'TIS THE SEASON FOR TWILIGHT OBSESSION
November 1, 2009
Recent shopping trips underscore the inevitable—namely, “the holiday season” is upon us. Everywhere I turn, I’m greeted with a hodge-podge of images depicting spiders, witches, vampires, turkeys, Santa Clauses, elves, and affable reindeer. You name it.
For many, such displays spark “spirit.” What’s not to enjoy about Christmas and Thanksgiving themes that are conciliatory, family-honoring, and laden with goodwill toward men?
Now, contrast thankfulness and “peace on earth” with dark, death-centric Halloween icons of witches, tombstones, ghouls, vampires, werewolves, and monsters. Couple these with practices of vandalism, mischief, and extortion; and perhaps you get my gist.
Despite plain distinctions as these, television spook programming and video rentals of violent horror films reach their peak at this time of year. And 2009 is no exception.
Just last month in Forks, Washington, the mayor read a proclamation celebrating Stephenie Meyer Day. You may know that Meyer authored four New York Times best-selling novels packaged as the Twilight Saga. Eager attendees entered Twilight character lookalike, trivia and theme-specific, car-decorating contests.
Last year, Summit Entertainment put the first of the series, Twilight, to the silver screen. In it, vampire Edward Cullens battles a “bad-boy bloodsucker” by the name of James. Preview of its sequel was shown this May during the MTV Movie Awards ceremony.
As Meyer’s saga goes, seventeen-year-old Isabella (Bella) Swan finds her one true heart-throb, Edward—this after relocating from Phoenix to Forts. Problem is her love interest is, well, a vampire—specifically, an “undead” corpse that by nature sucks the blood of the living.
This popular ‘tween/teen-flick is characterized as “deeply romantic,” “extraordinarily suspenseful,” and (in reference to its vampire hero) “a love story with a bite.” Come November fans will flock to New Moon, animating the second of the four-book series. Once again, the story centers on Bella, devastated by abrupt departure of her vampire lover. Through a growing friendship with Jacob Black, Bella now is drawn into the dark world of werewolves. (Edward’s so mysterious, and Jacob’s so cute, what’s a girl to do, anyway?)
All in Fun
Starry-eyed ‘tween- and teen-agers are hooked! On the Forks web site, Darlene gushes, “OMG, I am so into Bella and Edward and the Twilight Saga.” Yet another fan, Amy, and her Mom characterize themselves as “Twilight junkies”! Enthusiast Laura surprised her daughter with a weekend trip to Forks for Bella’s birthday breakfast.
The Twilight rage is all in fun; no harm done, right? After all, what’s the problem with Gothic culture and horror literature rooted in the earth (Goddess Gaia)? C’mon, folks, it’s Halloween; and violence with torture handily fits the bill for ensuring a spookily entertaining one. Just ask one Twilight reader, who describes herself as “shaking in fear” at two a.m., at which time the book was grabbed from her clutches with stern instruction to “turn out the light and go to sleep.” (Bummers!)
What the World Needs Now
The certainty of Bella’s convictions, as penned by author Stephenie Meyer, is the three-fold proclamation that, first, Edward is a vampire. Next, there is a part of him (how dominant yet to be determined) that thirsts for her blood; and, thirdly, she finds herself “unconditionally and irrevocably in love” with him.
Never mind that Edward admits, “I’m a killer; I’ve killed before; and I wanted to kill you.” Forget that Bella’s lover is numbered among “the world’s most dangerous predators.” Her baseless trust in this imposingly mysterious boyfriend with dark, penetrating eyes remains unshaken.
Keep in mind that love lessons as these defy the biblical model—namely, that “love does not act unseemly,” is “not easily provoked,” “thinks no evil,” and “rejoices (not in iniquity but) in truth” (1 Cor. 13:5-7). Not so with love Meyer-style.
Instead, Meyer’s depiction of love introduces the werewolf concept of “imprinting” whereby the earth moves, as it were, and those fated for love know right away that they’ve found it full-blown—and at “first sight.” “The more you love someone,” we learn, “the less sense anything makes.” Bella’s landmark discovery is that “forbidden fruit tastes the sweetest.” And so, as Meyer explains, the “sick, masochistic lion falls in love with the stupid lamb.”
Delighted to chat about her daughter’s new “boy friend,” Bella’s mom asks the all-important, politically correct question: “Are you being safe?” Plainly, in mom’s mind, it’s “a given” that her daughter will engage in pre-marital sexual activity; and “safe sex” is the responsible way to go, is it not?
Next, Twilight love is destructive. In Meyer’s world, love gives someone power to “break another beyond repair”; and it is by nature obsessive. Bella depicts a world without Edward as “completely pointless.” It seems moms (themselves “Twilight junkies”) overlook these distorted love messages in support of what they laud as a “chastity” message that allegedly distinguishes Bella and Edward’s romance.
Unbeknownst to Bella’s parents, neither “chaste,” nor “safe” rightly apply. The couple’s chastity is achieved, not by principle, but by Edward’s secret struggle to refrain from consuming his delectable Bella for lunch. Furthermore, he admits to coveting Bella. To him, she’s one tasty morsel of a snack.
