Thursday, December 3, 2009

disney, dating, dreams, and dark romance...

Kisses to break sleeping spells, glass slippers and fairy godmothers, cursed apples and magic spells conjure up sweet Disney tales. If we're honest with ourselves, Walt's appropriation of fairy tales have formed Generation X's ideal romance. White horses, princes with kingdoms, harmless [yet difficult] obstacles to overcome are part and parcel of most young women's fantasy with love.* There's nothing intrinsically wrong with loving love, but it's very important to recognize the commodification of fairy tales and mass marketed romance that has pandered to young girls for the last thirty years.

But Generation Y is tired of Prince Charming and his polished savoir faire. There's a new hunk in dreams and he doesn't need pixie dust to sparkle. Edward Cullen is taking over dreams... yes, even mine.**

Disconcerting as it may be to some, Twilight and the umpteen books in the series are forming a new wave of fairy tale dreamers. Except, I have some qualms and issues needing to be addressed in regards to dating and romance via the philosophy of Stephanie Meyer. And yes, I'm the perfect person to address dating! Okay, okay, maybe the single girl in the last stages of her 20s isn't an expert on dating, but I'm an expert in identifying social trends and philosophical influence of mass media. So--cut me some slack!

I'm not bashing the series. Nor the movie. Nor Kristin Stewart and her very odd, singular Bella expression of I'm-confused-yet-sexy-and-breathy which bugs me to no end. All I'm saying is beware of the poison in the apple--it may look shiny and tasty, but when eaten, there is danger deep within.

Few cautions to pass along to young/dumb/innocent readers:
  • Tell young girls it's not cool to stay with someone after they've abandoned you in a cold forest and told you they don't love you nor want to be with you. [What Bella really needed was a friend to tell her, He's just not into you.]
  • Tell young girls it's not cool to flirt with a friend who likes you just because he can help you with things like building a motorcycle. [Which, by the way, what 15 year-old can build a motorcycle?! Come on, Stephanie!]
  • Tell young girls it's not cool to put yourself life-threatening situation even if visions of the pale man who dumped you in a forest occur. [Duh! He dumped you. He's just not that into you.]
  • Tell young girls it's not cool when your life is threatened or in danger in the presence of a man who can throw you across a room. [Yes, even if he says he's sorry and will never do it again.]
  • Tell young girls it's not cool to steal a sports car in a foreign country and drive recklessly in attempts to save a man who said he didn't love you from committing suicide.
Have I read Twilight? Yes. Have I watched the movies? Yes. Did I enjoy them? Yes. All I'm asking is for people to recognize the underlying messages and sudden philosophical, ethical, and metaphysical subtleties in popular media.

If Hosea's warning is true, then consider me your romantic life-line.

*I have friends who to this day dream of getting married in Snow White's castle in front of Fantasy Land. One girl I knew rented Cinderella's stagecoach and eight white horses to pull her up to her ceremony. [Note: It cost $6,000 for her 3-minute entrance.]
** I read Twilight in one day. Er, more like 9.73 hours. And yes, I dreamed I kissed Edward Cullen in Forks. I'm serious. Like, dead serious.

22 comments:

Haley Lamb said...

thank you, Bianca for being courageous enough to take on the Twilight Phenomenon! Well said! :)

Melinda said...

During the first year of my marriage, I found myself being so disappointed. It took some time to realize that I was only disappointed because my notion of sex/love/marriage from TV/movies/books created expectations for my husband that shouldn't be there and just weren't fair to him. I just didn't realize my expectations had been so radically warped by media. After evaluating what my expectations were based on and what REAL love/sex/marriage looked like (and the fact that it ISN'T red roses and carriage rides every weekend), what a difference!

the BLAH BLAH BLAHger said...

Ufda, I just don't get the whole Twilight deal...pale little teenyboppers who KNOW love - give me a break. But I guess it's the same thing as the "bodice-ripper" books that I do enjoy. Ha!

But, I'm listening, I'm listening...I DO want my children to be blessed. : )

christy said...

u know when i first saw the movie..i thought it was a bit hokey...edward was not that cute..and some moments in the movie were awkward...but, then i watched it again (blame not having cable)...and started to like it more...and more..then got the book, then the second, then the third, and finally the fourth all in about 2 and a half months (i have a family so i couldn't read it in 4 days:)) edward became cuter...the freindship between jacob and bella became intriguing..although I was disappointed with the end of the series, i could say i was obsessed for a brief moment(embarrased to say)...i think yes the market for the books are too young...and yes here are messages that are dangerous...but it's so hard to find the line between fantasy and irresponsibilty...with movies, music, books...how do you deal with it? address it? i am a romantic dreamer...i love "love"...i love stories of new love..so i am guilty of getting caught up...as an adult it's easy to get over it and understand it's a movie but i know as young girls it is harder...how do u addres the topic of no compromise and how do we stop it from becoming a legalistic battle?

Michelle said...

This is such a great topic... and seemingly impossible to really discuss with people. I have a 12 year old daughter. (And a 10 year old son). I went out of my way to keep them from Disney movies for several reasons (but mostly because the few times they did watch them they were terrified). This wasn't an easy feat as my sister in law was employed by Disney. ;)

Anyway, we have steered clear of a lot of "modern fairytales" choosing to watch the Discovery channel and other shows that center on science & learning.

