What’s up with vampires these days? The typical coffin-dwelling, bloodsucking demons of the underworld seem to have disappeared, and the creatures that have replaced them are something quite strange. Vampires have become heartthrobs.
If you’re at all tuned in to pop culture, you’ve heard of Twilight, a series of teen romance novels written by Stephanie Meyer about a girl named Bella Swan and her relationship with Edward Cullen, who happens to be a vampire. With help from these novels and other like it, the vampire genre has been resurrected.
If you remember anything from Christian Life and Thought, you know that content is never value free. Movies, books and music contain persuasive messages, and absorbing content blindly would be naïve and irresponsible because those messages will shape the way you think about the world.
I don’t like Twilight. I won’t even bother arguing why those books irk me from a literary perspective (I think the “Edward saves Bella, Edward saves Bella, Edward saves Bella again” plot speaks for itself). But from the perspective of a young Christian woman, I can’t justify being entertained by a story that so clearly feeds an unhealthy view of romantic relationships.
Edward and Bella’s relationship gives young girls the wrong impression about what true love really looks like. In the books, Edward leaves Bella for a time, and without him she becomes depressed and even tries to hurt herself. She is completely dependant on him. She needs him. She is obsessed with him. Bella will do anything for Edward, even lie to her own parents.
And not only is she obsessed with him, but she is so insecure that she thinks she has nothing without him. Insecurity is a huge issue for girls. They don’t need another influence in their lives telling them that they need a boyfriend in order to have value. There are already enough voices in the world telling them they’re not pretty enough, skinny enough, smart enough, or valuable enough.
Twilight is also a step back for women in general. Bella’s character lacks any sort of independence to make her own decisions because she is completely (and willingly) controlled by Edward. She’s also quick to sacrifice everything for their relationship—her friends, her family, and even her own humanity—while Edward sacrifices nothing.
I can’t imagine that this kind of possessive, over protective, and obsessive relationship would fly in any other context, but throw a vampire in the mix and somehow it’s OK. And not only OK, but flying off the shelves. A vampire makes this story fantasy. If Edward Cullen were a normal human being, I think more people would have to concede that Edward and Bella’s relationship is completely unhealthy and that these books are a waste of time.