MSNBC: Is Twilight Altering Teen Minds

MSNBC has an article up on Twilight and books in general affecting teenagers’ minds. We don’t do too much editorial around here, but today we’re going to.

Of course we have the old “Bella is a poor role model” rehashed again. Personally we love how they always forget that it’s Bella that goes to Italy to rescue Edward, and that Bella continuously tries to help in the ways any human can when dealing with supernaturally strong creatures (third wife blood trick). A human male would be just as powerless.  Once she’s a vampire with the superpowers she competes with the guys (and girls for that matter) just fine.

Here’s part of the MSNBC article:

Is Bella a good role model?
Attendees at the conference included experts in neuroscience, psychology, art, literature and music, as well as writers such as Meg Rosoff, author of “How I Live Now” and other teen titles.

While teens might be turning the pages of ” Twilight ” for the plot and romance, other takeaways from the books may be having a lasting impact, too.

The series follows Bella, a teenage girl who falls in love with a much older vampire named Edward. Some critics have argued that Bella’s passivity, and the story’s abstinence-until-marriage message, are anti-feminist.

“If you look very, very clearly at what kind of values the ‘Twilight’ books propagate, these are very conservative values that do not in any way endorse independent thinking or personal development or a woman’s position as an independent creature,” Nikolajeva said. “That’s quite depressing.”

One of our  favorite criticisms is when articles talk about Bella cooking and doing laundry while living with Charlie, but she did that and more while living with Renee. So, it’s antifeminist with Charlie, but not with Renee? How does that work exactly? Bella is essentially the adult in her relationship with her mother and her father doesn’t keep tabs on her. It’s more a statement grownups not acting like grownups, but again it does mirror what goes on in society. How many adult do we know that don’t exactly know what their kids are doing?

The book series has women like Jane, Alice, and Leah who is would be hard to categorize as anything but independent and strong willed. It’s clear in the books that Leah, Sam, and Emily have had sex outside of marriage. So the book is a hidden treatise on subservience and abstinence how exactly?

Now does Bella always stand up to Edward and Jacob as firmly as many would like? No. But at the same time, do all of us stand up to people effectively? No. So maybe what’s eating at certain people and at the same time is  why Bella is relatable to a lot of people is that as a whole most people are not uber good at standing up for themselves all the time. It’s a skill acquired over time. In our teens most of us aren’t really good at it, and a lot of us still aren’t great with it twenty years later.

So what are we saying? Maybe, just maybe, could folks put things in context and realize that things aren’t that black and white? Twilight is no more the best book ever written any more than it’s mind control going to warp an entire generation of girls. Taking lots of things out of context frankly makes the people doing that look stupid. The more sexualized vampire books/movies that are out there aren’t creating an undo influence either, and they too are wildly popular.

Some of the comments we liked on the MSNBC site we thought summed things up pretty well:

“No doubt, Noone can just have fun from a story any longer. We must analyze and pick it apart, conduct a study on it, discuss it, and then either applaud it or trash it. The majority of young people are stable, some are not. Some will carry out fantasy into their reality and potentially hurt others. Do we blame the story? no. I’m certainly going to discourage my daughters from having sex too early, but in the end, it’s their choice.”

” “Some critics have argued that Bella’s passivity, and the story’s abstinence-until-marriage message, are anti-feminist.”

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Seriously? Now only the female in the relationship is allowed to assert values? Why is it anti-feminist for the male to stand up for what he believes in? Does feminism mean he is allowed NO rights whatsoever? And it’s apparently against the laws of literature for the main female character to have a passive personality. God forbid someone show some realism!! It’s not as if passive people don’t exist. Also, this idiot obviously didn’t read the series as I didn’t find Bella passive at all, more thoughtful and introverted. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the books, but at least I paid attention when I read them.”

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(edited for clarity)This one we thought was hilarious, because it shows how you can ridiculously take anything wildly out of contest to suit your point of view. In a longer comment that proceeds the below information, the author actually agrees with our point of view and does the below to show how you can warp anything if it suits you.:

“Here look at it from the otherside for a minute the side of things only those of us truly comfortable with the “lifestyle” can openly speak about.

Bella is a Masochistic, dominatrix who wanted the ability to fully exert control over her subs.

1) Bella manipulates Edward, constantly taunting him, teasing him, and tempting him.

2) Bella Clings to the fact that she is Klutz and constantly puts herself into sticky situations.

3) Upon discovering the truth she fully manipulates Edward and his family, and tempts him further causing him great emotional strain.

4) Bella gets on a strangers motorcycle, jumps off a cliff and runs away to Europe

5)Bella is constantly manipulating Edward and others in an attempt to be changed.

6) She continues to play two men off eachother while giving both the illusion they will get a peice

7) She knows the baby will result in her death and subsequently obtaining the power she so desires.

OMG I just got all that from the same book you did and NONE of it involved bella being a sub. But it did kind of alude to how much of a subby little B**** that Edward and Jacob were.

Bella while not a great role model for teenagers is a role model for strong minded women everywhere….”

There are billions of us that read the books, understand it’s escapist fantasy, enjoyed the romance, are living our lives, and rolling our eyes at the “We have to save the children mentality”. Teens are no more completely forsaking all and emulating Bella anymore than they are practicing witchcraft due to Herminone, preparing for a post apocalyptic world with Katniss. Adults aren’t changing into Bella any more than they are Sookie.

