Have you hear about this story called Twilight? It's about vampires. No? Well, walk into any Target, WalMart or Borders Books, ask a store clerk and note their facial expression as they wonder if you've been living in a remote cave for the past five years. Yeah, it's that big, and with the series' latest movie installment, New Moon, hitting theaters, the story of forbidden love between mortals and vampires will reign eternal (at least until the day Twilight-related merchandise is marked for clearance after the next big thing comes along).
As part of a consortium effort known as the Twilight Dad Bloggers Experiment, participants were asked if Twilight is appropriate for young ladies. So, would I expose my stepdaughters, ages 7 and 6, to a story about girl notices boy; boy acts mysterious, girl steps in front of van, boy saves girl by using his hand as a telephone pole; girl finds out boy is not boy at all, but a vampire; vampire and girl fall in love; bad vampires show up and attack girl; girl almost ends up a vampire but boyfriend vampire rescues her (again, because that's what he does); girl and vampire attend high school prom together? In a word: maybe.
What I mean to say is that it depends on which Twilight we're talking about here--the movie or the book?
Given the girls' ages, the movie version is a bit scary. Seen as how Coraline made them leery of tiny doors, talking cats and large men with thick accents, vampires and werewolves most likely will send them into therapy. The magic of CGI is an awesome thing considering we once used paper plates on strings to depict flying saucers, but it's also a bit too realistic for girls who believe dogs can actually talk when humans aren't around.
This is not to mention the thematic elements in the movie version. Thanks to Disney (which has since been banned around here), their mother and I already spend enough time debunking the fallacies of friendship, love and high school in general. The girls were crushed after learning students don't flip around and sing in choreographed medleys during lunch; once they find out cute vampires with supernatural hair won't save them from run-away automobiles and other mean-boy vampires, then I might as well start preparing for a future living with clinically depressed, disillusioned zombies for the next 10 years.
However, if we are talking about the book version on which the movie is (loosely) based, then I have no problem once they are old enough. Why the change? For one, it means the girls are reading, and as long as it's not smut, then I'm all for them keeping their nose in a book.
Secondly, the screen version deviates by a wide degree from Stephenie Meyer's written work, or as my wife's put it, "It blows compared to the book." Why? Mass market appeal. Critically acclaimed writing has to be watered down to draw in the biggest audience possible in order to make money. Twilight as a book, however, requires effort, and there's a tangible benefit (see earlier point), as opposed to being eye-candy.
Along these same lines, Twilight is modern take on a timeless story that strongly appeals to women. Meyer claimed that she wrote Twilight inspired by a list of classical works to include: Romeo and Juliet, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and Wuthering Heights. As a English Lit major, how can I begrudge that?
Finally, there's one element in the book version of Twilight, that I think all fathers will agree is a positive message to our daughters: abstinence. Believe me I'm preaching this one until my stepdaughters find a nice vampire to settle down with and have little blood suckers of their own. One note: there is some controversy on this particular point, but at least it give parents a potential springboard for approaching the subject with their kids.
In fact, my stipulation for allowing the girls to watch the movie will likely be that they have to read the book first. Once they can do that, then they'll be ready for the movie.
Make sure you read these other dads' take on Twilight for their daughters: