Greetings friends. Les here today to discuss Bella Swan. I’ve been asked by my good friend James Daniel Walsh to collaborate on a blog regarding the role model our daughters, as well as yours, are being exposed to. Seeing the subject of his disdain, I jumped at the chance to collaborate with him again.

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KNOCK KNOCK!

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Les: Ah good, he’s here.

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Les opens up the door.

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Les: James, my good friend. Thanks for stopping by my blog again.

 

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JDW: Always nice to see you, Les. Okay, I’ve brought a wooden stake, garlic, holy water…everything one needs for a vampire killing party!

 

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Les: HA HA HA HA Silly James!-wooden stakes and garlic are for REAL vampires LOL. No, my friend, what we’re fighting today is even more pernicious, odious and dangerous to our families. What we’re looking at is Hollywood’s new idea of what makes a role model for girls. YES, my friend, I’m talking about……..

BELLA SWAN!
DA DA DAAAAAAAAAA!

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JDW: I'm truly terrified. I'll admit, up front, that I've never seen any of the Twilight movies, nor have I read the books. I don't plan on it either. I've read the plot synopsis on Wikipedia, I've seen Spoony's amazing 45 minute review of "New Moon" (highly recommended), and I've spoken to unfortunate friends dragged to see the movies by their girlfriends. 

This is a case of me choosing, as a consumer, not to participate in this (very temporary, I'm sure) fad. Not because I am rigid in how I like my vampires portrayed. The vampire myth is flexible enough to incorporate all sorts of idea...even one's as dumb as sparkling bloodsuckers. 

No, my main problem with "Twilight" is with the character of Bella, a high school age girl who obsesses about a boy, gets married rather than go to college, and has a baby. This is the new feminist icon our daughters are supposed to look up to?
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Les: YEP that's the new role model for young girls: A selfish, immature, irresponsible, brainless piece of fluff that will no doubt set the feminist movement back about a century. That's her. 

I can't fathom what makes her so damn popular. She has no redeeming qualities about her whatsoever, and yet millions of half-crazed tweens take up arms if you dare to say anything against her. 
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I HAVE seen the films and I assure you, you haven't been misled!  I envy you for not subjecting yourself to this schlockfest. 

However, I really begin to wonder at the current generation that it would look on Bella Swan as some kind of role model. Why should we admire her? She's shallow, delusional, dishonest, suicidal, has no ethical or moral code, treats her friends like nobodies and completely disrespects both her father and herself. Offhand I can name at least a hundred girls in film tv and even COMIC BOOKS who make better role models.

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JDW: I read an article about how "Eclipse" was going to break the record set by "The Dark Knight," and boy oh boy, you should have seen how the girls on the comments board were gloating. It was as if they were saying, "We beat you and your universally praised masterpiece with a total piece of crap! Girl power!" 

I mean, they have to know, on some level, that "Twilight" is a fad not unlike New Kids on the Block or N*Sync, yet they hold it up as the greatest achievement in literature and film ever. And what really gets me is the fact that, if you ask almost ANY girl what she loves about this shit, she answers quite honestly with 
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"Edward is soooooooo cute." 

That's all "Twilight" is, it’s male exploitation at its worst. And Bella represents something so dark, so insidious, that her popularity makes me wonder how a gender that is currently leading the way in college graduates can fall to their knees and worship a clingy, desperate, manipulative teenage mother.

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Les: Ultimately, I believe The Dark Knight will still be considered a classic in 50 years, and Twilight will be making "worst films of the 21st century" lists around the same time. That doesn't bother me half as much as this "Heroine"(or is that Heroin? from the obsessive nature of the Twilight junkies who consume her like a narcotic), being admired like she represents the new feminist ideal-WTF? 
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If either of my daughters start acting like her, I'm enrolling them in military school! The decisions she makes and the way she thinks, Bella Swan IMO is a role model for those who want to end up as friendless prostitutes. She's a brat who thinks she's a grown up in love-she's not. She's a baby without morals or any concept of responsibility-she just does what she wants and damn the consequences to herself, her family and her friends.