Comments

  1. Hey, it’s MSNBC. What more can you expect. I didn’t find Bella passive or weak. I found her very strong, honest and human. Why can’t she make the choices she feels is best for her? Isn’t that was feminism is supposed to be all about?

  2. “If you look very, very clearly at what kind of values the ‘Twilight’ books propagate, these are very conservative values that do not in any way endorse independent thinking or personal development or a woman’s position as an independent creature,” Nikolajeva said. “That’s quite depressing.”………………….This such garbage ,Just because Bella doesn’t sleep around like a slut like a lot of teens today that makes her a non-independent thinker? I say she’s the opposite , she is a very strong willed young girl who will not fall for the lies being told to you and other girls her age that she must lower her standards to catch a guy! Shame on you Nikolajeva ! There is a lot more to Bella than just the fact she won’t sleep around ! Seems like Bella Swan could teach you a thing or two about independent thinking!!

  3. All there is left to say is that there is no pleasing everybody.

  4. I’d advise the writer of that article to vist a psycologist and thank you.

  5. I have a couple things to say about this article. As far as Bella being weak and a bad role model- Stephenie has said she never meant Bella’s choices to be the basis of anyone’s real life decisions. She’s a character in a story. While it’s understood some people may try to emulate Bella, that was never the intention.

    I think Bella is actually very strong. She essentially had to raise herself and has taken on a parent role, which includes things like cooking and doing laundry. I don’t hear Bella complaining about doing them. In Stephenie’s mind (and I agree with her on this), feminism is about women having the choice to do what they want. Bella makes her own choices and sticks to them throughout the story based on what she thinks is best. That doesn’t seem anti-feminist to me. What would be anti-feminist is if she had no choices to make, or if the choices were made for her. I don’t see any of that happening.

  6. What are they smoking?! How absurd.

  7. Thank you for your clear-headed evaluation of this issue. It gets a little silly sometimes with these books. I think the more appropriate response is to think it’s great that young people are reading something (besides Harry Potter!) and encourage them to do so. And if people are going to do this kind of thing, they at least have to *read* the books or they have no idea what they are talking about. The Breaking Dawn cover alone should show that Bella is not always the weakest link in the Cullen family.

  8. That is SO DISTURBING and could not be more backwards. How does abstinence have ANYTHING to do with feminism????? Unreal, just unreal. There are so many things I’d like to say, but I’d guess every one of them will be covered in minutes. In shock over this.

  9. ” “Some critics have argued that Bella’s passivity, and the story’s abstinence-until-marriage message, are anti-feminist.”

    Ok so even if it would have the power to convince kids to remain abstinent til marriage, how is that anti feminist and isn’t that a GOOD thing? That means less unplanned pregnancies and less std’s and in some cases less deaths. So I personally can’t see how that’s bad…

  10. WOW! Is all I can say. The person who wrote this article is SUPER CRAZY!

  11. I HUGELY disagree but I’m not going to waste my time with their over reacting and misunderstanding of a character and a series as a whole.

  12. “Bella is Masochistic, dominatrix.” ….LOL!!!

    First of all, Bella is not Masochistic (one who likes pain). Where in the book does she like pain. If they are regarding her in Breaking Dawn being in pain and pregnant, I say: what mother would go to any length to protect her child. I was violently ill in my first pregnancy. I lost almost 20 lbs because I could not keep any food or liquid down, but my baby is worth it. Bella indured the bruising and bone breaking in her pregnancy to have Renesmee because she was worth it to Bella. Does that make her a bad role model because she is a good and protective mother??

    sadiscic:
    1. sexual gratification gained through causing pain or degradation to others. Compare masochism.
    2. any enjoyment in being cruel. (dictionary.com)
    dominatrix:
    a woman who plays the dominant role in a sado-masochistic sexual relationship or encounter.

    Where in the world do they get that Bella is a dominatrix?? Bella was a VIRGIN when she married Edward. In the first book, she even told Edward that she has never had those type of feelings before.
    When Edward left her in New Moon, she met Jacob whom she did fall in love with. In Eclipse when she told Jacob that she chose Edward, she spent the rest of the day and the night crying her heart out because of the pain it caused her. Where is that sexually gratifying? Where in that scene does SM write that Bella enjoyed being cruel to Jacob?
    In the “leg hitch” scene in Eclipse, (don’t forget that Bella is a normal 18 year old young woman with hormones) she wants to have sex before she is changed, but she GIVES IN to Edward’s request about getting married. Where in that scene is Bella the dominatrix? Sure she got her way when she told Edward that she would marry him first before making love to him, but Edward got his way too by Bella marrying him first. Still: no sex, no dominating, no nothing.

    And another thing: how can Bella manipulate the Cullen family into getting what she wants. THEY (the Cullens) voted to have her be one of them.
    How does Bella put herself in sticky situations? Like she asked for the van to hit her, she wanted to get raped by the men in Port Angeles? It clearly states in Twilight (the book, not the movie) that Edward messed with fate by not killing her.

    • The person who wrote that was joking (at least im pretty sure). She was making fun of the people who see bella as a passive girl. She was trying to make the point that if you look hard enough you can see bella as a dominator rather than a submissive.

      “OMG I just got all that from the same book you did and NONE of it involved bella being a sub. But it did kind of alude to how much of a subby little B**** that Edward and Jacob were.”

