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'Twilight: Eclipse' taps magical powers of youth tradition

'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse' strips away the otherworldliness of vampires and werewolves, appealing to the imaginations of the young.

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The focus on youthful abilities flowered in earnest during the 19th century, says University of Southern California sociologist Karen Sternheimer, noting such icons as “Peter Pan” and “Alice in Wonderland.“

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“These books all tap into this view of children as able to tap into magical, primordial powers in different ways,” she says, all the way up to the “Harry Potter” series, “in which Harry and his friends literally have the fate of the world in their hands.”

But while most of these youthful protagonists experience the angst, confusion, and tribulation common to all coming-of-age adventures, a growing focus on any sort of primal wisdom invested in the young can be both misguided and destructive, say some who do not see the magic in the Twilight series.

“People better wake up and stop this youth obsessing,” says Rwandan-born Canadian author Louise Uwacu, in an email, adding “we, the young people, have no magical powers whatsoever. And our beauty is as temporal as yours was.” She explains that her cultural traditions rely far more on the wisdom of elders than youth. Show a teenager “Twilight,” she says, and he may think he can live like a wolf and go wild “which is exactly how a lot feel as teenagers anyways, so it does not help to now have permission to be the animals they seek to tame. It does not help for that to become glamorized. And it particularly does not help if the parents, especially the Moms, have also fallen for the illusion.”

In the end, she continues, we are all confused with parents and children obsessed by the same ideas. “Who leads who? We need to go back to storytelling, real-life story sharing from the older that would inspire the young to grow up and follow. Because they sure aren't going to become Vampires when they
grow – or so we hope.”

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