Cranky Hanke’s Screening Room: Twilight of my discontent

A couple of years ago, Ken and I were speaking to an out of town film critic—from a much bigger city than Asheville—who had somehow managed to finagle her way into a position where she only reviewed what most people would consider high-brow fare—your art films, your foreign features and the like. What this meant was that she never got subjected to the mainstream cinema of the huddled masses, something that caused her to be what can only be described as shocked to find out that both Ken and I watched what were obviously going to be bad movies, not because we were getting paid as critics to do so, but rather because we wanted to due to their standing as pop culture artifacts. Never have I seen someone amazed to find out I watched Transformers of my own volition.

Since I started reviewing movies for the Xpress a few years ago, it’s been my policy (and a notion I picked up from Ken) to watch as many theatrical releases as possible, especially the great big blockbusters that clog up multiplexes every week. Part of this is necessary for building the movie fan’s greatest asset, a frame of reference, but also to understand what is happening within the world of film at large. As much as I casually despise Star Wars, if George Lucas plopped down Episode VII I’d still watch it, because as much as I might want to ignore its existence, it’d be impossible; there are some things too big, too much of a pop culture behemoth to be ignored, and because art doesn’t exist in a vacuum, bits and pieces are bound to be assimilated into the things I enjoy.

So it was in this spirit that I decided to undertake what I consider to be the most grueling of filmgoing experiences I have partaken of to date: sitting through both Twilight and its brand new sequel, New Moon, back to back, on the opening night of this newest entry into the series. First off, you have to understand that my dealings with the phenomenon known as Twilight have only been peripheral. I missed the first film when it creeped its way into theaters last fall, and I don’t dare pick up one of the Stephenie Meyer’s source novels for fear of my brain melting out of my ears. But these are all assumptions based on hearsay; just the idea of Twilight and its goopy teenage vampire romance was enough to turn me off, because sometimes you just know what’s not for you.

Nevertheless, this hasn’t kept me from simply being fascinated by how far-reaching the trend itself is. I know intelligent, well-read, well-spoken, independent people who I’d never have guessed would love this stuff, but in actuality adore it and its overwrought romance. At the same time, I can’t think of another pop culture curio that attracts as much ire from its detractors as Twilight. Tons of people love Star Wars or Lord of the Rings or Spider-Man, but none of these franchises draw near the amount—or the ferocity—of vitriol as Stephenie Meyer’s creation. With all of this in mind—as both a fan of film and a merely inquisitive, curious soul—I decided to experience Twilight for myself with slight hopes I would come out on the other end unscathed.

The popularization of digital technology in major theater chains has brought along with it a nice side effect, in that theaters and studios are now more easily able to run older films that have long since exited theaters. One day, this will hopefully be a boon to film fans, but for now—at least locally—it’s only translated into a Saw marathon and a Thursday night screening of Twilight just before the midnight premiere of New Moon. And this is where I found myself last night, crouched down in my theater seat a couple of rows behind two young ladies sporting tiaras. And as I watched the movie, I’ll have to say I was a bit disappointed. Not because the movie was bad, but because it wasn’t quite as overwhelmingly awful and incompetent as I had built it up in my mind, but this is the danger of expectations I suppose.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Twilight is not good filmmaking by any means. Director Catherine Hardwicke shoots everything in these bland, murky, washed out colors, while using what’s quickly becoming my biggest pet peeve (Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men to one side), this shaky, handheld, faux documentary sort of cinematography. I’m convinced people only use this when they want to fake their way through having style or don’t have a clue how to compose a shot, and Hardwicke’s movie did nothing to convince me otherwise.

Then you have the leads. Kristen Stewart—as the lovesick Bella—spends the entire movie fidgeting around liking she needs a cigarette, but she still comes across better than Robert Pattison, who plays teen vamp heartthrob Edward Cullen. In Twilight, he’s perfected this odd amalgamation of early Christian Slater, Morrissey and a man in dire need of more fiber in his diet. But regardless, the bottom line is that neither performer has any charm or personality, either onscreen or with each other, and their range is pretty much nonexistent.

A lot of this certainly has a good bit to do with their limitations as actors, but the material they’ve been handed does them zero good. I’d like to see an actor—any actor—deliver the line “It’s like you’re my own personal brand of heroin” and not get a laugh out of me. Speaking of chuckles, there’s also Edward’s vampire super powers. I’m not just talking about the oddball vampire mythology Twilight trots out where vampires sparkle like Ziggy Stardust or Liberace’s dinner jacket when they enter sunlight. No, there’s also Edward’s ability to run through the woods really fast like he’s in a Warner Brothers’ cartoon, or scurry up trees like a squirrel, two of the sillier things I’ve seen in a movie for quite some time. And don’t get me started on vampire baseball. Really?

