August 3, 2010

Twilight: Guess Who's Back, Back Again?

Twilight, pp. 37-42
Edward Cullen didn't come back to school.

Every day, I watched anxiously until the rest of the Cullens entered the cafeteria without him. Then I could relax and join in the lunchtime conversation. Mostly it centred around a trip to the La Push Ocean Park in two weeks that Mike was putting together. I was invited, and I had agreed to go, more out of politeness than desire.

So we open in typical Bella fashion: pining for the missing Edward, but still keeping another guy on the line just in case. (To paraphrase Chris Rock, Mike is Bella's Penis In A Glass Case: Open in case of loneliness.) I hope you like this paragraph, because New Moon is just those four awkward sentences stretched into one awkward novel.

In the next paragraph, though, she's fine with Edward not being in Biology and feels '[m]ore comfortable than I had ever expected to feel here.' Of course, as soon as her abuser makes the scene, her heart will again be all aflutter. So she worries about having to deal with him and is happier when he's not there, but she'll be thrilled when he reappears.

I might be getting into some dangerous speculation here, but I think Bella might just be a Drama Queen.

We interrupt this examination of the protagonist's thorough unlikeability for this special look at the novel's bad writing.

Got extra adverbs you've no use for? Trying to get rid of them? Send them over to Stephenie Meyer! She'll find a way to use them, whether they're needed or not!

'I...wrote my mom a bogusly cheerful email.' (Bonus points for inventing an entirely new adverb to use unnecessarily!)
'Haven't you ever seen snow fall before?' he asked

Try to have one per page. And hey, how about nonsensical narration?

Sure, [snow] was drier than rain -- until it melted in your socks.

What does that mean? What does that even mean? Snow, which is water, is drier than rain, which is also water. Huh? Did Paul W.S. Anderson do a draft of this novel? drier than rain. Wow. I can't believe somebody wrote that. Mrs. Meyer failed grade school science, right? I mean, her degree is in English.* So she may not know that ice can no more be drier than water than a cow can be meatier than beef. But the editor should have cau--oh, that's right. I forget sometimes.

Anyway, back to the Bella-bashing.

So Bella, who is totally okay with Edward not being there, immediately checks his table in the cafeteria. (Again, why do the vampires sit in the cafeteria every day not-eating?) To the shock of absolutely no-one, Edward is now there, and Bella of course immediately flips out. (teh drama!) Her friends ask her what's wrong with her. They're asking with, we're told, 'unnecessary concern', even though she stares at the floor, refuses to eat, and tells them she feels sick. I'd say it's time for an intervention by the Drama Police.

[The Cullens] were laughing. Edward, Jasper, and Emmett all had their hair entirely saturated with melting snow. Alice and Rosalie were leaning away from Emmett as Edward shook his dripping hair toward them. They were enjoying the snowy day, just like everyone else--only they looked more like a scene from a movie than the rest of us.

But aside from the laughter and playfulness, there was something different....

Let's ignore yet another unnecessary adverb ('entirely'). Let's ignore the contrast between Bella's inability to remember the names of her supposed friends while she's in conversation with them and her ability to remember and recite the vampires' names after once hearing her friend list them a week ago. I want to focus on two things here: the laughter and *shudder* the playfulness.

Yes, these are two words that immediately spring to mind when I think of vampires. The eternally damned are nothing if not fun-loving types who live unlife to the fullest.

You know, I've had a few people tell me they enjoy Twilight because it's the first time they were exposed to vampires. Every time I hear this, I don't know whether to weep in despair or scream in rage. (Pretty much the same reaction I have to any given Lady Gaga song.) Imagine that you were a huge fan of Jackie Chan, and every once in a while you met another fan. Only these fans' first Jackie Chan movie was The Tuxedo. They've never heard of Police Story or Drunken Master, but man, that Spy Next Door was some great stuff. You're a little crestfallen. The spring goes out of your step. Because not only have these 'fans' only seen Chan at his worst, but now that they have, they may not be able to un-see his worst when--no, if--they ever get round to seeing Armour of God.

That's how I feel every time someone tells me their first exposure to vampires was this trash. Not because it's bad. Yes, it's bad, but that's not enough. No, like Chan in The Spy Next Door, its vampires are nothing like what made them legends. They're not dangerous. They're not menacing. They don't threaten your soul with spiritual destruction, a far greater horror than merely being killed. All the subtext is gone, and with it, all interest. These vamposters are boring.

Oh, and playful. Don't forget playful.

It's one thing to be a pale shadow of your former self. It's another to be something else entirely, with no connection to what you once were.

* No, really! The writer of this tripe has a degree in creative writing. The mind boggles. Now, one of those screenplay classes Charlie Kaufman had to sit through to get ideas for adapting The Orchid Thief--that I could buy. Maybe.

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