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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.
(Deleted comment)
dimloep_suum on January 5th, 2010 12:37 am (UTC)
The Riff Trax version is much more tolerable.