July 12, 2010
I did it. I watched Twilight. I sat there and paid attention so I could finally understand what the students were talking about in their reviews. Fangirls tend to ramble and it makes it hard to help them if I can’t understand what they’re trying to say, and as I’m always looking to be a better educator and writer, I took it upon myself to sit down and at least watch the first movie. Luckily, my girlfriend was kind enough to sit and watch with me despite both of us hating the story and characters…
Honey, I love you and I am SOOO sorry you had to sit through this pile of cinematic gastronomic waste.
So what did I learn? Well, the sparkly scene looks ridiculous. Even with HD, I couldn’t see talent. Meyer can’t create tension or exposition. And Kristen Stewart can’t go five minutes without biting her lip.
I won’t go over the stuff I’m sure others have already discussed, so this is more of a writing-based review.
1) Stammering = Emotion
Why does… every person under, like, uhm, the age of… twenty feel the… the need, to speak like… an, uhm, epileptic William Shatner?
I got the distinct impression watching this film that the population of Forks, Washington is severely limited in its ability to communicate. If we’d made a drinking game out of teens being unable to just spit out one complete sentence without stammering, Mary and I would have been dead by the fifteen-minute mark.
This stammering in place of actual emotion is most evident with Bella’s character. I’m sorry, but Stewart can’t act, and just having her stammer and trip over her lines is not a sign of emotion and inner turmoil. You know what would show emotion? Acting!
Or maybe the writer wrote the lines like that? I’d have to see the script. Either way, it’s just a lousy way to try to get an idea across.
2) The Class Bitch
Bella is a horrible human being. Oh yes. All these people at school like her at once and want to be her friend (as improbable and unrealistic as that is) and she shuns them, goes off by herself, and obsesses over the only person at school who doesn’t like her.
Being the new kid isn’t easy. I remember the feeling. If a half dozen people had asked to shepherd me around, show me the sights, and wanted to have lunch with me, I would have been all over the opportunity, but Bella is so oh-woe-is-me, it’s disgusting! I just wanted to reach in through the screen and shake her like a British nanny.
So not only do I hate her character, but she’s the main focus of the story. And I have to keep looking at her. Now I REALLY hate her.
3) Passive Sentences
Do you know the definition of a passive sentence? Basically, it’s a sentence where the subject doesn’t do anything. “The hamburger was eaten by my brother,” is passive because the burger isn’t doing anything. These kinds of phrases are frowned upon in writing because they lag and are inactive, making them extremely poor at engaging a reader.
Guess what? The same thing applies to STORY.
Nothing happens in this movie. The characters are not proactive until the very end when a cookie-cutter villain appears to steal the damsel in distress a.k.a. Bella. Bella, our main character, does nothing throughout this movie and must constantly be saved by others. She takes no actions except what others allow her.
She’s powerless, weak, and dependent on others to matter. She’s a McGuffin with dialogue.
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4) Clark Kent was Right
Are you a vampire? Need to blend in with the human population and not attract suspicion? Just dress like them and isolate yourself so you look like the weird kids in school.
I’m sorry, but I know vampires are supposed to be undead and mysterious and have something about them that marks them as unnatural. Pale skin is easy to explain, but the colored eyes that change color are harder. And what do the Cullens do to blend into society?
The “kids” all go to high school and must be pulled out when the sun shines least they sparkle and glow like disco balls. Why take high school over and over again? What’s the point? If you can make an identity that lets you enroll in high school, why not go to college, get a degree, and actually get a job? Preferably a job that doesn’t require too much interaction with people who may notice the fact that you have a body temperature equal to room temperature!
In Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, vampires commit suicide when the world changes too much or they get bored. If I had to take high school for eighty years, I’d stake myself by junior year on the first cycle.
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5) Love Is Its Own Reward
How do you tell if someone loves you? Do they take care of you? Let you grow and be free so you can reach your full potential? Go over your good points and praise your successes?
What if they have deep homicidal urges they barely keep restrained in your presence?
According to this film, that works too. There’s a line in the movie from cardboard cutout Bella that really sums up my frustration with what I have had students tell me, completely serious, is the greatest love story of all time:
This isn’t real. This kind of stuff just doesn’t happen.
Well, it does. I’ve said it before, but it bears saying again: this is an abusive relationship. Edward controls everything. Bella loves him based on his ability to not kill her. He loves her despite having nothing in common with her. He’s 80 years older than her. That makes it pedophilia. Fans that look to this relationship as some sort of ideal situation are scary not just because they very likely don’t understand the concept of love, but want this kind of relationship.
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If I was teaching a writing class this semester, I would make this movie, or least excerpts of it, part of my curriculum. I’d use them as examples of how not to tell a story. Everything is so backwards from what good writing has to have that it makes me wonder why I put so much effort into my work.
Meyer took a dump on some paper and called it a book and people bought it. Maybe I should follow suit.
Ah hell, and there are still two more movies to go!
Time for something to cleanse the palette:
- Even Neil Gaiman agrees Meyer has helped ruin a wonderful fantasy icon by not making vampires scary.
- The only thing worse than Twilight? COUNTRY Twilight. Oh yes, it’s real.
- Some Twilight fans are passive. Some are obsessive. But few would be willing to openly advertise sexual favors for the stars.
- Twilight fans can get fairly obsessive… but now they’re biting each other to mark their territory? I guess it’s better than emulating Jacob Black and peeing on each other, but still… I guess no one ever told them about diseases in blood.
- Enough already. Elena Kagan was actually asked if she was Team Jacob or Team Edward. People, it’s bad enough these hearings bore half the country. Do we need to make them even less relevant?!
- This will likely be a spoiler for anyone who doesn’t know about the last Twilight book, but Bella gets preggers. And someone out there made a fake Bella womb. And yes, that’s the baby in the middle.
- Think that’s weird? It looks like Westboro Baptist has made an unofficial endorsement of the franchise.
- And finally, what if instead of targeting tween girls, Meyer had gone after teen and young adult males for her target audience? The result might have looked like this: