There’s this thing called The Bechdel Test, orginially started by a feminist and cartoonist named Alison Bechdel. You can read more about it if you want, but essentially she made a comment on movies and how women are portrayed often as secondary or peripheral characters. To pass, a movie must pass the following criteria:
1. It has to have at least two women in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something besides a man
Guess which movies pass this test? Yup. All three Twilight Saga movies.
I totally get the feminist complaints against Twilight. They are not compelling enough for me, but I hear what they are saying. Why don’t other books get this kind of scrutiny? Is it because it’s marketed towards younger girls and some people get all, “think of the children”?
He sneaks into her room at night, which, sure, in real life, Ew. Stalker. Call the police, I don’t care how hot he is. I think everyone gets that, even the Impressionable Youth. (Note To Any Impressionable Men Reading This: seriously do not do this. In real life it’s creepy and also very illegal). The thing that makes all of it okay is the mutual feelings they have for each other. They are both completely undone by each other. They are crazy and unhealthy and over the moon and oh yeah, also it’s a fantasy. Stupid real life gets in the way of stuff like that, but in a book it can happen.
Bella doesn’t change for Edward. THAT would be way more weird and icky to me. But she is just herself; she is quiet and bookish and clumsy, and Edward loves her. More than loves her, he is epically transformed by her. He does, in a very real way, “change” her, but then that is a whole other classic film and literature idea that entire books are written about, many of which I had to read for a 300 level college course about Female Voice in Cinema, and let’s not get into all that just now. Suffice it to say that is a Thing That Happens in Stories A Lot.
One of the ickiest moments is when Edward takes her car engine apart so she can’t leave. Which is clearly abhorrent behavior, even if he is protecting her from werewolves. But here’s the thing: Bella calls him on it. Edward apologizes for the crazy behaviour, admits it was way overboard and pledges to not do anything like it again. One of the compelling things for me is the way they both change and grow with each other, and because of each other. Remember, Edward has no real experience with relationships; he is both a 17 year old boy and an eternal being who thought he was above it all in terms of love and sex. In short, he is wigging out a bit.
So, I see what some people are talking about, but I am just not buying it. And I don’t think teenagers are, either. Kids are way smarter than anybody gives them credit for, and often smarter than they act on the surface. They will glean what they will from the books and other media they consume, just like everyone else; mostly they will pick up on the things that they are interested in and that they relate to the most. The weirdness in the Twilight series mostly comes from supernatural situations and therefore does not relate to things the average person is likely to come up against. Unless your kid falls in love with a 100 year old man that sparkles. Then you will have to have some family talks, I guess.