(Note: If you haven’t read it/seen it and are worried about spoilers, I will try my best to not ruin it for you)
Just in case you haven’t heard, there is a big movie releasing tonight at 12am across the U.S.: Twilight. The book, to sum up in a line, is about a 17 year old girl who falls in love with a vampire who has sworn off drinking human blood.
Fans are going absolutely crazy about this release, and chances are you have a few in your youth group that are just as crazy about the movie as the rest of the nation. Which brings me to the point of this entry: What should be a youth worker’s stance on Twilight?
A mother approached me last night and asked me if I had talked to our kids about the movie yet, and I hadn’t (which would of been a good thing in this case), and she continued to talk about how she wasn’t allowing her 12 year old daughter to see the movie. On my way home I thought about my conversation with this concerned mother and I came to 2 conclusions: 1) Parents are looking to youth workers for additional support when it comes to influencing their children and 2) We need to be careful how we toe the parental line when it comes to issues of entertainment.
I took the time and read Twilight because I wanted to see what the big deal was and I wanted to have some kind of a credible answer if someone asked me what I thought about the series. I felt slightly awkward reading it because I’m 27 year old man reading a book written for 14 year old girls, but I found it an entertaining read none the less.
Here are my observations:
First, what I found positive about the book was that it was fairly clean for a young adult fiction book. If you watch what’s on prime time tv for young adults, this is tame. There is no sex. There are no sexual references. There is some sexual tension between the two main characters but nothing that I would see as inappropriate (mainly kissing, holding, etc…).
Another positive is that are very few swear words. I believe I counted 3 total (“damn” twice and one blasphemy). As someone who has read the Harry Potter series and was surprised at the swearing in those, this book was a breath of fresh air for anyone who is sensitive to swearing. Some may find one swear word unacceptable, but that’s up to each individual.
The story is compelling and interesting. Even though there wasn’t “a lot of action” in the first two thirds of the book, I found myself being drawn to learn more and more about the characters. Meyers (the author) has an incredible gift for making the characters come to life and easy to identify with.
At least in the first book, there is little violence. There are no graphic depictions of vampires drinking blood or anything like that. There is lots of talk about blood because it takes a major role in the book about Edward’s draw to Bella and her blood. There is a bit of violence towards the end of the first book, but I don’t want to lead to any spoilers for any potential readers out there.
On the negative side…
Some view vampires occultic. While the primary characters are “good” and do not participate in drinking human blood, there are still other vampires in the story that follow the traditional vampire thinking of drinking human blood.
My biggest negative is that the main characters put a potentially dangerous view and practice on love. Imagine for a moment that you have a teenage daughter that comes home to you, wanting to leave the family and run off with a boy who is “the one” that she met just a few weeks ago. Bella swoons for Edward quickly and is willing to give up everything to be with him, even her own life and family. That troubles me when the primary audience of this book are teenage girls who might be thinking of that boy who is ‘worth it’. However, this does offer the opportunity to talk about these kinds of relationship issues between parents and their child.
I don’t remember where I read about this, but someone made a great comparison between Edward’s desire for drinking Bella’s blood and the average teenager’s desire for sex. Edward made the commitment to not drink human blood and even though Bella’s is nearly irresistible to him, he abstains despite his desire. In my opinion, this point makes the great illustration of premarital sex. Take it, run with it.
Bottom line: If you liked Harry Potter and had no problem with Harry Potter, you will like Twilight and have no problem with it. If you had a problem with Harry Potter, you’re going to have a problem with Twilight. There are worse books out there for young adults, but there are better ones too. Below are 2 websites that I plan to forward to some of our parents who might be looking for some extra advice. Feel free to check them out as well!
Here is a website review against the movie.
Here is a website review for the movie/books plus the bonus of some things you need to know.