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Why Shailene Woodley is Wrong to Blast Twilight

Why Shailene Woodley is Wrong to Blast Twilight

Shailene Woodley’s Divergent opens next week, which means the Descendants and Spectacular Now actress has been making the media rounds. 

Woodley certainly gave bloggers a lot to talk about on Wednesday when she dismissed Twilight to Teen Vogue, declaring that the vampire franchise centers on “a very unhealthy, toxic relationship…. She falls in love with this guy and the second he leaves her, her life is over and she’s going to kill herself! What message are we sending to young people? That is not going to help this world evolve.” 

It’s hard not to suspect that Woodley’s diss is just a shrewd marketing tactic for Divergent. By disavowing Twilight, Woodley distances herself from the female-centric YA craze of the vamps-versus-wolves series to align her film more closely to a male-inclusive, action-oriented media property like The Hunger Games

Or perhaps I’m being too cynical. Woodley seems genuinely thoughtful — she likes to hug her interviewers, explaining her physical affection as “Hey, I’m real. You’re real. Let’s connect.” And Twilight has rightly drawn criticism from some feminists for its regressive sexual politics — the series ends with Bella as a teen bride and mother, after all, with no college in sight. Perhaps Woodley was simply expressing her opinion, in which case, kudos to her for caring about what the stories she helps tell actually mean. 

But whatever Woodley’s motivations were for attacking Twilight, she’s misguided and short-sighted for doing so. 

First, Twilight isn’t entirely backward, values-wise. The saga finds Bella leaving behind her human past to become a vampire like her eventual husband Edward — a decision that essentially has her willingly transforming into one of the most powerful and indestructible beings in her world. That aspect of Twilight is, in fact, pretty similar to the journey Woodley’s character in Divergent undergoes, in which meek Tris decides to abandon her family to join an elite segment of society that trains harder than Spartans. 

More importantly, though, the Divergent film wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the success of Twilight. Media aimed primarily at women, from romantic comedies to teenage melodramas like Twilight all the way down to Sex and the City and Girls, tend to be endlessly ridiculed by the culture at large, and thus routinely underestimated in its appeal, and thus less frequently made and/or invested in than equally commercial fare like comic-book movies. Three billion dollars later, it may be hard to remember that the first Twilight movie was considered a gamble, and thus given a relatively paltry budget of $37 million. (It ended up grossing over ten times that much.) 

The $80 million-budgeted Divergent, then, is riding on the coattails of Twilight and The Hunger Games movies. It would never have been greenlit if those earlier YA franchises hadn’t reminded studio execs that girls (and boys) want to watch movies about female characters kicking ass. And as a woman in Hollywood, Woodley probably has some idea of how few starring roles, especially in action movies, there are for even talented actresses like her. 

So whether Woodley wants to admit it or not, her YA-heavy filmography, which also includes the upcoming adaptation of the teen cancer romance The Fault in Our Stars, owes a great deal to Twilight. If she wants to tell stories with better messages to young audiences that will “help this world evolve,” great. 

But there’s no need for her to lambast the people who have opened doors for her.

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Comments

Maddie

Every word she said was true. Frankly, I don’t care if its a PR stunt. This shouldn’t even be newsworthy. Everyone knows this, why is it so shocking when this girl says what everyone already knows about Twilight? I respect her for saying it. It just shouldn’t be a big deal.

Caroline

Every word she said was true. The sad part is that this is newsworthy. Twilight’s relationships are toxic. This isn’t anything new. It shouldn’t be impressive that she said this.

Sara

But the thing is, she wasn't wrong. Twilight depicts a very unhealthy, codependent relationship. I am not even a Shailene Woodley fan, nor do I hate on Twilight like some people do. I've seen the movies, and they're a train wreck: full of questionable material, but you can't stop watching. It doesn't take a genius to notice what this young woman said is absolutely correct.

Ash

How was Shailene attacking Twilight? I enjoyed the Twilight series but Shai has a point. The whole relationship between Bella and Edward was toxic and unhealthy. Bella became depressed and attempted to kill herself once Edward left her. What message does it send to kids? That its okay to obsess over someone? Because its not okay. The whole idea of the relationship was in fact toxic as Shai stated. This was her opinion and Twilight fans need o grow up. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion whether they like it or not.

