“Twilight” rant: intro

by Jasper on April 21, 2009

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OK, I’ll admit it. I am completely obsessed by the “Twilight” series.

About six months ago, I started to finally hear about it, with the promotion of the first movie in fall 2008. I kinda thought that the lead playing Edward was kinda hot (yeah, like everyone else, I know, I know.) So I first, like, noticed the book after that. By chance one day while browsing through the now defunct Virgin Megastore in San Francisco (rest in peace), I even tried to read “Twilight” a bit.

It turned me off. What’s so exciting about a teenage girl with low self esteem moving to a tedious small town in a rain soaked backwater? Plus, I found the writing a bit dull, somehow. I knew about the vampire angle and all that. But, hey, I grew up in the ‘80’s, a time when vampires were not cool but thought that they were (typical ‘80’s). And they were not that nice, either. (Anyone remember “Lost Boys” or “Interview with the Vampire?”) The only alternative to that was the over-the-top ultra-campy style vampire, a la George Hamilton in “Love at First Bite.” See what I mean? Not that interesting.heg1

Then my best friend, D, began dating this great guy whose friend insisted that he read the series. D lent me Carlos’ friend’s copy of “Twilight.” Something like that. At any rate, D encouraged me. At the same time, a colleague from work was glowing about the whole series and pressing me to start reading it, too. She went through the entire saga with her two teenage daughters. And she had recently started re-reading it, to the chagrin of the youngest who cried, “Mom, what are you doing? These books are written for people my age and I’m not even rereading them.” I should have noticed the signs. Isn’t this how addictions start, “friends” encouraging you to “just try it?” Well, after that first little bump in the road, I’m a junkie through and through now.

I’ve read all of the books….twice. And I’ve read the online unfinished fragment of “Midnight Sun“
on Stephenie Meyer’s official website, www.stepheniemeyer.com. (By the way, I for one do not buy the whole explanation on her site that she chose to stop writing “Midnight Sun” after it was somehow leaked to the Internet. I just think that the book is not quite as exciting from Edward’s perspective because there is not as much of an element of surprise. She couldn’t just tell the fans that she had hit a dead end so she blamed someone else, the notorious and unscrupulous manuscript leaker person, whoever that may be? Why not just fess up, Steph? The book just doesn’t work. That’s not anybody’s fault. And you’ve been so stunningly successful with all of the others, doesn’t one minor failure help keep all of this craziness in perspective?)

I think that Stephenie Meyer is a brilliant writer; and a brilliant marketer, too. Not only have I read all of the books, I’ve been listening to the music that Steph promotes on her official website. (Gosh, Steph, I hope that you don’t mind that I call you ‘Steph.’ Where we to ever meet, I would call you “Stephenie” or maybe “Ms. Meyer” or more likely knowing me, I would freeze up with excitement and anxiety and just blush and shake randomly until you moved on to another drooling fan, thereby calling you by no name at all.) I love Muse, too, Steph!!! I am so out of touch. I’d never even heard of “My Chemical Romance” or “Placebo” before finding Stephenie, but now I can hardly imagine a day without them. I still don’t quite get the international proms and stuff, but I’m not that into dress-up either.heg2

Her series also promotes other books, too. I’ve happily read and re-read Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” and “MacBeth,” Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights” (which I hated in high school, sorry Bella, but loved now) and Austin’s “Pride and Prejudice.” A teensy bit obsessive, right? I cried inconsolably at the end of “R and J.” Heathcliff blows my mind when he says something like “I have done nothing wrong” after he systematically destroys the lives of everyone around him. Wow! Did Richard Nixon ever read that book in high school? Seriously though, Heathcliff is incredibly rude all of the time and he gets away with it. That’s a quality that I can really admire. And about Mr. Darcy, what can I say?

Of course, I’ve seen the “Twilight” movie a couple of times. Twice in the theatre and at least three or four times since it came out on DVD last month. It’s better at home because there I’m the only one screaming and making loud comments, instead of two hundred teenage girls and me and my friends and relatives. I actually like the movie, too. Sure it’s different from the book, but what movie based upon a book isn’t? I have no problem with how they changed around the plot a bit to make it more visual and condensed. Plus the actors are beautiful to watch.

I like to imagine what the characters’ lives might be like just beyond the edge of the movie frame. Could Emmett and Rosalie be going at it next door when Edward dances with Bella in his room? And what about all of those more than PG-13 visions that Alice is always having that she never mentions? Could that be the reason that she seems so chipper all the time? Don’t even get me started about Esme! She does not work. She is not in school. I know that she is interested in architecture and has designed and redesigned various housing projects, but really, she never sleeps, so she most likely has extra free time. The “kids” are a lot older than they look and seem to be well trained already, more or less (sorry Jasper). She does not have to cook at all. If she cleans, it happens so fast at the Cullen’s that it can’t be that demanding. Wouldn’t she have time for….other things? I just don’t get that New York Times movie critic, Manohla Dargis, who writes in “The Love that Dare not Bare its Fangs” that Steph makes “sex” seem worse than death, describing Edward as “a distraught Victorian.” The series is dripping with sex and sexual tension. Perhaps that’s why I’m so keen on it?

