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Breaking Dawn review, part II: Why it deserves serious criticism

Breaking Dawn review, part II: Why it deserves serious criticism published on 6 Comments on Breaking Dawn review, part II: Why it deserves serious criticism

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.




Tangential comment: I’ve been reading lots of the Baby’s Named a Bad, Bad Thing message board lately, and the people who post there are getting (rightfully) growly about the current trend to give little girls names traditionally used for boys, with the belief that girls with boys names will be perceived as stronger, more independent, and so on, because traditional girls’ names are ‘weak.’


The part about the toys and pink and blue aisles is totaly false!! The store simply thinks that if you like one think the aisle more than likely you will like the rest!! My cousin (who is a girl) used to play with matchbox xars becuase her eniter neighborhood was full of kids, but most of the kids her age were boys!! What you like depends on what you grew up with! Your friends and your family!! No by gender! That is 100% sexist!

Twilight is sexist

There’s a reason why pretty much only teenage girls read the Twilight books: because pretty much no reasonable adult can see them as well written. For one, the books are sexist, with Bella constantly being the damsel in distress, she can’t take care of herself because she’s so stupid that she gets herself in trouble all the time. Edward and Bella’s relationship is sick and twisted, and it is in no way displaying what a healthy relationship should be like. Why? Because Edward is abusive and controlling, going so far that he even removed her car’s engine to keep her at home. And the worst part of it is Bella, the victim of this power abuse, who just accepts Edward’s behaviour because he “loves” her so much. Well, he’s got some pretty strange ways to show how much he loves her, always making her decisions for her because he apparantly always knows what’s best for her, and if she doesn’t agree with him, then he gets violent. Yeah, a really loving and healthy relationship. And now a lot of na├»ve teenage girls are gonna think that’s what a normal relationship should be like. And don’t even get me started on how personallity-less they both are, including being total Mary Sues.

Very Thorough Analysis

This would be a solid A expository paper if you were to write it for any college level class. Your logic is bulletproof, your statements on the importance of pop culture and its effects on the human psyche (especially of young people) are supported through further exposition and dissection of our culture’s shameful tendency to segregate males and females by constraining them within predefined (and dated) gender roles. In short, this is wonderful. Wonderful and thought provoking. You might enjoy the novel “The Female Man”, whose author (can’t remember the name!) also wrote a short story about the type of gender segregation you mentioned above. Tongue-in-cheek, she introduced the idea of gender “Z” (playing off of X and Y chromosomes) which was a child who received both the traditional feminine gender-coaching prompting ( frilly dresses, sweet coos, dolls)from its (lack of a better word) parents as well as traditional male prompting(in the form of blue overalls, truck toys and praises such as “aren’t you strong!”) . Anyway, the whole point of her short story was to point out how imbalanced human beings are, and that we are psychologically and emotionally crippled (stifled) when males are only allowed to be tough and protective, whereas females are restrained to being emotional and nurturing. Gender Z embodies the blending of both ‘roles’ and the creation of a more balanced individual.
I could go on about religious and governmental patriarchy being the cause of war and overall strife in the world today, but I think I’ve said enough! What you’ve written brought up some memories of great literature, which is so unlike the insulting drivel you’ve so thoroughly vivisected.
Once again, thank you for such a great essay. I really enjoyed it, and will offer this to my peers when they argue with me about how ‘speshul and ‘wundurfull’ this insulting series is. When people tell me books are harmless and I need to stop being so angry, I remind them of this little old book, written by an Austrian and entitled, “Mein Kampf”.

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