Christianity vs. “Twilight”
Laurie K. Schenden
First, let me explain how I wound up on Team Jacob. If you see The Twilight Saga: New Moon with a 14-year-old niece, you have to scream for at least one, preferably both of the two male heartthrobs or risk being uncool.
Ten minutes into New Moon, I picked sides. My niece had already joined Team Edward (she’s read all four books and saw the first film in the Twilight series). But her teen vampire love from Forks, Wash., reminded me of my years living in the Seattle area, all pasty looking from 364 days of gloom each year. He also lost points for being undead. I just didn’t see the appeal.
The dark and beautiful Jacob, however, came out brooding, muscles bulging, cute as a Washington husky, jarring fond memories of an ex-girlfriend—so the choice was easy for me.
To sit on the sidelines wasn’t an option, because who wants to label herself a total outsider?
Which brings me to this week’s topic:
New Moon is the talk of the world, in case you’ve existed among the undead or are over age 27. On opening day I listened to a radio interview with a guy who was trying to get parents to wake up and smell the blood—because this vampire movie was going to lure in their children, suck every descent impulse they have out of their heads and turn them into bloodthirsty degenerates.
I’d already promised Hayley, who pleaded with me to take her (please, please, please) on opening night. But as the model aunt who wants only the best for my darling niece, I felt myself deflating as I heard how parents and guardians who take kids to see Twilight are merely contributing to their moral collapse, and potentially creating a group of heartless, godless teens who prey on innocent victims because they’ll try to emulate the deceptively attractive vampires.
I swear, I had no idea!
But the more I listened, the more was revealed about the guy stirring things up—that he’s a former host on Christian radio and has written a book, and is trying to advertise his web site (avoidtwilight.com). I have nothing against Christians, I suppose because I am one. But I am incredibly cautious when someone drums up publicity under the guise of Christianity, merely speculating on what could happen. Turns out he hadn’t even seen the film.
I don’t like scary movies, they give me nightmares. But my niece—who does like them—promised that New Moon wasn’t scary. (She was right.)
I decided to stick with the plan and if necessary, explain afterward why it is bad to kill other people and suck their blood. But thankfully, there were no gory killings. In fact, the whole movie is a love story. There’s worse violence on Grey’s Anatomy.
Unfortunately, it’s become a national pastime to demonize what people fear or can’t control, even if it’s just a movie or just a matter of love—like between two gay people. The radio guest talked about his Christian principles, but are they really? Is Christianity really about avoiding the unknown, using scare tactics to shut out people who are different?
While a parent—or favorite aunt—would like to shelter kids from anything bad or hurtful, or what we perceive to be bad, at some point young people will make these decisions for themselves. Maybe the best you can do is share your values and beliefs and lead by example, and hope that in the end they will be honest, trustworthy, good people.
I admit that every time the Twilight hunks appeared onscreen (typically shirtless), 500 or so 12- to 14-year-olds, six moms and I would scream, then break up in laughter. Let’s face it, the pressure to conform is incredibly persuasive.
But once we returned to daylight, my niece was laughing and eagerly texting friends that "Edward is sooo cute." No obvious vampire tendencies emerged. And I’m not planning to put up Jacob posters anytime soon. We just had fun.
And I’m still the coolest aunt in my niece’s world.
Blogger Bio: For more than a decade Laurie Schenden has covered the entertainment industry for Curve, the Los Angeles Times and Germany's Spotlight magazine. Her cover stories for Curve magazine have included Sharon Stone, Melissa Etheridge, and the cast of "The L Word." She’s also an award winning documentary filmmaker and one of the co-creators of the “Laughing Matters” film series, seen on Logo.