Twilight

Stephanie Meyer, blockbuster movies and emerging technologies

If you are a teenager, or have teenage kids, you are probably keenly aware that the movie of Stephanie Meyer’s best-seller “Twilight” opens this weekend.  (At least, if you live in the US—readers elsewhere have a few more weeks of nail-biting anticipation to go.)

Being something of a cynical opportunist when it comes to blogging, I’ve been wracking my brains for a plausible link between the movie and emerging technologies.

Trouble is, I haven’t read the book, and it’s one of those scary ones that is thick enough to build houses with!

So, I compromised, and asked my thirteen-year-old daughter Bethany—and long-time fan of the Twilight series—to write the blog for me ☺

As a result, I’m proud to present the first guest blog on 2020science.org:

Twilight is a series of books that I, like so many other girls my age, have become addicted to. The first book is about to be released as a movie, and as my father twisted my arm to write something for 2020science, I thought I’d write about how science and technology relate to the conflicts and events in the story.

The widely popular Twilight saga by Stephanie Meyer is a love story between Bella Swan, an average teenager who goes to live with her father in Forks, Washington, and the immortal vampire, Edward Cullen. Throughout the series, Bella tries to convince Edward to change her into a vampire so that she can live forever with him. Edward is hesitant, though, because if Bella becomes like him she’ll have to leave behind everything she knows.

As the series develops the opinions of Jacob Black, a werewolf and Bella’s best friend, become important. Jacob hates the vampires because his Native American tribe’s beliefs have taught him that they are untrustworthy and dangerous, and besides, he doesn’t want Bella to go.  And so the story revolves around two very powerful but very different groups, with Bella in the middle.

So what has this got to do with emerging technologies?  Here’s one possibility: In the real world, what would happen if two countries or groups were caught up in a war over a new technology? It may be something special, like the ability to make other people’s weapons useless.  This is a bit like what happens in the last book in the Twilight series, Breaking Dawn. You see, when Bella finally becomes a vampire she possesses a unique gift of being able to shield people from other vampire’s harmful powers. That is the kind of ability that, in the real world, could give a single country or group enormous power.  And in the books it certainly comes in handy when Bella and her new family get into trouble with the ruling group of vampires.

But what I really think is interesting is that one of Bella’s regrets in the book is that she thinks that, while she’s human, she doesn’t deserve Edward. She sees herself as a boring human, and that’s how most other people see her as well.

The reason Edward took an interest in her, though, was because he couldn’t read her mind like he could other people’s.  Bella was different in a small but important way, and that made her special.

This aspect of the story shows that an important quality in something may be hidden. For instance, if you just looked at a plant—maybe from the tropical rainforest—you probably couldn’t guess if it contained chemicals that could lead to a cure for some diseases.  Or if someone develops an amazing new technology—perhaps something that can generate energy from the sun as effectively as plants do—it may have downsides that aren’t immediately apparent.

That is why it’s probably important to look carefully into otherwise ordinary things when it comes to science and technology.  Because by not looking into them carefully, important things might be missed, that can either be used for good, or cause harm.

To be honest, I’m not sure how much the book Twilight says about emerging technologies.  And the movie will probably be even less relevant, as Hollywood tends to dumb things down.

But it’s a great book anyway, and by thinking about the connections with science and technology, at least I get a free ticket to the movie—thanks Dad!

Bethany Maynard

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One Response to Twilight

  1. Andrew Maynard says:

    Having had the rather unique experience of being one of the oldest people amidst a crowd of screaming teenagers at Friday’s showing of Twilight, I can now write with a little more authority on the movie.

    Interestingly, in addition to the points Bethany teases out, I think there is another link with technology that comes through very clearly in the movie – the tension between the ability to do something, and the wisdom of restraint.

    Of course this is a theme that goes way beyond the use of emerging technologies. But it does bring back the Late Michael Crichton’s memorable line from Jurassic Park (the movie),delivered by Jeff Goldblum:

    “Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

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