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Much has been made of the “true love waits” aspect of current tween blockbuster Twilight, a pseudo-Christian, vegetarian vampire romance composed largely of aching stares of longing betwixt vampire and human, and capped by an anti-climactic prom scene (based on the novel by Stephanie Meyer). For the uninitiated, the abstinence part comes in when comely vampire Edward Cullen can’t have sex with awkwardly gorgeous high school human Bella Swan because his lust for her blood is simply too difficult to deny. If they fuck, it might kill her.
Like Moe Tkacik, I don’t believe that true love waits, but I don’t believe in vampires, either, or that a dude with such exquisitely defined cheekbones could possibly be enrolled in any high school in the world. Sure, I understand that fantasy films can hold strong moral messages that have implications for the real world, the one inhabited by less attractive human specimens.
But Twilight is not mere fantasy. It is completely and gloriously absurd. A high school biology classroom fan doubles as a wind machine to blow our heroine’s hair seductively (and in slow motion). Images of prancing wolves cut in to underscore the film’s climax. The staring fits go on for minutes. Meadows are lounged upon. The vampires’ skin glitters flamboyantly in the sun. A game of vampire baseball is played.
One of the film’s most absurd aspects is how quickly the relationship between Bella and Edward escalates. Edward hates Bella, Bella hates Edward, Edward reveals he’s a vampire, they go on a couple dates and then they are completely and irrevocably in love with each other. They are so in love that Bella yearns to be turned into a storybook monster so she can be with him for all eternity and Edward pledges his own eternal life to keeping her safe. This happens, seemingly, in a period of weeks. Plus, one of them is seventeen, and the other one is, like, a hundred.
In context, not inserting a vampire sex scene here is (a) certainly not the most ridiculous choice made by the storytellers and (b) hardly prudish. Can we really fault them—-these absurd student vampires—-for not having sex right away? They have an eternity to have sex!