I have never seen anything like “Breaking Dawn: Part 1,” which is so brazenly about something it never actually acknowledges, but isn’t smart enough to be allegorical. It freaks me out, and it should freak you out too.
I’ve had an itch to know and understand the “Twilight” series of books and movies ever since I almost wrote a story about a young girl in Santa Fe who committed suicide. She was the daughter of a combat marine and coach here, one of the best guys I’ve ever met. A few years ago when I was a sports reporter, I was regularly bugging him about helping me report on real-life competitive knife fighting. I didn’t hear from him in a while, and then he got back in touch and said he had another story he wanted me to do.
She was a young girl, I can’t remember how old. She’d become completely obsessed with the “Twilight” books, about two high schoolers who fall in love. The boy in the story is a vampire. His name is Edward and he’s really good-looking. The girl’s name is Bella. My friend’s daughter gushed on and on about how wonderful Edward is. She started telling her dad and other family members to call her “Bella.” She changed her hair and clothes to match descriptions of Bella in the novels. Then she hanged herself.
I did not end up writing this story, though I did interview a few experts on teenage suicide. The girl didn’t kill herself because of “Twilight;” she had deep-running issues with abandonment and self esteem. My friend thought the books were evil and had changed his daughter, but they didn’t cause the problems that ultimately killed her, nor did they drive her to hang herself.
Still, I’ve always been curious.
This is what happens in “Breaking Dawn: Part 1,” based on the last book in the “Twilight” series:
Bella and Edward are married, at a nice-enough wedding where family and friends give funny speeches. Nice enough, that is, until Bella’s werewolf friend Jacob shows up to see Bella on her “last day as a human.” Except she’s not gonna turn into a vampire immediately, she tells him. He freaks out and tells her she’ll die. Apparently, they are talking about the danger of human-vampire sex. This has to be inferred, though, because they never actually say anything specific.
Honeymoon time. Bella gets really nervous about the sex, though she never says so. She shaves her legs and brushes her teeth and there is huge, huge buildup to her finally getting the chance to bone this boring whelp Edward. They start going at it, and in the middle of the act Edward grabs the top of the headboard and squeezes it so hard it breaks in his hands.
“How badly are you hurt?” he asks her in the morning. She says she’s fine, but then they both notice she’s covered in bruises. Edward freaks out, throwing a fit of self-loathing. No more sex, he has decided without saying so. She puts on a black nighty and poses for him, trying to goad his whelp libido into action, and he laughs at her.
She wakes up from a dream and literally begs Edward in the middle of the night. He consents. The next morning she finds herself alone, eating peanut butter and chicken for breakfast. As she eats, she starts staring at a chicken leg, slowly pulls the pink meat from the bone, then gets nauseous and goes to the bathroom to throw up. She’s pregnant, just like that.
The flick gets really dark at this point. All the characters start telling Bella she’s going to die because she’s carrying a vampire baby. Abortion, just like the sex, is talked about over and over, without actually being talked about. Everyone wants the baby “out of her.” She says it’s a miracle, though, and she’s gonna have it. Edward flips out again, angrily blaming Bella for forcing him to do something he didn’t want to do. Now she’s gonna die because she was so insistent they do the dirty deed.
I just can’t stress this enough: There is no plot in “Breaking Dawn,” and no action. It’s all about the fretting over sex and its consequences.
When the baby comes we get a crazy caesarian scene, shot in first-person from Bella’s point of view. It’s incredibly bloody. Even worse is the way this scene sounds, with all kinds of crazy crunching noises. She actually dies for a while, until Edward bites through her skin on different spots all over her body. Then she comes back as a vampire.
This is just “Part 1.” “Part 2” is coming late this year, and it’ll sell out midnight shows and be a huge hit with little girls who are new to the feeling of finding boys cute instead of icky. That is a disturbing prospect. Being a little kid at that age (pre-teens and early teens) is genuinely strange. It can be scary.
Children should not obsess over a story line this brazenly sexual, especially if it can’t responsibly discuss anything. Kids are impressionable. If they’re consumed by a piece of teeny-bopper fiction, they may look to it for some kind of guidance. If some teenager’s boyfriend is a verbally and physically abusive man-child, well, he’s just like Edward so it’s OK. More likely, I think, “Twilight” just muddles the issue of sex in a confused young person’s mind. They sit and watch this garbage thinking it’s about one thing when it’s actually about another.
I looked up Stephenie Meyer, the author of the books and producer of the movies. She’s Mormon, for what that’s worth. She’s also filthy, stinking rich. If some sad tragedy in her past has screwed up her brain, I can’t find anything about that. She may be a covert culture warrior, helping the pro-life politicians who want to outlaw abortion and contraception. Bella is made to feel terrible, physically and emotionally, for wanting to screw her new husband before she was ready to carry his baby. That message would seem spot-on if you’re anti birth control.
Anyway, I hated this movie like nothing I’ve watched in a very long time. (Beyond the creepy politics, it’s just an awful piece of film making, with laughably terrible special effects and dialogue and acting.) If I ever have a daughter, it’ll be a personal mission of mine to keep “Twilight” out of her hands. I hope children who see these stupid movies don’t take them too seriously, because “Twilight” is the work of a sick, repressed mind.
Just like Bella’s demon spawn, it should not be.