Twilight moms: Why women are drawn to teens' 'Eclipse'
Among Edward-obsessed teens lining up to see 'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse' are grown women equally taken by the teen love story.
Sherman Oaks, Calif.
The latest film in the Twilight franchise,"Eclipseâ€ť opens this week, and this fact has more than a few female hearts fluttering, a surprising number of them years, yea, decades past the high school world the heroine Bella inhabits. While the book and movies have been officially dubbed â€śYoung Adult,â€ť donâ€™t tell that to the thousands of moms, working adult women and even grandmothers who have been bitten by the book â€“ and are now coming out of the shadows as official fans of the brooding adolescent tales.
They have web sites (twilightmoms.com), books (â€śConfessions of a Twilight Momâ€ť), and a highly-visible presence at everything from the red carpet premieres to the tent cities of ticket-hungry fans. Most important of all, they have entered the official lexicon: Twilight Moms, or you can even call them Twi-Moms â€“ just donâ€™t call them crazy.
â€śWhat appeals to these fans is the same thing that appeals to the teens who read [the books]: the powerful love story and the bond between Bella and Edward,â€ť she says, adding that while clearly Bella may not be the most liberated young woman in modern film,â€ś these women are experiencing this from an emotional point of view, not necessarily an analytical one.â€ť
Women such as Yelena Furman, a San Fernando Valley mother of two teen girls, put it simply. â€śThe books are so romantic,â€ť she says, standing in line on a recent Saturday night movie outing. Ms. Furman is looking forward to the third film â€śprobably more than my daughters,â€ť she admits. Her older teen, Ariel, laughs in agreement. â€śI like the movies, but my momâ€¦â€ť she laughs and shakes her head.
Across the country, Long Islander Jennifer Abelson, CEO of her own PR firm, says she was not immediately a fan. But, she says, about a year after the first film came out, she rented it, â€śand I was hooked.â€ť The mother of two young girls â€“ age 3 and 5 â€“ she says this was strictly her own connection.
â€śItâ€™s not really about bonding with my girls because theyâ€™re far too young,â€ť she says, adding with a small laugh that this is just as well. â€śItâ€™s just about a fun romance for me right now, but when it comes to the girls, Iâ€™ll have to get into all that stuff about a boy being a potential monster,â€ť she adds.
That potential is what interests gender specialist Susan Shapiro Barash. She suggests that the films' dallying with such a softly genteel â€śmonsterâ€ť â€“ Edward, for those not in the Twi-loop, is a vegetarian teen vampire â€“ reflects this generation of young womenâ€™s ambivalence about independence and liberation from traditional sex roles.
â€śWeâ€™ve all drunk the kool-aid at some point in our lives that romantic love has the power to sweep us away and complete something inside of us that is not whole,â€ť she says, pointing out that the romantic fantasy of a chaste love beset by obstacles appeals to the 17 year-old girl that is alive and well inside a woman of any age.
â€śBut, of course, the reality of adult life is so much more complicated â€“ from paying bills, to making a living, and all the rest,â€ť she adds, a fact that has contributed to confusion over gender roles in modern life. â€śReturning to the teen years, before any of those responsibilities kick in, is an escapist fantasy that is powerful for women of all ages.â€ť
Ms. Barash, the author of â€śToxic Friends: The Antidote for Women Stuck in Complicated Friendships,â€ť applauds the global bonding between women that the film and the fan sites represent, calling it a valuable form of â€śempowerment.â€ť
Echoing a similar sentiment, University of Southern California associate sociology professor Karen Sternheimer points out that the franchise is yet another expression of our fascination and obsession with youth.
â€śThis return to an almost primordial source of power that children and their innocence represent is a powerful force in our culture,â€ť she says, adding that while on the one hand, the vampire is a monster we cannot control or ultimately tame â€“ a throwback to pre-feminist views about men and their raging hormones â€“ they also represent a return to a life force â€śthat many feel they have lost touch with in the daily grind of modern life.â€ť