The fact that they are bringing the Divergent series into this is idiotic. Divergent is far different from Twilight. Infact as a series its just as good. Unlike Twilight, Divergent has good value's that go with it and its more realistic about relationship's. Twilight was based on a relationship between a Vampire and human. That is the core of the entire story.

Hypocrite

The fact that Shai auditioned to be Bella years before actually is suspicious don't you think?

Wajudah

Everyone keeps saying she was asked the question. I guess we've all heard of question dodging. It was exactly what Demi Lovato did when she was asked to say which of the Jonas brothers she likes most, and she told them that Nick or Kevin (I don't know which of the two) has a baby. It was a simple act of maturity.
Now, I'm not blaming Shailene or anything, I'm only saying there's a difference between growing up and being mature. It's very right to say your mind, but when you're in the spot light, you have to try and be reserved about your opinions. It could have been taken as an harmless comment that she hadn't bothered to think what its effect might be, but it's easy to spot hypocrisy if our eyes are not whitewashed with fan loyalty. "Twilight, I'm sorry, is about a very toxic, unhealthy…"
Just see the tone.
And some people say Jennifer is fake, but I don't think she hugs any of her interviewers, tells them they "are real" (as if they didn't already know) and have them connect with her. Jennifer's connection with interviewers is definitely not forced or foretold. When Jen's own is filled with unforced humor, Shai's is filled with forced preaching. Seriously, the way she teaches her principle, it's like she thinks that's the best mode of livin.
I understand trying to manipulate an opportunity that might never come again, but Jennifer didn't go around preaching how much she loves Junk food in the moment of her oscar win and the success of the hunger games.
Shailene just needs to understand that media isn't searching for the truth these days, but satisfaction.
Also, I thought this whole "twilight diss" stuff should be forgotten by now. It happened some days before Divergent's release, and it's still reigning after the first movie has finished grossing. Don't forget, if you're trying to make Shailene look bad to people, you're only helping dunk her name right in their throats. If there happens to be a person similar to me, but doesn't know Shailene, you're only helping them love her once they find this. It's one of the reasons I will always defend Twilight and Justin Bieber to date.

Bella

True, true, true! She had absolutely no right to diss a greatly succesful story just to advertise her own work. She doesn't like Twilight but that doesn't mean she needs to hate on it. I hate both Divergent and TFiOS and I still don't rant about it the way she did. Instead, I just focus on things I love. She should try it too.

Angel

Guys, she was asked a question, she gave her opinion, that was it. Sure, she was in secret life but her acting wasn't the bad thing – it was the script. She's still getting used to being in a YA movie franchise, so she may say a few things out of context (to some people at least) and to people thinking it was hated by everyone – Tons and tons of people on instagram and tumblr and even facebook have praised it, and I agree. It is better than Twilight, in my opinion. The film made about 50+ million in it's first weekend, and compared to the previous few YA movies based on books that had come out, it did pretty well. They're making Insurgent, and like THG; Catching Fire, it'll probably be better with content. Shai had an opinion, and nobody really cares anymore. The THG and Twilight cast have said things about other well-loved movies and they didn't get bashed like this. I really think Shai wasn't trying to 'beat out competition', because Twilight isn't competition anymore. She was just giving her opinion. So move on, Shai is becoming a great actress, and I will definitely be seeing the rest of the Divergent films and TFiOS.
DFTBA!

Emily

I love how everyone is so upset about what shai said – which was not attacking – but everyone in the comments can say horrible things about shai ? shai has feeling too .

Emily

She was not attacking twilight at all — and I completely agree with her . It is also not quite her fault — the interviewers should not bring up twilight on even the hunger games because she will be ridiculed for anything she says . – but it's not like anyone else is saying bad things about shai , is it ?

Jay

why are people acting as if she just blurted these words out, maybe interviewers need to not bring up other franchises. Stick with what the person you are talking to is in and leave everything else alone. don't bash Shai for speaking her mind, when the topic should have never come up.

