Thursday, November 17, 2011

Why TWILIGHT Sucks (And Why It’s Okay)

Ooohohoho you are treading dangerous and iconoclastic ground here, Luca! A post denouncing Twilight as sucky? Surely, a vampire pun will soon follow! To which I would say no way man! The level that I am on is wholly above that! Ahem.

I’m going to admit straight up front that this post was inspired by JoBlo tweetin’ at the esteemed Film Crit Hulk over at Badass Digest, asking him whether someone had ever written something intelligent about why exactly TWILIGHT sucked. However I, always looking for DAT EXTRA ANGLE, thought that maybe it’s time that someone who doesn’t really like the series at all took the heat off.


We’re gonna ice-skate up this hill in two parts!

1) Why’s it suck?

  1. Little to no plot: Very little happens in these movies! At least, not enough to warrant their two hour+ runtimes. Movies don’t need a lotta plot, of course, if they have interesting characters.
  2. No interesting characters: Everyone is thin as shit, and in some cases actively unlikable. Edward is possessive yet distant and aloof, Bella is ridiculously co-dependent and weak-willed, Jacob is Jacob, … you name it.
  3. A blank-as-fuck lead: Remember how Lizzie Bennet in Pride & Prejudice was an awesome heroine who didn’t take no guff from the establishment? And how life must have sucked for Austen as she seemed to be mentally two centuries ahead of the curve? Maybe Stephenie Meyer should get in a TARDIS and switch places with Austen: Bella seems very adamant about her life being pretty much worthless without a maaayunnnn in it. In NEW MOON, Edward leaves her (temporarily – don’t worry!) for her own safety and we get a montage of her sulking for months. Hilariously, the camera swirls about her, showing the passing of seasons. OH AND ALSO Kristen Stewart tells us that months had passed in a voice-over. I’m not sure, but there may have been pages falling off a calendar as well. In the book (or so I am told) there is actually a bunch of blank pages to signify how EMPTY her life is without Edwardo. Note that Bella does not come from an abusive family, nor is she friendless. Her parents are divorced and she’s moved to a new town, but she picks up a new clique of friends pretty quickly, and everyone’s generally shown to be nothing but nice to her. But nope! EMPTY!
  4. EMPTY: Vampire-human romance? We’ve seen that stuff before! What unique spin has Meyer put on her story for it to gain such incredible popularity? Well, they ain’t yer grampappy’s vampires! For one, they don’t actually die in sunlight. It reflects off them so beautifully that it looks like they gleam! And… that other thing. That is also original. The… they fight werewolves. They don’t like ‘em. They… uh… no, it’s pretty much the sparkles. *sigh* Look, we’ve got a lot of attractive people in this movie, okay?

2) Why’s it okay for it to suck?

Okay, so we’ve got a lead couple setting gender relations back about five centuries, set in a world where nothing interesting or imaginative happens*, populated by supremely attractive people. Why should we not boycott this with all our might (lol)?

  1. Look, male geeks have been marketed to for decades. Hollywood knows pretty much exactly what they want: explosions, punches, capes, space ships, attractive ladies, … The female geek demographic is a relatively new one. I’d say it kind of started branching off from the herd with Harry Potter in the late 90s. It was a merchandising machine that engulfed many (mainly?) women. So of course movie studios/publishers were gonna push whatever they thought would be the next Harry Potter. And yeah, Twilight happened to push some very base buttons! Super powerful guy who suppresses all his natural kill instincts because you – a super regular girl with no special talents – are so damned gorgeous and special… OMG SWOON! And god… another one exactly like him… and they’re fighting over YOU!!! EEEEEK!!! Surely you’d get psychotically dependent over less than that! Compare it to a movie like BAD BOYS 2: everything that happens on screen is morally wrong… and yet kinda awesome, because it speaks to that Neanderthal side of our brain. Any rational adult can identify lowbrow entertainment for what it is. Yeah, sure, there are people that think the world really needs a Punisher, but they’re the ones that shoot up high schools. Why would a woman NOT be able to say “Yeah, Bella’s actions here are… not healthy.”**
  2. Female geekdom is a relatively new thing, something of this millennium. Geekdom in general as we know it was probably born in the 1920s, with the fanzines popping up around the Weird Tales style pulp magazines. And for many decades, geekdom was a pretty grassroots thing! Hell, when George Lucas made STAR WARS, Fox allowed him to have the merchandising revenue. Geeks just weren’t a market! Female geekdom came into being in an environment that was pretty much the opposite of grassroots. Geek movies are now the biggest blockbusters every year, and if we can count on Hollywood for anything it’s that they’ll push hard for the most easily digestible common denominator crap out there. And if you market something hard enough, it works! I’ve had young students come up to me telling me how awesome AVATAR was, being utterly in disbelief when I told them there were even better movies in the same genre. Another class (kids around 15) had not a single person in it that had heard of Indiana Jones. After some describing on my part, one of them had seen CRYSTAL SKULL.

In summary, TWILIGHT is popular because it appeals to some very base (and basic) desires, coupled with its core audience existing in a very corporate controlled environment. It would, however, be wrong to get up in arms about it, since most fans are (or will be, once they get out of adolescence) rational and critical people who can separate fact from fiction. And then sir, YOU would be the sexist! Some will grow out of it entirely, some will experience it as a gateway to other, better things, but only a minority will end up a female version of this guy***

*In the second movie/book, Jacob takes Bella to an action movie. It’s called something like THE BLOODKILLENING or some such Simpsons joke name. The normal human guy from Bella’s circle of friends that has a crush on her accompanies them, but he quickly blows his chances by getting nauseous from the stomach-churdling violence on screen. I love how out of touch this paints Stephenie “I have never seen an R-rated movie” Meyer to be. She thinks action movies are stomach-churning gorefests.

**Teenage girls are exempt from this, as in your teenage years everything is as dramatic as shown in TWILIGHT. Twi-moms though? They shoot up schools.

***btw every twilight movie is better than the 1986 transformers movie trufax

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