With his smile darkened, Edward confesses, “I had no right to want you, but I reached out and took you anyway.” In turn, Bella runs off to meet her vampire lover with what Meyer describes as “an I-V in hand.”
Funny, maybe; macabre, you bet!
Family Values Twilight Style
A seemingly well-adjusted child of divorce, Bella is any parent’s dream child. Arguably “ordinary,” she’s pretty, intelligent, and desirable (and not just for the intoxicating scent of her human blood!). Bella’s sought out by (and kindly toward) her newly found high-school friends. Moreover, she’s close to her mom, thoughtful of her dad’s feelings, and if need be willing to sacrifice her own life for another.
Bella’s Prince Edward rivals the speed and strength of the killer Tyrannosaurus Rex of Jurassic Park fame. This supernatural quality serves him well when, for the third time, he rescues his damsel in distress—this time from the grips of a less honorable counterpart. Despite life-threatening injuries Bella sustains in the gruesome War of the Vampires, she cleans up beautifully and, then, is romantically whisked away to the Senior Prom by her mysteriously aloof, but hunk-of-a guy.
Pale white Edward needn’t eat or sleep, but one thing he does need—to ingest the blood of a beautiful woman. Not the boy of my dreams, but then neither was Vlad the Impaler, better known as Count Dracula. This mid-fifteenth century man (historically a real person) massacred countless men, women, and children by piercing, puncturing, breaking, skinning, impaling, and roasting them alive. Not surprisingly, Twilight likewise culminates with killing, ripping, and burning. It’s the nature of the beast after all.
More often than not, biblical imagery frames the so-called theological grid of seductive cults and the occult. Syncretism or doctrinal mix is precisely what hooks those vulnerable to deception. That said, the Twilight Saga displays a cross, references wolves and lambs, and alludes to heaven and hell—but in decidedly non-biblical ways.
For example, Edward is portrayed as “but a man” (though admittedly he is not human). In fact, he claims to have been seventeen years of age since 1918, when (with a bite to his neck) he first obtained immortality. His undying loyalty fixates on a tightly-knit family of fellow vampires. Said loyalty renders him (to put it bluntly) hell-bent and heaven-poor.
“What if I’m not a superhero?” he asks his beloved. “What if I’m the bad guy?” Edward goes on to proclaim, “As long as I knew I was going to hell, I decided to do it thoroughly.” “Life sucks, and then you die. Yeah, I should be so lucky,” he complains. “If we had happy endings, we’d all be under the gravestones now.” These ponderings hardly typify the crooning of a hormone-driven, love-sick romantic with honorable intentions.
Question: “When you can live forever, what do you live for [if not for one’s ‘soul mate’]?” This is the very query with which young, impressionable readers grapple. Though clear biblical mandate requires abstaining for self-interest from all outward appearance of evil (1 Thess. 5:22), the Twilight Saga glorifies supernatural power (apart from the one, true God), shamans and healers (minus the Great Physician), and Quileute “shape-shifting,” or transforming a wolf into a man (rather than discarding the old man of sin in exchange for the new creation in Christ).
This, my friend, is evil.
“Up Tight” or “On the Money”?
Public television producer Harriet Kozkoff tells it like it is. Surely no one disputes that “entertainment is a powerful socializing agent in contemporary society,” or that “slasher and horror movies use violence and sexual arousal to maximize profits.”
What adults need to understand, but often do not, is that this genre of entertainment is, as Kozkoff puts it, “an inevitable prescription for conditional sexual sadism into our pre-teen, teenage and young adult film fans.”
Characterized as a party pooper and “crazy lady” for my ostensibly uptight, biblical beliefs, I am familiar with my accuser’s justifications for entertaining vampires and celebrating Halloween. Problem is Satanists call October 31st All Demon’s Night, the day of the year most conducive to demonic activity.
Self-proclaimed “Beast 666,” Satanist Aleister Crowley shaped modern witchcraft; moreover, he started the Cult of the Fascinating Child that engages in Transuguthian Magic by sexually violating a child and drinking that child’s blood in order to steal his/her youth and thereby access godlike realities of afterlife immortality.
On Halloween, Wiccans “draw down the moon” (by inviting the goddess to possess them) as they engage in sexual practices often accompanied by alcohol and/or drug use and nudity (called being “skyclad”).
This is no small matter. Today online pagan networks estimate there are anywhere from 150,000 to 600,000 practicing pagans in the US alone. Yet Halloween proponents extol the fun of having one’s socks scared off, engaging in vandalism, and swooning at vampire films with romantic twists (30 Days of Night, Interview with the Vampire and Queen of the Damned, to name but three).
Girls just gotta’ have fun, right?
Wrong. Responsible parents ground their children in truth, not error. Any parent worth his or her salt does well to steer youngsters away from (and not toward) any hell-bent, murdering, blood-slurping predator, no matter how cute. There’s something wrong about a mom’s aligning with the Twilight Junkie Club, the end of which, I’m told, portrays Bella drinking blood for (and giving birth to) her ½-human, ½-vampire baby.
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Bella’s is a story of covens of vampires and opposing werewolves, addiction to the “heroin” of blood, obsession with that addiction, and (ultimately) conversion from humanoid to vampire—all in the name of love.
That said, perhaps Bella’s is a Gothic tale not worth the telling.