Monday, November 28, 2011

Lessons to be learned from Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1

Disclaimer: This post deals with a mature but essential subject matter. It is not something that we as Christians can just hope won't affect our children.

I am not a movie critic nor do I play one on TV. I am also not a Twilight expert. I have not read any of the books and I have only seen two of the movies. Having only seen two of the movies (the last two) means that I have been sufficiently lost as to the major plot line. Which means that my general observations of the movies have been limited to the following:

  • It is about two guys fighting over one girl (not sure if that one has been done before);
  • The guy who plays Edward is sort of creepy looking (I see why they picked him to play a vampire);
  • The name Bella in this story seems contrived and very out of place (I found myself getting annoyed by it);
  • The guy who plays the werewolf is always looking to go shirtless in the cold and rainy weather of the Northwest (which led to the best line of either of the movies that I have seen: "Doesn't he own a shirt?");
  • It is easy to recognize that the movies were written for teen girls (and I would assume the same is true for the books as well).
Twilight is your typical teen angst love story wrapped in the thin candy shell of vampires and werewolves. My goal is not to review the overall content of Twilight or its inherent glorification and worship of mythical creatures that subsist on sucking the very life-blood out of people and were universally feared and reviled until somewhat recently. Rather I would like to focus on a couple of scenes from the most recent film installment.

Both my wife and I were appalled at the intensity and explicitness of the sex scenes. They were explicit without being graphic. There was no nudity but not much was left to the imagination either. As an aside it occurs to me that adding a sex scene to a movie is a very unimaginative and uncreative way of telling a story. This is a movie that is aimed at teen girls and the inclusion of these scenes move this film at least into the category of erotica and may even qualify as pornography.*

I am not naive enough to think that this movie breaks any ground in exposing teens to sex. I realize that basic cable (and sometimes even network TV) shows just as much as what was shown in Twilight. However whether or not our kids can see these things is not the right question. The real question is whether or not our kids (and us adults as well) should see these things.

The other important issue surrounds the idea of where our kids learn about sex. We as Christians cannot allow culture and media to be the lone voice when it comes to these issues. We also should not be doing "cleanup work." Our job is not to correct what our kids learn from these sources. Rather our kids should have learned enough from us first that they can start to recognize when they are being exposed to the wrong view of sex. When they hear at school that a condom is the best way to prevent an STD or pregnancy their reaction should be to think, "Well that's just silly. I have an even lower risk of an STD or pregnancy if I wait to have sex until marriage."  

There are two lessons that we can learn from the latest Twilight movie. The first is the absolute importance of parents taking the time to view any movies that their children want to see. And the second is taking the time to be the primary educational source for all of life's lessons. Even the difficult ones like sex.

*Erotica is generally defined as sexually implicit material designed to illicit an emotional response while pornography is defined as being designed to illicit a sexual response. However I don't know that there is any real difference in that the emotional responses aroused in erotica are going to be very closely tied to a sexual response. It doesn't seem possible to completely divorce the two. 

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