Popcorn and the Patriarchy: “Twilight is upon us”

Campus Event Coverage

Courtesy of the UNA Womens Center

Courtesy of the UNA Women’s Center

Ella Neal, Volunteer Writer

Popcorn and the Patriarchy is a brand-new program sponsored by the Women’s Center at the University of North Alabama. It gives students a chance to connect and discuss real world topics in their favorite films. It also provides students with a safe place to learn about these issues that are often displayed in media and can affect their lives.

The first film discussed this past Friday was the 2008 modern-classic, “Twilight.” The discussion led to a closer look at the relationships in the film and how to identify red flags in them. Informational pamphlets were available during the event to help students learn about what healthy relationships should and should not look like. The conversation was lively and topics ranged from toxic masculinity to racism.

The discussion was kicked off with the question of whether or not “Twilight” passes the Bechdel-Wallace test, which checks how well a story presents its female characters and their contribution to the plot without male involvement in their conversations. “Twilight” narrowly passed the test, scraping by with the inclusion of just one scene where characters Bella, Jessica, and Angela are not explicitly talking about men.

Students brought up issues of internalized misogyny in the “Twilight franchise” and how that could affect its impressionable audience. The film’s popularity was unmatched in the early 2000s, therefore allowing many young adults who were enamored with the world of “Twilight” to be influenced by the beliefs perpetuated in both the book and film.

Questions of how gender roles interacted in both Bella’s world and the vampire world were asked. The issue of Bella’s own freedom of choice in both her relationships and in her day-to-day life being dictated by men around her was a hot topic. The most prominent and interesting controversy was that of the age gap between the characters Edward and Bella and how it affected each of their personal beliefs. An old-fashioned, 108-year-old vampire inflicting his own viewpoints and prejudices upon a seventeen-year-old girl is certainly problematic.

UNA students who participated in the event were passionate about their beliefs and helped facilitate the discussion with ease. The environment was friendly and open with a snack bar provided to the attendees. Many different viewpoints were brought to the table. Students contributed things they learned in past experiences as well as knowledge they had learned in their courses.

An important point made was the erasure of Quileute culture. Not only did the tribe suffer from the racist rhetoric in the “Twilight” series, but also from Stephanie Meyer’s blatant disrespect to their culture and heritage.

The Quileute Tribe currently has a Move to Higher Ground project that will move them out of a dangerous zone for tsunamis. One of their biggest objectives is to raise enough money to move their school out danger and prevent the children’s education from being jeopardized. Donations can be made by visiting mthg.org.

These events are put on help students not just appreciate art, but also learn to be open to critiquing it. The Women’s Center plans on hosting Popcorn and the Patriarchy every month with a new film to discuss. Listings for the events can be found on the Women’s Center’s Instagram.