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Does Twilight Sell Sex to Teens?

Mount Miguel Seniors Talk About Twilight’s Sexy But Chaste Vampire

Above: Kristen Stewart as Bella and Robert Pattinson as Edward in "New Moon"

Audio

Aired 11/18/09

Seniors at Mount Miguel High School discuss The Twilight Saga with KPBS Film Critic Beth Accomando.

Transcript

Unless you’ve been living under a cultural rock, you must be aware that “New Moon," the next installment of the wildly successful “Twilight Saga,” opens this Friday. The human-vampire romance expands to include a werewolf as Edward and Jacob vie for the attentions of Bella. But this teen bodice ripper maybe sending a mixed message with its sexy but chaste leads.

Back in the seventies and eighties, Hollywood preached a clear message in its teen horror films: have sex and die; stay a virgin and live.

KEVIN DOUGHTY: Let’s look to “Halloween.” Jamie Lee Curtis, virgin through the entire movie. Lived.

Seventeen-year-old Kevin Doughty thinks the “Twilight” films serve up a mixed message. Bella and her vamp boyfriend Edward don’t have sex but Edward comes in her room at night to watch her sleep in her underwear.

EDWARD: I like watching you sleep. It's kind of fascinating to me.

Edward and Bella. Still abstaining?

Summit Entertainment

Above: Edward and Bella. Still abstaining?

But Mount Miguel High School senior Mykah Johnson insists “Twilight” is all about the romance.

MYKAH JOHNSON: When I watch the movie, I don’t think about sex. It’s like totally innocent to me. I feel like I’m watching an innocent vampire movie with teenagers.

Part of the appeal for female fans is that Edward makes caring for Bella more important than getting into her pants.

EDWARD: I feel very protective of you

As a vampire, Edward has super-strength. But he’s afraid he could hurt Bella if he loses control.

EDWARD: Don’t move…

MYKAH JOHNSON: When he crawled into her window and they were making out and yada yada yada he was ready to go for it but he blows himself toward the wall and he says he can’t lose control when he’s with her. So after that their relationship got stronger.

EDWARD: I can never lose control with you.

SIERRA HALEY: It’s just pathetic like if that was me one of my friends would have slapped me.

That’s seventeen-year-old Sierra Haley.

SIERRA HALEY: I think it’s more like that that they’re in love with love...like ‘If you die I’m gonna die.’ Oh it’s just sad.

Fellow senior Jesus Gomez is a “Twilight” hater as well. He thinks Edward the sparkling vampire is lame but he can see the appeal.

JESUS GOMEZ: I think girls just like the fact that he’s acting like a bad boy.

EDWARD: Are you afraid?

But then vampires are usually bad boys. Just check out the oversexed vampires of HBO’s adult oriented “True Blood” or the teen bloodsuckers in either “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” or the more recent TV show “The Vampire Diaries.” In the upcoming “New Moon,” sexual tensions heat up even more. Teen Tashiya Harris says Edward leaves Bella and that provides an opening for Taylor Launter’s werewolf Jacob to make his move.

Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner (as the werewolf Jacob) in "New Moon"

Summit Entertainment

Above: Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner (as the werewolf Jacob) in "New Moon"

TASHIYA HARRIS: In “New Moon” Edward’s not even gonna matter it’s all about Taylor.

MYKAH JOHNSON: The fact that he comes in with his shirt off… [giggles]

KEVIN DOUGHTY: That’s not selling sex to kids at all? That is completely selling sex to kids…. You guys are contradicting yourself, you say it is all about romance but how is looking at Taylor Lautner without a shirt on romance at all?

So if “Twilight” is trying to send a new message about teen abstinence it might not be getting through.

Companion viewing: "Lost Boys," "True Blood," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Near Dark"

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