directed me to a fascinating analysis
of the Twilight crazy. I agree with a lot of the points that the poster makes and in particular, that it's important to remember that a text is polysemic and that different people are going to take different things from the same material. Thank fuck, it's entirely possible for a girl to read Twilight and not to integrate the creepy messages about submissiveness, rather choose to see agency in the story, though I do think it's interesting that messages that are undoubtedly conservative resonate - at least partly - with female teen audiences right now. All in all, Twilight has seemed from the start as rather non-worthy of interest to me - yes, it's fucking creepy, and that assault thing I posted about yesterday made me truly angry, because the father's reaction was unacceptable - but to be honest, there's a lot of really bad literature out there that people get obsessed with. And we all read stupid things when we're teenagers. (I'm pretty sure The Famous Five were not the most progressive feminist series ever written.) The level of intensity from Twilight fans is a little creepy, but again, not going to throw the first stone here.
Point is - I don't like these books, regardless of different readings, I think they're problematic, but then I think Disney is highly problematic. I don't think it's a coincidence that books with a central message of abstinence are huge right now, and I think it's particularly worrying that mothers are upholding these books as perfect material for their daughters. But I also don't think they're going to end the world, and the problem is not if the girls read these books, but if that's all they read, and how they read them, and whether or not they're going to grow into reading different things later.
But something that I'm really interested in - especially after reading more detailed summaries yesterday - is the fact that Bella is apparantly portrayed as having a rather insistent sex drive, and that Edward always have to remind her they can't have sex, because she
really wants to. Girls are not usually portrayed as the one wanting sex, we're usually more concerned with telling them they should learn how to say no and how to protect themselves against boys who will, naturally, want it. For once, the boy is the one who has to be the gatekeeper... of course, the ironic part is that it means that it's still the boy deciding the terms of the relationship, but hey. There's an interesting twist there. And admitting that teenage girls do have sexual desire is pretty crucial.
Speaking of reading against the grain, Judy Dushku, Eliza's mom, is an active member of the Mormon Church, but also a progressive, feminist-oriented strong woman by Eliza's account. I've always been curious about what seems - to me - like a slight contradiction in terms, so I found this quote from the Boston Globe
Judith Dushku isn't just disappointed, she's embarrassed. "This ugly conflict between my church and those who advocate for legal gay marriage troubles me terribly," says Dushku, an associate professor at Suffolk University and the mother of "Dollhouse" actress Eliza Dushku. She's referring to the Mormon church's support for Proposition 8, the ballot measure banning same-sex marriage that passed in California. (Local Mormons who helped finance the initiative include Michelle Ainge, wife of Celts exec Danny Ainge, and members of Mitt Romney's family.) A lifelong member of the Mormon church - her ancestors pushed handcarts to Utah to establish a place of worship - Dushku says she was "deeply ashamed" by the behavior of Mormon leaders in the days leading up to the vote. (The church sent letters, held video conferences, and from the pulpit urged members to donate money and time to the pro-Prop 8 cause.) "This is completely counter to my whole life of experience with Mormons. These are not a people that are narrow and parochial," she said. "This is not what I expect." An active member of the Mormon church in Weston, Dushku risks excommunication by speaking out. But she says others feel the same way. "Many Mormons feel deeply disappointed in what our church has done with its wealth and influence," she said. "The idea that Mormons are unified around this issue is not my experience... Many people are embarrassed."