Erin

Some people don't seem to be getting the point of this article. They're not saying Twilight is the reason books with female heroins are being adapted, they're saying that it's success is what has green lighted future YA novels to be adapted into movies like the Hunger Games and Divergent and the Fault in our Stars etc. It has nothing to do with Bella being a female heroin.

Shaliene should have known not to bash such a famous series, especially so close to the release of her movie. Sure, she's free to have her own opinion but there are better ways of putting that opinion across. She should have treaded carefully, especially when handling such a delicate topic as the debate of Twilight's validity as a YA novel and movie series. At least the cast of Twilight didn't bash the Harry Potter films when asked about them, nor did the Hunger Games cast bash Twilight. Because they knew that A) It's common decency to be gracious and B) They knew the affect their comments would have on their franchises.

I can't speak for anyone else but myself and Shailene's carelessness and, really, the rest of the Divergent cast and crews in the recent uproar of The Hunger Games and Divergent fandom war's unkind and conceited comments has lost the entire franchise a fan. I am no longer interested in watching the films.

rg camartin

You sounded insecure, immature and narrow minded girl. Grow up and prove it first before you blabber. I never thought you'd say this…extremely disappointing!

charlotte

There are many lovers and many haters of the Twilight Saga but we can all agree on one point: that story has struck a chord . The last movie hit theatres almost 1.5 year ago, still people discuss it vividly. I've always thought that phantasy stories, wether books or movies, belonged to the entertainment department and are not ment to deliver messages in morality. Imagine every phantasy or action movie being judged for its morality?
Teen girls like to dream about their Prince Charming, adult women like to go back in memory lane, when they still had phantasies about Prince Charming. In 1998 it was Jack Dawson, in 2008 it became Edward Cullen. Never has there been alarming signals from the psychological world about teens imitating the behavior of their phantasy characters. The violent video games on the other hand…
People don't have to like the Saga, everybody choses his/her own entertainment but IMHO, those who think they need to slam a vampire phantasy and its fandom because of "bad role models and anti-feminisme" should better spend their time and energy to causes that really matter and that happen in real life with real people.
Feminism is about the right of women to make their own choices, no matter what their choices are, enjoying a romantic love story being one of them. I find that the fans of Twilight have endured more than enough insults and demeaning remarks in the past 5 years. Leave them alone. Or apologize, like the author of the Divergent books did.

anna

Shailene needs media training. She does not need to lambast other franchises to lift hers up. I also think that twilight is bad for young women, but let me and others say that, and it has been said many times. Twilight came out in 2008 also, it's not her competitor anymore. And as this article rightly points out, it's gimmicky and self – indulging coming from her, when she's trying to promote her own ya franchise. Like it or not, twilight did open the doors for YA adaptations. It's really bad form to talk bad about others, esp when she tries to project herself as some hippie check that embraces everyone. She just comes out pretentious & hypocritical, like her character, tris.

Parker

The Twilight franchise was a female-driven box office, but it wasn't to see Bella be a strong female character. It was to drool over Robert Pattinson. Those Twilight moms didn't think Bella was strong, they thought she was lucky to be with "Edward." If you recall, there was Team Edward and Team Jacob, but never a Team Bella. She could have been played by a cardboard cutout (and that might have displayed more emotion than Stewart did).

That franchise was all about romance, period. Yes, it was from a female author and a female director, because they both worked cheap. That first film was made on a shoestring and the producers had no idea it would become the phenomenon it did. They won the lottery, and it spawned all these other female-centric films for the simple reason that other producers think it's a way to make money. They aren't greenlighting films with strong female characters out of the goodness of their hearts.

So Divergent doesn't really "owe" anyone anything. They got greenlit because the producers think there's a good chance they can make bank the way Twilight did. The same way one comic book franchise spawns another. Does Thor owe IronMan? Where are THOSE articles?

Drew

lol forever at the idea that the Twilight franchise was about a woman kicking ass. Bella was the weakest, lamest, wishy-washy female lead through 4 over long films, and even in the last one, she had to become a vampire and get help from 134 other vampires before she became "strong." And even then, it was a fake "dream vision" battle, so that hardly counts, does it? Bella became catatonic when her boyfriend dumped her, and then led her werewolf friend along until the boyfriend came back. She's always been a horrible role model for young women. She wasn't physically or morally strong.

