Fans who went to see “The Host” last weekend might have gotten something they didn’t expect from a movie based on a Stephenie Meyer book.
In a brief scene that clearly diverges from the “Twilight” author’s source novel, a science fiction romance about body-snatching aliens called “souls,” the human protagonists are shown engaging in premarital sex.
By Hollywood standards, the scene is pretty tame. Except for actor Max Irons’ bare back, not much is shown, and it probably won’t offend audiences used to seeing far worse in PG-13 movies.
However, the scene stands out for one reason. Thanks to the “Twilight” series, entertainment media have long associated Meyer's work with conservative sexual standards, particularly abstinence before marriage.
But when Movieline’s Grace Randolph floats the issue of abstinence and premarital sex during a recent video interview with Meyer and her “Host” star Saoirse Ronan, the author noticeably rolls her eyes and says, sounding slightly annoyed at having to explain her vampire romance series for the umpteenth time, “In ‘Twilight,’ there was a character who was born in the early 1900s and had a different value set. And I really enjoyed taking this anachronistic character, shoving him into modern life and having him stay who he is and making everyone else bend. It was fun to write.”
As for her new movie, which does feature premarital sex, she says, “In ‘The Host’ world, it’s a whole different scenario, and this is how the characters would behave under these situations.”
“It’s a modern relationship,” interjects Ronan.
“Well,” says Meyer, “it’s just that that’s the world we’re in.”
The author, who also served as a producer on the last two “Twilight” movies as well as “The Host,” once told the Wall Street Journal, "I don’t think teens need to read about gratuitous sex." “The Host” book was no exception.
So is it a contradiction for her to be OK with premarital sex in the movie?
The simple answer is probably no. In the book, Jared (Irons’ character) and Melanie (Ronan’s) are shown to abstain for mostly pragmatic reasons. They’re survivors on the run from an alien species in a harsh environment. As Jared points out in a very Edwardian moment (Cullen, that is), theirs is not the kind of world to raise a child in.
That said, the decision by the filmmakers to throw in a sex scene to spice up Jared and Melanie’s onscreen relationship certainly doesn’t add to the story. Rather, it seems to be exactly the kind of gratuitous sexuality that Meyer refuses to include in her own writing.
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A native of Utah Valley and a devoted cinephile, Jeff is currently studying humanities and history at Brigham Young University.