Why I Don't Want My Daughter Reading Twilight

The Twilight film franchise is finally dead. Why I'm glad my daughter missed its window of popularity.

I posted a little about my experience of seeing Twilight: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 on my personal blog today, but seeing as how I've not seen a true post-mortem on this particular film, I thought I'd divert a little of my time to pick up the scalpel and dissect the Twilight phenomenon.

Fans, you may want to avert your eyes.

To go ahead and get the bona fides out of the way: I read the first book, have seen all of the movies with my wife, and in general don't dislike the notion of paranormal romance. So if I'm a hater, I'm at least a hater who tried.

And I did try. Really, I did. My wife read all of the books, and when I ask her questions about them, she answers in a way that makes them sound kind of interesting. Her enthusiasm for the story and its characters is what compelled us to the movie theater to see Twilight in the first place. And I genuinely went with an open mind.

But 13.83 seconds after watching Kristen Stewart wince her way through the movie's opening scenes, I knew I would never be able to like the movie. Let alone the entire franchise. I simply could not abide Kristen Stewart's portrayal of Bella.

Remember, I'd read the book. And what was a somewhat charming, slightly klutzy, sadly lost young woman on the page became an utterly bland, slightly constipated mess on the screen. Watching Ms. Stewart's Bella on screen in Twilight (and each subsequent movie) I suddenly came to realize just why my grandmother's preferred cure-all for any ailment was an enema. It certainly seemed appropos in Bella's case.

Compounding the issue was that the character became even more unredeemable with each sequel. Bella went from being whiny to being needy to being incomprehensibly selfish to being someone that I actively rooted against in the most horrific of ways.

Put it to you this way: in Breaking Dawn - Part 2, when the big evil vampires from Italy show up to kill Bella and Edward and their clan, I was the only person in the theater openly cheering for the so-called bad guys to succeed.

I got some stares that were scarier than anything onscreen.

Truthfully, what bothered me most about Bella as portrayed by Kristen Stewart (and honestly, about Bella in general) is that she was an incomplete person without her "soulmate," Edward. She was a half-measure; and while I can appreciate that Stephanie Meyers was trying to write a love story that emphasized chastity and finding your perfect mate, she really only succeeded in creating a character that was so myopically selfish that she had to end up with a vampire because no human being would take her.

That's not exactly the kind of heroine I want my daughter emulating.

Actually, calling her a heroine is a bit of a stretch. Sure she morphs into something powerful in Breaking Dawn, but before that she's just the object of desire for two different men. Her greatest gift is being attractive. And while you can certainly spin the idea that female empowerment can be found in utilizing looks to advantage, you can't really say that it makes for a compelling hero arc. Nor can you say that it's something all women can (or should) use for themselves.

I know I sound like an idiot. Like I posted on Twitter, my disdain for the character of Bella is irrational, and probably closer to unhinged than anything else. But for me, the series dies when I ask myself: is this someone I would want my daughter to know?

