I have been thinking about this movie since we watched it and I'd like to add a few things. In addition to repackaging patriarchial-dominance-as-romance for a new generation, it's disturbing to see how eagerly readers who consider themselves "alternative" or somehow enlightened outside of societal norms latch on to the series. It's extremely popular among teens and infinitely more destructive than the girly books of only a few years ago, like "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" or "The Princess Diaries" for sure, but the fact that it has a place with adults outside of the mainstream is really curious. It's popular with young adults who hated "Traveling Pants" in middle school.
The first movie really places the emphasis on the danger of female sexuality and, in each instance, reiterates Bella's complete ignorance about it. Edward rescues Bella from some teenage boys/rapists, knowing, because he can read minds, what disgusting, terrible things they were going to do to her. Bella is not only powerless, she is clueless. Edward is constantly struggling with Bella's overwhelming smell, something she cannot sense or understand. Also, Edward finds himself attracted to her because, while he can read minds, Bella's appears to be empty. This concept is given no more explaination in the movie. It's not that she's more complicated than other people, or special. Her mind is empty, therefore she is attractive.
Less painfully obvious, however, is the heterosexism. From what I've read about the rest of the Twilight books and Meyer's other book, "The Host," heterosexism is not only a strong influence, it's the crux of her plots. Now that Bella has abandoned her two loving, attentive, responsible parents and her healthy friendships (something, I think, we were supposed to really sympathize with her over, as if it was a really hard, necessary choice) the suspense of the story lies in which lover she will choose: "devastatingly, inhumanly beautiful" Edward, who might kill her at any second, or cuddly, protective wolf-man Jacob, who is an American Indian and, therefore, magic. Family, education, personal growth or self-discovery, creativity, and friendships are no longer options in Bella's life now that she has fallen in love. When Bella does exercise agency, choosing to give herself over to a ruthless hunter who has captured her mother, it turns out to be a terrible mistake. Bella is severly beaten and injured in her childhood ballet studio before being rescued, at the last moment, by the Cullens. Edward even has to suck vampire venom out of her, forcing himself to "pull out" before he goes to far.
Also, in response to the question of why the Cullens are vegitarians, I think that's just more of Meyer's ignorant racial and class prejudice. The Cullens are ubermenchen, they could dominate us if they wanted to. But, just as Edward knows what's best for Bella, they know what is best for humans and restrain themselves. They go to high school, they go to prom, and parade themselves as lowly humans in some sort of benevolent gesture. Edward's adoptive father is a doctor, saving human lives while steeling himself against all the tempting blood everywhere. They're just Greek gods with some sort of self-torture complex. They could kill us, but they don't, they suffer our tempting smells. We should thank them.
Sorry to crash the boys club. I like this blog a lot.
Isn't that just adorable?