Thursday, 5 April 2012

Bella and Edward? Really?

At the moment I'm reading 'Bitten by Twilight: Culture, Media, and the Vampire Franchise'. I got it out of the library hoping it would be useful for my children's essay. It hasn't been, so far, but it's still an interesting read, although some of the chapters I violently disagree with.

Anyway, I've come across something so interesting that I've had to stop reading and write a blog post about it. The editors of the book did some extensive research into the fans of the Twilight books, and found that women who identify with the relationship of Bella-Edward over all the other couples in the Twilight books, are statistically more likely to be dissatisfied with their own relationship, do not see themselves as feminists, and would prefer a partner to be "protective, possessive, chivalrous, and intensely attracted to them" (page 151). In contrast, women who prefer the pairing of Alice-Jasper, or Carlisle-Esme, reported to be more satisfied with their own relationship, and "were more likely to express a preference for relationships that are supportive, mutually reliant, and less possessive".

What is scary is that 55% of adults and 49% of teens surveyed would prefer to have Edward and Bella's relationship, compared to 18.9% of adults and 28.3% of teens opting for Alice-Jasper, and 18% of adults and 8.7% of teens preferring Carlisle-Esme.

This makes it pretty clear cut on what makes the Twilight books so attractive, doesn't it? And it's not comfortable reading. Teenagers (and indeed adults) no longer see themselves as feminists? They would actively prefer to be in a relationship whereby possessiveness is a mark of how attracted their partner is to them? And a relationship with an equal is seen as undesirable? No wonder feminists despair over the success of Twilight, but they shouldn't worry about the adverse effect it's having on teenage girls. They're already there. Twilight simply taps into this worrying state of affairs.

I'm also concerned about all these women who are so obsessed with a fictional character that they compare it to their own relationship and find it lacking. One interviewee says, "My ex at Halloween time was like, 'What do you want to dress up as, do you want to be Edward and Bella? And I went, 'Honey, you're not Edward.'" It suggests that women have an ideal in their minds of a perfect, unattainable male, and when they do find a partner, he simply cannot live up to their ideals. Mind you, if they're looking for the possessive controlling type, it's no wonder that once they find this, it leads to a less than perfect relationship.

Ah well. I asked Marc which Twilight couple he most identifies with. Like most men, he's rather embarrassed to admit he likes Twilight, so he was somewhat evasive with his reply: "I like the cute girl with short spiky hair and the guy who was in the civil wars."

"Go on give me their names I know you know them."

"No I don't I've forgotten!"

Me? I've always loved Carlisle: the sweet, caring doctor. And I'm married to a sweet, caring teacher. Who doesn't complain too much when dragged to see the Twilight films!

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