Rhonda Robinson has a post at PJ Media on lessons that your teenager can learn by watching The Hunger Games. The post is worth reading and I recommend you do so but I was intrigued by her contrast of The hunger Games with that other teenage hit The Twilight Saga.

Many comparisons have been made between Katniss and Twilight’s Bella. Given that both target the same audience of young girls and carry controversial themes, it should be mentioned.

As I said in my Twilight post, Bella is every parent’s worst nightmare. To her parents, Bella is a good kid: quiet, keeps to herself, presumably makes good grades. Yet she has a secret death wish, and will throw her life away at the drop of a certain boy’s hat. She is sullen, preoccupied, and secretive. Katniss is the exact opposite.

Both girls find themselves with a less than ideal family life, with little or no real parental guidance. While Bella recoils in the arms of a potentially deadly relationship, Katniss spends no time feeling sorry for herself. She takes on the responsibility of providing for her despondent mother and fragile little sister.

Nancy French over at Patheos contrasts the two like this:

 Katniss Everdeen’s love causes her to bravely sacrifice on behalf of others – from taking care of her family to figuring out how to play a game in a way that hopefully won’t kill her friend.

While Bella’s absent parents cause her to seek an intense love outside of her immediate family at an incredibly young age, Katniss assumes the role of care giver for her family, learns to hunt, and deals with merchants in the marketplace. She’s fierce, loyal, and independent even in the most trying of circumstances.  (If we could bend the book/time/movie continuum and introduce the two characters, Katniss wouldn’t get Bella. “Why is she so depressed all the time?” she might say to Gale while looking for squirrels in the woods. “ Why is she so sullen when she has so much food to eat and so much free time?”

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were fewer Bellas and more Katnisses in high schools across America?

I have always been a little uneasy about the Twilight Saga. I have never read the books and I have only seen parts of the movies, yet to me, there has always been something unsettling about the series, though I couldn’t quite say why until I read this post. I think a good deal of my uneasiness comes from Bella’s statement on the back of the first book, Twilight.

About 3 things I was absolutely positive.
First, Edward was a vampire.
Second, there was a part of him, and I didn’t know how potent that part might be, that thirsted for my blood.
And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him

Think about that for a minute. Bella is describing a young man, well vampire, who is dangerous, might well seek to harm her, but she is irrevocably in love with him. How many abused women could say that?

In folklore, vampires were always evil creatures who existed by sucking the blood or life from the living. They had little control over their desire to destroy the living and didn’t really want such control. Vampires were destroyed, not made sparkly, by the Sun because they were beings of evil who could not endure the pure light of the Sun. Remember, in many ancient religions, the Sun was perceived as a source of good and Sun gods were almost always benevolent. Since vampires were considered to be evil creatures, it would be extremely dangerous for a human to seek out a vampire. To put it in Twilight terms, Edward Cullen’s thirst for blood would overcome any affection he would have for Bella.

I know that vampires don’t really exist and Stephenie Meyer can write whatever she wants in her stories. But, there really are men out there who are destructive, who desire to rape or kill others and who do not seem to be at all willing or able to control such desires. There are some women, especially young women, who are attracted to such men. Bella Swan seems to be just that type. I do not want my daughters or any other young girl to get the idea that if they fall in love with a “dangerous” guy, somehow everything will turn out all right because they love each other. I do not want my daughters to grow up to be moody, angsty, or willing to let some man hurt them, because they “love” him. I would much rather my daughters grow up to be like Katniss Everdeen, brave enough to take care of themselves and to take on the world.


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