Okay, time to be real here…
I’m putting the snark, so-called-wit and uppity-jerk facedness (your words) aside for a moment so I can have an honest heart-to-heart with a group of people I truly don’t understand…
So Twilight fans…please…
What. Is. The. Deal?
This isn’t a set up. Or a trap. You’re not being invited to the stage just to be “Carrie”ed in front of the student body.
I just want to know. Need to know. Am DYING to know…
Why do you like it so much?
Vampires with no fangs? That glitter in the sunlight? Who can impregnate with their undead organs? (Oh, spoiler alert, I guess.)
I’ll be the first to admit I went in low. I wasn’t expecting much – but as someone who’s written a tween romance storyline or two – I know there’s some fun ground to cover there. The angst in the face of insecurity, the loneliness in the face of insecurity, the butterflies in the face of insecurity. The insecurity.
I get all that.
What I don’t get is the vampire thing. How can you sign on for a vampire story starring something that can barely be categorized as a vampire at all? Are you just not that interested in vampires? Are you only there for the love story? There’s plenty of blood, so I know you’re not squeamish…so what is it?
I remember when John Carpenter’s “Vampires” came out in ’98 and there was a bit where the two main characters were driving in a jeep in the obligatory “wait a minute, you’re telling me vampires are REAL?!?” scene. In this scene, James Woods… (pictured – he’s the one on the left)
…was explaining to a priest the rules of vampire-killing and thereby laying out this movie’s particular take on the mythos. It went something like this:
“Have you ever seen a vampire? First of all, they`re not romantic. It’s not like they`re a bunch of (slur deleted)s hopping around in rented formal wear seducing everybody in sight with cheesy Euro-trash accents. Forget whatever you`ve seen in movies. They don`t turn into bats. Crosses don`t work. You want to try garlic? Stand with garlic around your neck…one of these buggers will bend you over and take a walk up your strada chocolatta while he`s sucking blood from your neck, all right? And they don`t sleep in coffins lined in taffeta. You want to kill one, you drive a wooden stake right through his heart.”
After hearing this, I remember thinking, “Isn’t that just…a guy?” What makes that a vampire? I’d die if you drove a stake through my heart too. I mean, how much of the lore can you delete without actually changing the thing itself?
Let’s take Superman for example…take it away, James Woods (pictured – this time on the right)
“Have you ever seen Superman? First of all, he’s not heroic. It’s not like he’s a some (slur deleted) hopping around in rented tights saving everybody in sight with a spit curl and a smile. Forget whatever you`ve seen in movies. He doesn’t fly. Kryptonite doesn’t work. You want to try lead? Lock yourself in a room made of lead…that bugger’ll will bend you over and take a walk up your strada chocolatta after spotting you from a mile away, all right? And he doesn’t live in a fortress of solitude. You want to kill him, you drive a wooden stake right through his heart.”
See what I’m saying? Mythological creatures are DEFINED by their mythos. I’m all for the idea of using what works for your story and discarding the rest, but come on…! How does glittery skin enhance your tale? “Barbie Fairytopia”, sure. “Rainbow Bright and the Star Stealer”, of course. An Adam Lambert concert, natch. But vampires?
As for the movie specifically, and I can only speak about the first one (I know, I know, ‘the second one’s much better’), I found it very annoying how many times Edward, after spotting her from across a parking lot or something, approached Bella , who for all I could tell was minding her own business, just to tell her they have to stop seeing each other and this can never work and you’ve got to leave me alone. That’s like posting a billboard in someone’s bedroom that says “FOR THE LAST TIME, STOP READING THIS.”
Also, what’s Bella so sad and angsty about? I feel like the filmmakers (and possibly Stephenie Meyer) were trying SO hard not be formulaic that they completely lost their true north and whatever pathos we may have felt for Bella just sorta jumps ship along the way. If “Twilight” were a person, I feel like it would forego all the convenience and naturalism of putting on its pants one leg at time just to avoid the comparison of commonality with the rest of us. The end result being an off-putting and time consuming display of unnecessary leg-flailing, precarious hip lunges and clumsy acrobatics that not only frustrates but also makes you late for work.
Oh, and meanwhile, your likability? Flying out the window like Edward Cullen on a date.
