Cal State prof argues ‘Twilight’ Not So Good for Girls (A North County Times Article)
The following piece ran in the books section of the North County Times, Sunday, August 28, 2011.
With the newest movie of “Twilight” set to come out this November, there has been a lot of talk about who is on “Team Edward” and who is on “Team Jacob” —- but what about Team Bella?
That’s the question that author and Cal State San Marcos professor Natalie Wilson asks.
“Some of the messages that the books are giving are a little bit problematic in terms of what women’s roles are,” said Wilson in a recent interview.
Wilson teaches several courses in the women’s studies program at CSUSM. But last year, she taught one titled “Twilight: The Text and the Fandom” —- which was also the substance of her book, “Seduced by Twilight: The Allure and Contradictory Messages of the Popular Saga” (Mcfarland & Co., $35).
Wilson said that she thinks the love portrayed in the Twilight books and movies is a very unhealthy love. In her book, she goes over the text of the four novels in Stephenie Meyer’s series, and tries to illustrate how the books present a passive image of women.
Wilson admittedly comes at the Twilight books from a feminist perspective, and also tries to analyze how notions of race, gender and capitalism play into the books and films.
“Some people say that ‘These are just movies’ or ‘They are just books,'” said Wilson of the reaction she sometimes receives to her views on the “Twilight” phenomenon. “But there’s something deeper going on. It’s not just entertainment, because pop culture and entertainment do shape how we think about things.”
“Edward is a very abusive character, and he is very dominant and you don’t realize that until you take a second glance at it,” said one of Wilson’s students, Cardina Ballardes.
“Love is something that both people feel,” added Wilson’s daughter, Naomi Clift, 12. “It’s not all about looks, but also personality.”
Wilson said her feminist perspective was inspired by her upbringing in Hollister. She had an older brother, and says she didn’t agree with how her parents’ rules for him were different from those they had for her. She now has two children of her own (a son and daughter) and she tries to instill feminist concepts when teaching them.
In general, Disney movies and the majority of other romance films that portray a “happily ever after” ending are actually presenting a negative and false image, she said. Wilson said she prefers novels like the “Divergent” trilogy and “The Hunger Games,” which portray a strong female protagonist.