Is the movie "Twilight," with its racing hearts, racing cars and racing hormones, really "smut for good girls," as some have suggested?
Of course not — anymore than the game of football is "gang warfare for good boys."
Just as football is a socially acceptable way for young boys to unbridle their aggressions, "Twilight" is a way for girls to handle their budding sexuality in a safe and symbolic way.
If you don't believe that, go see the movie.
My wife and I did. And I was more impressed with what author Stephenie Meyer has pulled off than she was.
It is a movie with all the longing, danger and intrigue of sex, without the sex. In fact, Meyer has knitted almost every type of love story into the fabric of her story from "Beauty and the Beast" to "Running Bear Loved Little White Dove." Yet, at heart, the movie simply asks that age-old fairy tale question — Little Red Riding Hood's question:
"Is that gentle, caring soul before me someone I can trust, or a wolf waiting to eat me alive?"
Some believe Meyer calculated the whole "Twilight" phenomenon — that she took the pulse of popular culture, checked the best-seller charts and produced a packaged product for the market that was a guaranteed hit.
I don't think so. The story just doesn't feel like that. It feels more like a young author who knew her own heart, knew who her natural audience was and set out to share her heart with her readers. The audience simply turned out to be several million more souls than she anticipated.
One thing I like about the film is most of the male characters — from the dutiful, clueless, divorced dad to the humanitarian vampire dad — were positive.
A second thing I like is that the movie shows "the more things change, the more they stay the same."
In an age when young girls are raised on Britney Spears and spend their days mastering intricate cell phone maneuvers that would baffle astronauts, the girls of today still "want a guy just like the guys that dated dear old Mom."
Back in the 1960s, young girls went all gooey over good-looking, athletic guys with hot cars and a knack with clever dance steps.
That pretty much describes Meyer's pulsing, heartthrob vampire, Edward, to a T.
But more than that, he listens to classical music and always has his girlfriend's back whenever she dawdles into danger.
Fangs or no, that's a guy you wouldn't mind introducing to the folks.
As for those who say romance writing like this is simply "smut for women," the comment speaks well of them in a way.
Any man who would say such a thing has no idea what real smut is.
The comment is also a dead give away that the guy hasn't bothered to see the movie.