But nevertheless, with all these things going against it, I never found it to be the unmitigated mess I had hoped for or been prepared for through general word of mouth. Right after the movie, I tried talking to a good friend about Twilight in an attempt to get a better handle on what the big deal is. She, too, considers herself a fan, but at the same time sees the inherent silliness and cheesiness in all of it, and her answer for it all was, “Well, it’s kind of romantic.”

And that’s definitely the key, the romantic aspect of it all, but I also think the “kind of” part in that statement is very telling. I understand the female fantasy angle of it all—especially in a world where movies are crowded with tales of male empowerment—and the idea that some hunky, mysterious guy would take a liking to you and only, because of something special inside of you only he can see. But at the same time, there’s a level of creepiness to how far Edward goes—he watches Bella sleep, follows here around constantly—but she never finds this odd or disconcerting.

This is probably the most interesting aspect of the films. They’re certainly not engaging as filmmaking, but they do offer up all kinds of pseudo-psychological readings. With Twilight’s immense popularity, is this bizarre supernatural co-dependency what women really want, or is it simply just escapism? I have no answers, but the books and films have taken a lot of condemnation for seemingly promoting these kinds of unhealthy romantic practices. Then there’s New Moon, which has an odd streak of gay subtext running through it.

Before I watched to movie, I had jokingly created a theory that Jacob (Tyler Lautner)—a werewolf—and his werewolf-ness was actually a shrewd bit of gay subtext—this young boy hiding this creature inside of him he was afraid to display publically. All of this was in jest of course (and got me the response, when I mentioned it to a friend, to “stop pretending that Twilight’s real literature”), but I was surprised how much the film bore this out. I mean, you have this teen coming to terms with these bizarre changes in himself as he comes to maturity, that push him away from his friends while he goes to run around the woods with a bunch of shirtless dudes. On top of all this, Jacob even says at one point that his lycanthropy isn’t a “lifestyle choice,” but rather just how he is naturally. Am I reading too much into all this? Of course I am, but with a movie this flimsy and often times corny, you have to find your entertainment somewhere.

Beyond that, there’s little point to the first film, really, other than its existence making New Moon look downright sophisticated in comparison. Since Ken’s review of the film comes out Wednesday and promises to be much more scathing than anything I have to say, I won’t get into specifics as concerns the new film. I will say, however, that director Chris Weitz has a much better grasp of how to make a movie than Hardwicke showed in Twilight. Gone is all the drab gloominess and a good bit of the hokey vampire super powered cheesiness that plagued Twilight; in its place is some actual style.

Unfortunately, this style is used to gussy up a whole lot of inarticulate teenage relationship chit-chat. Actually, if you want to get down to brass tacks, the two movies are virtually the same. Girl meets boy, boy turns out to be some sort of supernatural being, then half a movie of teens floundering around with no idea what to do with themselves. The main difference is that in addition to vampires, we get a great big dose of werewolves, namely in beefy lycan Jacob. Unfortunately they’re of the pantsless variety, though they do burst out of their seemingly unlimited supply of cut-off shorts ad nauseum. The theme for these movies is starting to be that Bella just has really bad luck with relationships and should probably shy away from hooking up with supernatural creatures for a bit (though I do hope there’s a teen Swamp Thing romantic interest in the next movie).

There are a couple of differences between the two films, however, beyond what Weitz brings to the movie. New Moon is incredibly more mopey and infinitely more melodramatic. Imagine a movie based around a combination of the songs “Without You” and “Monster Mash” and you get the idea. But none of this really matters, since the bulk of the movie appears to exist so young girls can hoot and holler at all the shirtless beefcake parading around onscreen like it’s a Chippendale revue.

So, after getting through both of these movies and leaving the theater somewhere around 2:30 a.m., do I now feel like I understand Twilight any better than I did before? Do I understand its immense popularity? While I learned nothing new, it did confirm my original suspicions. Sometimes people just want a sappy romance full of sparkly vampires. It’s as harmless as that, and as long as it continues to be harmless, there’s a good chance I’ll go back to simply not paying attention to it as I had before. Even if the chances of that seem nil.