    • I’M SO SICK OF THIS! It’s a BOOK! Its a story a lot of people enjoy, its not a book you should take you life values from! I LOVE the books, but thats all they are. I’m really sick of people saying Bella is anti- feminist. I am feminist and I do all the stuff bella does and I prefer doing it! I cook and clean and do all the laundry. How is hard work like that Anti-feminist? I should say that I am also a writer and make my own money. It just pisses me off that if a main female character isn’t driven by a career or school type of goal, and is strong willed, shes anti feminist! Every female character HAS to be a role model! Thats such crap. The reason Bella is so well liked is because shes a normal 17 year old girl. She doesn’t have something shes all that passionate about, she gets good grades, but thats it. Most people don’t know what they want to do at 17. And no one ever seems to mention that Bella gets a job, even after she falls for edward so she can try to save money of her own.

  13. Argh! This stupid drivel again. Honestly, Bella acts pretty much like a normal teenage girl. Albeit, a very brave, stubborn, and compassionate teenage girl. And since when is it wrong for a boy to want to wait to have sex and for a girl (who already feels like she is ready) to respect his feelings because she loves him? I found it refreshing that he took a stand on his beliefs and that she loved and respected him enough to be cool with it. And the ridiculous statements about laundry, cooking, and dishes…well…they didn’t have a dishwasher. Was she going to be such a spoiled brat that she made Charlie do them all the time? He couldn’t cook. Who would want to eat bad food every night? And Good Lord, can you imagine if she let him do the laundry with how absent minded he seems to be? Please. I share all the chores with my husband and I don’t find doing laundry, dishes, and cooking to make me a weak woman or a poor feminist. That argument is idiotic.

  14. at first i did think that there was an underlying message about abstinence but after reading this article and the person who did the warp side and how sam was sleeping with emily and not being married…i never thought of that and i’ve read eclipse at least 3 times..that brought something to light for me..as to the other stuff well its bs, but one thing i need to point out what was with the lifestyle comment jacob made in the movie new moon, when they were on the beach, i cant remember if i read it in the book.

  15. Noah Brighten says:

    Bella is no different than Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and countless other Disney princesses. She is a honest, good-hearted girl, who lives in a world of super-strong, super-natural creatures and thus needs a lot of rescueing. What is so wrong with that? I guess it doesn’t jive with the feminest movement and their stupid agendas. As has already stated, there isn’t anything wrong with being a honest moral girl who depends on her man. My goodness if more men and women had morals these days, there wouldn’t be so many divorces…

    Hey, if MTV didn’t warp teen minds, then Twilight sure isn’t. :P

  16. Why is Twilight the only FICTION story being picked apart? Why aren’t they concerned about teens reading Romeo and Juliet and deciding to kill themselves? Isn’t that concern more realistic than vampires and werewolves?

  17. I don’t mind these critics as long as they’re clear that they’re questioning Stephenie Meyer’s characterization itself, i.e., why did she decide to structure her story this way? She could have written a story about a human man falling in love with Tanya, for example, and then he would have needed to be rescued. Once you accept the context of the story, I find it hard to fault Bella – she does the best she can under her circumstances. But I think it’s fair to question the circumstances themselves.

    Don’t want to get too off topic, but while reading The Host, I was frankly shocked at the level of brutality leveled against the female protagonist. It made perfect sense within the context of the story, but stepping back, you realize that a female character is beaten repeatedly, slashed with a knife across the face, and nearly pushed into a river of boiling water. It is clear that Stephenie Meyer likes to write stories about girls who get their asses and hearts kicked, but then survive and triumph. No doubt about it. I love her books, but I can see how someone could perceive that impulse and call it misogynistic.

    • Well you have to remember that she is also an alien and that her species has taken over the planet. So it makes sense that they would want to kill her. The only reason she isn’t already dead is because of whose body she is in.

      • The point that vampbball is making – and it’s an important one that seems easily forgotten in these sorts of debates – is that the characters are this way BECAUSE Stephenie wrote them this way. By saying, “well, it’s because she’s an alien,” you’re ignoring the fact that the author sat down and decided to write a story about an alien and fabricated every occurence along the way.

        That being said, I love that Stephenie isn’t afraid to put her female protagonists through just as much brutality as any male character. It’s one thing that makes this whole ‘anti-feminist’ outlook on Twilight especially absurd. Alice, Rosalie, even Esme, they all get involved and fight when what they love is in danger. Their contribution is never questioned and the value of it is never taken as less. Bella does all she can when she is human, and we all know (but remember – the general public may not yet know) she is the one that saves EVERYONE in the end. Stories with a realistic, relatable, conflicted heroine (she is the hero in this story – I can’t stress that enough) are few and far between. The author has created a world where a quiet, awkward, self-deprecating human girl faces supernatural obstacles but perseveres, finds true love, true family, stands up to evil forces and saves the day. If she were a male character, many critics would be applauding the hero’s unusually mild beginnings. (I haven’t seen Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, but isn’t that kind of the idea there?? Haven’t heard anyone calling that ‘emasculating’… yet.)

        • Yes I fully agree with the female character overcoming obsticles, but her being an alien is the reason she gets beaten up and almost killed. It’s a gigantic part of the story that can’t be overlooked.

          And Scott Pilgrim is awesome..

