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The Pop Culture Scene of the 21st Century

by Kathryn Brenzel

Vampires, purity rings, and high schools that break into intricately choreographed song and dance. Welcome to the pop culture scene of the twenty-first century. Today tight pants and fangs will get you a coveted place in the “teeny-bopper bible,” (Tiger Beat or G-14, it’s really all the same) and no doubt win you a following of screaming girls ages 12 and older. Though it may be disturbing to some that the grandma’s of America have been known to make appearances at Jonas Brother’s concerts, they too have caught on to what is “hot” in today’s rapidly growing list of new crazes: Sex.

Twilight is a phenomenon.

It comes in many shapes and sizes and variations of pre-pubescent boy singers. And the greatest part about it? Disney is its biggest contributor. As a recent episode of South Park humorously pointed out in another offensive yet accurate caricature of our society, Disney sells sex to little girls and parents are paying for it. Why? Because it is delivered in the squeaky clean form of the virginal, drug-free, religious boys who dance around in tight pants. Girls go crazy, Disney makes money, and parents are content with the message they think their children are receiving. And then for those who have graduated from Disney, there is Twilight.

The Twilight series has become a favorite among teenagers across the nation, and a guilty pleasure of even the most rigid literary snob. But what exactly is the cause for this obsession? The same thing that has the pre-teens buying anything with Zac Efron’s face on it: Sex. The four part series, soon to be a four part movie series, is all about sex, despite the fact that it isn’t until the fourth book that anyone actually does it.

Stephanie Meyer, undoubtedly savvy to what people really want in any good read, created a forbidden love full of sexual tension, but here’s the catch: Edward Cullen, part of a reformed vampire family, restrains himself, at all costs, from physical contact with his precious Bella. Because if he were to lose control of himself, she could end up shattered in a million pieces or of course, eaten. Oops. But it is his thirst, both literally and physically, that simultaneously draws him and torments him, and feeds readers’ vicious appetite for more.

To be sure, it isn’t Meyer’s literary mastery that got the series to the top of USA Today’s list of biggest selling novels in 2008. Let’s face it, Stephanie Meyer has a juvenile style, and by the end of the series the word masochist appears so many times you wonder if the woman had ever heard of the word “subtlety.” But Meyer must have known that she struck gold with the concept of a tortured vampire Romeo, a hot but ultimately denied werewolf, and an ordinary Juliet who just so happens to fall madly in love with someone who “wants her body” in just about the worst way possible.

Of course, Robert Pattison as Edward in the movie adaptation does wonders for the books popularity as well. Girls (and boys) across the nation prospectively pledged their undying allegiance to Team Edward or Team Jacob, and what was intended to be a B-movie with mediocre acting (based on mediocre writing), turned into a phenomenon.

The source of the success? Avoiding sex so deliberately that sex becomes the focal point of the entire series. Enter Freud. Today’s media is so pervaded with Freudian concepts that it is more shocking for a movie to be lacking subconscious frustration, than to capitalize on it. A desire is repressed to the point of neurosis, to the point of obsession and then ultimately is forced into expression. The more danger their love creates in their lives, the more Bella and Edward cannot separate themselves from the idea of succumbing to passion. The more the Jonas Brother emphasis their chastity, the more young girls want to personally tear those purity rings from their fingers.

Promoting sex by denying sex. Let the masochism begin.

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