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44 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Screening Room: Twilight of my discontent

  1. Vince Lugo

    Well, Justin, you’re right about one thing: I cannot find the words to express how much I hate Twilight and anything to do with it (the fact that Fangoria has New Moon on the cover this month makes me never want to read Fangoria again. They’re dead to me). Without the tiniest smidgen of doubt, Twilight is the absolute worst thing to happen to American pop culture within my lifetime and it sickens me to no end that crap like this makes money while truly wonderful films like Be Kind Rewind or Charlie Bartlett go ignored by the masses. Worse, the Twilight fans that I know seem to be trying to make me feel like I’m somehow out of the loop because I’m not a fan. Does anyone else have to put up with this?

  2. Ken Hanke

    Worse, the Twilight fans that I know seem to be trying to make me feel like I’m somehow out of the loop because I’m not a fan. Does anyone else have to put up with this?

    Most of the people I know — one annoying older (even older than I) man who likes looking at young shirtless guys and insists the films are “art,” to one side — who willingly watch these things seem to be perfectly aware that the movies (and books) are…well, not very good. In fact, the bulk of them are apologetic about being addicted to them. As a result, I’ve never experienced anything quite like you describe. Now, I have experienced it with other pop culture events like Star Wars, E.T. and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Even granting that those films are of a somewhat higher artistic caliber than the Twilight movies, the dynamic is the same.

    As for Fangoria, really when was the last time it was actually relevant?

  3. Dread P. Roberts

    I must say, this is a very well put little critique of sorts on the state of Twilight-fandom. There’s really not much of anything that I can add to the Twilight discourse, so I hope it’s Ok if I go (just a little) off subject. Hell, I’ll even try to segue the subjects together by saying “speaking of werewolves…” I watched Trick r’ Treat last night, and I must say that I was very pleased. The movie was better than I had expected, and since it’s still lingering in my mind at this point in time, I just wanted to through out a little recommendation. Especially since it was a strait to video affair, and therefore I’m guessing you guys haven’t had a chance to see it.

  4. Dread P. Roberts

    Now, I have experienced it with other pop culture events like Star Wars, E.T. and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

    I sort of hope that the Raiders of the Lost Ark jab wasn’t directly aimed at me. Just to clarify, even though I have professed in the past on these forums that I have a loving connection to movies sort of as a result of seeing Raiders as a kid, that doesn’t mean that I find it to be ‘quality’ art by any means. I’m very well aware of it’s silliness. All I can say is that this isn’t necessarily the point in that instance for me.

  5. Justin Souther

    Worse, the Twilight fans that I know seem to be trying to make me feel like I’m somehow out of the loop because I’m not a fan.Does anyone else have to put up with this?

    I do not, which got me to thinking — the people I know who like Twilight are more tongue-in-cheek about it. They like it, but they understand it’s schlock value, or at the very least are aware that they are simply looking for entertainment. Because of this, I personally know far more people who cannot stand Twilight — and are very vocal about — than enjoy it and are constantly vocal about it.

    Which got me to thinking — I think Twilight is pointless and dumb, but I feel sort of sympathetic towards its standing as mindless entertainment. I don’t want to watch either of these films ever again, but if others want to subject themselves to it, good for them. A lot of this, I think, is admittedly the contrarian in me — if I were constantly surrounded by Twilight fans, I would certainly feel differently. But I’m not, so it’s difficult for me to work up any real anger, aside from knowing they’re bad.

  6. Justin Souther

    Now, I have experienced it with other pop culture events like Star Wars, E.T. and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Even granting that those films are of a somewhat higher artistic caliber than the Twilight movies, the dynamic is the same.

    Now, this will certainly make me no fans, but I’m not so sure I’d consider Star Wars much better filmmaking than Twilight, at least as far as the prequels go. Now keep in mind, Episode III is one of the handfuls I’ve left a movie irritated, so I’m definitely coming from an unpopular mindset, but I think they’re a lot closer in quality, or lack thereof.

    At least as far as New Moon goes, it’s more stylish than anything George Lucas has tried to make. Even Catherine Hardicke realizes you can move the camera around. Now, assuming Robert Pattinson and Hayden Christiansen are a wash, Star Wars has the advantage of Natalie Portman over Kristen Stewart. But Twilight doesn’t embarrass and waste Samuel L. Jackson. And no bad Chewbacca cameo.

  7. Ken Hanke

    I just wanted to through out a little recommendation. Especially since it was a strait to video affair, and therefore I’m guessing you guys haven’t had a chance to see it.