The DIFFERENCE between Bella and Tris, as Shailene has rightly pointed out, is that Tris doesn't make her decisions based on what some man wants or is going to do. There is no stupid fake love triangle plot device, either. Tris is 100 times more admirable in every way than Bella was, and I'd say that goes for Shailene over KStew, too. I don't expect to find Shailene on the side of the road with a married director any time soon, do you?

Eli

I think to berate a young woman for having an opinion does not serve the idea of a blog about women in Hollywood at all. As a matter of fact, it makes this entire blog look petty and catering to the male Hollywood system.

To hold up the success of Twilight the film as a success for women, means that you only care about box office (a boy's game) and disregard the reality that the director was fired because she did a poor job at directing the film.

and to place Twilight at the foundation of girl power for the youth audiences fails to give credit to Buffy The Vampire Slayer, who originated the entire Young girl power movement, and of which Twilight is a pale imitation.

Overall, this entire blog post shows why Women in Hollywood could only get so far; simply they must teach a lesson to the girl who expresses her point of view, "you can't do that, to another woman! but if you do, we're going to do right back to you" and takes out the true discussion that maybe what Stephanie Mayer created was hugely financially successful, but not on the artistic level of anything created by better writers.

TeamJacob67

Ok, so I'm a twihard and I WAS really interested in seeing divergent.
But for her to say that it's not a good influence…. Does she know
That twilight is fiction! So for her to say that about twilight pisses
Me off! And anyway divergent didn't even seem that interesting
To me any way I just wanted to watch something different! It was
Also a bad move on her part beacause that movie is not even out
Yet! So that was a really smart move! And I've already been on
Other sites and fans are either saying their not going to see the movie
Or their saying people should boycott the movie! That's what happens
When you say some shit that isn't nessesary to say!

Luna

Even though I agree with Shailene's poin of view about Twilight, I do think that she should not have said them.
Twilight has a massive fanbase and they are not blind to the imperfections that Twilight has. Dissing Twilight is just terrible for her because without Twilight, female centric YA movie adaptations would not garner as much attention as it's getting now, nor would studios gamble on movies with Teenage female protagonists like TGH or Divergent.

Yes, Twilight glorifies abusive relationships but it is also the reason why Hunger Games, Divergent, City of Bones, Vampire Academy, The Fault in Our Stars etc. are movies now

Angela

The thing is, sometimes the media overreacts making it look like Shailene did something so grave. Her opinion was asked, so she said it. I'm not even trying to defend Shai because at some point she was wrong too for saying that and I'm not a Twilight fan either. There are really times when I am pissed off by media because they try to make issues complicated just so that many people would read the article. Try to look at the side of Shai or the cast, you know? Dang

Jameela Johnican

I was going to see the movie but…now I'm kind of turned off completely.YES, I'm a obsessive twilight fan….and her dissing my favorite movie ever just pissed me off. SO NO DIVERGENT FOR ME! THANKS SHAILENE FOR PISSING ME OFF!

DOjha

Seriously, you (the writer) are advocating Shailene should some how bow down to the greatness of the Twilight franchise. I'm sure you know how Hollywood works, how films are funded? Everybody somehow owes something to someone.
Does that mean that she has to pay homage to something crappy? She can't be opinionated?

DOjha

Just because Twilight made a lot of money, does not mean that it is somehow an ode to woman power! Come on! First and foremost, it hardly had ANY story-line, and it was TERRIBLY made (although, kudos to Bill Condon for trying).
Shailene can't have an opinion without having an agenda? I don't think she just came out with it during the interview. She was asked a question, and therefore she answered it.
Sure, the whole, "What message are we sending to young people? That is not going to help this world evolve" sounds a bit naive and idealistic.
I don't believe movies are made for stuff like that. They shouldn't be. People can pick and choose what they like and don't like and integrate all that into their way of thinking. Films shouldn't be A 'bandwagon' for a particular brand of morality or message, so to speak.
Anyway, Twilight sucked. I don't believe I have huge issues with the ending, but with in fact, the journey to the ending. It just was not worthwhile.

tommy

Fake crap always make people seem more important than they really are. I don't believe people (especially teenage girls and boys) are going to these movies looking for some kind of message on how to conduct their lives. At least I hope not because that would seem really sad.

