Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Twi-Hard with a Vengeance

Dating is stressful enough when you’re 30 but it super-duper sucks when your mom won’t let you get highlights and all the boys in your school still smell like worms. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone really hot would come along, fall in love with you, beat up your enemies and make life a little easier? Would it be nicer if we could magically take away all of the ridiculous dating pressure that our society places on 12 year olds and make them all love themselves as is? OF COURSE. Let me know when you get to that. 
Tomorrow night I am going to see Twilight: Eclipse and I’m very excited because there will be six packs and wolf packs, blood drinkers and vodka drinks (pre party!), and lust and romance and campy overwrought silliness. Bring it on. Of course, if the Internet has anything to say about it, looking forward to sparkling vampires on the big screen makes me at best a huge loser and at worst personally responsible for the downfall of cinema.
I’m not going to argue that the Twilight movies (or the books for that matter) are high art but the assertion that they are any worse then the rest of the summer blockbusters seems inherently sexist. Nobody seems angry when Pirates of the Caribbean or Ironman or Spiderman 3 (or anything else primarily marketed to teen boys) drag in buckets of money at the box office even though it’s generally accepted that none of these films will be honored by The Academy. But with last week’s record breaking release of the third movie in the Twilight series the Internet seems awash with backlash.
There are a lot of real issues in the Twilight-verse that are ripe to bitch about: 
  • The writing isn’t challenging.
  • The story perpetuates the idea that a person (in particular a female person) cannot be whole without a partner (for more on this topic read Gloria Steinem's brilliant chapter on love vs. romance in A Revolution From Within). 
  • Ain’t nobody getting laid.
  • Two different adult characters fall in romantic love with babies.   
But I don’t think any of these reasons are the real source of the rampant Twilight hatred. I think people are hating on Twilight because the boys don’t want to share the marque with girl-y romance movies. And I think all of us are a lot too quick to brand almost anything made entirely for girls as lame. 
Most of the Twilight complaints seem obsessed with the mushiness of the central romance between Edward and Bella. For those not in the know: the handsome vampire falls madly in love with the regular girl (without even talking to her!) and dedicates himself to her for life (which in his case is FOREVER). She can’t do anything to make him stop loving her. He wants to protect her and watch her sleep and drink every little drop of her yummy yummy blood. I’m going to assume that most of the haters were never 8th grade girls so they should trust me when I say that this shit would be super hot if you had a vagina and were in junior high.
Also confusing is the anger over Stephanie Meyer’s tweaking of the Vampire myth (as evidenced by the millions of geeks yelling about “real” vampires not sparkling). How does one go about establishing a “real” version of a completely fictional creature that no one knows the original source for? (Aside: here’s an interesting comparison of vampire traits). Obviously the real issue is not the sparkle (poor quality special effects notwithstanding) but (I’m guessing?) the feminizing of a scary monster. Stephanie Meyer can’t be blamed exclusively for the concept of pretty pretty vampires falling in love with mortal girls (Buffy? Interview with a Vampire?) and boys can hardly lay claim to the vampire character (True Blood? Bram Stoker’s Dracula? Dark Shadows? Was any of this shit made for dudes?). 
One has to ask, “Why are the boys so angry?” One theory (thanks to my coworker Aaron) is that the geeks don’t like having Comic Con taken over by girls. While I can understand not wanting the ladies to see you dressed up as an anime character (living in glass houses much?) I can’t help but think that training a bunch of young girls to like fantasy stories will surely lead to more geeks getting laid. Even Kevin Smith is down with that shit. 
Next time you find yourself angrily ranting about a piece of pop culture you might consider that you’re not the target demographic. (Personally I find Veggie Tales, Saw IV and The Bridges of Madison County all irredeemable.) You might also consider that the fantasy of every pasty white pre-teen boy was already made into a movie back in 1985. And hey, boys -- if you’re still feeling the rage, rest easy knowing that teen heartthrobs rarely fare well in the end. As proof here’s a recent image of my own personal adolescent love interest. Smoking.


Matthew said...

I saw the first film on TV in some random hotel room. I thought it was fine. On the other hand, I have been known to rail against the stupidity that is Iron Man and the Pirates sequels. Go figure.

dtb said...

I am all for loving bad things. (Currently working my way through all the seasons of Xena, Warrior Princess. Again.) But I've come to embrace my loser status. Enjoy the packs of sixes and wolves, sister! Enjoy them shamelessly.

kp said...

love that the wikipedia chart includes count chocula.