    You guess correctly — and that’s not a snobbish thing, it’s merely a time constraint one. Right at the moment, I’m knee-deep in making long-promised copies of Ken Russell films that are commercially unavailable for someone who has probably long since given up hope of ever receiving them from me (you know who you are). And there are reviews of New Moon, The Blind Side and A Serious Man needing my attention — not to mention special movie reviews of Mahler and Zelig. Plus, since I’m visiting Don Diefenbach’s Film Appreciation class at UNCA on Tuesday morning — when I normally undertake the “Weekly Reeler” — I’m having to work ahead of schedule. And Mr. Souther and I are wrapped up not only in the usual end-of-year/awards season stuff, but a more daunting end-of-decade undertaking.

  8. Ken Hanke

    I sort of hope that the Raiders of the Lost Ark jab wasn’t directly aimed at me.

    By no means. It wasn’t actually aimed at anyone in particular. I’m not even sure it was meant as a jab. I long ago gave up deploring what is often perceived of as “art” in pop culture. And I know the utter futility of arguing against anything encountered in formative years and touched by the pixie dust of nostalgia — nor do I consider myself immune from it.

  9. Ken Hanke

    Which got me to thinking—I think Twilight is pointless and dumb, but I feel sort of sympathetic towards its standing as mindless entertainment.

    You are nicer than I am.

    A lot of this, I think, is admittedly the contrarian in me—if I were constantly surrounded by Twilight fans, I would certainly feel differently. But I’m not, so it’s difficult for me to work up any real anger, aside from knowing they’re bad.

    Well, it also provides you with a handy cudgel to use against the people you are surrounded by who like to dress up in Star Wars drag and view Star Wars based novels as genuine literature. I understand that — no one can understand it better, since it’s a lot like people I know who trash musicals as “unrealistic” not five minutes after watching Lon Chaney turn into a werewolf.

    My problem with Twilight — and its emo-ish goopiness — runs deeper into the realm that I think the films send out a rather poisonous message.

  10. Ken Hanke

    And no bad Chewbacca cameo.

    Now I’m going to be distracted the entire day trying to imagine a good Chewbaca cameo.

  11. Justin Souther

    My problem with Twilight—and its emo-ish goopiness—runs deeper into the realm that I think the films send out a rather poisonous message.

    I understand this as well, but maybe the reason I can’t get upset by all of it is because it’s so bad. I can’t take any of this mopey, hokey, overwrought silliness seriously, so I’m almost of the opinion that anyone who takes these movies as a healthy way to live their lives deserves to be duped.

    Yeah they’re dumb, but they’re too inconsequential and poorly made for me to find offensive.

  12. Ken Hanke

    I can’t take any of this mopey, hokey, overwrought silliness seriously, so I’m almost of the opinion that anyone who takes these movies as a healthy way to live their lives deserves to be duped.

    Up to a point I agree with you. It’s not wholly unlike my contention that anyone who could be “driven” to suicide by a Judas Priest album (at least on other than aesthetic grounds) was already unhinged to a spectacular degree. But — and this is a sticking point for me — so much of the fanbase for Twilight is considerably younger and more impressionable.

  13. In fact, the bulk of them are apologetic about being addicted to them.
    Not in my experience.

    Being a teenage guy, a large quantity of my friends are teenage girls. Many of them have taken a healthy dislike to Twinklight, but there are a few I know who are indeed fans. And they think the film is great. They saw it multiple times. They will see the sequel multiple times. They think the books are fantastically written, deep and profound romances. They think Robert Pattison and Kristen Stewart are brilliant actors. One recently described Twilight as ‘every girls fantasy of how a guy would treat her’. I find this pretty disturbing. And this is by no means an aberration – most Twilight fans I’ve met are like this.

    They find my argument that the books make Dan Brown seem like Charles Dickens unpersuasive. I find the idea of a creepy stalker vampire being the hero of a romance novel pretty disturbing. But that’s just me.

    The vitriol of the anti-Twilight brigade is more directed at the fanbase’s view of the movie than at the movie itself. The movie’s bad, but it’s not Waterworld bad. It’s dull and a bit silly, and some of the special effects are pretty inept, but I could quite happily ignore its existence if not for the pop culture clusterf k surrounding it.

  14. Ken Hanke

    They think the books are fantastically written, deep and profound romances. They think Robert Pattison and Kristen Stewart are brilliant actors.

    That’s on the far side of sad.