          • ML, my point is that it’s a fair question to ask why SM wanted to write a story about a female alien who takes over someone’s body and then gets her ass kicked. Why choose that storyline in the first place, a storyline that makes violence against a female character almost necessary?

            I don’t mind those kinds of questions, but once you’ve accepted the premise of body snatchers, it’s silly to wonder why Wanderer was repeatedly threatened by the humans, just as it’s silly to wonder why Bella’s constantly in danger from vampires (once you’ve accepted the premise that she’s in a romantic relationship with one). So yes, I agree with you that the context is important.

            Sophia, I don’t mind the violence coming from SM, but if I’m honest, I could see myself being less comfortable with a male author whaling on his women characters. Although I’m about to read “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” so maybe I’ll make peace with the idea. I really get impatient with comic book story lines when the girl dies every single time. In fact I’ve described Twilight as a comic book from the girl’s perspective, but she gets to live! I’m just tired of us being disposable plot devices (who have to get tortured to injure the male hero even further).

            Tee hee, funny in the context of this discussion that Stephenie’s initials are SM.

        • Hi again. I didn’t read the end of your post carefully enough, but LOVE your comment that if Bella were male people would be applauding her character. Way to turn the tables. ;0)

          • Interesting point about the male author / female character scenario. Although… Kill Bill. Most kick-ass and ass-kicked heroine I can think of, written by a man. I’d take her as a strong female role model over 99% of female characters out there, no matter who they’re written by! :)

            And on a Bella-like character being male: I remember reading an article, either in Vanity Fair or Interview, about Michael Cera and celebrating how he and his crew are changing the face of teen movies to the effect that it’s the nerdiest of nerds that are now saving the day and getting the girl. I like that notion. So why can’t the awkward, lonerish, book-loving girl get the same applause??

            Hehehehehe, SM! :p

  18. “There are billions of us that read the books, understand it’s escapist fantasy, enjoyed the romance, are living our lives, and rolling our eyes at the “We have to save the children mentality”. Teens are no more completely forsaking all and emulating Bella anymore than they are practicing witchcraft due to Herminone, preparing for a post apocalyptic world with Katniss. Adults aren’t changing into Bella any more than they are Sookie.”

    I love this summary and will reference it in future discussions with people who have nothing better to do than pick apart stories. And for what reason are they doing it, really? In this case, I’m guessing to get their 15 minutes of fame bouncing off of the Twilight franchise. Can’t anyone read just for the fun of it any more?

  19. Kayla Griffith says:

    Thank you guys so much for addressing these comments. I get so sick of this coming up over and over again! Kudos to whomever wrote the rebuttal.

  20. With so much trash out there its amazing how these crazies attack a great book series with many positives for young woman. Frankly, I think its sad how they must feel left out of the enjoyment. Start putting your mouth where its really needed MSNBC like some of these horror films out there.

  21. Thanks to the Lexicon for responding so well to this article. And the comments from everyone are also excellent.

    I’ve blogged a lot about these issues, but I just want to add that the feminist critiques of Twilight are often, in themselves, “anti-women” in the sense that they seem overly preoccupied that Bella is a girl.

    I mean, where were the criticisms when Luke ran off with Obi-Wan to fight the Empire? Hamlet pondered suicide (and died)? Theseus ran off to the labyrinth? Anyone worried that merely hearing these tense stories would corrupt the minds of children? No, because they were *boys.* No one became scared-to-death that a male character had a ways to go until he become the hero, no matter how foolhardy the path to becoming a hero seems.

    Bella does have a way to go to become the hero. And as her mom points out, I’m sure she’d have her share of regrets along the way. But the main point of Twilight, as I see it, is that Bella doesn’t see herself very clearly, as Edward keeps reminding her over and over.

    While she is showing everyone she loves their own potential — “saving” everyone else — she continues to be unsure of her own potential (like just about every other good person who has ever lived).

    Only at the very end of Breaking Dawn does she realize that all she’s learned, gone through, and won, has made her into a hero. Only then does she finally see herself clearly, “see as she is seen.”

    So, there is more to Bella than meets the eye. She was born to become an immmortal (she already smelled like one, thought like one, was a social outcast like one, was pale like one, attracts other vampires like one, etc.). In a sense her main problem is that she just hasn’t realized that yet.

    Despite her flaws, like any hero, Bella perseveres until she overcomes the world. And eventually she becomes the most powerful being on earth. God-like, you might say.

    Even though she is “only” a girl, like what Edward thinks the first time he sees her through other’s peoples’ point of view. He quickly realizes there is much, much more to her than “just an ordinary girl.”

    So does Twilight alter the readers’ minds? Of course: It *inspires* them. Twilight shows us readers that we may not see ourselves very clearly — especially at first — and that there may be more to us than first meets the eye.

    And although we may make mistakes along the way, we can achieve our own “immortal” potential.

    • Very well put, James. I was thinking as I read the article that there are plenty of other stories where men do things that are a little “crazy” but they’re usually seen as heroic or brave. If a woman does them she’s just doing it for a man because she’s weak and dependent on him. Isn’t feminism supposed to be about women being strong and equal partners of men? I wonder if Bella and Edward’s roles were reversed if he would have endured such harsh criticism.

      Also you make another interesting point about Bella being born for immortality. I can’t remember whose line it is in BD, but someone says the same thing. I’d not thought of it that way before. However, it makes me wonder about something I’ve thought of-I wonder if her last name, Swan, is sort of a metaphor for Bella’s transformation from a human to vampire.