Actually, I think that Ms. Dargis does recognize sexual tension. Why else would she say ‘Victorian?’ Aren’t those nineteenth century folk supposed to be the most wound up people that ever existed on the planet? And really, you don’t have to be a famous movie critic to see that there is a lot of sexual tension between Bella and Edward. (This is one point where I decidedly prefer the book over the movie. The movie just fails to capture that butterflies-in-your-stomach, high-anxiety thrill of the developing romance between the two leads that the book captures so completely. Steph, you are a genius! Somehow, in the movie, instead of being happy and excited, Bella and Edward look like they are in pain a lot to me.) But what about all of the other relationships described in the series? You don’t have to be Sigmund Freud or Eve Sedgwick to notice some queer stuff going on. Even Bella and Edward’s relationship is a bit peculiar at times.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Jocelyn September 10, 2009 at 4:57 pm

As an “uneducated” Twilight blogger (I know, I know, I’ve only read two of the books so far) I haven’t read all of the rants for fear of spoiler information. However, I, of course, still have a few comments and thoughts about all this……
(1) Confusion in New Moon – In New Moon, Edward and Bella escape death from the Volturi by promising Bella will one day become one of them. When Bella tries to call Edward out on the fact that he promised to transform her, he claims that he will avoid that situation by utilizing Bella’s powers of resistance against vampire abilities. He explains that just like he can’t read her mind, nor could the Volturi leader; the Volturi tracker would not be able to find her if she was hidden out of sight…that she was “un-trackable.” But, didn’t James track her successfully??? Insight?
* True Love – I have to say with only having read Twilight and New Moon – I really think Jacob loves Bella more than Edward. Jacob knows her, supports her, is completely honest with her, and respects her decisions even when he doesn’t agree with them…True Love. Edward, on the the other hand, I believe only loves her because her blood is his “personal brand of heroin.” In my incomplete opinion it seems to me that Jacob adores her and Edward wants to suuucccckkkkk her bloooood!

Jasper September 12, 2009 at 10:41 am

Jocelyn

Your technical question is way beyond me but perhaps there’s a variety of ways to track someone? Maybe James did it differently from that creepy Volturi vamp? I don’t know.
I just cannot agree with you about Jacob. Just wait till Eclipse and Breaking Dawn until you make your final decision!

Jocelyn October 12, 2009 at 5:26 pm

Ok! I’ve finished the whole series and love it even more. I still love Jacob, but I take back everything I thought about Edward…I completely trust his intentions.
However, on this Bella Immunity subject, I still don’t really buy it. In Eclipse and throughout the other books they explain Bella’s resistance to special vampire powers as a purely mental resistance. Alice broke it down for Bella, “Jasper, too, Bella – his talent works on your body just as well as it does on anyone else’s. That’s the difference…Jasper’s abilities affect the body physically. He really does calm your system down, or excite it….But Jane and Edward and Aro and Demetri – they work inside the mind. Jane only creates an illusion of pain…You see, Bella? You are safe inside your mind.” While, I see where Stephanie is going with this I think she is pretty self indulgent in her rationale of which talents are mental and which are physical. For example, Alice explains her own talent as physical because it’s outside the mind. She says she only sees visions of the outcomes. However, her visions change completely when an individual changes their mind – I cannot think of anything more mental than that. I think it’s pretty self fulfilling for Bella to resist Jane and Edward (the story is so much better that way!), but still have Alice be able to view her future based on what Bella thinks she may decide in the future.

Jasper October 13, 2009 at 5:40 pm

Jocelyn

I think that you have an interesting point bordering on the philosophical. We still seem to live in the Cartesian universe with the body and mind being two different and distinct things. Nevermind that the two overlap and really you cannot have one without the other. You seem to object to Steph’s idea that Bella cannot be affected by the hurtful powers of Jane yet Alice and Jasper’s powers work on her. For the case of Alice, I don’t totally see it your way. Alice “sees the future” but it changes when people or whatever make new choices. So she sees the results of future actions rather than future thoughts. Since actions are not “in the mind” I don’t see the problem that Bells cannot protect herself from being “read” that way.

Jasper’s power of accurately reading and manipulating emotions is more of a problem case, I have to agree with you. Why should that work on Bella and Jane fail to harm her? Clearly emotions including pain are “in the mind” therefore Bella should be protected from such manipulations etc. Thinking about this reminds me of that TV show that I’ve become obsessed with “Lie to Me.” Have you seen it? Dr Lightman, a psychologist with a rough past, has developed a way to “read” the body language of others to the point that he can detect whether or not they tell the truth. Perhaps Jasper does something similar. Emotional states, after all, have physical manifestations: we laugh or cry or look tense etc. Is it possible that Jasper has a hightened almost supernatural awareness of such states that lets him “read people” a la Dr Lightman? So with that part solved, there’s the troublesome problem of the ways that Jasper can manipulate Bella’s emotions. Do you accept Steph’s argument that emotions are somehow physiological? If you do, then no problem! If not than the story breaks down.

Now looking at Jane’s power from the same angle, does she manipulate emotions physiologically? The novelist would have you think “no.” That’s why Bella is unaffected. Can it be that some powers allow for direct physiological manipulation of emotional states and some do not? That, I think, is at the heart of your question. I’ve read all of the novels several times and I don’t think that there’s a real solution to this problem. Congratulations for finding a loophole in the plot! I’ve been mainly thinking of the series as about relationships while paying less attention to the actual plot. Perhaps Steph needed a better editor?

Jacob Black January 8, 2011 at 10:12 am

Love reading anything like this as it gives me more knowledge for my jacob black site and going to be a regular visitor for sure!

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