    One recently described Twilight as ‘every girls fantasy of how a guy would treat her’. I find this pretty disturbing.

    And that frankly verges on twisted.

    They find my argument that the books make Dan Brown seem like Charles Dickens unpersuasive.

    I guess that’s on par with my statement that if the first film represented the literary merits of the book, the author made J.K. Rowling seem like Dostoyevsky.

    The vitriol of the anti-Twilight brigade is more directed at the fanbase’s view of the movie than at the movie itself.

    A lot of people would argue this point with you, but I’m not one of them. The fact is that popular culture does not exist in a vacuum and its impact — often its silly, distressing or even disturbing impact — is part of it.

  15. Dionysis

    The only way I’d watch any of these vapid things (I watched about 20 minutes of the first one before uncontrollable vomiting set in) is to have someone replicate the scene from A Clockwork Orange and be tethered to a chair in front of the screen with my eyelids forced open.

  16. Ken Hanke

    The only way I’d watch any of these vapid things (I watched about 20 minutes of the first one before uncontrollable vomiting set in) is to have someone replicate the scene from A Clockwork Orange and be tethered to a chair in front of the screen with my eyelids forced open.

    Understandable. I confess, however, that I’m easier. All you have to do is pay me. I feel so cheap.

  17. Sean Williams

    Mr. Souther is right that Twilight is unique in having provoked backlash almost equal in proportion to its popularity.

    I love to hate Twilight — in fact, I read the books so that I could hate it more authoritatively. Why? I don’t know. Resentment for a public that passively accepts manufactured hype. Vicarious embarrassment for a woman who’s bared her id in such an undignified manner. Something like that.

    What surprised me when I read the original Twilight was that although it wasn’t as uniformly inept as I had expected (maybe even hoped), I found it to be actually immoral. I was simultaneously rereading Nabokov’s Lolita, which is one of my favorite novels of all time, but it was Twilight that struck me as the more vulgar novel.

  18. brianpaige

    This might sound silly but I don’t understand the Twilight hype on either side of the debate. I don’t see why people love it so much, but I also don’t detest it the way others do. To me, both Twilight and New Moon are ** or **1/2 movies (being charitable).

    And as far as this being manufactured hype, I don’t know so much about that. I’d never heard of the books before last year, and no major studio wanted to bother with it. It’s almost as if the stars just aligned right for Summit and now they can laugh all the way to the bank.

  19. Ken Hanke

    And as far as this being manufactured hype, I don’t know so much about that. I’d never heard of the books before last year, and no major studio wanted to bother with it.

    While I’m not going to try to convince you that these films are well worth despising for a number of reasons, I will say that the hype was very much there before the movie appeared. It was being touted as the “next Harry Potter.” That the major distributors were less than thrilled by its prospects probably had more to do the failures of a string of literary adaptations that had hoped to be the “next Harry Potter” franchise — Lemony Snicket, The Golden Compass and The Spiderwick Chronicles come to mind — and all of which had underperformed (to say the least). And, yes, there’s an irony in Chris Weitz ending up making New Moon.

  20. Sean Williams

    Two additional thoughts about why I love to hate Twilight:

    First of all, the fan base is ridiculously defensive. I mean, all fan bases are ridiculously defense, but when the knuckle-dragging subhumans on Rotten Tomatoes defend, say, Transformers, the argument is generally “Why are you critics so uptight and pretentious and why can’t you just have fun?” Twilight fans actually try to defend the books’ putative literary merits. A poster on another message board once took me to task for criticizing Twilight and said that I would like the books if I “actually read them”. I told him repeatedly that I had read the books and hadn’t liked them, but he insisted that I wasn’t reading them correctly. He treated me the way my high-school literature teacher treated students who called Melville boring.

    Second of all, Twilight isn’t real literature. That’s not a distinction I ordinarily make. I read Nabokov and Joyce. I read Borges in the original Spanish and Camus in the original French. I also read Star Wars novels and Hellboy comics. I enjoy all of these books on their own levels.

    But Twilight never tries to be good on any level. It’s not about writing, good, bad, or otherwise. It’s about Stephenie Meyer’s deranged sexual fantasies. When Stephen King said that Meyer couldn’t write worth a damn, her reply was that she didn’t write the books for anyone but herself, which, to my mind, proves his point.

    Although art shouldn’t have to please everyone, it is basically communicative. I respect authors who write what they want to write. I do not respect authors who write solely for their own gratification with no regard for quality. That is called fanfiction.

    The worst part of it all is that the same mothers who were up in arms about Harry Potter are thrilled about Twilight when Twilight is far more likely to teach their daughters bad lessons. Compare the number of kids who became bona fide witches after the publication of Harry Potter (approximately zero) to the number of kids who have warped ideas about romance after the publication of Twilight.

  21. Dread P. Roberts

    Sean, I would like to say that I find your last aforementioned comment(s) about Twilight to be, overall, well put. However, for the sake of avoiding stereotyping, I just want to point out that this is something that applies to the majority of the fanbase – not all. Also, while I see your point – and generally agree – I’m not sure how I feel about your statement that the books do not qualify as literature on any level. You started to make a good case, but I’m just not entirely convinced as of yet. Where exactly does one draw the line between incredibly crappy literature, and writing that cannot even qualify as such? How does one classify a thing as literature? A dictionary would classify literature as “written works, esp. those considered of superior or lasting merit.” I’m thinking that for many of the said fanbase, there is a certain chance of lasting merit, even if the writing isn’t superior to anything. What does that mean? There are lots of very poorly written books that qualify as literature to certain people, no?

    I’m curious if maybe there’s a sense of sub-conscience anger and sorrow (…and I include myself in this) over the modern day low standards that society puts on ‘pop culture’ affair. I think it’s fair to say that this plays a part in the opinions that we form. After all, it’s far more upsetting than just picking up any random piece of unpopular, poorly written literature.

    (f.y.i. – I have not read the books, and I am in no way arguing their merits. My only exposer to Twilight is the first movie, and the advertisements for the second, and I highly doubt it will ever go beyond that.)

  22. Sean Williams

    I was making that argument primarily as hyperbole; it’s not something I would press on a technical basis.

    As to subconscious sorrow…I think that many fans fear that Twilight will redefine things that they love. That’s not an entirely realistic fear, since someone redefines vampires every decade or so, but it’s akin to the resentment that fans feel when poor adaptations and “reimaginings” replace their originals.

  23. Dread P. Roberts

    I was making that argument primarily as hyperbole; it’s not something I would press on a technical basis.

    I came to this realization after writing my last comment. I think that sometimes I just get a little too caught up with a desire to break things down in a technical manner, that really doesn’t need to be whatsoever. Yes, I know, this is a sign of ultimate nerdness. A part of me just wants to scout out interesting psychological concepts/ideas through such art and entertainment mediums.

    As to subconscious sorrow…I think that many fans fear that Twilight will redefine things that they love.

    I’m sure there’s a degree of truth in that, though that isn’t exactly what I was thinking about. I was more focused on the pop-culture obsession over something that’s just so stupid. Yes, this has been going on throughout the ages, and ones outlook depends in large part in our perspective, and the age group that we each fit in at such point in time. I think that might be why I can shrug off things like Indiana Jones and Star Wars as being enjoyably fun, re-watchable entertainment; whereas Ken (or someone of his age group) is, more than likely, far less likely to be able to do so. But when I try to approach something like Transformers or Twilight with the same “fun time at the movies” outlook, I shudder. I’m simply incapable of tolerating a decent portion of the modern day equivalent of my childhood movies. Of course there are always exceptions. I wouldn’t write this off as just a maturity thing either. The company of our peers, that we keep around us, is often more influential than we realize. Still, at the end of the day I’m left feeling like my generation is more in tune with quality entertainment, than this new generation. I’m not saying my outlook is necessarily ‘truth’, but then again, what is ‘truth’ if not what we perceive as such? Ok, now I’m getting into deeper waters than I probably should; especially for a conversation about Twilight.

  24. Still, at the end of the day I’m left feeling like my generation is more in tune with quality entertainment, than this new generation.
    I don’t know how true this is as an explanation. I’m of the Twilight-obsessed generation, and I find both STAR WARS and INDIANA JONES far more watchable series of pictures than TWILIGHT, JONES in particular. It’s got nothing to do with which generation the obsession has landed with. I like HARRY POTTER a lot. There’s nothing particularly inherently disturbing about either STAR WARS or INDIANA JONES, and I wouldn’t draw any negative conclusions about the emotional health of someone who was a fan of either saga.

  25. Dread P. Roberts

    It’s funny that you brought up Harry Potter, because when I mentioned that there are always exceptions, Potter was actually what was on my mind.

    Forgive me Jeremy, but I’m having a hard time discerning whether or not your response comment is in agreement with me. Maybe I’m misreading something, or maybe you misunderstood some of my point, but it almost looks like you’re agreeing with me in an argumentative manner (if that makes any sense).

