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The Tween 'Twilight' Obsession

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Dr. Wendy Walsh: 79 days. That's when "New Moon," the second movie in the "Twilight" series, comes out. I know this fact because I have heard my 11-year-old daughter say it today over and over again. I think she has given me a "New Moon" update today the same number of times as the average number of pages in a "Twilight" book. That's 611, for you novices.

tween obsessed with the twilight boys
When the "Twilight" craze first descended on my home, I was delighted that such literary tomes sat at the bedside of my fifth grader. There are 2,446 pages in the four-book series, and she devoured the first book in three days. Then we rented the movie and watched it together.

Having been warned by a few moms in the village, I was prepared to find many "teaching moments" in the screening. But I was pleasantly surprised. It was entertaining for both of us. It was a sweet love story clothed in the cinematic form of a fantasy thriller. The plot is simple: teen girl moves from Phoenix, Arizona, to Forks, Washington, and meets a family of vampires who live undetected in the community. The hunky, oldest boy vampire eventually falls in love with the girl. The problem is this: although they are driven by teenaged hormones, if they dare consummate their love, she will die ... or at least become a vampire with his bite. So the bulk of the movie is two love-struck teens, fighting their urges and showing enormous restraint. Cool, I thought. I can use that.

I made a point to compare Bella and Edward's dilemma with the real-life dangers of teenaged sex. My daughter listened attentively. I know that she was listening because she took one earpiece out of her iPod. She even glanced up from her laptop once. I told her that sex can be physically dangerous and someone can get hurt. I explained what a metaphor was, and then I used the "Twilight" metaphor. Edward loves her so much that he wants to protect her. He doesn't want to suck the life out of her just because he's so horny, uh, I mean hungry for her. Get it, kid?

Then onto books two and three. The action goes on. Plenty of evil, unrelated vampires also like the smell of Bella's blood, and she and Edward go on the lam and fight off villains. Her best friend, Jacob, becomes a sexy werewolf who also kills vampires. And, there's even a chilling female vampire named Victoria who is out for Bella. Bella survives it all until book four. By that time, she and Edward have all their ducks in order and consummate their love in a story that only a parent could write. They have graduated from school, and as legal adults, they get married, and their "first time" happens on their honeymoon. Whew. My daughter gets out safely with good messages about sex.

Now onto the obsession part. I wondered how healthy salivating over a young hunk could be for a tween. Since Jacob (played by Taylor Lautner) runs with a pack of werewolves with enough strapped-on six-packs to make a Chippendales dancer envious, I worried about the visuals. Then I looked at any fashion billboard in America and realized that our whole media culture is sexualized, too. "Twilight" is keeping up with industry standard, for better or for worse. So, I asked my little angel what she would do if she met T-a-a-a-ylor. That's how she draws out his name. She said she thinks she would either faint or, if she could stay conscious, she might like to kiss him on the cheek.

"The cheek?" I ask.

"Like, yah," she replied. "I'm only eleven, Mom."

Of course. Now I get it. She's looking at the actors through the eyes of a young adolescent. I'm looking at those abs with the eyes of a woman who will never see abs like that in real life again. My fantasies are but sweet memories. My daughter's fantasies are ahead of her -- when she's a legal adult and on her honeymoon.


next: Book Club Blues
13 comments so far | Post a comment now
Tammy August 31, 2009, 12:52 PM

Umm….HELLO! Every heard of the words “spoiler alert”??!! Next time you might think about using the term before you ruin it for the rest of us!!!!

Nicki August 31, 2009, 2:13 PM

Thanks so much for covering this topic. A mother of a tween myself, my daughter recently hit me up with “I’ve already seen Twilight, so can we go see New Moon?”

I have already read the first two books and approved of them for my child to read, and am REALLY glad to know I’m not the only mother out there who’s not forbidding her daughter from seeing/reading the Twilight series.

That said, I am about halfway into the third … Tammy’s right, a spoiler alert would have been great!! :(

aerialla August 31, 2009, 6:54 PM

I’m glad my daughter is more into Harry Potter than Twilight. The Twilight saga is not as well written as I had hoped. I would rather have her read something with literary value than something that reads like fanfiction or a teen Harlequin romance.

Bella chan September 1, 2009, 2:51 AM

See Mind Trip at www.shinga,deviantart.com

Look for
Twilight Sucks
and
Breaking Dawn,Breaking Brains.

