The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

‘Twilight’ portrayal sexist

David Taintor

Whenever a movie opens to huge box office numbers like “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” did, you know it will likely set a trend in film for the next couple years. And with the film being so financially successful in the month of November, when its target audience is in school, it is hard to fathom how successful the film’s sequel will be in when it is released in June 2010.

When “The Dark Knight” opened to the most successful three-day opening weekend ever in July 2008, the film industry took note of what it did aesthetically.

In the weeks that followed, it was announced that other comic book movies being made would be taking similar tones and making things darker. “The Blair Witch Project” was financially successful, and look how the hand-held camera format has become a popular style of filmmaking in its wake. “The Ring,” an adaptation of a Japanese horror film, did reasonably well at the box office, so other Japanese horror films were made then too.

The same will now be seen with films in the wake of the success of “Twilight” and “New Moon,” only the ramifications of such a decision will be slightly more negative than those felt by comic book movies being serious, or filming with hand-held cameras or adapting Japanese horror films. Whereas these decisions may create overall bad movies and angry viewers, the imitation of “Twilight” and “New Moon” will create even further sexism than already exists in a male dominate industry.

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The portrayal of characters in a successful franchise is usually what is emulated first by other films that follow. In the wake of “New Moon,” it can be expected that female characters will revert back to communicating old-fashioned gender stereotypes. Even though the female lead in “Twilight,” Bella, is supposed to be and comes across as a hero, in truth she is merely an object. She is often weak and hardly has a will of her own. She needs someone to take care of her. When her man leaves her, she mopes around and shouts out of frustration until she finds another man to have an interest in. She abstains from sex, but the male lead and love interest is the one in control of this sexuality.

As a result, the portrayal of women in films that follow will take on an extremely similar portrayal of their female characters. It worked for “New Moon,” so viewers must want that portrayal, right?

The portrayal of women, however, is not the only thing that will change.

Because Robert Pattinson’s depiction of Edward brings out a favorable response in women, Hollywood will be quick to change its depictions of leading men accordingly. It will have no problem portraying men as having stalker-like tendencies and being over-protective. Edward wants Bella all for himself, and that is portrayed, and perceived by many, as love. It worked for “New Moon,” so it undoubtedly will work for other movies.

Another ramification will be the handling of woman employment in future films. The fact of the matter is, two females working for the “Twilight” franchise were not brought back, with no backlash from fans. As long as Robert Pattinson was on board, no one cared if the first film’s director, Catherine Hardwicke, was not brought back for the second. And when the decision was made to not bring back Rachelle Lefevre for the third film in the series, the uproar from fans was non-existent. This sent the message that, when females are the target audience, women are expendable workers and don’t mean anything to the success of a franchise. Don’t be surprised if in the future more studios and movies take a similar approach. It worked for the “Twilight” movies, and it will work for them.

I have heard the argument time and time again that the “Twilight” movies are a work of fiction and should not be taken seriously. They are meant to be fun, and those who aren’t fans just don’t get it. But despite being a work of fiction, “Twilight,” and any franchise or film for that matter, can change the way reality is portrayed on screen, thus having an influence on how reality plays out. Unfortunately, people see something in the movies, think it is real or at least could be, and act accordingly. Unfortunately, that applies to the “Twilight” series.

It doesn’t take not being a fan of the series to realize this, nor does it take one to see that the consequences of its huge opening will be negative ones. Women will be expendable and ‘true love’ will come in the form of a man being overprotective and having stalker-like tendencies. Rest assured, “The Dark Knight” won’t be the only thing making the film industry dark in the years to come.

Hansen is a senior print journalism major and managing editor for The Spectator.

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‘Twilight’ portrayal sexist