia is okay by the fact that Edward is a monster who society won’t accept, yet his affair with Bella (which he has behind Bella’s parents’ back) is portrayed as a beautiful thing. This might seem like anal nitpicking to an adult, but what does it look like to an impressionable, hormonal teen following the lead of her idol?
2.Twilight says girls are incomplete without a man…or at least, it’s of the utmost importance to be in a relationship.
Obviously, this message sets women’s lib back 20 years, but that’s so obvious I’m not even going to talk about it. I want to talk about the more subtle message that it’s of the utmost importance to be in a relationship at all. There’s a lot to be said for relationships and marriage, but those are adult themes for the adult phase of your life. Tween and teen girls need to be focusing on finding themselves and establishing their independence so that when it comes time to date they don’t become codependently attached to the first guy who tells her he loves her to get into her pants. Barraging young girls with the message that their life isn’t worth living unless they’re in a relationship cripples them for life.
3. Twilight says that rushing into a committed relationship is virtuous.
This is similar to #2, but a little different. Twilight shows that it’s not just enough to lock yourself into a relationship with someone you barely know, but you should do it as quickly as possible. If you can’t understand why that’s bad then you don’t deserve to be a parent. Then again, maybe that’s why you’re a parent.
4. Men have to be superhuman.
Edward is portrayed as not only super strong but also super refined, super selfless and super courteous. Twilight is setting young girls’ expectations at this standard. That’s not to say that men shouldn’t be strong, refined, altruistic and courteous, but nobody is perfect…especially not teenage boys. This unrealistic standard is setting up young girls for heartbreak because they’ll never find a boy who lives up to their fictional expectations. I guarantee you that before this whole Twilight fad is over it will have caused someone to commit suicide. Even without that, it’s going to stress out already overstressed teen boys, and it’s going to send girls into adulthood resenting men for not being perfect.
5. Twilight overlooks the fact that love leads to sex.
Bella and Edward stay celibate in the movie, but in reality, there’s no such thing as vampires or celibate lovers (with the exception of religious extremists). Every male “player” knows that the quickest way to sleep with a girl is to tell her you love her. The reason this works is because girls want sex to mean something. So if a man tells her he loves her, then she views it as meaningful and thus it’s okay. Twilight tells girls they have to fall in love…immediately. It also says you need to prove your love. Every other show on television says sex and love go together. What do you think is going to happen in real life once your daughter falls in love with a stranger and she wants to prove her love?
6. There are better books/movies your children should be reading/watching than Twilight anyway.
The simple fact that they’re occupying their time reading/watching Twilight means they’re wasting irreplaceable time during their formative years that they could be using to read good books and watch good movies. That’s reason enough to keep them away from Twilight.
But then again…children are going to be exposed to the same destructive themes that are in Twilight in other places. So as a parent you need to talk to them about these issues sooner or later. Maybe you should watch Twilight with your children for the express purpose of using as an instruction manual for how not to live.
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