After watching all of the movies, but in particular Breaking Dawn - Part 2, my answer is an unequivocal NO.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Deanna Allen November 26, 2012 at 08:53 PM
I don't think you sound like an idiot at all. I've read the books several times. Watched all the movies. Own the first four. Will buy the fifth when it comes out on DVD. And through it all, the character of Bella has bothered me. I don't know anyone who likes the series because of her. It's the vampire and the werewolf that carry the attraction. From the beginning, for me, I was staunchly Team Edward. Upon first read, I was enthralled with the idea of an individual being totally devoted to me. Because, let's be honest, I'm much more deserving of Edward's attentions than Bella (let's pretend he isn't forever stuck at the age of 17 and really more than 100 years old 'cause that makes things a little weird). Then upon subsequent reads I actually paid attention to his character and he's actually scarily devoted. Obsessed, really. And that's creepy. I can still love the character (it's really Robert Pattinson and his hair I adore) but recognize the relationship between Bella and Edward is unhealthy. Back to Bella, though, she's far from what I would hope parents would want for a role model for young girls. And I can't even go into my disdain for Kristen Stewart's performances in all the movies. I was all for recasting Bella after seeing Twilight. Wow. I just typed quite a lot. And really, I just wanted to say I totally agree with you about Bella and KStew. Now I'm curious to know if you've read The Hunger Games ...
Jason Brooks November 26, 2012 at 10:17 PM
Deanna - thanks for the feedback. Glad to know I'm not alone on the Bella/Kristen Stewart thing. As for Hunger Games...read the first book and saw the movie. Enjoyed the movie much more. Haven't read any of the other books, as I just didn't care for either of the main characters. Maybe I have a compassion deficit problem for literary figures?
Tammy Osier November 26, 2012 at 11:18 PM
On an other note (but same concening movies and good stories for girls) - have you seen BRAVE? I love Merida. They call this movie the first princess movie without a prince. Merida is her own person and has no pretenses at all. Her relationship with her mother, while strained, is at least honest. The story is wonderful that it shows the destruction born in pride and the reconciliation and blessing that comes from "mending the bond torn by pride." There is a real life moral to the story (can apply to any of us) and the characters are very honest and true to themselves and each other. And nope, I couldn't get into the vampire thing either. Bad acting in my opinion and I'm sorry, but I just don't see the attraction to Edward.
Jason Brooks November 27, 2012 at 02:31 AM
Tammy - I did see Brave...with my daughter. We both loved it. She loves all things princess (which is another blog post soon to come) and I thought Merida was the right tone for her age. She's been getting TOO interested in boys lately, in part because princesses always have to have a prince, right? But since Merida didn't need one, I'm hoping she'll hop on her bandwagon...
Tammy Osier November 27, 2012 at 02:43 AM
I have two grandaughters who are various princesses even in the grocery store. Always in character. Funny story that you might appreciate... My daughter, Kelly, told me once that she felt that she and her husband had probably been using Disney movies a little too much to babysit. They were distracted by some temporary issues, and plopped my grandaughter Selah down in front of a dvd too often and she had proof. Seems that Selah had gotten into some trouble and got disciplined by her mother. Kelly felt that Selah needed to understand why she had to be punished, and she ended her explanation with, "Besides, I'm your mother!" Selah looked at her through big crocodile tears and said, 'Well, you may be my mother, but you're not the QUEEN!" Of course, I told my daughter that she missed her big opportunity. She could have picked up the phone and called me....the real Queen. I could have fixed that situation in a heartbeat. lol
Tammy Osier November 27, 2012 at 02:47 AM
jason, I went out and bought BRAVE. The more I watch it, the more the story takes on life. I like buying the dvd's because they have the special features. One part of the special features had the writers explaining the depth of the storyline. There's a lot more to get out of it once you know why they wrote it the way they did. Sometimes we have to suffer the consequences of our decisions and come to the end of ourselves before we can see the truth clearly. Also, I loved the relationship between Merida and her Dad.
Marne M November 27, 2012 at 02:04 PM
I don't think you're crazy to dislike Twilight, or the character of Bella in particular. I wouldn't want my daughter to emulate that dependence (nor her boyfriend to model any of the rather stalker-like behavior). I can kind of shrug it off, because hey, it's a movie about vampires and werewolves and at least Bella manages to finally come into her own in the end (this is even more apparent in the books). But it will never be my favorite. Personally, I'm kind of hoping my daughter goes along with the model of Eowyn from Lord of the Rings. :-) That's just me. I will say/ that Meyer did a very good job at capturing the mindset of many teenage girls (not all, of course, as everyone is different). I hope that I will be able to provide my daughter with the grace and confidence not to be that self-conscious or dependent. But, having been a teenage girl myself, I know that hormones do funny things to the brain. Hopefully, my relationship with my husband will provide her with a better example
Athens Mama November 28, 2012 at 04:26 AM
I think you are right as a parent....but as a Twilight fan, I have to say that I think the scene of Edward and Bella in the meadow together in the first movie captured my heart....and I don't care how much she scowls throughout the rest of the films! Hate on KStew all you want, but she definitely has an energy that breathes from within, and it is captivating to watch on screen...
Jason Brooks November 28, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Athens Mama - I'm hoping that Kristen Stewart's post-Twilight opportunities give her more of a chance to shine. I know that I was really impressed with how much Jodie Foster (Kristen's "Panic Room" co-star) believes in Ms. Stewart's talents, so I'll be curious to see how she chooses to flex her acting abilities beyond Bella.
Deanna Allen November 28, 2012 at 08:53 PM
Eowyn is one of my all-time favorite characters. Such a strong female literary role model for girls!
Deanna Allen November 28, 2012 at 08:57 PM
I was impressed with Kristen Stewart's performance in The Runaways. As far as being captivating to watch in The Twilight Saga, I must disagree. I think it's painful to watch her in any and all of the Twilight movies, with the possible exception of Breaking Dawn Part 2. But maybe that was the point. She doesn't come into her own, as Marne M says, until that movie.
Wendy Carter November 30, 2012 at 01:13 PM
You don't sound like an idiot but...if my oldest son would think he should emulate every movie character he saw as a teen he would have a split personality by now. Teens know the difference between fantasy and real life The Twilight thing is fantasy. I was 14 when I saw the Exorcist ..I did not think that I would suddenly be possessed by a demon and spit pea soup all over every body. My youngest watches a few movies a month he knows the difference too.Some characters teach our girls what the don't want to be. Some inspire and some are just what there are a character..and that's all.
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