By Open Book
In March 2011 Summit Entertainment reported a fan hacked into their computers and stole discarded footage and leaked them onto the Internet from the film Breaking Dawn: Part 1, which is scheduled for domestic release November 18th, 2011. Apparently, the stolen footage was of the awaited sex scene between Edward and Bella. The Twilight Saga, once hailed for promoting abstinence among teens is being blamed for creating Die-Hard’s who’ve become obsessed with sex, so much so they are illegally hacking into computers to get a glimpse. What happened? In this article we will explore the issues of virtue as it’s defined in 1918 America the year Edward Cullen (portrayed by actor Robert Pattinson) first became a vampire. Then look into how virtue, marriage and sexual liberty are viewed today by teens from Bella Swans perspective.
Edward Cullen’s Perspective:
In the book Eclipse the character Edward Cullen played by actor Robert Pattinson. Gives Bella a reason why he wants to wait to marry before consummating their relationship. Edward states;
“You know that I’ve stolen, I’ve lied, I’ve coveted my virtue is all I have left.” pg. 434
“Do you get the feeling everything is backward? He laughed in my ear. “Traditionally, shouldn’t you be arguing my side, and I yours?” pg 451.
The last statement is Edward highlighting the irony of Bella wanting sex before marriage. So how did teens in 1918 America view marriage and sex? According to an article from the Daily Beast entitled A Brief History of Sex Ed in America it states,
“In 1913, Chicago became the first major city to implement sex end for high schools. The program didn’t last long, though. The Catholic Church soon launched a campaign against the initiative, helping force Ella Flagg Young, the superintendent of schools, to resign.
It took rampant STDs during WWI to get the federal government involved in sex ed. In 1918, Congress passed The Chamberlain-Kahn Act, which allocated money to educate soldiers about syphilis and gonorrhea. During this time, Americans began to view sex ed as a public-health issue.”
It’s fair to assume Edward who was from Chicago may have been exposed to some of these ideas. However, in another article from the Victoria & Albert Museum called Sex & Sexuality in the 19th century exposes how sex and marriage was culturally viewed in the Victorian era,
“In line with the physiological idea of the body as a closed system of energy, male sexual ‘expenditure’ and especially ‘excess’ (spermatorrhea) were said to cause enfeeblement. Thus it was seriously held, for example, that sexual appetite was incompatible with mental distinction and that procreation impaired artistic genius. Men were vigorously counseled to conserve vital health by avoiding fornication, masturbation and nocturnal emissions (for which a variety of devices were invented) and by rationing sex within marriage.”
Bella Swan’s Perspective:
Also in the book Eclipse we get introduced to how Bella perceives sex, marriage and aging. Bella’s poor self-image is further illustrated in New Moon on her eighteenth birthday where she is horrified when her father Charlie jokes about her getting a gray hair. In reading many of her statements made to Jacob and Edward in Eclipse one should wonder? What do they see in her? Here are a few choice statements,
In reference to Bella aging she states,
“Am I the only one who has to get old? I get older every stinking day!” I nearly shrieked, throwing my hands in the air. pg. 119
She goes on to say:
“Damn it! What kind of world is this? Where’s the justice?” pg. 119
In reference to how Bella feels about marriage and sex Bella states,
“So you can ask for any stupid, ridiculous thing you want—–like getting married——-but I’m not allowed to even discuss what I——“ pg. 443
She goes onto say…
“That’s it, isn’t it?” The short laugh that escaped me was more shocked than amused. “You’re trying to protect your virtue!” I covered my mouth with my hand the giggle that followed. The words were so…old fashioned. pg. 453
Stephanie Myer’s wrote this character to despise aging. What message does this send to teen girls whose body image is already depicted falsely in fashion magazines and in films? Add to that Bella’s aversion to marriage yet, desperate to have sex. In other words today sex among teens is seen as recreation instead of building ones self-esteem. Perhaps this is why teen pregnancy in America is so high? It’s said the United States has the highest rates of teen pregnancy and births in the western industrialized world according to Teen Pregnancy Stats, Facts and Prevention. 
“Thirty-four percent of young women become pregnant at least once before they reach the age of 20 — about 820,000 a year. Eight in ten of these teen pregnancies are unintended and 79 percent are to unmarried teens.”
The average age of first intercourse among teen males is 16 and females 17. Teens constantly look for approval and acceptance physically before developing themselves internally. The allure of immediate gratification is everywhere in Hollywood making it difficult for parents to teach honor and fortitude. Aging today is seen as a sign of weakness instead of strength. Have we reduced ourselves to our physicality to hide our lack of resilience?
Bill Condon is the director for Breaking Dawn: Part 1 & 2. Condon who’s also known for directing the controversial and critically acclaimed film Kinsey in 2004 (The Kinsey Institute located at Indiana University Bloomington in Bloomington Indiana) is where Alfred Kinsey did research for his book “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male.” In the 1950’s the idea of sexual exploration or sex education was taboo. Condon handled the controversial public figure and subject matter tastefully. Perhaps this is why Summit Entertainment selected Condon to direct Breaking Dawn? A director who they thought was sensitive enough in presenting the awaited sex scene of Edward & Bella.
Please join us for an open discussion starting Thursday 11/10/2011.