Wednesday, December 9, 2009

'Twilight: New Moon'—a heroic account of schizophrenia and delusional narcissism

Posted By on Wed, Dec 9, 2009 at 8:00 AM

click to enlarge bella alone in woods

Twilight: New Moon tells the story of a teenage narcissist whose schizophrenic tendencies kick in when she moves to the perpetually overcast Forks, Washington. Bella becomes infatuated with Edward, a sickly student who suffers from multiple afflictions, including a sexually transmittable blood disease, insomnia, and Xeroderma pigmentosa (XP), which makes his skin extremely sensitive to sunlight. Due to these disorders, Edward jokingly refers to himself as a Vampire. Bella’s schizophrenic mind latches onto this idea, creating a fantasy world in which she is a princess in a Gothic fairytale.

In addition to his sexually transmittable blood disease, Edward also suffers from premature ejaculation, as he's not used to sexual attention.

He tries to suppress these spasms with bruiting stares and by avoiding physical contact, but he can't help himself. While these problems would discourage most sexual partners, Bella is attracted to what she can't have. She becomes obsessed with wanting Edward to "make her a vampire," which is her way of asking Edward to infect her with his STD. Knowing there's something severely wrong with a girl who's attracted to his diseases, Edward initially tries to push her away. However, this rejection only cements Bella's attraction. Her narcissism feeds off the sympathy and attention that comes with dating, or being rejected by, an invalid. Still, Edward can’t resist the possibility of human affection. He takes to sneaking into her room and watching her sleep. Bella’s delusional mind interprets this stalking behavior as passion.

click to enlarge twilight

In New Moon, Edward’s family throws Bella a birthday party; his parents are happy that a girl is actually showing interest in him. While everyone is watching, Bella cuts herself opening a present. This throws Edward’s brother into a rage as he sees her for the sympathy seeking, attention whore she is. To “protect” Bella, Edward shoves her into a glass table, which awakens her fetish for sadomasochism.

Realizing the depth of Bella’s emotional problems, the family moves away before she does something desperate to keep Edward, like getting pregnant. When Edward tells her he’s leaving, as delusional as Bella is, she assumes she’s invited. As hard as it is to reject the only girl who will ever love him, Edward pretends to be an asshole to keep her from following. This rejection only fuels Bella’s obsession. She can’t comprehend how someone with as many problems as Edward would refuse her.

Without Edward, Bella seeks new ways to feed her attention

click to enlarge bella crazy
seeking addiction. She runs away into the woods, prompting a town-wide search party. At school, she goes out of her way to avoid concerned peers so she can sit alone and stare out windows. She screams at night until her father comes to her side. She gets on a motorcycle with a man who nearly raped her, then screams at him to let her off. She even toys with suicidal cries for help, crashing a motorcycle and jumping off a cliff, all so a boy named Jacob can save her.

Jacob is caught between many worlds: adolescence and adulthood, white and Native American cultures, hetero and homosexuality. His internal conflict is best symbolized by the fact that this Native American character is played by the whitest actor alive, Taylor Lautner. Bella preys on Jacob’s insecurity. Unsure how to handle a heterosexual relationship, he agrees to be her friend, thinking this will be a way to her heart.

Jacob is hit hard by a duel dose of puberty and steroids. He begins growing an absurd amount of muscles and body hair, which he promptly waxes. The steroids, hormone fluctuations, and sexual frustration make him prone to violent mood swings. Trying to break out of the friend zone, Jacob holds Bella’s hand. This affection is too passive and nonviolent for her. Her rejection sets off Jacob's rage. But, instead of fighting Bella's other date, he storms off. This threat of violence and rejection makes Bella swoon, as she again mistakes these intense emotions for passion, and is attracted to Jacob's instability. She calls Jacob obsessively, but he avoids her, preferring instead to wrestle  with his friends.

click to enlarge New-Moon-Wallpaper-Werewolves
When Bella drives to his place, we see a transformed Jacob. He has exchanged his overly sensitive long hair for a short, douche trim. He is perpetually shirtless, even in the rain, to display his awful new tribal tattoo, steroid muscles, and waxed chest. Again, Jacob rejects Bella to hang out in the woods with his shirtless boy band members. His band mates, who all wear matching jorts (jean-shorts), call themselves the Werewolves due to their roid-rages and their fast growing body hair. Just like with the Vampires, Bella’s schizophrenia takes this metaphor literally.

Facing rejection, her inner attention whore kicks in. She yells at Jacob’s band mates, instigating a fight over her. After he saves her again, Jacob warns Bella that he can’t control his mood swings, that if she stays with him she might end up with a huge facial scar like one of the other Werewolf’s fiancées. At this point, Bella is fully devoted to Jacob. However, he ruins things by professing that he’s willing to leave his boy band to run away with her. She immediately rejects Jacob and runs away to find Edward.

Under the delusion that she's rescuing Edward, Bella storms into a religious community where Edward is being treated with fellow "Vampire" sufferers. Her lunacy quickly gets him banished from the colony. Starved for affection, Edward accepts Bella’s love, or at least pretends to in order to avoid a possible murder suicide.

click to enlarge bella_scared
Like many teenagers who do poorly in school, are lazy, have no prospects or ambitions for their future, or are Mormon, Bella suffers from a common disorder known as I-have-no-other-goals-besides-getting-married-and-pregnant. Unable to see beyond the present, she believes that her honeymoon emotions will last forever. This delusion is fed by another common disorder among teens called abstinence. Abstinence is a chemical imbalance that causes teenagers to confuse feelings of sexual arousal with love, leading many men to believe they love their abstinent partner when really they just want to have sex with them. Instead of worrying about grades and getting into college, Bella is obsessed with Edward "changing her into a vampire"--her way of asking him to propose to her and infect her with his disease, which would gain her even more self serving attention.

New Moon is a reference to the lunacy once thought to affect people on full moons before we discovered that moon light just makes it easier for criminals to operate at night. Twilight also refers to the veil of darkness that shrouds the mentally ill, distorting their world. With the goal of drawing attention to the lives ruined by schizophrenic narcissists like Bella, the director takes a huge risk by forcing the audience to see the world through her delusional eyes. This cinematic choice was so affective that it actually had the opposite effect. Many viewers, especially teenage girls and lusty moms, don't understand the meaning behind the movie, that Vampires and Werewolves are metaphors for the demons that haunt the mentally ill. Consequently, I fear many of these Twilight fans will grow up thinking it's sexy to be delusional narcissist or abstinent.

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