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Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Problematization of Sexuality and The Event of Twilight

The Twilight Saga breaks with the dominating prevailing literary Discourse in much the same way as Andy Warhol broke with art history theory with his Campbell Soup Cans and changed the Discourse of contemporary art. I see Twilight as a Foucaultian "cut" into contemporary views of sexuality. Perhaps Event as defined by Foucault would be the term of choice, although Baudrillard's term has been Irruption Into Simulation (encompassing all four books in the series) which I am choosing as it implies the leap into the abyss defined by Baudrillard in his Forget Foucault. For those who are still with me I suggest reading or rereading Baudrillard's Forget Foucault.

A worldwide resonance with the Twilight books cannot be explained away by teenage fanaticism nor the fact that the accompanying films  have generated over one billion dollars. We are in the presence of something extraordinary and the only words I have heard or read about it is phenomenon. It is not that but has crashed into our awareness because of a problematization of sexuality. Fifty years after the pill and widely available contraception, something has happened. In his novels after the Alexandria Quartet, Durrell has one of his male characters say (in Constance, I believe,): Woman has become a commodity like hay or corn. She is no longer an event. Foucault discusses sexual rituals and Baudrillard emphasizes them as crucial in any culture for sexual relations. We seem to have so liberated ourselves that we no longer have any sexual rituals, but have only ever increasing pornography. Women have gained liberation at the expense of their freedom. The two words mean different things and the present confabulation of them is leading to grave misunderstandings and unhappiness.

Young twihards have come to these novels just as they are getting ready to enter the meat market of sex. They see around them multiple marriages, multiple lovers, children of single moms with different fathers, boyfriends that move on after the third date if they won't put out, single career women still without a husband and children although they have had numerous lovers, fathers bringing up their children, shared custody, bi-families and they don't see anything out there that they really want. Girls have lost the freedom to say no because it is expected that they will say yes since they have been told they are liberated from sexual repression.

Twilight addresses this state of affairs. And PC feminists don't like what it is modeling for young women at all. Just what is it really saying?

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