    • Ah, yes! I agree wholeheartedly, James. I cannot help but wonder if the criticism will shift once both the Breaking Dawn films have been released and Bella is finally revealed as the true hero of the saga. Let’s see, what will they complain about then? She sneaks around and keeps something from her husband? Now that she’s a mother, too much lies on her shoulders? The story is now TOO sexual? (let’s hope so!) Oh I just can’t wait to see what the sensationalists will come up with next!

    • Great comment, James!

    • EverythingRemindsMeofTwilight says:

      Very well put! Thank you!

  22. Whoever wrote this obviously has not read the books!
    Bella is NOT a weak character or antifeminist!! Geez people if you are going to criticize something actually read it & know what the character does & goes through.

    I love your editorial on this. I couldn’t have said it any better myself.

  23. ashleyashley says:

    that is verey wrong bella is a role model or sphine meyer would have made millinson of dollers from the books. what is this cnn person smoking ?

  24. As so many of you have said, it’s a freakin’ book! Ever wonder about the admonishment at the end of fictional films that any resemblance between the fiction characters and real people is coincidental and unintended? Same thing here.

    I personally find Bella to be very strong willed, and the “no sex before marrage” was from Edward! He knows it’s the 21st century, but old habits and values die hard. And feminisim strives for equality, and both Bella and Edward need to valure their opinions. And Bella trying to punch Jacob’d lights out when he forced a kiss on her, that should show that that she stands up for herself. And if Vampires and Shape-shifting wolf creatures were real, we’d all be just as helpless against them as Bella was.

    I’ll admit that on screen that Kristen Stewart gives Bella “balls” more overtly than in the books, but Kristen is also every bit as different from Bella as she is similar. She’s even admitted to having some similairites to Bella personality wise. However, from reading interviews with her, we also know that Kristen is just as different from Bella in some ways, too.

    Bella doesn’t always assert herself in a way that some people do, but do we always assert ourselves? Not always. Bella has “balls” for standing up to both Edward and Jacob in so far as she sees their feud as pathetic and she doesn’t want them to fight over her.

    Each of the main charaters are flawed: Bella’s lack of self knowledge/self esteem, Edwards lack of self esteem and “all or nothing” mentality, and Jacob not knowing when to let go. All of that comes from the fact that they’re all young and immature and awkward in their own ways, like all teens are. However, just as Bella had to play parent to an extent to her mother and father, she had to play the voice of reason between Edward and Jacob.

    Don’t judge a book by it’s cover, remember that it’s fiction, and don’t take it too literally. Remember, taking what someone intreprets literally without quesitoning what he’s saying and doing some research is what the heads of terrorist orginazations and syndicates do with their followers. That’s why 9/11 happened, and why the IRA nail-bombed Hyde Park and Regent’s Park in July of 1982.

    As George Carlin said before he died in 2008, it doesn’t matter if you teach people to read–they’re gonna read what they want, when they want, how they want. It’s far more important to question what you read!

    Anaylizing these books can be fun and such, especially if you want to write fan-fic and stuff like that and just discuss the books–that’s what sites like TL are for. But to take the litterally to me marks one as assinine and ignorant as those who believe that Kristen Stewart and Rob Pattinson really are Bella Swan and Edward Cullen!

    Discussion about the books and such is necessary in the fandom and can be fun, as long as we don’t take it literally and remember that it’s fiction. Some relevant things can be learned from it, and I wouldn’t discourage those who identify with Bella and her making her choices based on what she wants–which is the idea behind feminisim to me anyways–using that as inspiration. But at the same time, I think that Kristen herself is a better role model as far as that.

    I think that role models should be parents, teachers, older sibblings, and politicians, but seeing how bad those examples are anymore–especially politicians!–it’s little wonder why kids turn to celebs, sports figures, and others who admittedly aren’t role models.

    If a kid trusts a fictional character to be a role model more than his/her parents and other mentors, they’re all screwed!

    In all, we can analyize these books all we want, but they’re fiction that’s not intended to be taken literally. That should be remembered. Some lessons can be gleaned, yes. But Bella Swan shouldn’t be someone’s main role model, though she can be a good role model as far as seeing one’s self clearly and finding your place in life. And like wise Kristen Stewart and Bella Swan show that you should be yourself an not allow others to warp you otherwise.

    Remember, Twilight is fiction. You can learn from Bella’s evolution, but it’s fiction not intended to be taken literally, so enjoy and have fun! :)

  25. O MY GOD i am so sick and tired of people trying to “analyze” the books to try and see what “deep pyshcological impact” the books have on young teens minds (sarcasm implied) These people are trying to make conclusions about the deeper meaning of the book THATS NOT THERE its a fantastic book, overall it has good values in it, and i actually find Bella a good role model. Plus, Stephenie said the things that the characters do in the book are not her personal examples of life lessons. OK…my rants over.

  26. you can tell people who say these things know nothing about Twilight! They just think Bella is stupid because she would do anything for Edward, but its not like Edwards saying, ‘Hey Bella, go do somthing dumb so I can save you’, you know! And its not like Bella is suposed to be this HUGE role model, I mean Stephenie didnt wright the books thinking they would become so famouse! There are heaps of book characters SO much worse than Bella. People know its not a kids book, right? Its not aimed at the 9 year olds that are reading it now! Its a YOUNG ADULT book! that means for TEENS and ADULTS!!!!!!!!
    sorry for getting all worked up, its not about this particular thing i guess, its just in general.
    BTW im a teen, and I just READ books, I read about the characters and what happens to them, I don’t think they are role models, and none of the other Twilight fans I know that are my age do either.