SH

This article is already old. The new fandom war is between Divergent and Hunger Games. Apparently Shailene was being Shailene about Katniss (something about Katniss being a superhero who already had skills while Tris started as meek and learned how to be tough) and that didn't go over well. Then Theo said that the romance in Divergent is hot, unlike the one in Hunger Games. That didn't go over well. Then the director said he found the comparison to THG annoying and that Divergent was more complex than Hunger Games. That didn't go over well. Have they not heard of media training? The cast of Hunger Games went out of their way to be gracious about Twilight and the Twi cast did the same with Harry Potter. It's basic.

LC

I'm a twilight fan, but I don't resent her comments. She was asked her opinion and she gave it. A slightly naive opinion (teenagers are not as stupid as everyone seems to assume, and love is not black and white), but one many people agree with, including a few of the twilight stars. This is hardly a new thing. It's true too, that twilight has it's faults. But it's fiction, something born from imagination. I always saw the extreme things Bella did when Edward left as more of a metaphor for the way people feel when someone they love deeply leaves them (just my opinion). I get the impression she hasn't read the book, & unless you do that it's irrelevant. That said, I respect someone who is honest more than someone who gives a generic answer because of box office figures, media training or whatever. I will totally be going to see Divergent, I find it odd that anyone would not go based on someone's opinion of Twilight. So far it's got good reviews and it's tracking at 60 mill opening or something? Doesn't sound like a flop but apparently everyones an expert these days.

The fans who have been calling Shailene awful names etc are far more offensive than her comments, and they're the reason I kind of hate admitting to being a fan. People tend to assume you're crazy.

BeeGee

Maybe I'm cynical but I think bashing twilight got her headlines more than talking about why people should be motivated to see her movie.

PaulinaP

Worth mentioning that the first Twilight remains one of the few Blockbusters DIRECTED by a woman? And that the series was written by a woman? I never liked Twilight but I can understand it's relevance in making female driven films relevant to film execs $$$…

Mika

I can not stand Twilight, but it was a big reason other YA series were adapted (some have failed, some have succeeded). Nobody thought the first Twilight was going to be this huge success, and that paved the way for a lot of YA films and then THG paved the way for girls kicking ass.

Sandy

Spot on article–but I think that Hunger Games was ALSO green lighted due to Twilight success.

diana

This too will fail. It is a HG wannabe with an overly complicated premise that will bore audiences. It has a great cast but they lack star power and charisma, with the exception of Kate Wins let who is the villain. And this whole "ATTITUDE" from Shailene which I am sure has alienated Twilight fans GLOBALLY is a negative for the box office.

ana

Ohhhh please twilight is a ggood movie , shailene I think you should firSt think and then speak What are you saying girrrrlllll Divergent movie will be a big flop

Kick

This Woodley girl should get over herself and understand it's a big world out there

Patty

What an idiot actress!!! Goodluck with your garbage movies Shailene…idiot

Twilight is dismissed by misconceptions

I fully agree with Nicola6's post. There is much more to Twilight than what we read in the media. It is very misrepresented and degraded. There are real characters, real feelings, real problems and real ideas. That's why these are not poorly written books, just the opposite. There is a lot of insight and positivity. The relationships in the books are selfless, caring, open, understanding, supportive. The problems are not dismissed, but discussed openly. One of the main ideas is that no one can decide what is right for you but yourself. Bella is a positive role model not only because of her thoughtfulness and selflessness, but because she goes all the way, when she wants something. She knows that she has to do what it takes to get what she wants, that she can't have it both ways. The vampires, who overcome their predatory nature and retain humanity, live by the concept that you should not be defined by your circumstances. They find the strength to raise above and be what they want to be. Bella and later Jacob see beyond the differences and the prejudices and discover the persons behind the vampires. Edward is not the classical bad boy, whom a teen falls in love with. Bella is devoted to him not because of a reckless, submissive infatuation, which sends a bad message, but because she looks beyond the vampire and sees a person worthy of love.

lulu

Who said Bella wouldn't have gone to college. Eward always wanted her to go. She can go as many times as she wants. Both Divergent an Hunger Games owe Twilight a huge kudos. You're correct in saying that neither one of those movies woul have been greenlit if it wasn't for Twilight's success. She needs to show respect!