    My point in bringing up a couple of my childhood movies is to point out that even though I can definitively see the flaws, they in no way inhibit my enjoyment. That might be because I probably didn’t see as many flaws as a kid, and was just caught up in the magic of the movie(s), who knows. Nostalgia can be a sweet spot to tap into. I think the biggest problem with my point is that things like Twilight are aimed at, and appeal to, a mostly teen audience. When I was a teen I had already started to outgrow popcorn blockbuster affair, and generally wanted more ‘unique’ affair. So maybe I’m not the best person to discuss this stuff. With that said, there are still plenty of modern day blockbuster movies that I enjoy, and even get excited over seeing.

  26. Sean Williams

    I think that sometimes I just get a little too caught up with a desire to break things down in a technical manner, that really doesn’t need to be whatsoever.

    I’m a forest-for-the-trees kind of guy myself, so I don’t blame you.

    I was more focused on the pop-culture obsession over something that’s just so stupid.

    I remember some stupider fads, but few that struck me as more psychologically unhealthy. Meyer is basically presenting an abusive relationship as the height of romance.

    A lot of my problem with Twilight, besides its outright creepiness, has to do with its hypocrisy. Meyer says that Bella and Edward love each other because of The Person Inside, but she focuses exclusively on Edward’s physical beauty and wealth. I take much less offense at teen romances that are at least sincerely salacious.

    I may be especially critical because Meyer and I ostensibly share a moral paradigm in that we’re both Christians, though of different denominations. When I read books by non-Christians, I don’t expect them to adhere to my standards. I don’t pass moral judgments on books unless they violate the most universal standards — like one I read recently that defended rape.

    But I know the standards that Meyer as a Mormon is supposed to believe. It disgusts me that she flouts those standards and the most universal standards of healthy romance while paying lip service to “family values”.

    With that said, there are still plenty of modern day blockbuster movies that I enjoy, and even get excited over seeing.

    Exactly. I’m not immune to the appeal of blockbusters. I even admit a soft spot for teen romances and cute-girl-in-supernatural-peril movies, so my revulsion at Twilight isn’t solely because of its “female appeal”.

  27. Ken Hanke

    There’s nothing particularly inherently disturbing about either STAR WARS or INDIANA JONES, and I wouldn’t draw any negative conclusions about the emotional health of someone who was a fan of either saga.

    I could introduce you to quite a few people who I think might change your mind on that. There’s a point where the term “fan” isn’t strong enough to describe the level of devotion. Of course, a large part of my problem with any of this is when things such as this start getting called art and being touted as major achievements in film — and when people start thinking they have a firm grounding in literature because they read Star Wars novels.

    As for the generational thing, I look at the major pop culture artifacts of my youth and see Richard Lester and the Beatles movies, the rise of the superstar director, the assimilation of art movies into mainstream flm, etc. And, yeah, that seems a lot more substantial than most of what I’m seeing now, but my era is also responsible for Beach Party movies, the Monkees on TV, and songs like “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy (I Got Love in My Tummy).”

  28. I could introduce you to quite a few people who I think might change your mind on that.
    My point isn’t that there are no disturbed STAR WARS fans, just that finding value in STAR WARS isn’t inherently disturbing. The relationships depicted in TWILIGHT are so perverse and f*cked up that they are disturbing in a completely separate sense, distinct from their obvious lack of quality as prose and/of cinema. Anyone who thinks the central romantic relationship in TWILIGHT is charming or something to aspire to is not quite all there – and that’s a decent chunk of the mainstream fanbase for these things.
    The mainstream fanbase for STAR WARS is largely rooted in the space fights looking cool, Darth Vader being ‘badass’, Han Solo being roguishly charming and Princess Leia looking hot in a gold bikini. I may not share all of these opinions, but I wouldn’t be alarmed by someone else holding them.

  29. Sean Williams

    and when people start thinking they have a firm grounding in literature because they read Star Wars novels.

    Believe me, this frustrates me as a reader of Star Wars novels!

  30. Sean Williams

    We have already given this subject far more attention than it deserves, which probably says more about us than about Twilight.

    But I thought I’d share a link that Tom discovered: http://www.google.com/search?q=twihard+attack+directory&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a (Mountain Xpress is blocking a direct link, so I linked through Google.)