Here's what I notice 12 years into it. My daughter is still *YOUNG.* While her friends seem to be getting into the drama of middle school, make-up, boys, etc. she continues to be focused on school, ballet, American Girl dolls (this is not an endorsement... those things are ridiculously priced).

I'm not one to tell other people what to do or watch but we chose to not go with the masses in terms of our children's viewing/reading habits and 12 years into our parenting journey we are seeing fruit. :)

Nice post Bianca. :)

Jasmine said...

I don't know if I could ever forgive you for talking about my Edward that way. Ever.

xoxo

Diandra Ann said...

Oh my girls are soooo mad at you right now! I read this to Crystal and we got done and she was like, "so does that mean she's team Jacob?" :) ha.

C said...

I am laughing so hard right now, I can't pull myself together to make a worthy comment. We'll talk Sunday, just showing you some blog love!

Beth said...

$6000?!! That's like £3500?! Wow, good job I never wanted white horses I guess!!! Do love a bitta fairytale magic, not so sure about the whole vampire thing though, maybe I should give the books ago. The "I love you, but I want to eat you" thing put me off a bit...really? You still wanna hang around when the guy wants to eat you?! I think I'd call a cab home!

Renay. said...

So true, so very true! Although I don't have a clue about Twilight and all the hype, I do know about the Disney Fairytale expectations and no, marriage is just not like that! What I do want to say though is that God writes better love stories! I mean meeting and getting to know your husband in the Holy Land is a way better fairytale, if you ask me! ;) Great post, B!

Jennifer said...

wow I agree. I am have read all the books and have watched the movies and Loved them. But I agree with what you are saying. Many young girls might think that those events that Bella went through or did would be okay in real life. I feel that it might be misunderstanding for young girls if the fall in love with this idea of Edward when its a fantasy. Don't get me wrong who wouldn't want an Edward but its just a fantasy.

a lily among thorns said...

High five on the post.
by the way, love the tags. "I'm your romantic life-line"...print that on a business card.

Marisa said...

great post - i loved the books (movies don't do books justice). i think part of the obsession stems from here is (by definition) bella is plain, and she has two boys fighting for her attention. what girl doesn't want that? it sells this idea that it is perfectly normal to vascillate between two males and use their feelings as a way to get what you want. dangerous. love that you tackled this bianca!

Shannon said...

I haven't experienced the Twilight craziness myself, but I am passionately anti-Disney princess (and Barbie) precisely because I think they teach our kids, especially our girls, the wrong message about love and relationships. I certainly don't think it's wrong to "fantasize" about true love (I believe this is a good desire!), but I do want my daughter (and sons!) to grow up with a sense of reality about what that looks like.

(I drives me nuts that those darn princesses are EVERYWHERE and on EVERYTHING. You can hardly find a backpack, or toothbrush, or scooter, or (fill in the blank) without one of those dumb girls on it. UGH. Drives me NUTS. I can't stand the over-marketing/commercialization of our children! Everything has a character on it these days. Sorry ... soapbox of mine ... stepping down now.)

Back to the princesses ... I CAN'T STAND that the princesses and Barbie are all HORRIBLY skinny. Emaciated, really. Talk about causing body image issues - ay! And then there's the whole "I'm a frail pathetic girl who needs a man or I"ll die" mentality. Blech! Get real! You don't "need" a man ... wanting one is fine ... but if you run around "needing" one so desperately, you'll get yourself in some serious relationship trouble, IMO.

I love my husband with all of my heart - and yet I am still proudly independent and capable all on my own. I want my daughter to grow up to be a strong, independent Godly woman who THEN finds a Godly man who compliments her strengths and weaknesses. Will he sweep her off her feet? He might - who knows - but he might also sneak up in the form of a best friend like mine did. No birds fluttering around our heads, no music ... just a deep friendship that turned into a deep, lasting love.

Michelle said...

{{{{{{{{{standing and applauding Shannon & her soapbox!!}}}}}}}}} :D

Frances said...

I just saw Twilight for the first time a few months ago and I of course had to see New Moon after that-I have to say that I loved them both! but I too thought about the message this was sending to all those crazy teeny boppers and women in general. This was nicely put and your cautions made me laugh and they are right on.

Amy Joy Francis said...

When a man says "You should stay away from me," or "I'm trouble" it is WAY too often incorrectly translated by women. Men literal mean they are going to be bad for us, or that we will get hurt. But we don't get that. What I (we) hear is "I don't think much of myself." and "I'm troubled" prompting us to launch into nurturing and saving mode. From experience, I would say to anyone dating or involved with a man who utters a phrase like the ones above, or like the ones Edward uses in Twilight and New Moon, RUN! He is giving you insight into the truth about him. Don't disregard it. Don't minimize it. People tell you who they really are. We just would rather hear what we want to believe. The Father or Lies helps us along in our denial. Unfortunately, so do movies and books like Twilight. When Bella refuses not to be afraid of being with Edward, she winds up living happily ever after. But reality is so different. A good man won't tell you "you should be with someone else." A kind and honest man won't have a "poor me, I should just be alone because that is all I deserve" attitude. The creeps that say that aren't humble. They are guilty. They have a past (or current) sinful secret. They are hoping you will you stay anyway, and then they can alleviate their guilty conscious by saying, "Well, I warned her, so if she gets hurt it is her fault."

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Carrie Domestquista said...

I can't believe I never thought about that. I'm a big Twilight fan, and that definitely hasn't changed. But the underlying message... Very, very good Bianca! I'm so glad you pointed this out for everyone to see.

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