Now that it’s on Netflix, what questions should we ask about “Twilight" in 2021?

Now that it’s on Netflix, what questions should we ask about “Twilight" in 2021?
Source: Temple Hill Entertainment

Is “Twilight" on Netflix? Yes, the impossible has been done. All five movies are now available for streaming. But, please, hold your applause. For the most part, this series failed to impress critics, though it’s had a solid fan base since the success of Stephanie Meyer’s book series of the same name.

The first book, published in 2006, was quickly scooped up by Hollywood, the “Twilight" movie being released just two years later in 2008. Whether people actually respected the supernatural teen romance genre or not, there’s no doubt that “Twilight" spearheaded and popularized it.

And, following the final film’s release a decade ago, its actors have proved their talents many times over. In the past 10 years, Robert Pattinson (Edward Cullen) has been able to separate himself from his vampire character through compelling roles in indie films like “Good Time,” “High Life” and “The Lighthouse.” Last year, he was also in Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated “Tenet,” and he’s due to appear as Batman in “The Batman” next year.

Kristen Stewart (Bella Swan) has been enjoying success following her role as well. There’s been a lot of hype surrounding her upcoming portrayal of Princess Diana in the biopic “Spencer,” which releases this November.

With the popularity of the cast and waves of nostalgia for its soundtrack, there was no better time to put “Twilight” on Netflix. Now, there are even memes about the corny dialogue. But, seriously, who greenlit Jacob’s absolute killer line, “Bella, where the hell have you been, loca?” Give them a medal.

For all that, if “Twilight" were to be released today, it would likely spark a lot of questions. The “woke” culture of 2021 among Gen-Z and younger millennials would make it difficult for such a movie to be released today sans considerable – and well-deserved – backlash. Fortunately, we have a few ideas for enjoying your weekend “Twilight" marathon while staying mindful of its problems and being a critical media consumer.

Is the portrayal of the Indigenous Quileute Tribe fetishistic, unethical, racist and exploitative?

This question (questions?) has been discussed since the film’s release in 2010, with “The New York Times” publishing a piece on the matter. Meyer’s approach to representing the practices of Indigenous culture, in general, has been tone-deaf from the beginning. For example, she made the frankly bizarre decision to combine a real-life Native American Tribe with her own invented werewolf myths. While the whole werewolf/vampire thing is a fun layer of conflict for the series, it’s hard to look past Meyer’s usage of an existing culture as a plot device.

The Burke Museum, which is a natural history institution in Seattle, actually has an entire page dedicated to the “cultural theft” of “Twilight". It details how “the misrepresentation and misappropriation of Quileute culture causes deep ethical concerns.” Among those concerns are Meyer’s “redefining” of Quileute culture on her own terms and the fact that the Quileute Tribe hasn’t been financially compensated in any respect, despite their culture being effectively sold to audiences. The combination of cultural appropriation and exploitation makes the series ethically questionable in its representations.

Fortunately, you can watch the series and educate yourself about real Indigenous practices. The actual Quileute Nation has plenty of educational resources on its website. Here, you can learn about their actual language, culture, history and community. Additionally, you can help the Quileute by contributing to their Move to Higher Ground initiative.

The community at La Push is at risk due to its location in the tsunami zone of the Pacific Ocean. With climate change contributing to worsen tropical storms and hurricanes as well as a rising sea level, it is imperative that the Quileute begin moving to higher ground in order to secure their culture. While this community did not receive any monetary compensation from the “Twilight" series, fans can make their own contributions to help.

What’s up with the fact that Edward is upward of 90 and dating a minor, even though he looks 17? And should we be glamorizing such a clearly unhealthy relationship?

Thankfully, it seems like most people consume “Twilight" with a grain of salt, not so much idealizing Edward’s and Bella’s relationship as playfully making fun of Meyer’s clear self-insertion through Bella. In fact, the internet seems to have decided that Bella and Alice (Edward’s adoptive sister) would be a much better match (their portmanteau is Bellice – it’s very cute). Admittedly, those two have more chemistry than Bella and Edward, or Bella and Jacob for that matter.

The astronomical age difference between Bella and Edward (her 17 years to his 91) is definitely a red flag. So is the emotional dependency between the two, and Edward’s stalking tendencies as well as his controlling behavior. Overall, you definitely don’t want a young, impressionable audience to idealize this kind of relationship.

Unfortunately, a young, impressionable audience is exactly for whom this series was intended. When watching the films, be cognizant of how problematic the attitudes depicted in this series actually are. In fact, their relationship has been described as abusive, even by actual psychologists.

Are we just OK with the idea of the Cullens stealing donated blood from blood banks?

This was a very strange detail to add to the series, wasn’t it?

What’s up with the gender roles and obsession with virginity in this series?

This series is so pro-abstinence, it’s a bit old-fashioned. The idea that Bella will be damaged by sleeping with Edward prior to marriage definitely has some misogynistic undertones. This attitude also contributes to the couple getting married when Bella is just 18 years old, which is also an unhealthy portrayal of teen romance. Moreover, Edward and Jacob spend the series attempting to win Bella over like a prize, rather than respecting her autonomy. A lot of red flags here, so keep an eye out for that.

Should we even touch that whole Jacob-imprinting-on-a-baby thing?

As much as fans and Meyer herself attempt to explain themselves away from the implications of this decision, it’s still weird. It will never not be weird.

Lastly, who in their right mind would ever choose to repeat high school?

Like, what? Why? No one likes cafeteria food and P.E. that much.

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