Deconstructing Twilight

In class we talked about Leslie A. Grinner’s “Bella’s Choice: Deconstructing Ideology and Power in the Twilight Saga” and her framework for analysis SCWAMP, which stands for Straight, Christian, White, Able-bodied, Male, and Property holding. Unlike the people who presented on “Bella’s Choice,” I have actually read all of the books and seen all of the movies so I can add a little more context and nuance to some of the points of discussion Grinner proposed.

Deconstructing Twilight with SCWAMP framework

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Straight: Grinner explains that throughout Twilight all of the characters were involved in a straight relationship and the family dynamics mimic the normative ideal of the “nuclear family.”

Christian: Grinner talks about the way Hollywood movies often portray a form of Christian ethos. Many of the ideals of Twilight preserve religiously motivated notions of virginity and  the sanctity of marriage, however I feel like a lot of this is largely due to the influence of Mormon ideology from Stephenie Meyer’s background.

White: Grinner talks about how Twilight reaffirms the notion of white as the most valued in the portrayal of vampires as pale, powerful creatures. One thing that I felt could have been touched on more within the article is the portrayal of the vampire as the more intelligent, cultured of the mythical creatures in comparison with the werewolves (who are largely made up of indigenous teens).

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Able-bodied: Grinner talks about how Hollywood and our society values able-bodied persons and in Twilight nearly all of the male characters compete physically. There is a near constant comparison between who is stronger: the vampires or the werewolves. However I do think it should have been noted that the books and movies also feature a character Billy Black who is a strong leader within the werewolf community and also utilizes a wheelchair. Although this does not excuse the able-ism and competition, it is important to note this inclusion and representation for the differently abled.

Male: This point was spot on! Grinner talks about how the men in Bella’s life serve such significant role in her decisions and morality. I always felt very conflicted at the lack of meaningful female relationships in Bella’s life. Throughout the series, she is not very close with her own mother, her friends, her mother-in-law, or her sisters-in-law. All of their relationships are incredibly superficial.

Property Holding: Grinner’s observations on Bella’s decision to be with Edward (who is very wealthy and ‘cultured’) instead of Jacob (who lives very modestly in a small trailer with his father) indicate which lifestyle is preferred within our society.

 

Overall, I think that Leslie A. Grinner’s SCWAMP framework can be beneficial to examining the messages and ideologies reinforced in Twilight especially since the target audience is younger women. However I think that Twilight can be read at numerous levels of analysis and theory. As from a feminist perspective, Twilight can be analyzed from the lens of agency, whether actual or perceived, and who has it versus who does not. Twilight can also be analyzed for its commentary on racial hierarchies and the implicit and explicit biases we all carry. Twilight, which was one of the most successful franchises of all time, definitely has a place in media and the analysis of ideology so I am interested to see whether in time new frameworks of analysis come up to decode the messages within it. 

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