Saturday, January 2, 2010

Twilight Enthralled

*Note there are major Twilight saga spoilers below!

Help me. I have succumbed to the Twilight phenomenon.

It happened sometime between my fourth viewing of the film (to make fun of it, of course) and halfway through reading the first novel. I had hated Twilight for some time, but as a vampire columnist for, found myself in the perilous position of having to write about it at some point. How could I not? Ever since the first movie came out, Twilight has had perhaps the broadest and most devoted following of any piece of vampire fiction in recent history. To ignore it altogether simply because I hated it was not an option. So for awhile, my writing consisted of making fun of it.

It was no secret that I loathed Twilight, loved Anne Rice and True Blood and thought that Edward was a nancy pansy. One day my column even received over 50 comments from teenage twilight fans saying things like “die stooopid twilight hater!” because I had shared about my numerous unsuccessful attempts to get in to the novel but, because the stench of teenage angst had reeked so strong on every page, I'd barely been able to stomach it. I was a rebel. I was a non-conformist. Screw team Edward. I was team Bill. I was team any-other-vampire-who-doesn’t-sparkle/actually-sleeps-in-the-ground/has-fangs-like-a-REAL-vampire.

Then the camping trip happened. It was with my husband and his family. A beautiful, little-known spot in Central Oregon where a high desert marsh is discretely nestled amongst mountains, Ponderosa pines and a lake so blue it would hurt your eyes to stare at it. We love the place and go there every year. I always bring a pile of books to read, but never read any of them as I am far too busy fishing, swimming, exploring and sleeping. This trip was different. This trip was kind of a bummer.

No sun, no heat, no urge to swim in the lake, dusty, buggy and cold. I spent those four days bundled up and reading in my sleeping bag. Four books in four days I read, including Twilight. With nowhere to go and nothing else to do, I read and suppressed the vomit that continually rose in the back of my throat with each page I turned.

About 300 pages in, the unthinkable happened. I got totally and completely sucked in to the story line.

I was disgusted with myself. I was like a fine food critic who had just discovered they liked Twinkies. I finished the book and spent the remainder of the trip wondering what would happen next. I suppressed these feelings and tried to move on with my life. But New Moon called to me like a bag of Cheetos at midnight…

After the trip I watched the movie again - “to make fun of it” - as I justified to myself. But this fourth time, with my dear friend Gillian, I was not bored – to my chagrin I was completely enraptured. So many thoughts ran through my head. It was mental torment! Bella. Edward. She so sad by herself. He so lonely. Such pathetic people…fit so well together…so misunderstood…NO FANGS! What kind of stupid vampire has NO FANGS? What kind of stupid vampire SPARKLES??? Ooooh look at his face! He so sad! He need Bella! She so clumsy! Bella fall all the time without Edward. She no scared of big bad vampire. He love her, but he want to eat her for dinner. Awww…so sweet! And on and on.

I totally got it; Edward as the ultimate protector, the one who could defend Bella against all predators. Oh but his darkness! How he struggled with his shadow side! So Bella can rescue him too! They rescue each other! She sees him for who he really is and loves him anyway! And even though it’s totally corny and Stephenie Meyer seriously twisted the vampire myth in ways that are completely inexcusable, isn’t the Bella/Edward love story representative of some of our own heart’s most fervent desires? The desire for a love that is all-consuming, constant and enduring but still dangerous and thrilling? It represents our own deep-seated need to find another person who will know us completely, in all our darkness and light, but still accept us and want us anyway? So lame, but I totally got it. It was upon that realization that I gave in and just let myself fall dorkishly in love with Twilight.

…In love, but I still kind of hated it. I hated it because I realized then I had become a slave to this completely moronic storyline that, as I previously stated, is not even true to traditional vampire lore. I felt like such a traitor my vampire nerd people. But I had to find out what happened next…

So I read New Moon and, after nearly going mad from reading 300+ of Bella’s inability to function without Edward, my sanity was saved by some hot-ish werewolf moments and a totally predictable reunion in Italy (I couldn’t believe they left right away! How nice it would have been to enjoy the Italian countryside…)

Luckily the movie cut down Bella’s emo-fest to a mere two minute montage where she sat in a chair staring off into space blankly (as she often does), the camera circling around her showing no change in her dead eyes but the seasons changing from fall to winter to spring, etc. Thank God.

The came Eclipse, where basically nothing happened except more of Bella bitching and Edward asserting his dominance a tad bit more. I say nothing happened because New Moon ended with Bella wishing to be made vampire and choosing Edward over Jacob – and that’s still where we were in Eclipse, too.

On to “Breaking Dawn” – finally, some sex! All that tension building book after book and………………..they wake up the next morning surrounded by feathers? Kill me now. Then Bella becomes a vampire, has half-human half-vampire perfect baby who is (big shocker) imprinted upon by Jacob. Surprise surprise.Finishing the saga was completely gratifying and couldn’t have come soon enough. I was like a junkie who will forever hold in their head the sweet, sick memories of that first amazing high, while also completely contented to swear off the stuff forever – until the Eclipse and Breaking Dawn movies come out, that is. And while my scars may not be as obvious as the meth addict’s face that is forever contorted into a used and abused version of its former self, Twilight has scarred me just the same. I’m a grown woman with a New Moon poster hanging in my office. I don’t even know myself anymore.

They say the first step is admitting you have a problem..

My name is Devon and I'm a Twilight addict.


The Mighty Buzzard said...

Don't beat yourself up too badly. They're well written enough that they're easy to read even if you aren't in the target demographic of fourteen year-old, emo (is that redundant or do I just have a low exposure to fourteen year-old girls?) girls.

I can't get your back on sitting through the movies though. Screenwriters don't put near the time and effort into a screenplay that good authors do and it certainly shows in their work.

Oday said...

I've read Twilight too. Well, the first book was all I could stand. There are some strong suits to the series, I'll give you that; the sort of sappy, romance-novel stuff that we pretend to hate but really are drawn to.

But, it's just too... stupid, for me to enjoy. I mean, no fangs, sparkly, angsty, 108 years old and a virgin? What? And I thought a 40 year old virgin was funny. And now you're telling me they never show the sex scene?? Also, Edward is clearly acting like an overprotective, obsessed stalker towards Bella, but she loves him more for that; I can only imagine the impression that will leave on angsty 14 year old girls.

Patricia Altner said...

Excellent post! And I'm going to tell you a secret - I like Twilight too!

The novel that is. Haven't seen the movie.

Sweet Vernal Zephyr said...

HA! It is refreshing to find another grown woman struggling with the inner turmoil of Twilight.

I believe that the books are a quick easy read (if you can get through the angst) and once you've read the books you want to see the movie interpretation.

Trust me, I cringe through out both the books and the movies BUT kinda sickly enjoy being part of a fad. *self-derisive laugher*

I've got a comparison up of the first two movies....
And I just came across a great blog post comparing Twilight and Labyrinth - a childhood favorite of mine.

CrazyStar180 said...

First thing I have to say is that the twilight vampires do have fangs. Second is that I dont think every vampire book has to have the same type of vampire, which can become very boring very quickly. And yes its addiction. Once you start you just cant stop. But I have to say that the twilight movie sucked and very much made me think that they dont know how to make movies worth watching any more. Doesn't anyone know how to act any more. It's like I want them all to have acting coaches so they know what they are doing. Maybe one day they could recreate the books to show the true meaning.

Devon said...

Where are the fangs? I don't remember any mention of it in the books and in the movie when we see James' bite marks on Bella's arm it's just a regular human looking bite mark. Where am I missing fangs? If they have fangs I will have more respect! ;)