Chastity and Motherhood: How Conservative is "Twilight: Breaking Dawn"?

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by Anthony Kaufman
November 21, 2011 10:11 AM
2 Comments
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Is there any better example of the need for Planned Parenthood than "Twilight: Breaking Dawn"? That's a joke, of course. For those looking for examples of the conservative and reactionary nature of Hollywood, there's no stronger proof than Stephanie Meyer's no-sex-before-marriage "Twilight" franchise.

To all those who follow the rightwing belief that "Big Hollywood" exists to push left-wing agendas, the enormous success of the "Twilight" series offers serious counterproof: Hollywood has always and will always be dominated with stories of faith, family and traditional values.

In his missive about the film, "Heteronormative Vampires," none other than Roger Ebert declared: "[the franchise] summarizes a world view that creates a climate hostile to non-traditional sexuality.... 'Come on now, what is 'Twilight' really about? It's about a teenage boy trying to practice abstinence, and how, in the heat of the moment, it's really, really hard.'"

Noting the conspicuous absence of the conjugal act in the latest movie, Ebert continues: "Incredibly, we never see the events of the wedding night." Why? He writes, because the characters "are more ideals than real people: Beautiful, perfect, young, idealistic. We have no desire to have the image besmirched by rumpy-pumpy."

I would add that it's also because the conservative mythos suggests that sex is some horrible danger. As much as it's desired, it's also shunned as an evil.

Look at the G.O.P.'s increasing pressure to defund Planned Parenthood. I'm sure Meyer would approve. Of course, as I joked above, perhaps "Breaking Dawn" is a strong argument for the women's health organization. They might have advised Bella about the dangers of giving birth to a vampire.

For more on the subject, see: "Breaking Dawn: Part 1: An Anti-Abortion Message in a Bruised-Apple Package":

"Given that the film ultimately depicts the pregnancy and resulting birth as miraculous, the word “baby” is framed as more apt than the more pro-choice-preferred “fetus.” The term “miracle” and Bella’s instant transformation into a woman who will protect her pregnancy at all costs–even her own life–also echo common anti-abortion narratives.... The life of the fetus is framed as more important than Bella’s, a sentiment that colors these pieces of anti-abortion legislation. And Bella is portrayed as a heroic martyr, the ultimate mother-to-be, rather than as a delusional lovestruck teen with a seeming death wish."

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2 Comments

  • Russell Lloyd | December 23, 2011 8:48 PMReply

    Fascinating assessments and opinions. I can’t say as I agree that “Hollywood has always and will always be dominated with stories of faith, family and traditional values.” The operative word being, of course, “dominated.” It may perhaps have been dominated by such stories initially because that’s what people wanted to see. But as for recent years, I think you would be hard pressed to prove such a notion. If you could perhaps provide more evidence than just the Twilight saga for your claim it would help to substantiate your point. Might I suggest taking the time period between the release of the first Twilight film and the date of your writing this article and list how many mainstream Hollywood films present and support “faith, family and traditional values,” 100% of the running time of the film, never deviating from that message, and then compare that to the list of mainstream Hollywood films that do the exact opposite and glorify lifestyles contradictory to those three things. Then I would be more inclined to agree with you.

    But that’s not the part of your review I wanted most to address. What stands out most to me is your assertion that the author left out the actual act of sex from the movie because her “conservative mythos suggests that sex is some horrible danger,” and an act to be “shunned as an evil.”

    I find such an assertion to be quite ignorant of the religious and/or conservative views of the author. Stephanie Meyer, according to Wikipedia, “is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; [and] has stated that she is strait-laced about her beliefs.” And while I can’t speak for her, and am no spokesman for the Church, as a member of the Church I feel I can share a few ideas that may enlighten you and others to a different point of view on why she may have withheld the wedding night acts from the movie. (As I have never read the books, I can only assume that they aren’t written there either.)

    God’s plan for His children has always been to exalt the family; father, mother, children, all sealed together as a single unit to exist together through eternity. The family is thus sacred and therewith also the act that creates the family. Few today, even within the Christian/conservative community, share such views about the eternal nature of the family, yet as members of the afore-mentioned Church we consider these things to be divinely appointed and thus sacred in the eyes of God.

    As such sex is not an evil act to be shunned, but a joyful and sacred act to be used appropriately and within proper bounds (the bonds of marriage) for at least two purposes: to unify a husband and wife together as “one flesh,” and for the creation of new life to bring God’s children to earth into the sacred family unit (see Genesis 2:24; 2 Nephi 2).

    Just as we do not invite the world to come and watch the goings on of our wedding and subsequent nights because what happens is a personal and sacred aspect of the relationship between husband and wife, so too we do not believe that such things should or even need to be put on display for the whole world to see. To hold something sacred is to keep it special and share with no one other than the parties involved, in this case husband and wife. And while I realize that we live in a world that possesses very little regard for keeping sacred things sacred, some of us still do consider such things too sacred to share with the world at large.

    And so, while it may be true that some believe sex to be an evil to be avoided and would for that reason have left sex out of the story, because this series is written by a believing and practicing member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I feel I can safely say that the details of the night were withheld, not because the author thinks such acts evil, but because she feels exactly the opposite: that such acts are a sacred good, mandated and designed by God for the blessing of His children on this earth and for the blessing of those still yet to come.

  • Irena Szohr | November 21, 2011 10:33 AMReply

    OMG, Breaking Dawn - Part 1 is absolutely incredible! I can't wait for Part 2! MORE MORE MORE!!!! Don't ever stop making Twilight movies! They've never been better...never! Never better! Woooo! :)

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