Thursday, March 25, 2010
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Friday, March 12, 2010
Friday, March 05, 2010
A number of months ago I wrote on my experience of watching the two Twilight films which have become monetary cinematic ‘successes’. I watched them in reverse order due to my strong desire to briefly escape a conference I had been attending when the ‘New Moon’ installment was released. New Moon left a bad taste in my mouth, but having some form of artistic integrity, I decided I must give the first film a chance to redeem the franchise. Twilight’s debut film release was, in my humble opinion, better than it’s newer relative. After being equally nauseated (New Moon) and convinced (original Twilight) by the two films within their accompanying social media tempest, I began reflecting on some more abstruse meaning presented within these films.
While there are elements to celebrate within the Twilight series, such as the cinematography of the Pacific Northwest, the intriguing screenwriting and the intricacies of connections between characters, there are of course more subtle messages that hold sway as well. My main concern in highlighting a few of these potentially more disastrous aspects is for younger, or less critical souls that could be trounced upon by Twilight’s resonance with their everyday experience and fanatic fantasies. If left unexamined in the midst of all the beauty and wonder the films traffic, these sentiments augmented by the film’s popular appeal may be assimilated unknowingly.
Reminiscent of the age old story of Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare, Twilight has an underlying tragic element which in many respects offers suicide and self harm as possible resolutions to teenage relational / emotional turmoil. This is nothing short of cataclysmic for malleable and somewhat unanchored lives, tossed around in the sea-change known as adolescence. I have no qualms with real life relational sophistication in all it’s variance as portrayed within the films, but I do not believe it beneficial for those aforementioned souls to see deadly means employed to deal with temporary situations. Bella seems perpetually encased in state of depression and exhibits accompanying behavior such as self-imposed social exclusion, potentially destructive behaviors and suicidal tendencies.
While freedom of expression is an important aspect of life, doesn’t ‘love’ motivate us to work for the good of others and not their harm? Casting our adult minds back to but a fraction of our own experience as teens - and possibly that of others we knew - should empower us to be better equipped in supporting these emerging adults in their wonderful, weird and yes, wacky, developmental journey. There is so much that is thrown up in the air within those formative years of human existence in regards to identity, relational circles and cycles, education, purpose, and emotional maturity that it seems cruel to offer anything less than edifying, constructive support for these adults under construction.
The pure platform that all forms of mass media inhabit augment the supra-reality each medium offers its consumer. By the very fact that something or someone is afforded a stage - ‘a moment in the spotlight’ - they have been given more credibility than possibly their character or message innately possess. This inordinate amount of influence requires an inordinate level of responsibility. This truth is corroborated in the Scriptures when it states, “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” (James 3:1, N.I.V.). The same truth was popularized in the Spiderman franchise films when Pete Parker’s uncle Ben tells him early into his web-slinging career that “. . with great power comes great responsibility.” Satire ensued.
Along with Bella’s tendency toward the downward spiral of self-obsessed destructive behaviors in the wake of her broken relationship with Edward, the films exuded a sense that token sexual encounters, while not intercourse, are ‘safe’ for those engaged in them. Setting the varied opinions about sexual intercourse prior to being in a lifelong, committed relationship aside, there are practical concerns with any popularization of dating habits that statistically end in more sexually transmitted disease / infections, unnecessary emotional pain and, of course, unwanted pregnancies. I know you may be thinking, “C’mon, it’s only a film!” and at times I would be saying the same thing. But, in this instance, because of the unique maturation phase of the Twilight films’ targeted audience and the ubiquitous, powerful influence of media in personal formation, I stand in opposition to messages communicated through these avenues and in this manner for the sake of the Young.
Edward’s seemingly benign encounters of gazing upon Bella in her underwear while in bed do nothing to help young people (let alone adults!) develop clear understanding and personal discipline in making choices which help them navigate the course of relational integrity throughout life. It’s reminiscent of the old adage that playing with fire usually ends in someone getting burned. This is not a fear based or fear motivated tactic, but pure and simple wisdom. It’s more than unfortunate that much of the Western world demonstrates that personal ‘freedom’ mandates the pursuit of the gratification of our every desire for our pleasure. There is a direct correlation between the choices we make and the consequences we experience - good or bad - in life. Anyone who admonishes or touts the innocence of such behavior only heaps fuel on the ‘fire’ and turns a blind eye to the incontestable evidence of how we humans are ‘wired up’ when it comes to - in the case above - sexual activity. The next logical step in a bedroom situation as displayed in ‘New Moon’ is obvious to all, it’s meant to work that way and frankly, that’s why it does - but it doesn’t usually end well.
After ranting to some degree about the potentially destructive messages inherent in such hugely popular films such as the Twilight franchise, and the intrinsic power suffused within mass media, I can understand why one might think me a prude. The inverse is actually true. From where I stand, gifts such as sex are designed to be more fully enjoy within the boundaries of healthy, lifelong monogamous relationships where, in ideal circumstances, both partners are perpetually seeking to do good to one another. Likewise, while some may herald this as an assault on personal freedoms, I see no qualitative benefit to exposing young people to lifestyle choices such as the ones exhibited by Bella (in the medium they were presented) without opportunities to discuss the various outcomes from those choices in the context of caring relationships. To do so otherwise is potentially destructive - especially for young lives in transition.
I’m all for art - I love it as a means of expression and a mirror to see ourselves within. I support the role art fulfills in revealing the spectrum of human experience through a variety of mediums, but I believe it should be done in a measured, sensitive approach which seeks to work for the good of the lives of those who engage with it.