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04 January 2010 @ 12:13 pm
So last night, the doomies and I sucked up our pride and rented Twilight. Don't get scared, it's not because I'm a fan. Quite the contrary, in fact. It's one of those things that I just can't understand the widespread appeal of (see also: Lady Gaga, reality shows, Old Navy). But I figure that if you're going to really loathe something, you should at least be familiar with it first. So we sat down with a bottle of rum and a heap of snark, and actually watched the whole thing.

As I watched, I tried to puzzle through what it is about these books that has so many women so hopelessly addicted. I have met people who are intelligent and well-read, many who will even openly admit that these books are total crap, and yet they can't get enough of them.

Keep in mind that I have not read any of the books, nor seen the sequel. My assessment is solely based on one viewing of this film. So if you're a fan, please feel free to correct any of my assumptions, and please try not to get too offended.

Side note: I used to be a pretty huge Buffy fan, so I totally get the sexy-vampire thing. However, on Buffy, the heroine had a sense of purpose, an immediately apparent inner strength. Plus, whenever she had romantic entanglements with the undead, there was the implicit tension resulting from the fact that she was supposed to be, you know, killing them and stuff.

Over the course of the film, the only thing that really changed for me is that I realized that Stephanie Meyer is, in fact, a genius. In Edward, she's shaped the archetype of an ideal partner for a female lacking in self-esteem and confidence. This is not to say that everyone who likes these books is insecure, but I would venture that they probably at least were at one point, and can still relate. Not to generalize too much, but the fact that these are most popular with females aged 12-18 and 35-50 seems to be a telling indicator. I would wager (lacking any sort of evidence to back this up, of course) that there is a strong correlation by age between depression and Twifandom.

Bella is clumsy, lost in life, lacking a strong sense of identity. She is given almost no backstory, and what is given is exceptionally mundane. Other than being pale and pretty, she doesn't seem to have any particularly outstanding qualities. But then Edward shows up, representing an unrealistic portrait of The Perfect Man: mysterious, full of secrets, bearing the weight of regrets from a shadowy past - and yet so hopelessly devoted to Bella that he is instantly willing to suppress his history and his very nature.

Upon meeting her, he at first avoids her, which catches her attention immediately. She wonders what it is about her that repels him so. But upon confronting him, he admits to her that she's the one he's been waiting for throughout his abnormally long life, the one most special in all the world. As it turns out, the only reason he'd avoided her was because she drove him so crazy that he found it difficult to maintain control of himself.

He then proceeds to spend all his time protecting her (mostly from herself), to the point of watching her while she sleeps and following her everywhere. He is allowed to retain his dark side, allowed to remain a murderer, but only as long as the murder happens in service to her. His flaws only appear when framed in the context of a past cast off. The somewhat forced dialogue between them serves as a neon sign that seems to say, "Here's a guy who loves her for her MIND, for her INTERESTS! He won't use her for her body, nor ever put his desires above hers."

"Oh my God," Tara said. "I get it. It's porn for girls." I swallowed hard as I realized that if this had come out when I was a teenager, I would have been right alongside the legions of Twihards, clutching my book at night and dreaming of finding a boy like Edward.

To summarize, I hated this movie. I thought it was complete drivel: the characters uninteresting, the dialogue stilted and awkward, the plot contrived. But at the same time, I feel like I have a better understanding of why so many women go nuts for it. And it makes me sad that some of them are probably holding out for an Edward to come along.

Also: wtf vampire baseball lol.
elizabeth annbabysquid on January 4th, 2010 08:24 pm (UTC)
for Halloween this year we went to Universal Studios and sat thru the highly entertained "Bill & Ted's whatever the helll it was called but basically make fun of pop culture" show. and at one point they had a guy dressed as Edward talking to his Bella, doing the scene where she calls him a vampire- but instead she points out that with his hair and clothes- he's gay. now i've read 3 of the books, honestly because they were there, and my chicago!bff that was with me is basically a twihard... but we were both on the ground DYING. it was so perfect.

course if you ask my roomie, she'll link you to the LJ that was about how the books/story is Mormon propaganda... which is true too. but not as funny as Edward really being gay.
On se niin väärin!aprilstarchild on January 5th, 2010 06:54 pm (UTC)
That criticism pointing out the Mormon propaganda is awesome.
Hi: album coveryoopie on January 4th, 2010 08:31 pm (UTC)
lol...Tim and I have still resisted giving in to watching this....I will let you know how long we hold out.

