On the Twilight Saga

Prejudice in Twilight

Team Edward versus Team Jacob

By Melissa Burkley, Ph.D.

A quick look at our films, television shows, and books reveals an interesting fact about humans: we are fascinated by prejudice. Not just racism, though we do see racism dealt with frequently. We’re captivated by any negative attitude toward individuals because of their group memberships. Some movies and TV shows address the issue of prejudice head-on (e.g., American History X, Glee), but many of our modern pop culture depictions of prejudice occur in more subtle ways, often using far-fetched stories to explore the real underpinnings of prejudice.

Take, for example, the Geico commercials based on the tag line “So easy, a caveman can do it.” Because cavemen don’t represent a true social group, we can watch the commercials and laugh at the ignorant stereotyping the cavemen must endure.

The writers of such media smartly use prejudice against fictional characters as a stand-in for the true racism in our society. By doing so, they deeply explore the themes of prejudice without blatantly challenging the beliefs of the audiences and making them feel uncomfortable.

On the surface, Twilight is a story about love, but it is also a story about hate—the hate that develops between groups and the hate that develops between individuals who share a history of group conflict. From the conflict between vampires and werewolves to the (usually) playful banter between “Team Edward” and “Team Jacob” fans, the topic of prejudice is a theme that runs through the series.

The Nature of Prejudice

Prejudice includes three components: emotional (negative feelings), cognitive (stereotyping), and behavioral (discrimination).  …

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