Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Twilight Tuesdays

What does the Twilight series have to do with teaching my daughters wisdom?  My daughters have not read this series yet, but I do intend to have them read it or another series like it before they leave the guidance of my home.  I decided to read the series because I was intrigued with how girls and women of any age became addicted to the books.  I met several women who were well into their 40’s who loved the books as much as women in their 20’s and 30’s; not to mention the teen audience the series collected.   What was the big deal?

As I read the books, I could feel myself falling into the same cravings.  So I did what any former English major would do, I analyzed them.  What I would like to start sharing here, on Tuesdays, is my analysis of why we are drawn to the books, what God intended to satisfy these cravings, and how these relate to your daughters.   As the romance of Twilight is often the most common reason given for female interest in the stories, it is a logical place to start.  After all, this series helped kick off the Barnes & Noble section “Teen Paranormal Romance.”

In the Twilight series, Bella is an ordinary girl, with brown hair and a tendency to bump into things and fall (can you say “teenage growth spurt”?).  Bella is a blank slate for the reader to paint their own reflection on. Of course, young girls want to be Bella!  You can be desirable in all these ordinary ways and find out that you aren’t so ordinary after all.  Bella was born to be an eternally beautiful, filthy rich, globe trotting vampire with a husband who is just as obsessed with her as she is with him. 

Bella is romanced by two characters in this series; Edward, the vampire without a bite, and Jacob, the werewolf with quite a bark.  You can’t get much more romantic than a love triangle.  While Edward’s style is more love ‘em and leave ‘em, then come back and stalk ‘em; Jacob’s style is to make Bella feel guilty until she does or says just about anything to make things up to him.  One smothers and the other lights the fire. 

In real life, Bella would have gotten a restraining order against Edward.  He sneaks into her room and watches her sleep.  He spies on her friend’s thoughts, since he can’t read Bella’s mind, in order to find out what she thinks of him.  He wants to buy her expensive cars and pay for her college.  He literally bristles when other boys even think about Bella.  In order to be with Edward, Bella must leave not only her friends but also her family behind, probably never to see them again.  But he is just so sweet when he does it all!  Edward is a Renaissance man; he cooks, he writes beautiful lullabies, he’s concerned with the state of Bella’s soul, he even insists on opening doors and picking up the tab.  All this and he’s been keeping himself for marriage for over a hundred years now.  I’d forgive a little bit of stalking for that.

Jacob never takes no for an answer.  He will fight each battle even when he knows he has already lost the war.  Jacob also offers safety and protection (did I mention Bella falls down a lot?).  He is a “safer” choice because Bella’s father likes him and Bella could stay human if she chooses him, but he is still the volatile biker bad-boy with a heart of gold.  Bella tames the wild beast in Jacob, as much as she melts the heart of Edward.  That is power.

Then there are the boys who don’t even make the headlines who are falling over themselves for a chance at Bella’s heart, including the most popular boy in her class.  Bella plays it cool, never encouraging them, and even gets to have a giggle at the popular boy’s expense when he gets sick in front of her and Jacob.  Tell me you can’t find a girl who wouldn’t love to be the object of so much attention and effort! 

The obsession with Twilight is less about the mythical characters and romantic setting than it is about the safety and comfort that women find in a world like the one found in the books.  Women become addicted to these stories when we crave the feelings and emotions they evoke in us, but then we put the books down and feel the lack of all these same things in our own lives.   It becomes a numbing-agent to live vicariously in a world that is anything but ordinary.  We disappear into the world of fiction in an attempt to fill the void in our soul. 

There will always be room for good stories and romance novels are not the embodiment of evil.  The trick is to fill your own life with meaning and purpose instead of looking for a temporary fix from fiction.  Next Tuesday I would like to look at why God gave women a need for the romance portrayed in this series. 

Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God?  Or am I trying to please men?  If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.    Galatians 1:10

So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.    Genesis 29:20

(Other topics in Twilight that we will look at in the coming weeks: beauty, family structures, respect/power relationships, and having a grand purpose or destiny.)

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