Is Edward Cullen a "good" boyfriend: Young men talk about Twilight, masculinity and the rules of (hetero)romance
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The popular romance is a pervasive and ubiquitous part of popular culture, which has been critically and rigorously analysed by a wide range of scholars. While this body of work is diverse in its critiques of popular romance, studies often share a common research question: how are the narratives embedded within these love stories understood by those who consume them? While women are undoubtedly the target market for this genre, my research takes a different, less orthodox approach to answering this question. Drawing from a broader study on how young men make sense of being boyfriends and (hetero)romance, I asked twenty-two young men from a high school in Aotearoa/New Zealand about their interpretations of a well-known young adult text that can also be classified as contemporary popular romance, Twilight. By talking with young men about Twilight, and, in particular, Edward Cullen, I was able to garner insights into how they decoded gendered performances of (hetero)romance within the film and more generally, what it means to be a “good” boyfriend.