It doesn't take much for me to admit this, but I would consider myself slightly obsessed with Twilight. I'm totally Team Edward after reading the books, although I think a lot of his appeal lost in the movies. Some things just don't translate well on screen, and despite the voiceovers, I just don't think there's any way to convey Edward's full appeal...which is why I think I'd be Team Jacob if I'd only seen the movies.
I know Twilight is a total guilty pleasure, and I know it's not realistic. Obviously, the whole vampire/wolf thing isn't exactly true to life, but that's not what I'm talking about. As much as I love the story of Bella, Edward and Jacob, I think it builds unreasonable expectations, especially in younger girls that haven't experienced a healthy relationship. Here are a few things off the top of my head that would concern me if I had a daughter that was a Twilight fan:
- First of all, sexual safety: Edward appears to be a 17-year-old, but he's really over 100 years old. As a generalization, 17-year-old guys don't have the self-control Edward does (not only does he not eat Bella, but he also controls sexual desires). Having a guy in your bedroom (especially overnight) is not okay - and if you're living with your parents, they better know about it...even if it begins innocently, it wouldn't take much for things to get out of hand and go further than planned.
- Bella has two guys making dangerous promises: "I'll never hurt you," "I'll never leave you." Maybe I'm just cynical, but I would be skeptical of someone telling me that. How can they know they won't ever hurt me? What if there was some sort of accident they didn't survive...wouldn't that be leaving and hurting me? Isn't it enough for a guy to say things like he loves you and wants to spend the rest of his life/existence with you?
- Lack of communication on Bella's part: Without intending to, she totally leads Jacob on. When they do "talk about it," she doesn't explain things very clearly and is very cryptic...which doesn't do much to reverse her leading him on.
- An unrealistic view of love: I get that a relationship with a vampire is more than any of us humans could ever experience, but it paints love as this glorious feeling that always remains with one other person (as do a lot of love stories). Being in love is great - I know that. But there isn't always going to be a glorious feeling. Sometimes you're going to need to do things you don't want to do at all and that feeling won't be there to make you eager to comply. You just have to do it because you made that commitment. I strongly believe that love is a choice - a choice to put someone else before you, regardless of how you feel. Feelings and emotions change so often they aren't reliable and can't be trusted. Making choices "because it feels right" is such a bad reason...it feels right for me to sit around watching TV and eating junk food all day, but that doesn't make it good for me. My concern is that girls will expect some amazing, glorious feeling and probably mistake it for infatuation...and once that fades, will they think they've fallen out of love?
Despite these concerns, I think Twilight is a fun love story - as long as the reader/viewer remembers that vampires and wolves aren't the only part of the story that's made up. The characters were written by a woman to give a woman everything she wants - something that isn't going to happen in reality. Don't get me wrong, as a happily married woman, I know you can have expectations exceeded and get even more than you knew you wanted...but men are men, and a man written by a woman isn't going to give you a realistic picture of a good, healthy relationship. Besides, it takes the fun and surprise out of a relationship with a real man.