Culture · Her Views · Relationships

vampires aren’t the problem

Be warned, a new vampire movie is opening this weekend. New Moon is a movie based on the second book in the Twilight series. Christians can be uncomfortable with these themes, though to clarify, there are no demonic elements in the stories. But in my opinion, focusing on the evil of fairly benign vampires completely overlooks more dangerous themes for teen girls. The vampires just aren’t the biggest problem.

If you’re not familiar, the Twilight series is based around Bella, a teenage girl who meets up with a family of friendly vampires, and falls in love with Edward. When I read Twilight, the first book, it was easy to see why girls (of all ages) got hooked. Imagine the two key characters:

1. You: clumsy, bungling, moody 17-year-old. Him: Coolest guy in the entire school. And he wants you. Not only that, but as a vampire lusting after your blood, he wants you bad.

2. Yet Edward creates boundaries: he must never lose control. He holds Bella, kisses, touches, even snuggles with her while she sleeps. All without “losing control.” This is way better than all that messy, complicated sex stuff.

All in all, Edward is perfect. The word “flawless” is used repeatedly to describe him. Bella, on the other hand, is almost cripplingly clumsy. She’s repeatedly described as barely functional, breathless, faint, and dizzy. Edward frequently has to carry her because she’s weak, and often holds her in his lap. Is this a role model you want for your daughter?

But beyond that, Bella is selfish. Admittedly selfish. And despite being contrarily opposed to gifts, remains almost obsessively focused on physical and material things. One insightful review points out the hypocrisy this way:

“Bella’s compulsive observation of the Cullens’ beauty and their beautiful things does not come to seem a metaphor for spiritual superiority but a conflation of material wealth, physical beauty, and moral elevation. While the books suppose to be about a perfect, otherworldly love (this love could be metaphor: it certainly doesn’t exist in the real world), the material intrudes constantly (cars, money, clothes), suggesting that beauty and money and blessedness and happiness are all one, confused and interchangeable.”

Ultimately, (Spoiler Alert!) Bella gives up everything unique to herself; her family, her future, her very life… for a man. Good grief, what year is this?

To be fair, Edward models a more mature love in his attempts to preserve the value of Bella’s soul. Other positive themes are clarified in this Christian-focused outline of the pros and cons of the books. You might not want your children to accept vampires. But you also might not want them to accept the other stuff, either.

5 thoughts on “vampires aren’t the problem

  1. See, I struggle with the idea that Edward is perfect. I believe Bella thinks he’s perfect, and she certainly talks ad nauseum about his so-called perfection. But Edward quite regularly talks about how he is the “bad guy” in book one, then continues it further *spoiler alert* by leaving her in book two, believing he is not the best thing for her or her safety.

    I have tons of thoughts on these books… I am currently writing a curriculum to use with them. It’s an independent study I’m doing in seminary right now. I probably have too many thoughts…


    1. Yes, the whole blood-drinking thing is a major flaw. 😉 Wonder if you could also construe his leaving her in book 2 as noble? Putting her welfare above his own desires? You’re right, there are lots of ways to look at it. Your curriculum sounds really interesting – would love to hear more of your thoughts!


  2. Nice post, and I agree. My wife and I have had a similar conversation. This is why we are talking through these issues with our kids about Twilight (and it is also why we’re fans of Harry Potter, as the values in the story are better, one might even say, at several points, Christian).


  3. Very interesting. My daughter (now almost 16) read all four books a couple of years ago during summer vacation with several friends. She couldn’t wait for the first movie to come out. When she read the books she was absolutely smitten with Edward.

    As time has gone on, however, she has come to realize that Bella and Edward’s relationship is not really very healthy. That Bella really loses too much of herself and that Edward is too dominant.

    It’s been interesting to me that she’s come to these conclusions all on her own, because I have not read the books yet. I’ve seen both movies, but I know they are pale shadows of what the books are. I’m probably going to start reading them soon-ish.


    1. I thought the books were very entertaining and imaginative – I just didn’t like that they made Bella SO weak and helpless. Your daughter sounds like a very intelligent young woman who’s learned to think independently. You must be proud!


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