Marcia

At least Kristen Stewart never pretended Twilight was ever anything than what it was. She never pretended like it was better than any other fiction or that it was helping the world to evolve.. She just wanted to deliver a movie that it's fandom could enjoy and lose themselves in for a couple of hours. She also never slammed other actors work. Shailene has been around for a while. If it was a newbie I would be more circumspect and forgiving, but she knows the game, so I have to believe that she said it knowing fully who she was insulting. Bad move, Shailene.

Nikola6

The continued misrepresentation of Twilight still baffles me. Are people aware that Edward Cullen held several graduate degrees, two of them in medicine? And so will Bella continue her education for eternity. She's not going to be stuck home with a baby (who will be fully grown in seven years btw) and no prospects (not to mention that her husband is also a multi-millionare so I don't think she and her child are going to end up on welfare should the marriage go belly up). Bella is portrayed by her detractors as this weak, doormat of a girl when in fact she was a very brave, self sacrificing girl. She selflessly offered herself up to save those she loved: her mother, Edward (twice) and finally her daughter. She is in fact, the savior of the entire piece. I always thought that feminism was about choices (but maybe only 'certain' choices?) and that's what this story was about…Bella's choices. It was also about redemptive love and strength of family. And if there is another story of the modern age that's been as misread and misinterpreted as Twilight, I haven't heard of it. And yes Ms. Woodley, I understand that you're young and learning how to do interviews, but you might want to watch that 'bite the hand that feeds you' thing because without Twilight, there would be no Divergent.

Colette

Agree. I thought Shailene was a refreshing alternative to the Lawrence dominating franchise hold, but this has turned me right off of her. She comes across as desperate to be seen as intelligent and highbrow, and I dislike actors who criticize other actors work, ESPECIALLY AS YOU SAY, Twilight was the leader and broke down a lot of barriers. What does she have to say about Romeo and Juliet or 50 Shades of Grey?

Another point is that She is insulting the intelligence of many of Divergent's following. There is a big Twilight crossover and she is basically calling us stupid and liable to believe that we are going to meet a vampire, fall madly in love to the point where we want to give up everything for him. She is perpetuating the myth that Twilight fans, or more specifically – women – can't tell reality from fiction. The more I think of it the more insulted I feel. People seem to gloss over the fact that it's Bella's powers that save everybody at the end.

On a more personal level for her, she has insulted a lot of people who worked on the Twilight movies – Stewart, Lautner, Pattinson, Greene etc – how is that not toxic or helping the world evolve? By slamming others to elevate herself?

Eh, no thanks, Shailene. Keep your Divergent and Fault in your Stars or whatever it's called. I was a Twilight fan, so apparently I am too stupid and vapid to get your superior work.

Elizabeth

Ironic thing is that Woodley has two projects that are directly benefiting from the success of the Twilight Saga. Summit, the studio that Twilight helped bring to prominence, produced Divergent. Wyck Godfrey, who was a producer for the Twilight series, is producing The Fault in our Stars. Woodley is welcome to her opinion. Dhe also seems to like sermonizing but hey, that's her choice. Still, she might want to know the history of the people she works for and how the project she maligns directly helped her own projects and if she loves her projects and think that they help the world 'evolve', then maybe the Twilight Saga and its success did help the evolve according to her standards.

PAMEWLA

Don't bite the hand …

Sandy

I looked at the Divergent tag on twitter and saw people saying Divergent makes them want to go out and jump off buildings and trains. That's not going to help the world evolve.

Amy

There was college in sight for Bella. She was on her way to Dartmouth. I understand criticizing the "regressive politics," which basically means that women can be "free" to choose the life they want, as long as they don't take on any traditional roles. However, please get factual things straight. Thanks.

gaga

coming from somebody who was in the life of an american teenager …right

Corvo

She is totally right. Twilight is garbage. You neocons have to admit it.

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