Though I have not read any of the books and I really tend to LOATHE thing that are all hyped up...like as of late *Avatar*. I have no interest in it and did not have any interest in it BEFORE everyone went all APE SHIT over it...meh...I am going to go crawl back into my troll hole =)
harkalark: hapfunnyharkalark on January 4th, 2010 08:44 pm (UTC)
Right there with you on that. Though I was amused by a guy a couple of weeks ago who was looking through the movie listings and then asked his girlfriend, "Do you want to go see that new movie, Avayder?"
elizabeth ann: batman pocketbabysquid on January 4th, 2010 08:56 pm (UTC)
can i join this dislike of the overhyped stuff? i really can't stand anything that gets hyped or is non-stop talked about. a friend was APE SHIT about Avatar since they released that 20 min piece in Sept/Oct... she went to see it before it opened, and WOULD not shut up about it. i almost defriended her on-line because of it. and then she took me and my roommate to see it at the FOX studios, where she works, and i was more interested in the studios... she got so mad at me for not going on about how the movie changed my life... grrrr. it was a good movie, i'll give it that. and it should be seen on a big screen. but it is not the be all and end all of film making. she doesn't really talk to me now... and i'm OK with that.
harkalark: Alyson 3harkalark on January 4th, 2010 08:47 pm (UTC)
Thanks for posting this. Now I don't have to bother watching it.
typsietypsie on January 4th, 2010 08:48 pm (UTC)
Glad I could help.
(Deleted comment)
dimloep_suum on January 5th, 2010 12:37 am (UTC)
The Riff Trax version is much more tolerable.
The Loch Ness Monsterinkytwist on January 4th, 2010 09:14 pm (UTC)
I've heard it described as "porn for girls" before, and that is exaaaaactly what it is. It's stupid, but so is porn. Yay!
Dustymatrixleap on January 5th, 2010 12:08 am (UTC)
I've flipped thru the books and read a few pages here and there...

And all I can say is...

If THAT drivel-shit can get published, then, I'm POSITIVE my stuff can too!

typsietypsie on January 5th, 2010 12:09 am (UTC)
Well, it may be utter crap, but she really found her niche. But yeah, if she can do it, anyone can. You just have to tap into the zeitgeist of the time :D
Dusty: writermatrixleap on January 5th, 2010 12:13 am (UTC)
I read an article recently stating that women haven't been able to break into the serious Sci-Fi area for a long time (with a few notable exceptions)...so, a niche was carved out; Writers such as Meyers and Hamilton are a few that made this niche.

Emo supernatural porn for tweens and bored lonely housewives...and they are capitalizing on it. Good for them...as a writer and trying to get publication, I'd love to fall into a niche and have money just handed to me...but at the same time, I'd also like to have my shit stand to the test of time, if even SOMEWHAT, and not just be a flash in the pan wet spot for freshman girls.

Sandrasandra_e on January 5th, 2010 01:00 am (UTC)
Well, Hamilton quickly devolved into porn, but the same niche applies. :)
God of Thunder and Rock'n'Rollarchmage on January 5th, 2010 12:10 am (UTC)
You hit it on the head. Clumsy, clueless girl (who is nevertheless beautiful and lovable) is pursued, utterly and yet gentlemanly by Adonis. No surprise that this is obsessed over by so many women who have either no clue what love is about or who thought they had it and woke up one day to find themselves soccer moms in suburbia.

Now that you've hurt yourself with it, have fun with Sparkledammerung. Trust me.
Delphic Daysdelphicdays on January 5th, 2010 12:13 am (UTC)
personally i read all the books and will watch all the movies for one simple reason: they provide my friends and i with hours, no DAYS of fodder for ridicule. we got very mystery science theater on the books and when the movies came out it was like a blessing from the comedy gods!

so if the twilight franchise has served any purpose it has brought laughter into this dark heart of mine!
Sandrasandra_e on January 5th, 2010 12:57 am (UTC)
Okay. I hereby declare we need to have a vamprw discussion night, and soon. I'm a total vampire goob - even published on the myths ears ago - and want to chat about how, and why, particular styles appear at particular times.
Kitten Fluff-headmoonchylde on January 5th, 2010 03:04 am (UTC)
The comment I heard in another LJ is what disturbed me the most; especially now that I find out my sis-in-law let my 9 year old niece read them!

A woman had an email from a womens abuse crisis group with the ten indicators you may be in an abusive relationship. Applied to Twilight? Hits all 10. It warns that if you say yes to even one you should talk to a counselor.

The only reason this book/movie hasn't been bashed by feminists and moms is "it's just fantasy!"
if it didn't have vampires, nobody would read it.
On se niin väärin!aprilstarchild on January 5th, 2010 06:57 pm (UTC)
Actually, it has been bashed by feminists a-plenty.
On se niin väärin!aprilstarchild on January 5th, 2010 06:53 pm (UTC)
You hit the nail directly on the head.

Some people (like myself) find the book slightly more entertaining than the movie, which I found unintentionally hilarious.

The sexism is more obvious in the books (sex = death! you need a man to tell you what to do!), and gets worse as the series goes on--Edward is a controlling asshat.

Oh, and don't forget, that because Bella has no distinguishing characteristics, that means that the reader can pretend they are Bella. So it's one big long Mary Sue.

I worry a lot about the young women who read the series. Many of them will point-blank tell you that THEIR LOVE IS TWOO WUV and that the shit Edward does is okay because he loves her. Wow, way to set yourself up for an abusive relationship.

Heh. On the naked bike ride this summer, we ended up slowed down to stopping (there was a snafu) and as I was standing there, a girl walked by in a Twilight t-shirt. I blurted out, "TWILIGHT SUCKS!" She was obviously startled, looked at me and said, "What?" "Twilight is sexist bullshit! It SUCKS!" and then we started moving, so I didn't see her response to it....
batty: dynamic duodark_knightly on January 5th, 2010 08:59 pm (UTC)
i posted this on my facebook a while ago, but it's a pretty funny and similar critique of the book.
http://openid.aliz.es/heart on January 14th, 2010 05:54 pm (UTC)
For your enjoyment.
typsietypsie on January 14th, 2010 05:57 pm (UTC)
Re: For your enjoyment.
Bahahhaa awesome. Thanks, anonymous person!