The Best Laugh I’ve Had All Week

September 15, 2010

“The vampire craze in teen literature – exemplified by the “Twilight” book series – could be affecting the dynamic workings of the teenage brain in ways scientists don’t yet understand.”

This was the conclusion of a conference of scientists, authors, and educators that convened at Cambridge University earlier this month.

Maria Nikolajeva, a professor of literature at Cambridge had this to say about the Twilight series, “If you look very, very clearly at what kind of values the ‘Twilight’ books propagate, these are very conservative values that do not in any way endorse independent thinking or personal development or a woman’s position as an independent creature. That’s quite depressing.”

Okay, let’s stop for a moment and chat. I’ll set aside my personal feelings about Twilight. (For the record, I’ve read the entire series and enjoyed every page of it.) Nikolajeva seems to be implying that there are certain books that are “dangerous” for teens. The books she deems dangerous appear to be those that don’t jive with her personal values.

So the brains of young women (and men) could be damaged unless they’re force-fed a diet of novels featuring strong heroines and feminist values? This is the most ridiculous bunk I’ve come across in ages. It’s essentially the same argument that was used to ban comic books in the fifties. (All that violence would warp young minds.) Or attack the Harry Potter books. (All that whimsical witchcraft would lead impressionable young people to ride broomsticks and join covens.) Or censor books with a little bit of lovin’ in them. (All that romance would lead to generations of wanton teen girls.)

Science has shown that the brain continues to develop during the teen years. I’m not going to dispute that. However, a developing brain does not mean that your mind can be warped by exposure to values that haven’t been sanctioned by the Cambridge literature department.

Here’s my advice to teenagers. Read EVERYTHING. And avoid anyone who suggests that books like Twilight can be dangerous.

Read more about the conference here.

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6 Responses to “The Best Laugh I’ve Had All Week”

  1. Marisa Terwilliger Says:

    I do not like Twilight. I REALLY don’t like Twilight. But I am pretty sure it didn’t warp my mind. I don’t believe a book ever will. This is kinda…….silly.

  2. Cricket Says:

    Everyone to their own opinion. I can see the reason they would argue that point but I agree that everyone should ignore the idea that books like Harry Potter or Twilight are dangerous.

  3. Cate Says:

    I’m not a fan of Twilight. At all. And for the record, yes. I read every single page of the series. But I don’t think it would be “affecting” the brain of teens in such a negative way. Do I feel that the heroine, Bella, is a bit of a dependent, submissive, girl in the worst relationship to a guy who acts like a dad with a full head of hair? Yes. Does that mean it has affected my thinking or relationships? No. Everyone gets something different out of every single word, book, article they read.

    Sometimes banned book, or books “feared” are the best to read.

  4. Britt-Ney Says:

    Down with book-banning! And I have read all seven Harry Potters, but I have never tried to make Plyjuice Potion in my basement! Polluting our minds? I think not!

  5. sombrita Says:

    I actually pretty much hate Twilight. I have read the entire series and I’m biased, and I have my reasons as to why I dislike it (badly written, not the best themes, not-so-good characters, and a lot more), and some is opinion and some is not. It just depends.

    But I don’t think it’s actually that damaging. If you’re a little kid and you read the disturbing birthing scene in the fourth book, or you realise that Jacob is in love with a baby, yeah, it can be kind of like, gross or weird or whatever.

    But overall, I think that Twilight won’t actually have a negative lasting impression on anyone, really. It’ll die out or become one of those “Hey, Mom, what book is this?” “I read it when I was your age” kind of books maybe (and I love those kinds of books, like The Ghost of Dibble Hollow or Mystery By Moonlight).

    Ah that was long. I just wanted to reply 😀

  6. Alli Says:

    You see, the thing is, I skimmed the article and when I saw where that lady said “part of the brain that is affected by art and music”, I thought, ‘Well, what about all that gory and/or nude Roman art? But of course, they wouldn’t bring THAT up, because they consider it to be classy. Lemme tell ya, just because something is old does NOT give it value. I mean, I love my aged gouda, but STILL. I agree, Kristen. Teens need to read everything they can get their hands on, regardless of what stuffy old people say.


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