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.

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