    I have been a member of science fiction fandom for a long time, so I have seen some extraordinarily antisocial fan behavior. I thought that the worst of it was cyber-stalking, nasty e-mails, disruptions of convention appearances…which, admittedly, are all pretty bad.

    But this? This is isane. I have never heard of fans perpetrating actual physical violence against anti-fans. Threats? Absolutely. But generally, the first guy to whip out the “I bet you’re too chicken to confront me in person” argument is also the guy who’d be least willing to confront anyone in person.

    Tom is a professional troll-hunter. He deliberately seeks out deranged fanboys. He is speechless — and, as everyone knows by now, Tomislav Pijonsnodt is seldom speechless.

  31. Ken Hanke

    I have never heard of fans perpetrating actual physical violence against anti-fans.

    I have on occasion threatened to thrash people who do not appreciate Ken Russell, the Marx Bros. and/or the Beatles about the head and shoulders with a blunt instrument, but I’ve never followed through.

  32. brianpaige

    I like the Beach movies and would certainly watch them over Twilight.

    Would not liking Tommy qualify me for the beatdown? It’s nothing against Ken Russell, I’m just not a big Who fan.

  33. T.H.X. Pijonsnodt, Esq.

    RE: the Twihard Attack Directory — I am sure that a substantial portion of those accounts are fake, particularly the ones that are most similar. As Fort once quipped, liars are conventionalists.

    And yet — bearing in mind that this is a largely instinctual evaluation — I am inclined to believe that majority of them. Some of the strangest stories are also the best-documented. Exhibit A: the boy who claims his throat was slit by a Twilight fan provides photographs of the wound. Exhibit B: an archived Amazon.com thread in which a Twilight fan wished miscarriage upon a pregnant woman who had given Breaking Dawn a negative review.

    It is useful to bear in mind that lunatics are also conventionalists.

  34. Ken Hanke

    Would not liking Tommy qualify me for the beatdown? It’s nothing against Ken Russell, I’m just not a big Who fan

    No, but it might make me consider striking you from my Xmas card list. I would also probably look askance at you.

  35. brianpaige

    I do like the Guess Who however, haha. And of course the Marx Bros. are awesome, at least from roughly 1930-37. Beatles too.

    Ken, just wondering but how do you feel about Laurel and Hardy? I’ve scarcely seen mention of them in your columns but for whatever reason I am under the impression you aren’t a big fan.

  36. Ken Hanke

    Exhibit B: an archived Amazon.com thread in which a Twilight fan wished miscarriage upon a pregnant woman who had given Breaking Dawn a negative review

    Sounds like the Carolina Stompers were involved. (Local joke.)

  37. T.H.X. Pijonsnodt, Esq.

    (Local joke.)

    I don’t know if Sean and I have ever explained that we live in Colorado….

  38. Ken Hanke

    Ken, just wondering but how do you feel about Laurel and Hardy? I’ve scarcely seen mention of them in your columns but for whatever reason I am under the impression you aren’t a big fan

    Oh, no, I like Laurel and Hardy — and I have mentioned them, though I don’t think I’ve ever devoted a column to them. I will say I much prefer their shorts to their features.

  39. Ken Hanke

    I don’t know if Sean and I have ever explained that we live in Colorado…

    I believe it has come up and is unfortunate. I suspect we would benefit from your presence here. But at one time, I seem to recall Sean making noises about bringing me fudge that somehow got eaten before it made it to me, which was also unfortunate.

  40. T.H.X. Pijonsnodt, Esq.

    I suspect we would benefit from your presence here.

    My great work in Colorado isn’t yet done. North Carolina is more populous than Colorado, but Colorado has more idiots per capita.

    I seem to recall Sean making noises about bringing me fudge

    From Sean, I’d consider that offer a threat.

  41. brianpaige

    By the way, perhaps my relatively “eh” reaction to Twilight could be influenced by having to go see the show Wicked. Think Twilight has a crazy following? Just wait until someone does a film adaptation of Wicked. Not only does that suck but it also does revisionist history on a classic work (Wizard of Oz). At least Stephanie Meyer came up with her own world and characters and didn’t do a revisionist history of Dracula as a teenager that glistened in the sun.

  42. Ken Hanke

    My great work in Colorado isn’t yet done. North Carolina is more populous than Colorado, but Colorado has more idiots per capita

    That’s almost reassuring. It would be more so had I not seen eight people here go to see Transylmania last nigh…

    From Sean, I’d consider that offer a threat.

    I do not believe he claimed to have actually made said fudge.

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