May 25, 2009

Sex in Twilight movie

In Race in Twilight Movie, I talked about Twilight's racial subtext. Now I'll talk about the movie's sexual subtext.

Several reviewers noted this subtext. Some focused on the abstinence angle:

  • Anyway, Edward introduces Bella to his 'family', but we barely get to learn anything about these thinly sketched characters beyond extremely simple character traits (one is a quirky psychic, one doesn't like Bella, another has only just given up human blood, etc.) so let's not bothering dwelling on them, and before you know it they are officially an item. Not that this enables them to get up to any hanky-panky, because the film has a clear subtext of abstinence running through it, only here it's expressed as the fact that Edward can't trust himself to get up to anything sexy without the possibility of biting Bella.  (Home Cinema Choice)

  • Much is being made of the movie's abstinence theme, given that Edward dare not touch his beloved for fear of his bloodlust either reducing her to 'stake' tartare, or turning her into yet another member of the undead. Being that novelist Meyer is an active member of the Mormon church, it stands to reason that she would promote an agenda of 'don't you dare touch that'. Which is fine for a lesson in sex education class. But as a film?  (Indie Movies Online)

  • Abstinence is one example of Meyer's unrealistic romanticism. Another is how every youngster is paired up. Everyone has a date for the prom. I think Jacob and his fellow Indians are only ones who don't get love interests. Which is understandable because they're only semi-human werewolves, not real people with real lives.

    Edward the stalker

    Others reviewers focused on the potential for abuse. For instance:

  • So Bella sees Edward as a fun-loving, romantic, super-boyfriend who just happens to be a potential killing machine with Bella already in his sights. Why does this bother me at such a deep level? When a woman falls for any guy who turns out to be abusive, do you think she sees him as a potential monster at first? She usually sees a sexy, take-charge guy who cares about her so much he'd want to kill anyone who threatened their relationship. He may take risks she finds exciting. And when he hurts her the first time, she believes he's so sorry, he'll never do it again. She believes he truly needs her. She believes this is love. Even unto death. And its roots lie in the same feelings Bella has for Edward.  (Allene Newberg Bilodeau)

  • Good point. Edward watches Bella, almost stalks here. He's paternalistic and knows best. If he thinks she can't handle something, he coolly tells her to go away.

    Meanwhile, Bella is desperate and needy. She can't live without him and can't let go. She doesn't think to ask hard questions about dating a vampire, she just gives in.

    She does indeed sound like a potential abuse victim. She trusts Edward not to go crazy and drink her blood because she knows he's "good." She doesn't ask how long he's been a "vegetarian" or whether he's ever slipped. Doesn't ask how he treated women in the past, whether they fought, or how they broke up.

    Unworkable relationship

    Relationships like this don't work in the real world. The power between them is totally out of balance. Whenever they disagree about something, Bella will have to give in because he's the super-strong vampire and she isn't.

    How is Edward the perpetual high-school student going to support a family? How can they have a normal life when vampires are always on the run? Suppose she wants a career or children...then what?

    In "mixed" relationships like this, one party usually has to convert to the other's side. It's patently obvious that Bella will demand the vampire venom sooner or later. Then what? Does she bite her loved ones (father, mother, et al.) so they can live forever too?

    I know little girls dream of being swept off to castles where they can live as princesses happily (for)ever after. That explains why Twilight has the tween demographic sewn up. I'm not sure what it has to offer adults who prefer real-world relationships to fairy tales.

    For more on the subject, see Romance in Twilight Movie.

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