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JDW: Now, I think we should slow things down here and acknowledge two truths. The first is, you and I aren't the target audience for "Twilight." 
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Les:  DAMN STRAIGHT!

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JDW:  These books and movies were not thought up with adult men in mind. Also, as I'm sure many "Twilight" fans might be quick to point out, who are we to decide what the feminist ideal is? ...Well, I'm the father of three daughters, the oldest of which will be a teenager next year. Les is the father of two young girls. And while I could tolerate my daughters liking things I don't (iCarley...OMG!), "Twilight" is, simply put, poison for young female minds. It reinforces female stereotypes that have been out of fashion since the early 1960s. 
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If it was about a strong, smart young girl who falls in love with a vampire who sparkles but wants to go to college and make something of her life, I would think it was dumb but I wouldn't be nearly as horrified by it. Bella puts all of her energy and hope for her future into marrying a boy she goes to high school with (who is actually much, MUCH older than her) and having his baby, forsaking her friends and family to, essentially, become his slave. She uses anyone she can to achieve her goals, including this dumbass werewolf boy 

who inexplicably falls for her, and even becomes SUICIDAL when Edward leaves her in "New Moon." Seriously, what the hell is this supposed to teach girls?

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Les: Yeah, we weren't the target audience James, but we definitely have a stake in the values it espouses in connection with our desires to raise girls to think(stress the word THINK) as mature, responsible young women of independent means who won't forsake their friends, family and throw their lives away on a High School crush!

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And I'm sure there are those out there that will argue that these books and films aren't the direct cause of young women adopting irresponsible behaviors any more than video games are the direct cause of violence in teenagers. I say-probably so, but that only means that the films are reinforcing bad behavior that already exists in those who embrace it as a model to define their lives by.  The popularity of the film gives them the validation to continue bad behavior.  

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As a society, can't we endorse and support better role models for our daughters? Why do we glorify a role model as irrationally irresponsible as Bella Swan? Where's this generation's Erin Brogovitch, Dianne Fossey or Jessica Harrison?(I'll give you the last one: The Man From Snowy River/The Return to Snowy River). Hey Hollywood! How about giving us another intelligent, courageous and REAL heroine?

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JDW: This is the same Hollywood that wont give us a Wonder Woman movie. The most popular female super hero and a feminist icon, and she can't get any love on the big screen? If young girls want a strong female role model, what about Supergirl? Think of everything that can be done with her in this day and age (and forget the ‘80s movie that had her crushing on some brain dead guy that was way too old for her!). The world of film, science fiction, comic books and literature are full of strong female role models - Ripley, Sarah Connor, Princess Leia, the list goes on and on.

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Les:  And don’t forget Zoe Wash from Firefly-she’s strong and good to her friends.  Or if you’d rather find a role model closer to real life, how about Akeelah Anderson?(Akeelah and the Bee) or Tuola Protokalos(My Big Fat Greek Wedding)?

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JDW:  "Twilight" is, as Spoony put it, “porn for women.” Its sex, marketed at teenage girls. "Twilight" objectifies the men in the films, keeping them without their shirts on for most of the movie. Its sexist and offensive, and its marketed to girls like the sleeze it is. 

I find it disgusting that the Christian Right in this country embraces "Twilight" but pickets "Harry Potter." "Twilight" is about getting married too young and knocking out a kid, while "Harry Potter" is about pursuing knowledge. Shouldn't we be encouraging our young ladies to study, get good grades, find a fulfilling career, all BEFORE they tie themselves down? How can these girls watch "Twilight" and see anything other than something offensive? I truly don't understand.

