In the beginning of Twilight, Bella Swan, the female lead, is portrayed as independent, kind of a social floater, non-materialistic, fairly into cars, clumsy, cares about her parents, and generally defies a lot of the female and/or teenage stereotypes depicted in the media. As a feminist, I find her character really rad at the beginning of the movie. She doesn't seek out attention from males, either, or act flirtatious, which I identify with and admire. However, from the moment that Bella sees the Cullens sitting together at the cafeteria table forward, many of her characteristics that I think are so awesome quickly start to disappear. Actually, it isn't even that they disappear so much as it seems like she loses her identity unless she is under the protection and control of Edward.
It seems that what happens is Bella's life kind of spirals out of control when she falls in love with Edward, and he feels responsible for picking up the pieces and rescuing her from harm constantly since he is the one who indirectly causes the problems. After all, Edward is a vampire. Understood. Although this plotline makes perfect sense, from an analytical point of view, it's scary. I would argue that the pattern of Edward and Bella's relationship mimicks that of an abusive relationship. First of all, Edward never leaves her side. He constantly knows everything that is going to happen to her because of his sister Alice (who has visions of the future) and he always gets there just in time. The way that Edward is both responsible for Bella's suffering while he is simultaneously the only person who can make it go away reminds me of abusive relationships I have seen friends in and one I've had, not to mention all the studying of it I have done. It reminds me of stockholm syndrome.
Not only does this pattern occur in terms of other people harming Bella, Edward being responsible for it and Edward saving her, but it also happens in the context of only Edward and Bella. What I mean by this is Edward even has to protect Bella from himself. There is a constant fear that Edward is going to destroy Bella. He might be kissing her and just want to drink her blood...and they don't even discuss it explicitly in the movie. It seems like they could be referring to going to far sexually when they are actually talking indirectly about Edward eating her and thus killing her. This always happens when Edward is watching her sleep or in her bedroom for some other reason, which also seems abusive and creepy, especially when this is the relationship tweens everywhere are idolizing.
I think that the scariest scene in terms of setting the tone for tweens is the one in which Edward and Bella are in the woods and she says she isn't afraid of him. With that, Edward seems to turn into a hulklike spider who grabs her and moves so fast he looks like a blur and then runs up a tree. He is performing hypermasculinity, and further, the movie-makers use this moment to hike up the sexual mood of the scene. I think we have a problem when films like this are making millions and girls as young as six or seven are wanting to grow up to be Bella Swan. They might face the sad reality of what they seek out in relationships...that potentially drinking blood...can translate into assault or murder.
I get especially nervous when Edward whispers "Say it. Out loud." in a commanding way or (voyeuristically) asks "Are you afraid?"
It seems like he enjoys scaring her in this scene. :/ Then she says she's not, and he tries to show her the reasons she should be...
That ain't love.