  27. People who say these things obviously aren’t around teen girls very much. We should hope teen girls would be as mature, responsible, thoughtful, unselfish, focused, smart, well-read, hard-working, and strong-willed as Bella Swan.

    Plus, I’m reading Breaking Dawn right now. It’s filled with Bella the feminist: She teams up with another woman to get her way against the men in her life, arm wrestles Emmett and beats him, sneaks behind her husband’s back to get her ex-boyfriend a fake ID because she thinks it’s the right thing to do, and pretty much single-handedly saves everyone’s arse in the end because of her strength.

    Plus she’s constantly distracted by wanting to do naughty things to her hubby in the bedroom. Rowr! She’s my feminist hero.

  28. I just realized that no one ever seems to mention that these are FANTASY books with vampires and werewolves! Its not like bella is just some girl in love with some boy. Hes a freaking vampire. I mean you can’t really use real world logic in this type of situation. I mean of course she is weak, shes surrounded by vampires and werewolves! If the situation was reversed, Bella being the vampire and Edward being the human, it would be exactly the same for him. Except no babies I guess.

  29. Twilight Nymph says:

    Ok, so let me get this straight. Having sex during our teens and before marriage makes us feminist and worthy of our time. Please, MSNBC people go back to school, or much better. Go and conduct a survey about teenage girls who had sex before getting married and before finishing high school and ask how many actually finished it on time and went off to college ( I know Bella didn’t go to college b/c of Nessie and her being a Vamp, but she’s enrolled at the time)(No offense to teenage moms out there b/c I know there are some that do manage to do it, with help of course). How many times have we not seen articles about how teens shouldn’t use drugs or be abstinent on sex until ready or prepared. I believe many times. Here we have a fictional character who doesn’t use drugs, holds of on sex even when she wants to, is the adult in the family, and yet she’s a poor role model? I’m sorry, but I see Bella as a strong woman, who just doesn’t realize it. I mean I can’t say I agree all the times Bella puts herself down, yet how many of us don’t. I mean every single time I walk by a freaking magazine with some girl guys are drooling over, I kind of get down and wish I was more like that physically. Yet, not always. I’m sorry MSNBC but I would rather look up to a woman who fights for what she believes in without having to sleep around to get it. Oh and one more thing if they had done their reading they would have noticed that Bella did want to have sex, but she’s too willing to give Edward what he wants, which is to wait until they’re married. So, in general what I’m really trying to say is that those idiots should go back and read the book and then criticize it. Sorry it’s so long but I rant for a long time. It just makes me so mad when people think that we women have to be pieces of meat to men by sleeping around in order to be feminist.

    • Twilight Nymph says:

      Sorry I meant conduct a survey on girls who had sex before being ready or being married, got pregnant, finished high school on time and went to college.

    • “It just makes me so mad when people think that we women have to be pieces of meat to men by sleeping around in order to be feminist.”

      Excellent point! You are not the only one to be confused by this argument…

    • i doubt they read the books at all.

  30. “No doubt, Noone can just have fun from a story any longer. We must analyze and pick it apart, conduct a study on it, discuss it, and then either applaud it or trash it. The majority of young people are stable, some are not. Some will carry out fantasy into their reality and potentially hurt others. Do we blame the story? no.”

    This is a refreshing statement. I picked up Twilight in February 2008 I was a in a good place in my life and i was not expecting a series of books to have such an effect on me. I will treasure this story and my experience of it in my heart till the day I die. I have loved it. However, I am not keen to continually pick it apart, analyse it etc Its a great story lets leave it at that. Bella’s choices in an extraordinary fictitious situation are just that, a characters decision.

  31. I love you guys for writing that…it was brilliant! What I can’t get over for the life of me, is the constant harping on the abstinence and the passive Bella stuff.

    I am wondering-if Bella were promiscuous and sleeping around with every guy in town, would they be criticizing it for promoting unsafe casual sex, or would they be praising it for portraying sexual freedom in female teens? I think it would criticized by someone somewhere no matter what. Please, people, get a grip.

    And, passive? Really? I’m sorry, I don’t consider Bella passive at all. She’s quite stubborn when she wants to be. But she’s also in love, and cares deeply for Edward. Do the women criticizing Bella have give and take relationships with their spouses? They’re just blowing smoke as usual.

  32. I’m so sick and tired of people saying that waiting until marriage is anti-feminist. It’s ultimately the girl’s choice and what’s so wrong with her choosing to wait? I am a free and independent thinker with a college degree and I chose abstinence. For the record, it was Edward (the guy) who said he wanted to wait.

  33. really accept this people half of the fandom got in twilight because of r/k and taylor (including me).i only care for rob and kris and their chem in twilight.bella is a damn stupid girl.imagine if you have crush on your classmate or maybe you are in love with him and he tells you that he is a vampire ,i bet 99% of you will run away.i also don’t understand the concept of being in love with two persons at the same time.i read jacob and bella kiss and it was clear that she only dumped jacob because he was not sexually satisfying like edward.i am not a twilight hater because i never read the books,so i have no right to hate on that.i only read jacob and bella kiss part on internet.my views are completely based on how bella is potrayed in movies.so,according to movies bella is just not a good role model.she is the dumbest char i have ever seen.repeat-not hating on bella(book).

