The Prurient Urges of Teens

...or why the Twilight series is so popular. Hm. I might change that title. I don’t know who’s going to Google that.

Anyhow, I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. Why is Ed the Undead so popular with younger teenaged girls?  He’s totally safe. (At least until the fourth book, which my sister-in-law has read, and confirms that he does unveil his Sparkly Love Wand. “How does that work? Is it always hard?” my brother asked. “Yes,” said Carol. “So does it, you know, bend?” “It’s articulated.”)

But I digress. Edward can’t even kiss Bella for more than a little while before he has to draw back so he doesn’t suck her blood. His self-control is absolute. We know this because his passion is boundless, yet he never even considers making her into a quick snack. She is forbidden fruit, and he obeys the rules. Furthermore, he never tries to talk her into going a step further. He never says, “C’mon, baby, just with our shirts off.”  He’s safe. The safety and non-cajoling factor is important for your average early teenage girl, because she doesn’t have a lot of experience. Edward’s self-control is appealing because he’s not giving in to his bad self, and he’s certainly not letting Bella, either.

Notice the verb up there? Letting. He’s the one in control because “He’s older and he knows better.” And, boy, do we hear that a lot. But he’s older so he acts as guidance. And first love is scary. Who wouldn’t want a little guidance? But not from someone who is inappropriately older, because then there’s a power imbalance. But Edward looks the same age as Bella, so there isn’t that Creepy Older Guy thing going on. He’s calling the shots, and he’s staying within the safety guidelines. But because he doesn’t look grossly older, it’s okay.

Also, there’s his appearance. He’s handsome, and that’s nice. But hell, he’s sparkly! And only Bella knows it! It’s like he has a secret girlie side only she knows about! It’s the boyfriend who lets you paint his toenails!

Edward is actually a perfect recipe for young teenage girls to crush on. He’s virile, but he’s not going to force the issue, so he’s safe. He has loads of experience, but, on the surface, never strays into a power imbalance, because he looks like a teenager.   And he sparkles in the sunshine, like dollar-ninety-nine drugstore nail polish. What thirteen-year-old girl could resist?

8 Comments to “The Prurient Urges of Teens”

  1. By Beth, March 27, 2009 @ 7:50 am

    I love the analysis. I think the safety part is why I fell in love with the Beatles, John in particular. He was safe because there was no way I’d ever meet him. But he was just a little bit bad – bucking the status quo just enough to be exciting. (I’m talking the 1964 John with slightly long hair and the cheeky humour).
    I’m guessing the Jonas brothers are the same, although their music is pap and their personalities non-existant (did I say that with my outside voice?)so not so much with the exciting and more with the cute and un-attainable.

  2. By Stephanie, March 27, 2009 @ 9:34 am

    I haven’t read the books, but I will probably see the movies. I agree. I think Edward speaks to our 14 year old selves and we probably never got over that part of us.

  3. By Erin, March 27, 2009 @ 9:38 am

    Not having read it, but given what I’ve heard from those who have – it sounds like an introductory Harlequin romance novel for teens. Replace vampire with Scottish lord, and there you have it. It’s a safe fantasy outlet for teens with crazy hormones. Oh, the amount of girl porn – I mean, number of romance novels I read in my teenage years. I tell you, if a hot, ripped Scotsman wearing nothing but a kilt ever shows up in my home to instruct me in the ways of love… well… Phil might have a problem on his hands. swoon

  4. By Liz, March 27, 2009 @ 10:59 am

    Beth, I thought a lot about The Beatles (and Duran Duran, and the New Kids, and the Jonas Brothers) while I was writing this. I think the John you fell in love with was crucial, as well. You didn’t fall in love with Psychedelic John. It was ‘I Wamt To Hold Your Hand’ John.

    Stephanie, it’s that little teenaged part that believes in Happily Ever After, like a younger girl, but also has begin to notice who you’d like to be with, I think.

    Erin, it’s pretty Harlequin. The funny thing is, it’s structured much more like the ones we read as teenagers (He has all the power but is swamped by her feminine essence or whatever) than the ones that are written today.

  5. By Beth, March 27, 2009 @ 7:49 pm

    You’re right Liz, the “I Want to Hold Your Hand” John was just right for 14 year old me. I was ready for Strawberry Fields John by the time he got there because I grew up a bit too.

  6. By Liz, March 27, 2009 @ 10:35 pm

    This is it, Beth. Our romantic ideals change over time. I think of my passionate love for Duran Duran when I was 12 and 13. Anything too masculine didn’t appeal to me, but John Taylor was cute and impish and what a 12-year-old thinks is a poet, so I was besotted.

  7. By rachel, March 28, 2009 @ 11:00 am

    Hey, did you know Duran Duran was named after the mad scientist in “Barbarella”?? You probably did, being as you are the consummate fangirl, but I only just learned that, coming from the opposite (Barbarella) angle.

    And what was I doing at Barbarella? Reading up on futuristic orgam-inducing machines, of course!

  8. By Liz, March 29, 2009 @ 9:48 am

    I totally did know that, Rachel. Although I never actually saw the movie until I was 25. Also, if you’re looking for more futuristic orgasm-inducing machines, I think there’s a Woody Allen movie with one.

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