Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Letter to Stephanie Meyer

(So I published this note on Facebook but usually when I have an opinion I want to make it heard as much as possible (as my sweet, patient husband can probably attest) so I'm copying it here as well.  If you're tired of hearing anything about the Twilight series, if you don't like reading the personal rantings of people you don't know, or if are a Latter-day Saint and you loved the latest Twilight movie, then I apologize in advance.  This is kind of long so in the off chance that you actually do make it through the whole post, I'd appreciate a comment about your feelings.  It caused a bit of a stir on my friend's Facebook page when she linked to it and it led to some rousing discussion, so please feel free to share!)

‘With great power come great responsibility…’ how many times have we heard that in as many contexts?  Truisms tend to do that, get repeated in various settings.  And here’s the thing: they’re always true.   And this case is no different.  Stephanie Meyer has been “given” great power in terms of worldly influence because of her pseudo-celebrity status.  People (women, mostly) sit up and take notice to what she says, what she writes and what she represents.  The problem is that she has come to represent the LDS church because she is a member of that church.  So for the millions of women world-wide (who know the name Stephanie Meyer, acknowledging that there is a large portion of them who don’t) who are also members of that church we take very personally what she produces.  I am one of these women.  Her writing, her movies, anything with her name tied to it will be a representation to the world of what I believe, of what millions of women world-wide believe.  We want to be women of God.  We want to stand for honesty, integrity, morality, family togetherness, and love.
                So it was with great chagrin that I have watched her legacy play out in the media.  Her books were generally either loved or hated.  People have different tastes so there is allowance for that.  In fact, although I haven’t always appreciated everything about her books I could always say one thing: they stayed true to what we believe.  The characters represented virtues similar to my own and I never found anything incongruous with the LDS beliefs.  Until the movies started.  ‘Twilight’ the book was a delightful, quick read full of (albeit admittedly strange) romance that—and here’s the kicker—was CLEAN.  Morally clean, I mean.  I loved Edward’s “old fashioned” ideas of abstinence.  There was nothing gratuitous or graphic.  So I admit to being disheartened when watching Kristin Stewart in the movie making out with Robert Pattinson on her bed in her underwear.  Really?  Come on, that’s not what we stand for.  I grimaced for Young Women of our faith (and others) all over the world.
                Disregarding all that happened in the intervening years I’ll skip to the latest movie, ‘Breaking Dawn.’  While reading Stephanie’s books I admit to being continually pleased at the cleanliness of the writing, the themes, I felt there was even an almost subconscious influence to teach young girls to be morally clean, to save their bodies, not get involved in sexual activity.  And in the book ‘Breaking Dawn’ the main characters are married before they have sex.  Totally in line with my beliefs.  However, the thing I loved most about those scenes – that they were clean – was totally wiped out with the production of the movie.  In the book I loved that Stephanie glossed over the intimate moments between husband and wife, leaving room for the individual imagination to take over, and only returning to the marital bed the next morning.  Nothing gratuitous, nothing graphic.  Perfect.  And how dismayed and disappointed I was to see that Stephanie Meyer, as PRODUCER, no less, allowed that basic virtue, moral cleanliness, to be taken over by Hollywood and reduced to a graphic, gratuitous, uncomfortable sex scene.  Why was it so uncomfortable?  Because I’m a Mormon, just like Stephanie Meyer, and she has basically just declared that I think that was ok – desirable, in fact.  But she is wrong.  I don’t think sex scenes in movies are ok.  I think the public sphere is not the place for panting and moaning and naked bodies.  I would be mortified if I had a teenage girl who wanted to see that movie.  I am almost more horrified that a fellow Mormon would have the audacity to produce that scene in a movie.  Even as I write this I am filled with anger.  Disappointment.  Humiliation.  Resentment.  (Strange words for a Christian to use, perhaps I should calm down for a minute…)
                Sadness.  That is what I am left with.  Great sadness that in seeing (many, many, many) dollar signs, Sister Meyer has sold out.  She sold herself out for millions of dollars, and in doing so sold out the rest of us as well.  Congratulations, you just found the price of your integrity.
                So I want to make it perfectly clear, I do not condone what was in that movie.  Any woman who professes moral cleanliness would not be happy with that movie.  (Yeah, you know that uncomfortable feeling you got watching that scene?  You know what voice that was and shame on us for ignoring it.)  Now I am far from perfect, there are probably a handful of people that could rightfully cast stones at me and the difficult thing for Stephanie Meyer is that there are millions more that know her name and could cast stones if they wanted.  But I will still not sit idly by and have someone in the spotlight, someone who has let LDS women down, dictate to the rest of the world what I believe.  In all probability I will never have that kind of spotlight but it doesn’t mean I can’t have a voice.


