Teenage Dating in a ‘Twilight’-'Hunger Games’ World

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About Sean Hackett

Sean Hackett teaches high school music in central Pennsylvania and is a part-time farmer. He is married with a fifteen-year-old daughter and a baby girl just born in July. He blogs about school, teaching, and lots of other things at The Slacker’s Guide to School.


  1. wellokaythen says:

    I had never heard the phrase “abstinence porn” before. That’s the perfect phrase. I love it!

  2. Young Swedish Viking says:

    As being a 17-year-old guy without any clue who Edward, Jacob, Gale and Peeta are, I suppose it is a pretty good thing?

    Anyway, good article and even though I ain’t a man yet, I still find a lot of stuff on TGMP very interesting, keep it up!

  3. michelle bateman says:

    Raising daughters in this abstinence porn world can be quite frustrating for a parent. One sees all this pent up angst about love, dating, desire turns into turmoil but one tries desperately to keep the girls grounded. The TV , The movies and books all infuse this idea that if you are not in pain or yearning tortuously, then one must not truly be in love. There is nothing in our media that depicts couples in love having just wonderful communicative, simple and solid lives. Everything has to be heart-wrenching, or painful in someway to be authentic. Its maddening. and of course if one would try to explain this to their beautiful girls.. I am the crazy one. I have no idea what love is.

    • That’s true, but not new or unique to our media. Romeo and Juliet and countless other works have been romanticizing heart-wrenching love long before Twilight or Hunger Games came along. Drama without conflict and obstacles wouldn’t be drama.

      I do think it’s easier to think of examples in contemporary media of unrequited or otherwise painful love than the communicative, simple, solid kind, but I can think of at least a few to counter the impression that it’s nowhere to be found.

      Pam & Jim in “The Office” come to mind. For several seasons they had typical obstacles of mis-timed attraction or availability, but ultimately, they got together (without cheating), got married, had kids, and seem to still love each other and get along. (It’s also arguable that their story arc is more boring and gets a lot less play now, but at least it’s an example of a healthy, loving relationship in a fictional show.)

      Phil & Claire on “Modern Family” also seem pretty healthy to me. They have conflicts, but always end up talking it out or working it out and come off more heart-warming than heart-wrenching. (That goes for the other two couples in the show, too, though I think Phil & Claire are the best example.)

      In “The Middle”, Frankie (the wife/mom) and Mike struggle to raise their three kids and scrape out a living for the family, but the marriage itself does not come off as unloving or tortuous. They argue in some pretty gender stereotypical ways, but as in “Modern Family”, the end result is usually finding some common ground or understanding that strengthens their relationship, rather than wallowing in how miserable or heart-wrenching marriage is. I would say they make it look hard at times, but not bad, which seems like a pretty respectable balance for a tv show. (It reminds me of “Roseanne”, but without being so focused on one character, and I enjoy it more.)

      In “Up All Night”, there’s the mom who still has her career going, while the dad gave up being a lawyer to be a stay-at-home dad with their daughter. I’m not sure a tv producer mom and former lawyer SAHD qualifies as “simple”, but they communicate their way through conflict and seem to have a pretty solid marriage and love for each other.

      I still agree that angst-ridden love dominates fiction, especially in drama, but there’s at least a few decent relationships going in popular fiction, especially if you don’t mind sitcoms.

      • I agree that Katniss handled the whole triangle thing badly. In fact, Katniss acknowledges throughout that she’s handling the whole triangle thing badly. She was in a very stressful situation with lots of needs, and used each guy to fulfill those needs when she could. She’s a good role model in lots of ways, including that she recognizes her flaws, even as admits she’s powerless to correct them.

        I also agree that good relationships don’t tend to have a central place in story lines., though they do exist if you look for them–like the ones you mentioned. Our goal, I guess, is to be the annoying, happy neighbor couple, whose greatest conflict comes from having to cancel plans at the last minute because the sitter falls through. Hardly interesting from a story-telling point of view, but a much happier existence.

  4. I loved Hunger Games for having a realistic, complex, and strong female protagonist presented with two very good potential male partners. Twilight is a ridiculous, misogynist horror all the way around and Harry Potter, sadly, didn’t deal with its love themes all that well. I guess I’d consider the Harry Potter love stories to have no real harm in them, while Twilight is actively a poor example doing harm to young readers, while Hunger Games is actively positive all the way around.

    • How did Katniss handle that love triangle that you thought was positive? I loved the trilogy and her bad-assery, but I didn’t feel like she was any kind of role model when it came to the love triangle with Peeta and Gale.

  5. wellokaythen says:

    I see the Harry Potter stories as more of a children’s fantasy than a teenage fantasy, despite what the actors look like by the final movie. I’d say it’s a totally different kind of fantasy than the Twilight books. The magic/vampires/werewolves similarity is just a superficial commonality.

    The early Harry Potter is at heart the basic fantasy that just about every kid has: the people raising me are not my real parents. My real parents are wonderful, heroic people, and I am meant to be powerful and famous and popular. I am in fact a superior human being who will get respect wherever I go just for being me, and I’ll follow the rules I want to follow and ignore the ones I don’t want to follow. In reality I am like a prince who’s currently being raised by filthy peasants.

    Twilight seems like more a teenage girl fantasy. Into my boring small town will come some beautiful yet troubled young men who have old souls and gorgeous bodies. They will fight over me, and the power of my love will bring one of them out of his shell, show him what love is, and he will protect me as well as bring adventure into my life. Our love will be refined because we won’t have sex but it will be so hot he can’t stand it that he’ll want to eat me. I will make the brooding bad boy love me. He will love me so much he would rather stay in Forks, Washington with me and hang out with me in high school than travel the world. Riiiiiight.

    • Tying Harry Potter in here may be a *bit* of a stretch, especially for the first few books. However, since wizards come of age at 17, isn’t the whole thing is sorta accelerated for them? It’s an aspect of the series that I’ve always had some trouble wrapping my mind around–picturing the 17-year-olds I work with going immediately into real careers in a ministry of anything. Since they go directly from Hogwarts to real life, the person they’re dating senior year is pretty much it.

      I like your comparison of the little kid fantasy vs. the teenage fantasy. The fact that even in Bella’s fantasy she’s still nothing more than a fairly decent cook and housekeeper is just so sad. In my fantasies I’m taller, and can fly, and other cool stuff.

  6. Twilight needs to be shot. Revolting stories (if you can call it that)

  7. They are interesting articles, with some perspectives I hadn’t encountered–I especially like the map. Thanks!


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