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Cal State prof argues ‘Twilight’ Not So Good for Girls (A North County Times Article)

August 28, 2011

The following piece ran in the books section of the North County Times, Sunday, August 28, 2011.

(url: http://www.nctimes.com/entertainment/books-and-literature/article_c262efca-eb07-5ee5-9979-f6d99250df41.html)

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.

 

 

 

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 29, 2011 5:40 pm

    Congratulations on the article! 😀

    It’s quite succinct, though, and the part about HAE in the last paragraph is not clear to me. I am planning to write an article on my own blog about Happily Ever Afters in romance and why they’re about so much more than making readers “feel good”… From what I’ve heard of Hunger Games, your contrasting Twilight with it makes me guess that you are against HEA for YA novels only/mainly? In which case, well, I rather agree, as I probably made obvious in my last comment about marriage. 😉

    • Natalie Wilson permalink*
      August 30, 2011 12:23 am

      Asia, Thanks! Yes, the article is short. Was hoping for more as the reporter interviewed me for over an hour…
      I am not totally against Happily Ever After’s per se, but I am against the fact they are almost always linked to white privilege, wealth, heteronormativity, etc. How about some HEA’s for working class lesbians, for example? And (SPOILER ALERT) Hunger Games does have a somewhat traditional “happy ending” (which disappointed me), but what comes before the end is so good that I still recommend that series – and Katniss’ ending is at least less traditional than Bella’s…
      Please send along a link to your post on HEAs once it’s up!

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