Twilight and Mis-education

I never thought I’d write about Twilight. Much less enjoy the films to begin with, but once again I have been tricked by my unpredictable pop sensibilities into thinking this franchise might just be palatable. It has problems; I’ll get to those in a minute, but on the whole I can plainly see how it’s a coming-of-age person’s dream series. For the girls there’s the main character’s insatiable fascination with the unconventional. What’s brilliant about her character though, and certainly a reason that every young girl who reads these books or sees these films will identify with her for, is that she still fits in. Not reclusive or easily embarrassed, but also not trapped in the one role she feels forced to play out, it’s no wonder Ysabella is every adolescent woman’s idol character. Oh, and she’s also got the heart of two boys.

Two extremely opposite boys, that is; and yet, another reason this film does so well with its young age demographic. It’s soap opera plus teen horror flick. The young men who complete the triangle with Bella are Edward and Jacob. They both have the perfect identity crisis’ to fill them out, Jacob is Native American and goes to school on a reservation, so he is already disassociated from society to a certain degree. Edward is transient (much like Bella) and purposely disassociates himself from the other students (for obvious vampire-like reasons). Both boys have to deal with ostricization on some level, but on very different levels. High school is the breeding ground of ostricization and for this reason, no writer or filmmaker can go wrong with a teen flick dealing with such issues.

What’s great about the Twilight series is that the films have done it really well up to this point. They know how to not go overboard, but still utilize the pain, uncertainty and esteem issues through which every young adult will undergo. It’s the decisions the characters make throughout the film that are important to watch (though not so much in the last book). The story is impossibly simple. It’s a basic love triangle – two boys and a girl – but the girl is some sort of thought-blocking savant (really though, what girl isn’t?) and the boys are conflicted, classic monsters.

Plot holes seem to abound in the films, the worst of which just angers me. In Twilight Bella is bitten on the wrist during a fight with another vampire, James. Yet, when she’s in the hospital for the broken leg and the lacerations, there is no mention of the bite mark by the doctors or her family. Her wrist is clearly bandaged up, so a doctor must have looked at it, but we’re supposed to think that it’s a doctor who can’t determine the circular, teeth-marked wound is a bite!? Why wasn’t that reported to her family by the doctor? Why is this very integral piece of information that could lead them to determine what their daughter has been up to, not divulged? It’s preposterous. Why would a doctor not question a bite mark when the patient supposedly fell down some stairs and through a window?

Struggling to overlook that I worked my way to watching the second film, New Moon, in the series as well, and have since seen Eclipse. I’m not overly impressed with the latter two films, but they certainly provide more enriching action sequences. Wolves are always fun too. But why are they four times the size of their actual human form? I mean, I’ve seen a lot of Werewolf movies over time, and I know they grow larger than their human form, but Twilight-size is just silly.

The vampire interactivity – the communal scenes anyway – are akin to Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, but modernized. I remember the first time I saw Interview with the Vampire how it was the routine-ness of their lives that I was impressed by being put on film. It was the first time I had seen vampires do anything in a film other than just walk about at night and suck blood from necks. Nadja may actually be a better example (and a far out film) of how seemingly mundane vampire life can be put to film sometimes. But, having said all that, like a Tarantino film, Twilight knows how to use the best parts of vampire movies (and the legend) and ramp it up for the kids.

So, yes, intentionally so far in this post I haven’t mentioned the infamous (loved/hated) daylight sparkle. Honestly, it doesn’t bother me. I mean, I find it more realistic actually than say when Blade walks outside and simply wears sunglasses. Think about it, in the vampire legend and in most vampire films, when you see one killed by sunlight they basically burn, right? So it seems only legitimate that something would happen to their skin when they walk in the daylight, but yet are impervious to its rays. Logically, it makes sense. It’s like they want to cook, but have a good built-in SPF.

Here’s what doesn’t make sense: the last book. Well, I haven’t actually read the books, ok, but apparently Bella is pregnant for Edward and believe it or not, she has a little vampire baby. If this is in the film, I’m refusing to review it. Whatever happened to teaching kids safe sex? Isn’t this series followed primarily by pre-teens? And yeah, I know she’s graduated high school and I guess is over 18, but really? Just teaching our children to wait till they’ve got a high school diploma and are emancipated before they have unprotected sex seems really disappointing. Looks like Team Jacob really is the winner!

People are so consumed now by this whole pre-teen novel movement. There’s even a section for it at the local book store conglomerate. Why though? I mean the catch-22 here is that if I start ranting about how bad I think this movement is and how terrible I think it is that parents are just excited that their kids are even reading at all, I start to look bad. But I’m sorry, that is deplorable. Give your kid Catcher in the Rye or War and Peace next time they want to read a book. Get them to start thinking. Sadly, I even regularly see adults reading these teen novels now-a-days. I asked a woman recently who was deeply entrenched in her Dark Flame novel (or something like that) why she was reading a teen’s book. She actually sheepishly laughed a little and reluctantly told me, “It’s easier. The sentences are shorter.”

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