Media is a Powerful outlet. It allows a relatively small group of producers, actors, and writers to connect with the entire country. Twilight manages to cram dozens of clichés and scenarios in every scene of the film. The Romeo and Juliet feel, small town setting, and high school scenes are enough to make anyone nauseous. With clichés come stereotypical gender and sexuality roles. Victim roles, differences in communication styles, and self-esteem are all psychological principles depicted in Twilight.
In the film, there is a scene where Bella is almost attacked. It is a stereotypical scene Where Bella is depicted as a weak and defenseless. She has a tough tomboy persona, but can’t actually protect herself from men. The scene is dark. Bella is fragile, and frail in comparison to the mob of guys surrounding her. Her posture and body language makes her an open target. Her head is down and she is visibly intimidated. The scene concludes with Edward Cullen coming to save the day once again. He is her hero. He saves her from the distress of the environment. Twilight presents a contradictory yet stereotypically accurate depiction of male sexuality. He’s strong, intelligent, tall, and aggressive.
The following seen presents sever common themes and gender related principles discussed in the lecture and book. The attempted rape scene shows how prevalent rape is with women. Twilight feds into what the book calls “rape scripts”. Society has developed this stereotypical rape scenario that misinforms and creates a false sense of safety for men women. A common script is the so called “stranger rape. It’s seen as the most likely scenario for rape. Many women believe that this is the most likely form of rape, or sexual assault to be more general. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Women who are raped by strangers fall into the minority.
Bella’s damsel-like behavior also reinforces the victim role of women who are raped. Mardorossian argues that this classifies women as “passive and powerless.” This image is detrimental. When images reinforce negative traits, it makes them more prevalent. This presents a dangerous scenario. It leaves room for this crime to occur again. The text makes note of the fact that women who have been raped should be looked at as survivors as oppose to victims. Survivor is a more positive word then victim. It avoids numeration and focuses on uplifting.
Edward Cullen’s inability to communicate effectively to Bella is also gender stereotypical. Throughout the film, He struggles with honesty. He can’t tell her the truth. She senses that he isn’t being honest and she wants to get to the bottom of it. The scene where Bella and Edward go into the woods is a perfect example of that. Edward strives to maintain composure and not expose and feelings of emotion. In order to maintain control, he expresses aggression. He has good intentions, but his socialization has taught him to deal with Bella in this way.
Edward Cullen’s communication style supports several of the books psychological principles on communication. The “gaze” is most noticeable. When Cullen gazes directly at Bella it’s to convey dominance and aggression. He takes command of every situation they are in, including this one. At times, his gaze leaves Bella in fear. It’s used to control her.
Edward covey’s dominance through other forms of communication as well. He has very forceful, aggressive body language. According to Hall and Veccia, men and women are just as likely to touch, but men are more likely to initiate touch. This is the case in this scene. He practically sweeps her off her feet every five seconds. His touch allows him to maintain his dominant role.
Cullen also has significantly more dialogue then Bella in the scene. He leads the conversation. Edward leads the conversation. He takes all control. Bella barely has a voice. Stereotypically, she stays in a woman’s “place” in terms of conversation. When she does talk, Edward interrupts her. This scene supports the findings of Eakins and Eakins. They audiotaped several dialogues between men and women in a work environment and later concluded that men initiate conversation more and talk for longer periods of time. Their conversation shows Edward’s desire for dominance.
All of the different communication tactics in this scene display Cullen’s desire to maintain control. He completely undermines Bella’s ability to analyze the situation. This limits her participation in conversation. It also limits the progression of their relationship. The two of them are not equal partners. Edward Cullen is definitely the dominant one in the relationship.
Bella’s self esteem is quite fascinating when she first encounters Edward in the classroom. She walks into class as the new girl and is assigned to sit next to Edward. He can barely contain himself. He’s shaking and convulsing the moment Bella becomes his lab partner. He then storms out of the classroom. She interprets this as disgust, but the viewer later finds out that it was his desire for her.
This scene supports many psychological principles analyzing self esteem in adolescents.
Both are have insecurities, however they differ dramatically. Similar to Block and Robins conclusions, Bella’s self-esteem is based on feelings of warmth and connectedness with others. Bella is visibly affected by Edward’s reaction to sitting next to her. She assumes that something must be wrong with her. She evaluates herself by how she is accepted by others. She is saddened and disturbed by Edward’s inability to evens sit by her.
Mary Piper argues that adolescent girls are robbed of self-esteem in their book entitled Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls. As women grow up, they are conflicted with images of violence, inequality, and sexism against women. This lessons young girls opinions about themselves. Meta-analysis suggests that women consistently have lower self-esteem then men, but these effects are small.
Edward’s insecurity in the scene is more self-oriented than Bella’s. He’s doesn’t really care what she thinks of him. His insecurity is caused by his uncertainty with himself. He doesn’t know if he can control himself around her. In the beginning, Bella was nothing more than a object. Based on his socialization, Edward doesn’t really place value on anyone. She had no value as a person to him. Some could argue that Edward isn’t even displaying insecurity. He’s just fighting back the urges. He’s protecting himself. Even if he is displaying insecurities, they pale in comparison to Bella’s.
In conclusion, Twilight explores the victim roles, self esteem issues and communication styles that are explored in gender sexuality. The main characters of the film both fall into stereotypical male and female images depicted by the media. Bella is weak and defenseless. She has to be rescued on a daily basis. At times she can even be absent minded. Edward is dark, controlling and strong. He is always there to save his damsel. After careful analysis of the film, I conclude that consumers of media must pay careful attention to the various images that are delivered to them. These images need to be analyzed and evaluated for what they actually are. It is not enough to just watch a movie or listen to a song and take it for face value. We have to ask ourselves what kinds of messages we are receiving. Twilight glamorizes and reinforces negative gender stereotypes, assumptions and behaviors that exist in society.