What Twilight Tells Us (maybe)

One of my favorite podcasts to listen to on long commutes is Mark Kermode’s film reviews from Britain’s Five Live radio broadcast. He’s frumpy and funny and insightful, and complimented well by his sidekick, Simon. I don’t watch movies these days – too busy – but I can certainly listen to these reviews, which are entertaining, whether the movie was great or rubbish.

So, Kermode liked the latest installment of the Twilight series. Unlike some other haughty reviewers, he views Bella’s decision about which guy to go with – werewolf or vampire – not as just a whiny Which Boy to Date melodrama, but as representing her choice about who she is and who she wants to be, what world she belongs to – a deeper question of identity.

I have not seen any of these movies, nor have I read the books.

But this comment struck me, twice:

  1. First, I thought, How Refreshing, not only that the movie actually is more than just about superficial teen attraction, but that this very opinionated guy recognized that, beneath the hype and the hot film stars. Yay for feminism, I thought. Too quickly.
  2. Second, I thought, Yes, but would this story line work in reverse? Would there be a boy choosing which girl to date in the same emotional mood?

That is, why is a girl choosing her life path having to do so through the catalyst of a male/relationship, while a guy would be choosing – what – an action? Which adventure? Why does romance represent the most significant choice a woman makes?

Yeah. Boo, feminism.

I’m glad there’s movies demystifying the male aesthetic, but I want more. I want a teenage boy to get a makeover. I want a teenage boy to weep over his divided heart, and the choices that will have ramifications the rest of his life. I want men to suffer from relationship choices as much as women do. In the movies. In real life.

Do women still see the arc of their lives in terms of love and marriage? Despite all the careerists and working women and all the rest?

Do girls emphasize relationships at the exclusion of their spiritual, financial, and other considerations?

I think – yes. We have only to see the movie to know this – art is imitating life, and life is still true to the usual form. The power balance in relationships remains tilted towards dudes. It’s women and girls who get date raped, who get killed by angry boyfriends or pissed husbands. It’s the female of the species who carries the child to term – or not. It’s the woman who gets paid less for the same work. It’s women who have to contend with stereotypes and malignant assertions if they act at all uncouth, willful, strong, aggressive, and fail to procreate, settle down, domesticate, and send greeting cards.

Men get to be vampires and werewolves – hungry, hunting creatures whose animal instincts drive them and excuse them for their rash and often childish behavior.

Men get off easily (pun intended).

Women are left to choose between them. Or, failing that, to not choose men at all, and live with derisive labels. Or suffer their anger at her rejection.

Are there movies I’m missing?

Am I too callous and cranky?

Let me know. Also, I do want to see the movies. I love vampires and romantic triangles. They get me every time…

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One Response to What Twilight Tells Us (maybe)

  1. Mary Beth says:

    I don’t think you’re callous or cranky, but I do think men also suffer from having to be hungry, hunting wolves…..I am sure there are men holding similar emotional moods and decisions in their hands, but they don’t get validated by movies usually.

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