  34. @ Monica. You are an idiot! You have not read the book but you got the nerve to come on here and make negative comments about a chracter that you know nothing about? What is that crap about you read about the J/B kiss on the internet. You think Bella ‘dump” Jacob because he was not “sexually satisfying enough”. You got it so backwards. Like i said before you are a fool! Go and read the books then comment on the chracters. You have no idea what you are talking about. It is clear that you are a stupid Teenager and dont have a clue.

    • oh shut up.and yeah i have guts to say what i felt.bella knew jacob tricked her for kissing(and i read eclipse and BD drafts of book on this site.).in movies she is potrayed like a depressed girl.i am not saying she dumped jacob because he is not satisfying or whatever but its obvious that bella was so dragged to edward in that way that she can’t be with jacob like that.MAYBE I WASN’T ABLE TO SAY WHAT I WANTED To.if you are so intelligent than you have understand what i wanted to say.if you didn’t liked my comment you must have replied calmly.its only a discussion not a war.and remember all twilight fans have not read the books.there are some others so respect them.bella said jacob was more than just a friend but his kiss was not enough.now you tell me what was that about.

      • Monica, I understand where your coming from having only seen the movies. Here it is in a nut shell. In the book, when Bella kisses Jacob she sees her path with him and it would be “easy as breathing.” She loves him but she loves Edward more. You know the “injured Jacob” scene in the movie? Well after that, in the book, she cries all night over Jacob and realizes that the choice isn’t about the guys, but about the 2 parts of her, Edward’s Bella and Jacob’s Bella. In the movie, that’s were the beginning of her last scene monolog is in the book. All in all, she remembers what it was like when Edward left in New Moon. She knows who she can not live with out.
        Fear not, Jacob gets his happy ending in BD. :-)

  35. Mindy Martin says:

    Mrs. Meyer is a Mormon and the books reflect Mormon values. Lets face it, Mormon’s aren’t known for valuing women as individuals. In fact, I understand that according to their religion, a woman must be “sponsored” by a man to get into Heaven. Enough said.

    • Yes, SM is a mormon. But that doesn’t have anything to do with the books. She’s said that herself.

      And how is Bella not valued as an individual? The whole point is that Bella has quirks and flaws like all of us, yet Edward loves her exactly the way she is. He doesn’t try to change her and loves the little things about her that make her different from all the other humans he’s met. That’s one of the main reasons he fell in love with her-her individuality! And for that matter, Alice, Rosalie, Esme, and the other female character are distinctly individual in their personality and actions. So I’m not seeing where in the story your argument is valid.

    • I live in Utah, and don’t find that expectation to be accurate; that may be a (common) misinterpretation of LDS belief. The first podcast episode over at my blog features a discussion between perhaps the world’s leading Tolkien scholar, who is LDS and was one of Stephenie’s favorite professors at BYU. And a major Twilight fan. I think he clarifies those issues very well.

  36. I never found Bella relatable. cuz at that age i was nothing like her. Because Bella is someone so strong, mature and aware of herself really well. I still remember how i wished i could be just like her, strong and mature!.. as for her being weak.. okay there were some moments where she was kind of weak when it comes to jacob, but that had lot to do with nessi so we can’t count that as a weakness of her cuz in BD aft she had given birth to nessi, she clearly didn’t mind punishing Jacob! lol

  37. Just a thought…

    Has anyone ever thought of how this affects teen GUYS???
    They (the guys) see all these women falling for Edward/Jacob, and they (the guys) feel like they cannot compete with them (Edward/Jacob). People think that only women read the Twilight Series. There are ALOT of male fans out there. These guys should not compare themselves to fictional charactors. They are not role models, they don’t exist. How can someone compare themselves to a fictional charactor who is super-humanly strong, fast, never sleeps, etc.etc.etc.

    • I have actually heard the argument that Twilight is too hard for teen guys to live up to, and even that it gives teen girls unrealistic expectations when it comes to guys and romance. Frankly, I think it’s a pathetic argument.
      If the level of romance, companionship, and consideration the couples in Twilight show for each other seems “unrealistic” and completely fastastical, I’m sorry, that’s sad. Chivalry is only dead if you let it die.
      If we’re talking about body image, well I guess that’s a different story. In a perfect world, ALL teens and children, as young as possible, would be taught about the media in ways that would help develop healthy attitudes towards body image. In this imperfect world, yes I can see how the chiseled bodies and good looks of the Twilight guys can be a source of self esteem issues in boys. But, I’m all for equal opportunity objectification. Girls are bombarded with FAR more media featuring unachievable body types and I’ll admit that I am not against the objectification of beautiful bodies, but hey – girls and gay boys need eye candy too! But then it all comes down to education; teach the youth to love their bodies, and the sight of a *professional* model or actor – whose career depends on their physicality – won’t pose such a threat to the average person’s self esteem.

  38. I just saw this story mentioned on the news and the context of the conference mentioned was completely different than what this article suggests. This article makes it seem as if the consensus is that Twilight has a negative impact in brain development when in reality, they conclude that reading longer books such as those in the Twilight Saga is a good thing and actually helps critical thinking skills and the ability to sustain thought. It also allows teens to try things out on the page and consider that actions and consequences without ever having to participate in similar scenarios. The MSNBC reporters must have scraped the bottom of the barrel for the “expert” they spoke with and completely ignored the facts.

