Part I is here.
Okay, I’ve argued that Breaking Dawn is structurally flawed, for which I loathe it deeply. More serious, however, is its thematic bankruptcy, for which I find it philosophically objectionable. To all those twits who read this review and criticize me for taking a mere teen romance too seriously, let me tell you something:
You may perceive the mass media that you consume as trivial and insubstantial. However, encoded into every song you play, every TV show you watch, every video game you play, every book you read, every toy you play with and even every article of clothing you wear are the maker’s assumptions about what kind of person you are, what kind of person you want to be and what kind of person you should be. If you buy certain products, you buy certain assumptions.
If you want a quick example of these assumptions, take a look in a toy store. You will immediately see two sections, segregated by color. The blue section is for boys, while the pink section is for girls. The blue section contains cars, trucks, airplanes, tanks and war machines because the manufacturers assume that obviously boys will like mechanical things that go fast and crush other mechanical things. The blue section also contains action figures of muscular wrestlers, deformed monsters and superheroes because the manufacturers assume that boys like strong characters who are powerful.
By contrast, the pink section contains many stuffed animals, usually of baby animals, usually in pastel colors. The manufacturers assume that girls like to nurture soft cuddly things. The pink section also contains dolls of scantily clad, glitter-covered female figures with proportions that no actual person has. The manufacturers assume that girls like to play with clothes and make-up. See the contrasting assumptions about boys and girls in action with these photos of gendered T-shirts at a Disney theme park.
But boys don’t always like what’s in the blue section, just as girls don’t always like what’s in the pink section. The manufacturers’ assumptions that segregate girls and boys into blue and pink aren’t universally true. But the assumptions themselves are universal; you will see the pink vs. blue toy aisles everywhere around the world. Everywhere around the world, boys and girls look at the toy aisles and learn that boys must be strong, aggressive, muscular, warlike and interested in mechanical things. Meanwhile, girls must be soft, delicate, cuddly and interested in fashion.
These are not trivial or insubstantial assumptions. These assumptions contribute to inequality between men and women on many different levels. For example, because women are widely believed to be smaller, weaker and less aggressive than men, they aren’t allowed into direct combat in many nations’ armed services. Because men are widely believed to be more aggressive, ambitious and higher-achieving than women, women only earn about 75c for every dollar that men earn [at least in the U.S. workforce].
I could go on, but then I would be diverging from my point, which is this: If you think Breaking Dawn is a book that does not deserve serious analytical attention, you are wrong. Even pop cultural phenomena are worthy of criticism because, just like every other product of modern media, contain assumptions about who its consumers should be. A close examination of these assumptions is necessary, especially for girls and women, so that we can be intelligent and observant members of a society that frequently discriminates against us.
Part III is in the works. EDIT: Part III is here.