  1. Anonymous1:34 PM

    You don't know me (found your blog through my neighbor's blog), but I really wanted to comment and tell you that I agree with you 100%. While I am one of those women who finds the books and the movies to be completely ridiculous, I , like you, could at least be grateful that the books were clean. I have yet to see "Breaking Dawn", and now after reading your blog, I believe that I will choose to avoid it. Thanks for the warning.

  2. I haven't seen the movie yet (am planning to see it this weekend) but I agree that part of what makes the series palatable is the fact that she stayed true to the morals we expect. I can imagine that Meyers had a lot of pressure from Hollywood so it would be hard to be in that situation. I'll have more of an opinion after I see the movie but agree with your thoughts.

  3. I agree with pretty much everything you wrote. I think it went way too far in the movie (I also thought the last book was on the risque side, but I'm weird like that). I did hear that the movie was originally R, and Stephanie fought to have it PG-13. So Maybe that was the best she could do. I hope she isn't a sell out. It really is unfortunate. As my friend and I were leaving the theater after we saw it, we were talking about how uncomfortable the movie was. I told her about the R thing, and she said that maybe the way they got it to be PG13 was to not show the wolves without shirts. I think she might be right.

  4. Anonymous9:06 AM

    nice idea, thanks for sharing..

  5. Erin, Amen! I couldn't agree with you more! Because Mormons are so scrutinized by media, I always cringe when a Mormon in the media doesn't stay true to our standards. I love you post and couldn't have said it any better myself.

    I hope guys have a Merry Christmas! Tell Mike hi.

  6. I must say, I have never read any of the books (nor will I) and I refuse to see any movies. I think it is weird that women in the 30s and 40s and 50s are completely gaga for this crap. Sorry! Just my opinion.

  7. First off I love you, just because you may need to know that it's been awhile. My comment on her books that made me CRAZY is this: why are we teaching, reinforcing with our young women, or older women that a boy, or a crush on a boy that may be returned, or is NOT returned allows us to become despondent, comatose, or destitute in our emotions. We are virtuous, divine, beloved, and valued women and should be treated as such and expect the same treatment from the opposite sex. I think it is best if I just skip the movies. Thanks for the valued movie review!

  8. Um, personally I really enjoyed the film.
    And, whilst we knew what was happening in the sex scenes, the watcher didn't actually see anything. It wasn't nearly as graphic compared to other major films that are made today.
    And with no disrespect to you or your beliefs, I think it's important to understand that you are not the only person watching the film. There will be millions of other Twilight fans with completely different views to you, and Stephenie knows this. She has to cater for all of her fans. In my opinion, she did a very good job of that.
    Actually, for me the only scene I had a problem with was the birth scene, because I hate gory stuff.

  9. I found your blog just clicking "next blog." And I'm so glad I did. I'm LDS too, and a 54 yo mother of five. When my daughter was going crazy for Twilight I decided to read it to see what all the fuss was about. I could hardly finish it because of the sinister feelings I had while reading it. To me it was not a love story, but a LUST story and I explained to my daughter that there wasn't a man alive who could control himself like Edward did. Just pure fantasy, and such a bad precedent for our young women. When I found out how Stephanie Meyer had a dream that led to the book, I wondered why she went in the direction of vampires. A being with glittery skin would make me think of a celestial being; not one from the dark underworld where Satan presides. On top of all that I found the writing to be vapid and downright boring. But then I was raised on Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte and the like.

    Like you I cringe that she has written a series unbecoming for a covenant woman, and then presided? over the making of movies completely contrary to gospel standards. But then that's just my opinion. Thanks for sharing yours.