Twilight is sexist and bad,because Shinga “amanda” ,the not yet a mommy, says so!!!

abbi September 1, 2009, 2:15 PM

I agree with the preference of Harry Potter to Twilight. The Twilight series is a HORRIBLY written saga that amounts to nothing more than a cheesy romantic soap opera on pages for teens.
Just because this book is big and long doesn’t make it worth being proud of.

I had the unfortunate experience of reading this book when a client I was trying to please blabbed on and on about it and insisted i borrow it.
I kept reading in hopes the story would get less shallow and more interesting.. it never happened. which is also sad because i’ve seen so many people reading them on the bus, what a lousy dumb sheep mob mentality. their mediocrity is catching.

anyway, it’s pretty obvious to me the writer wishes so painfully that she was bella and had a handsome vampire to come in and save this mousy girl that apparently is secretly so awesome only hot vampires notice… yeah right. this whole book just bores me with desperate wannabe with lame fantasies.

abigail September 1, 2009, 5:02 PM

i didn’t really see teh final point made in this. Is the obsession good or bad? I being a tween/teenager, say that age is but a number. do you realize how many 7 year olds swear like sailors? or 10 year olds that have made out with someone much more than anyone my age? and the fact that they did wait is an excellent example to set for kids. as long as they realize that it’s fiction, there shouldn’t be any controversies. if they do have a problem with that, well… that’s not normal. and about teh “kiss on the cheek”, nearly everyone, including adults, must remember their first cleb crush. just because it’s a vampire shouldn’t make a difference:)
~abby

Catherine September 2, 2009, 6:28 AM

My 10 yr. old son loves the books. It’s not just tween girls who are enamored with the Twilight saga. That being said, I have read the books before allowing my son to and can honestly say that the subtle messages about retraint in regards to sex run both ways. My take on the books in relation to sex is that it’s great to see the male lead character being so responsible. It sends a message that the end goal is not sex but a truly committed relationship built on love and trust with marriage coming first. A refreshing change of pace in today’s world.

Cindy September 10, 2009, 5:54 PM

There is nothing wrong with my daughter having a obsession with twilight. She loves it shes 13 but i have no problem with that i don’t know why some parents have a problem with it.

rachel October 25, 2009, 8:52 PM

I love the twilight saga!!! I read all the 4 books in one week.I could’nt have enough of it. love it love it.

Zo October 28, 2009, 1:06 PM

I might have liked twilight…. Except for the horror stories I’ve read about what fans might do if you tell them it sucks.
I’ve read all 4 books and think it’s confusing, sudden, and really stupid.

Athena November 8, 2009, 4:44 PM

While I found your ablity to turn points from this story into a metaphor for the dangers of sex quite refreshing. I think when it comes to Twilight we should be more concerned with the fact that the “heroine” is just a whiny damesel in distress who most girls now want to be like. Bella has no life outside of superhuman boys wanting to be with her. She doesn’t have any hobbies and as soon as a boy leaves (insert dramatic whiny voice) her life is over and she doesn’t want to go on! I am so sick of my friends claimming that they wish Edward or Jacob or whoever would come sweep them off their feet so that they can escape from their “boring” lives that only got that way because their too busy playing pretend in their rooms to come outside and talk to real people.

Disagree November 15, 2009, 12:12 PM

When I’m a mom, I would prefer my kids to read classics, or authors that can make them think, or EVEN Harry Potter (actually, for some ages I would be perfectly happy with that), than to read this trash. Whoever said that these read like a FanFic are right. They do. And it seems to me that the lead girl is totally obsessed with the lead boy (or whatever boy is around and paying attention to her.) and I wouldn’t want my daughter learning any of those lessons, thank you. The only reason people are so happy their kids are reading the Twilight saga is because otherwise their kids wouldn’t even touch a book, unless it was required reading for school, and even then most of the time they just read the cliffnotes or ask their friends what happened. It is sad that so few people are reading these days that every time a kid picks up literary vomit, we clap our hands and have a party.

Jackie T Ewing November 16, 2009, 10:19 AM

My 14 year old son and I have read these books twice now. We are both entertained by them for different reasons, other than our shared love of vampires et al. They’re just stories for crying out loud, get over yourselves! My almost 10 year daughter doesn’t want to read the books yet, she wants to wait. We’ve watched the movie together and she was entranced by the visuals. But again, it is a story and she realizes that.
Wendy, I love the comment on the abs - it is SO true!
Entertaining post and I like your style. Thanks @MomLogic for posting this link today!

Jackie


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