Monday, January 25, 2010

Twilight of Cinema

So I watched Twilight last night.

Much has been said about Twilight, but I think I've got some good points here.

First of all, the story is basically Lolita disguised as Romeo and Juliet. The difference between Twilight and those aforementioned great works being that Twilight ends happily. (Actually I've heard that the book series ends in a pretty gross fucked-up way, but I'd like to just focus here on the adaptation of the first book, because that's all I know about.) I say Lolita because think about it: some old geezer (Edward is 99 years old, disguised as 17 and therefore damned to repeat high school over and over-- I would be brooding, too) woos and essentially kidnaps this girl who is very young, very boring, and apparently unbelievably beautiful. (I might as well note here that unlike Sue Lyon, star of Kubrick's Lolita, Kristen Stewart is actually pretty unfortunate-looking: she bears a strong resemblance to the guy from Re-Animator, and has kind of a similarly manic acting style as well.) So he takes her away from her family and friends and sort of bosses her around, all in the name of society will never accept our love and I have to protect you because you're a foolish young woman and I'm sophisticated. Only the movie seems to champion this possessive, overbearing attitude on the hero's part. Lolita is a powerful statement about how any form of tyranny can seem justified by beautiful enough rhetoric; Twilight is about the necessity of tyranny by a racially superior male over a really lame, helpless girl, and it is told in terrible, terrible, terrible prose.

So then I don't need to tell you how harmful that is to the thousands of impressionable young female fans. Alicia pointed out the most metaphorically objectionable scene in the movie: When Edward and Bella first make out, Edward says, "don't move," which is a phrase I think any girl who knows shit about shit would be terrified to hear someone seriously say in a romantic situation. Then the force of their dangerous sexual attraction for some reason literally repels Edward back several feet, sending him flying from the bed to the wall. Bella, wearing nothing but a t-shirt and panties, apologizes for it.

Maybe this has been remarked on somewhere else before, but the vampire characters in Twilight are not vampires. They are angular, baseball-playing Europeans with powers and desires that fit whatever needs to happen in the storyline. They can read minds, have super-strength, and can run real fast, as Edward repeatedly demonstrates, sometimes for no other apparent reason but to be hilarious. At one point he uses it to open the car door for Bella. When the sunlight hits them, they sparkle a little bit and that's all that happens. That's why they live in the Pacific Northwest where it always rains. I'm not kidding. Bella figures out that her new B.F. is a vampire in one of those most recent of lame montage archetypes, the Google search montage, with the camera panning over phrases like "superhuman strength" and "read minds" as Bella, whose mouth is always agape anyway, stares like a dead, Re-animator-lookin'-ass carp as she learns about myths from all over the world that sort of vaguely have to do with, I guess, violence.
The Cullen clan of vampires, however, are "vegetarians" that refuse to eat humans and only hunt like deer and stuff in the woods. Their relative vegetarianism parallels Bella's actual vegetarianism. The Cullens' enemies, however, roam around and have started killing local townsfolk, which is where Edward gets off "protecting" Bella all the time. This overt push for vegetarianism is the only sort of progressive message in the story, but it also doesn't make sense to me. I mean, why shouldn't the Cullens kill and eat humans? Really. They're higher than us on the food chain, they have every right to keep us on our toes. As long as they're not, like, factory-farming us, it's only fair. There would be nothing unnatural about it.
Which I guess is what's so stupid about Meyers' idea, so obviously untainted in conception by research, of Draculas anyway. If they were really the "ultimate killing machines," as Edward puts it at one point, and also really that hot, why wouldn't they have taken over the world by now?

Lastly, I decided I'm on "Team Jacob." Jacob, a local Native American played by a tan white guy who I guess is more important in the later parts of the story and turns out to be a werewolf or something in the next picture and has beef with the Cullens, seems like he's actually a pretty nice guy. He can at least hold a conversation with Bella, unlike Edward, who stutters and averts eye contact like a goddamn Asperger's patient every time he's not rescuing her.
Stay tuned for the New Moon post!

1 comment:

  1. Man I've never seen or heard anything about Twilight actually so this was a terrifying eye opener. I mean I kinda don't know what to say I guess man other than I can't wait for part douche.