I love vampires. I can’t help it. I’ve loved them since I first read “Salem’s Lot” by the great Mr. Stephen King when I was 10 years old. They’re scary, yet sexy. Powerful, yet vulnerable. And the women they seduce are just like us. Or are they?
Let’s take a look at Miss Summers. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is my all-time favorite TV show. It has everything a successful program needs. Humor, violence, sex and relatable characters. I have to admit that I own all seven seasons on DVD and I’ve watched each episode several times. Some people might call me obsessed. But she’s my hero. Why? She’s brave, funny, loyal, sexy, smart, and can kick some serious ass. She doesn’t need a man to make her complete. She has friends that would literally die for her. And in the face of the very worst adversity, she looks horror in the face and says, “Bite me!” All the things young girls aspire to have and be. But she’s also a supernatural being. She’s the “Chosen One”. How can real girls really relate to that? They know that despite their very best efforts, they’ll never be Buffy. They’re just normal girls worried about school and boys, family and friends, fat and acne.
Ms. Bella Swan, of the amazingly popular “Twilight” series, is presented as a regular girl. She has low self-esteem that causes her to act out in troublesome ways. She looks for dangerous situations, lies to her parents and makes life changing choices without considering the consequences. She clings like a leech to the boy she loves, claims she literally can’t live without him, and then strings him along while she tries to decide if she loves someone else more. Is this the kind of girl we want our daughters to emulate? Is this today’s female role model?
And what about the men these girls choose? Buffy had three main squeezes over the course of seven years. The first she lost her virginity to and a few days later he tried to kill her. The second was a pretty decent guy but Buffy blew it by not being able to let go and expose her vulnerability. The third she chose as a form of self-punishment and he tried to rape her.
Bella, of course, fell head over heels for Edward. He’s secretive and overprotective. His tendency towards jealously is overbearing. And, of course, he’s way too old for her. What’s up with the trend of underage girls and really old guys anyway? I personally find it sort of creepy. I don’t care what he looks like; he’s still over a century old! You can’t convince me that even though his face didn’t change he hasn’t matured emotionally over the years. The biggest problem lies in how their sexual relationship is defined. Bella acts like an over-sexed hussy while Edward thwarts her advances for fear of hurting her. Then he insists they be married first. While that’s sweet and charming, is it a practical message? Isn’t it really setting girls up for disappointment in the real world with actual boys?
While fantasy is fine and definitely entertaining, I certainly hope our daughters are getting tangible real-world advice and problem solving skills from somewhere other than Hollywood or Borders. We need to make sure we’re preparing them for a bright, self-assured future. They need to understand their capabilities and limits in a genuine way. Please teach them that they are worthy of respect and have a right to happiness. Tell them not to compromise their beliefs. Remind them that they are beautiful and strong and capable. And above all, validation as a person of merit comes from love of self, not love from someone else.