Here, let me try to pitch you the movie I saw, okay? You be the studio executive in charge of acquisitions:
Me: Okay, here’s my movie. It’s a story of angst, teenage love, rebellion, heartache andVAMPIRES!
You: Sounds good. Shoot.
Me: Okay, there’s this girl, right? She moves to a small town to get away from her newly remarried mom.
You: She doesn’t like the new guy, I take it?
Me: No, he’s cool.
You: Okay, I get it…he doesn’t like her then? She’s getting in the way of his new relationship?
Me: No, he loves her. Thinks of her like a daughter.
You: It’s the mom then? She’s wrapped up in her own life? Takes no interest in the girl?
Me: Actually, she’s loving, supportive and very much wants her to be a part of this new thing she’s got going on. But, wait, lemme finish, it’ll all make sense in a minute.
You: Okay, go on.
Me: Okay, so she moves to this small town to live with her Sherriff dad, who’s still single.
You: He’s abusive? Neglectful?
Me: Loves her pieces. But also gives her space because she’s a teenager and he knows she needs room to grow.
Me: So then she falls in with this crowd at her new school…
You: Okay, I get it now. Good girl falls in with bad crowd. Sorta rebelling against what she came up with.
Me: No, crowd’s awesome. They’re very active. Very positive about stuff. They’re always doing things, they’ve got their own cars, they pretty much run the school.
You: But they’re dorks, right? Kinda square?
Me: No, they’re super awesome.
You: But they treat the girl badly cuz she’s new and from the big city and they think she’s stuck up?
Me: No, they love her instantly. Think she’s great. In fact, she’s instantly the most popular girl in school.
You: Davenpoe, I’m a very busy studio executive in charge of acquisitions, can you please get to the meat of this thing?
Me: No problem. So here’s this girl, loved by everyone, in a new place with new friends, reunited with family, brand new wheels…
You: New wheels?
Me: Oh, I forgot, the cute neighbor boy and his family love her too and arrange to get her a truck for tooling around in as soon as she gets to town.
You: Of course.
Me: And because of all this, the girl falls in with…get ready…a cute, teenage VAMPIRE!
Me: Getting it now?
You: Lemme guess, HE loves her too?
You: And his family?
Me: Like she’s one of their own.
You: ..and I’m guessing HE’S popular at school too?
Me: He’s very well accepted.
You: Are the vampires at least scary? Big fangs? Creatures of the night?
Me: No fangs and they glitter in daylight like beautiful diamonds.
You: So…do you have a big set piece? An action-packed sequence in the middle of the second act to anchor people to their seats? Like a fight scene, a steamy love scene? Anything like that?
Me: Yup. A baseball game. A vampire family baseball game.
Me: So that’s the big picture. Get it? Two tortured souls, accepted by the world, hunted by no one. Bound together forever. See? It’s like Romeo and Juliet, but THIS time, everything goes right for everyone. It’s a classic tale of rebellion without all the adversity. I can see the tag line now:
“In a world where everything’s pretty great, things go perfectly all the time.”
“Sometimes getting what you want is fantastic.”
“Be careful what you wish for…because it’s wonderful.”
You: Get out of my office.
Me: Did I mention it’s based on a bestselling book?
You: It’s got a built-in audience?! Why didn’t you say so!? You got yourself a deal. We start production tomorrow.
END FANTASY SEQUENCE.
But I digress…I’m trying not begrudge any fan base the thing they love, but I just need to know what the appeal is.
My guess? None of the rules of standard storytelling apply here because this isn’t really a story that was meant for public consumption. There’s a reason certain young women eventually put away their Harlequin novels and start watching “Grey’s Anatomy.” With age and experience, you start to crave a little complexity in your entertainment. I think “Twilight” may just be a simplistic fantasy that’s been blown way out of proportion by media hype and very cool cover art.
It’s “300” for girls.
But I could be wrong about all this. Maybe it’s just a bad adaptation of a decent book. Or maybe the appeal is just beyond me. Maybe there’s a brilliance I’m not seeing. Maybe the whole thing’s an analogy for Apartheid. If I am, and you’re a Twilight fan and you’re reading these words and you know the answer, please…
We now return you to your regularly scheduled snark, so-called-wit and uppity-jerk facedness.