“It all begins . . . with a choice.” And so I felt last night when Sherrylee wanted to go see the third Twilight movie. We told our friends at supper that we were doing it so we could still have intelligent conversations with our daughter and daughters-in-law as well as the young women on our staff. We entered the theater with low expectations, but we were both pleasantly surprised by the film. For us, this episode in the Twilight Saga films was far and away the best.
Lest I end up with either a stake or a silver bullet (depending on your lifestyle) through my heart, let me just say that I have not read any of the books, so my only information is from the films themselves. My second disclaimer is that I am a male, and these movies are 100% for near-adolescent girls through women whose self-image is 18-25—and I truly do not mean that disparagingly. Don’t we all think of ourselves younger—locked in at a certain age—which makes crossing those birthday milestones that force you to re-think your age just that much more painful!
One of the reasons we had expected less from this film was anticipation that it was all about the war between Victoria’s army of vampires and the Cullen Clan–don’t you love the names! Clans conjure up images of either wild west feuds or Braveheart—but it wasn’t; rather, it did focus on the main characters and their choices—mostly choices about love. Talking about love choices with your teenage girls should be fun! I think I would start with questions, not comments. Try these questions and then listen to what they say. After that, you might get to make an observation or two—that’s your choice!
1. Why does Bella love Edward? He’s a pretty face, he’s an “older man,” he’s chivalrous (I’m sure they won’t use that word!), but he also tries to control her and he’s only as passionate as a cold guy can be! So what’s the attraction? . . . You are going to learn a lot about your girls if you can get them to answer this question with something besides giggles.
2. Why does Bella love Jacob? Jacob is the opposite of Edward in many ways. He’s more physical and more physically attractive, warm, same age, much more passionate, and less “mental”—meaning driven more by his feelings than his mind. Which one appeals to your daughters? Again, if you can listen, you will learn a lot.
3. How can Bella love both of them? You may get some answers that lead to a conversation about attraction versus love—with your girls being more or less able to differentiate. You might also get hit with a taste of the postmodern (or millennial) , that is, you can’t help who you fall in love with, so you are just a passive pawn in a universe driven by nothing. This is a great opportunity to start the real meat of the conversation about love being a choice.
4. Love is a choice! Ok, finally you get to make a statement—and this is really an important one. Especially this film shows the personal choices that not only Bella, but all of the characters are making. Bella is choosing Edward, not only out of great romantic love, but also because she has always felt like an outsider and powerless and with the Cullens, she feels like an insider and powerful! Edward is choosing to do the most selfish thing he has ever done, endangering Bella’s soul because he loves her (This might lead to a great conversation on whether this is really love!) Jacob chooses to fight for Bella’s love because he loves her and believes he is better for her. (Here’s a thought question: Would Jacob turn Bella into a Wolf if he thought it would cost her something as precious as her soul??) True motivations are always complicated.
5. Is Bella making good choices? I’m not really fond of this character. She’s broody and conflicted, too much so for my tastes. I don’t like it that she tries to take Edward to bed. (BTW, if I had teenage daughters I would tell them that very few guys will resist if a girl comes on that strong. The boys should—but very few will! ) I understand her conflict with marriage—so typical of young people today who are mostly the product of broken marriages—but I don’t like her choice of not marrying. I do like that she respects her parents; but she doesn’t really listen to them enough—another bad choice. She, like many kids, is not a bad person, but I see her making lots of bad choices . . . . so how does a girl not make these or other bad choices?
6. In our story, does God have a role in any of these choices? Take every opportunity to remind your teens (and yourself) that any story that leaves God out is not the story we want to live out. That’s our number one choice that should frame ALL other choices. You don’t have to preach a sermon—just let your kids know that for a Christian, this is the most important choice of all.
As I said, those of you who have read all the books may have a completely different view of motivations; I’m only talking about what I see in the films. Apparently at least two more sequels are already in the pipeline: Breaking Dawn, Part One and Part Two. Whether you are a Twilight fan or not, your daughters/granddaughters probably are, so I’d suggest you use the opportunity to listen first, then talk about love and choices.
And it wouldn’t hurt you Dads/Granddads to be a part of this conversation either! Suck it up and see it! (Oops, wrong metaphor!)