  39. Feminisim to me is a woman being free to make her choices out of her own free will. Bella wants to be with Edward. Her choice. It’s also ultimately her choice not to sleep with Edward until they’re married, simply because she values his opinion and doesn’t want to fight with him. It seems that Edward also knows that Bella’s damn subborn and he ultimately gives her what she wants in exchange for honoring his wishes. It’s called equality, which is what feminist have been fighting for, right?

    We can learn from Bella from the stand point of making your own decisions and that you have to take care of yourself to an extent and take some control over your life. But the Twilight Saga novels are fiction, and though lessons can be gleaned from the novels as far as how to act as a person, they shouldn’t at the same time be taken as the gospel. Even a novel like Speak, which provides many life lessons, shouldn’t be taken as a litteral how-to guide for life.

    In such circumstances, the reader is free to take such lessons and interpret them for what the lesson means to them. That why I say the art of reading is a bit overratted and that questioning what you read is more important. And that includes remembering what you’re reading is fantasy romance fiction.

  40. I applaud you for sticking up for Twilight and showing MSNBC the facts. People are far too quick to trash Twilight and somebody needs to tell them that they are wrong!

  41. Twilibrarian says:

    What MSNBC seems to have done is judge without completely reading. This is the bane of a librarians world. Folks show up, demanding that books be removed, challenged, and banned having not read ot just skimmed through.

    We all, adolescents included, have the constitutionally guaranteed freedom/right to read, listen, and view anything and everything. Informed decisions can only be made when all sides of an issue are presented. The problem with “experts” (often known as “censors,”) is that they have no legal right to tell any of us what we should or shouldn’t read/view/hear.

    A parent is the only person who can censor his or her child. They do not have the right to tell you what your child can/cannot be exposed to.

    It’s funny this issue is being dregged up again, when the American Library Association “Banned Book Week” begins on September 24th!

  42. I’m glad to see other fans of the books,defend why Bella is a strong character and is not a poster child for antifeminism. I guess anyone with two working brain cells(and apparently the person at MSNBC who wrote the novel has none)who read New Moon would know,that Bella is heroine of the story. The first novel makes her appeear as a clumsy damsel in distress and unfortunately the media latched onto that aspect of the story,without doing proper research. She ultimately ends up being the one to save all of her family and friends in Breaking Dawn,so that makes her weak and subservient to the other characters? She herself didn’t know she had the power of a shield,even in her human life. So it was very frustrating to Edward and Aro and Jane of the Volturi,to understand why she was “immune” to their powers. Another thing that bothers me is going after Stephenie Meyer for supposedly putting her own religious beliefs in the story. I agree with others that have said you can’t even enjoy a story nowadays without analyizing the hell out of it. Besides Meyer herself said the choices Bella makes are her choices. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with all of them. I suppose those that think the story is antifeminist thinks it would have been more “realistic” for Bella to not marry Edward and leave him wondering if she’ll ever truly want to be with him. This is a fairytale and we enjoy the series because it’s not only a love story,it’s a story about protecting your family. That’s the main reason why I love the series,is that if you are going to fight for anything it’s your family and the Cullens prove that in all four books. Those of us who got that message don’t have to listen to naysayers who’ve never read the books and can’t comprehend the meaning of protecting ones family.

    • IMHO, the Twilight books are about what it means to be part of a loving family, the sacrifices we would be willing to make for the ones we love, the importance of friendship, doing what’s right vs. what’s convenient, loving someone more than you love yourself, delayed gratification (which is a sign of maturity) compromise, seeing and accepting another point of view and respecting it, and the fact that there are vampires, shapeshifting wolves interacting with humans and each other just kicks it up notches. That’s what I got out of them, and I am past 40. I think it’s extraordinary what Ms. Meyer has done and the amount of discussion her imaginative creation has wrought.

  43. this is rubbish!!! MSNBS have no idea what they are saying!!!!!!!!

  44. Yeesh. I hate that “Bella is a poor influence on strong, independent thinking girls because she waits until marriage” argument. Have any of these people ever actually TRIED waiting until marriage? Take a look around at our society. It takes WAY more strength to stick up for your beliefs than to just give in to what everyone else thinks you should do.

  45. MariposaAlice says:

    Wait, /what/!? So now, if a woman is waiting till marriage to have sex, that makes her anti-feminist!?!? ARE YOU SERIOUS? (not you, them!) She is not a poster child for anti-feminism! If it was Bello and Edward instead of Bella and Edward, Bello would still be nice and defenseless against vampires, too! These idiots clearly didn’t read the book, and just wanted to attack a fandom! Honestly, where do they get off saying that waiting till marriage is anti-feminist? I thought that /choosing/ that you want to is feminist? And not having a man choose it? G-d, people are so dumb! The whole point of feminism is that women choose what they do, not the men! And Bella fought against Edward every step of the way! And there was compromise, like there is supposed to in relationships. Stupid MSNBC. I am a 19-year-old girl, and I’m sorry MSNBC, if I don’t want to partake in your idea of feminism. Because obviously, I have to be a macho, slutty, take-charge, no-man girl to do that!

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