For quite some time, a disturbing trend concerning female leads has been emerging in movie theaters across America. In my opinion, it started with the incredibly lucrative Twilight franchise. After having personally viewed Breaking Dawn-Part 1, the penultimate movie in the saga, a question popped into my head: why is the female character so weak?
This question is hardly a trivial query when one considers the size of the fan base the franchise holds on girls and young women. Parents have long decried the Twilight series of books as inappropriate for children because of their sensual undertones, but those concerns don’t really hit home until viewers see these images magnified upon a large screen. Yet, the raciness of the novels and books almost pales in comparison to a far more troubling aspect of the series as a whole: that of a young woman with no identity outside of her boyfriend.
Bella, the central character in the novel, will seemingly do anything to be with her man. She will lie to her father. She will isolate herself from her friends. She will put her life in danger. She will even become a vampire. The movie disregards any accepted social creeds, like “love shouldn’t hurt” or “it is wrong to lie,” in favor of subordinating a woman’s identity. The complete absorption of Bella’s personality into that of her boyfriend plays into the worst insecurities and the silliest fantasies entertained by teenage girls. After watching the teenage Bella enjoy her bizzare fairy tale wedding, I longed for the return of Harry Potter’s plucky Hermione Granger.
Perhaps even more promising is The Hunger Games, a movie that has yet to hit the big screens. Based on another popular series of books enjoyed by young women, it features Katniss Everdeen, a character who resembles a female Harry Potter far more than the damsel in distress role of Bella. Even her name packs a much more powerful punch than that of the whimsical Twilight teenybopper. Instead of waiting to be saved, she rescues herself from the danger inflicted on her by a tyrannical government. Instead of mooning over boys, they are the ones who swoon over her. Exactly as it should be.