The Twilight saga: New Moon–important questions for teens and tweens
Many of us have devoured the Twilight book series and waited with great anticipation for movie #2, New Moon, which opened this week. What’s not to like? Vampire fantasy, hot actors, forbidden love, and imminent danger combine for a fantasical spectacle sending screaming girls to theatres across the country. It doesn’t even include real sex (yet), which makes it perfect for teens, or maybe even younger ones, to enjoy without hesitation, right?
Maybe. Or maybe not. It depends.
I had fun reading the first book, and part of the second, but as I read deeper into the series, I began to feel queasy about issues that had nothing to do with vampires or sexual tension. This saga is targeted to impressionable adolescents who are just beginning to sort out love and relationships.
And I don’t want my sons or daughter to seek relationships like these.
They probably won’t, since we don’t know any vampires or werewolves, but even so, I want to help my kids think through some of the following questions:
1) What do you think of Bella Swan (the girl-next-door heroine)?
Do you think Bella is good role model? What makes her appealing beyond her looks (and apparently, her scent)? Is she interested in anything besides Edward Cullen? Do you think her accident-prone nature is endearing? Does she believe in herself? Do you relate to her struggles? Would you want to be Bella’s friend?
2) What do you think of Edward Cullen (the hot–excuse me, cold– vampire boyfriend)?
Okay, Edward is gorgeous, chivalrous, sophisticated, and did I say gorgeous? I might swoon for him too (except for the cold, hard, sparkly skin part–that’s not for me). What do you like about the way he treats Bella? Does anything concern you? What do you think about the multiple-century age difference between them?
3) How about Jacob Black (the other friend/werewolf)?
What qualities do you see in Jacob? What makes him different from Edward? Who would you prefer as a friend?
3) Are there any humans in this series you could look up to?
Are there any (human) women you admire in this movie? What about men? (Do you hear the sound of crickets chirping?)
4) What do you think of Edward and Bella’s relationship?
It’s really exciting to be loved, rescued and protected by a superhuman dreamboat who would do anything for you. Edward clearly loves Bella. But seriously, how much fun would it really be to be Edward Cullen’s girlfriend (aside from the constant threat of peril)? Would you really enjoy being watched nonstop, even while you weren’t aware of it? What if your boyfriend forbid you to go places or talk to certain people? What if he got really angry and out of control sometimes? Are these signs of a healthy relationship, or not?
When Edward leaves her, Bella falls into deep depression until she befriends another guy (Jacob). Do you think Bella could be happy without a boy? If you were her friend, what advice would you give Bella? Do you know the warning signs of serious depression? What are some healthier ways to deal with heartbreak?
Now, many of you might feel like I’m getting much too serious about this fantasy. I get that. I think people can enjoy the passionate thrill of these movies. My boys will probably roll their eyes and moan, “Mom, you’re doing it again. We can handle this–we know it’s not like real life!” and that’s okay with me. That’s my job as their mother. I need to be sure my kids don’t want to be just like Edward. Or Bella. Or both, together. Because that could become a bloody mess–for real.
If you’re looking for balanced information to decide whether movies, games or books are age appropriate, I highly recommend Common Sense Media.
With the above caveats, I hope you enjoy the movie, the adventure, and the eye candy. Let me know what you think.