Wednesday, July 7, 2010

"You are exactly my brand of heroin..."

I like Twilight. Yup, that Twilight. The one with the vampires, and shape-shifting wolves (ahem, they are NOT werewolves), the glitter, and the clumsy girl named Bella. I'm not secretive about it, I'm not even that ashamed. I'm a pop culture addict, this includes John Mayer and Taylor Swift ("I can't stop loving you"), and yes, Twilight.

I don't defend it though, I don't search for the good in it, and I don't dismiss the bad things. Actually, I will be the first to point out all it's horribleness: the abusive relationships, the gross abstinence-only message, the domestic abuse in the Native American community message, anti-abortion, and this list could keep going.

But you know, I still read it and I still watch it. Why? Well first of all, it was entertaining. I have a 16 year old sister, she was reading the books, and I wanted to see what the big deal was, so I read them. And got hooked. I like sci-fi and fantasy and people turning into wolves and mind reading and all that stuff. So that's one reason: pure shameless entertainment.

But more importantly is not that I like Twilight, it is that millions of other people, mostly teenage girls, also like Twilight. Meaning there are millions of girls out there reading this series, watching these movies, falling in love with Edward and Jacob, picking teams, and making word graphics like "Edward and Bella give me high expectations about love." Teenage girls are learning about relationships from this series, and we need to know what we are working with (or against).

If we are not aware of pop culture, of the media and it's influence on us, how can we fight against it? How can we question it and encourage others to do the same? Before reading and watching these movies, I knew the basic stuff, I knew what the blogs were saying about it, but I had no personal connection to it. I could not sit down with my sister and talk about why Twilight should NOT be a model for her relationships. I can't argue against something I am not educated in.

Instead of building a wall between myself and Twi-hards, I get off my high horse and connect with them. I create a space and conversation where we use Twilight as a tool to teach what consensual sex is, what a healthy relationship is, etc by citing exact scenes and moments in the books/movies, by giving examples they know and may look up to.  It doesn't always work, many times all I hear is eternal love and dedication and romance when describing Bella+Edward, but at least we are talking, and that's a starting point.

**I attended a VIP screening of Eclipse last week at The Grove in Los Angeles.  That is a picture of my lanyard. It was fun.**

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