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Les:  No kidding? The Christian Right embrace Twilight? WTF? There's no good family or religious values in it! That blows my mind-I mean...WOW!  As for encouraging our young ladies to study, get good grades, find a fulfilling career, all before they tie themselves down, I can even bend a little on that if the man in question is a good influence on her, respects her-isn't a stalker(that one's pretty important), and she takes the time to get to know him(Years, preferably) before giving him her life carelessly-all of which Twilight DIDN'T have her do.

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JDW: The Christian Right embracing "Twilight" has everyone to do with the fact that Bella and Edward wait to have sex till they're married. If you check back on my "Pre-Marital Sex" issue of STOP THE HATE
you'll find what I have to say about that load of crap. 

As for my kids meeting the right guy at Bella's age...he'd have to be goddamn perfect! He'd have to be a fucking saint in order for me to okay them getting married so young. I got married young, and it isn't romantic in the least. Its stupid! Boys and girls need to get to know themselves before they start marrying off and popping out kids

You know Les, I don't know what else we can say. Judging by how much most people on this site hate "Twilight," I'm going to guess we'll get a lot of people agreeing with us. And all those "Twilight" fans who think we're old, sexist morons who don't get it...what could we possibly say to convince them we have a valid argument? How do you convince a teenager that they don't know everything?
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Les: You know, that's the greatest mystery of all. I know from personal experience that I sure as hell DIDN'T know a Goddamn thing when I was a teenager(except a great skill in piano/singing and an encyclopedic knowledge of Star Wars and Star Trek). But life issues and basic common sense for being responsible-nope, not even close!

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I had my first car accident 2 weeks after getting my driver's license! I voted for Walter Mondale(Hey! I was young!) I signed a prenuptial agreement that my Attorney advised me not to out of an archaic notion of "Love" that ended up biting me in the ass(I'm still paying for that one....) I also know that as a teenager, I thought I was immortal and all-knowing! One of the hardest things about getting older is realizing that your parents were actually right about 80% of the time you were sure they were stupid and didn't understand you. 

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What can we say to those tweens who think Bella Swan is a role model to be admired and emulated? Possibly the notion that she's a fictional character who doesn't exist in the real world where there's real consequences for her stupidity. Possibly by showing them real people who aren't vampires, aren't Hollywood wet dreams who can't offer them immortality and a life of domination. See THOSE are the people that actually exist. Those are the people you'll be relating to because we exist in the real world, not the twisted infantile fantasy of a talentless hack author who against the greatest odds, became successful. 

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But you're probably right. They won't listen to us old, out of touch, dweebs who believe in morals and good upbringing. That's the saddest part of this tale. That this generation will probably look to the silver screen for their inspiration and not care about their parents and what matters to them in how they should grow up into strong and responsible members of society. Anyway, thanks for coming over to talk about this. At least I know I'm not alone in my concerns for our children.

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JDW: I'm sure your girls will be fine, as I'm sure mine will be as well. My girls can't stand "Twilight," and they hate being surrounded by it. Someday, in the not too distant future, this will all be just a bad memory, long forgotten. "Twilight" will be a dust covered DVD in an antique shop. Daughters will ask their mothers, "What was this all about?" And those mothers, who were once these crazed teenage girls obsessed with Bella Swan, will say, "It had something to do with vampires, if I remember correctly." ...Till that day, it was a pleasure, as always, to discuss these important issues with you, my friend.

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Les: Thanks, James. You know you're always welcome at my blog.  
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Les sees JDW out and waves goodbye.

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And THAT, my friends, is a subject that can bring the bile into a conversation between 2 guys who espouse non-hatred the rest of the time.  I guess my biggest problem with Bella, is seeing IMO a total lack of respect from Stephanie Meyer towards her readers that she gives them such a despicable character and displays her as a role model.  It further infuriates me to see said readers buying it hook, line and sinker!  
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I truly hope that this doesn’t become the new ideal of behavior for our young women.  I want my daughters to grow up to want to be something a hell of a lot better.  I want them to be smart and strong.  I want them to make the choices instead of having the choices make them.  Thanks for taking the time to listen to 2 fathers rant about this topic.  Peace.

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