Friday, August 20, 2010

Twilight, Twilight...

...first star I see tonight. No, wait. That’s something different.

In response to a previous post, Twilight asked about the recent vampire craze in entertainment circles, citing the Twilight / New Moon / Eclipse saga as perhaps the most prominent example. (And no, there is no relationship between Twilight the blogger and Twilight the book / movie. I can attest the former preceded the latter.) I am flattered she asked for my take on the subject, so here goes.

Okay, we have a series of popular books, turned into a series of equally popular movies, featuring a young person who discovers a hidden world they never knew existed. This world involves supernatural characters with amazing abilities, danger, conflict, and some intense relationships. Of course I’m talking about ... Harry Potter.

Yes, in my view, the world of Hogwarts, Hermione, and Voldemort shares many characteristics with Bella and her heart throbs, vampire Edward Cullen and werewolf Jacob Black. In fact, one might think of the Twilight series as Harry Potter for young teen girls. They both involve wonder and amazement as a perfectly ordinary teenager is drawn into a fantastical world, finding both friendship and danger in equal measure, as evil characters try to kill them, and valiant characters with magical abilities band together to help good triumph over evil. These are elements that have been making for good story making since the days of The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland.

But there is one significant difference between Harry Potter and Twilight, which targets the latter at an older (and more female) crowd. The Hogwarts series is primarily about what it must be like to experience magic, while the core theme of the Twilight series is young love. Bella falls in love with a vampire, and he with her. However you slice it, this is forbidden love. Predator and prey. Vivacious teenager just beginning life, hooked up with an undead creature from a time gone by. The ultimate innocent who wants to fade into the sunset with a beau whose youthful appearance belies his true age and experience.

So what makes this work as a love story? That’s easy. We can find many themes straight out of the Harlequin tradition. I’ve already mentioned forbidden love. We also find out that Edward has incredible strength, powerful protective instincts, which he uses to protect Bella again and again. He can take care of Bella. And on top of that, this vampire is the sensitive type. He just loves to lie around in a field of daisies discussing his feelings.

Oh, and all the ladies in the theater gasped when Jacob first took off his shirt. That scene didn’t do a thing for me, but I’m sure it helped ticket sales. So we even have bodice ripping ... with a twist.

There is one part of the story, though, that makes me shake my head. You see, some of my family members like to relax to books on CD, and Twilight is one of the books I hear playing from time to time. I wince every time I hear this line (and forgive me for paraphrasing here): “He leaned in close and pressed his cold, marble lips to hers.”

That’s when I hear the ripping noise in my head, the sound of someone stopping a record by yanking the turntable needle roughly across the album’s surface.

Cold, marble lips? Are you kidding me? What hot-blooded young gal would get turned on by that? And even if the handsome face, manly strength, and caring nature had her hooked to begin with, what teenage relationship could survive the equivalent of kissing a cold, unyielding statue?

I happen to believe that Mother Nature has an incredible hold on our inner desires. When our internal fires get burning, we human types crave warm, moist, and soft. (And I know a hard man is good to find, but even the most ripped set of six-pack abs you ever saw is soft compared with a rock.) There’s a reason they call it steamy sex. So I don’t believe any teenage girl would be content for long with marble boy.

But here’s the great thing about fiction. I don’t have to believe it! The fun of reading a book or going to the movies is that we get to suspend disbelief and just enjoy the ride. I don’t believe in flying brooms or magic wands either, but I think the entire Harry Potter series is brilliantly conceived and realized. I can put aside my common sense and say “Okay, go. Thrill me!”

So in my final analysis, the Twilight stories and other recent vampire fiction are succeeding at capturing the wonder of millions. They are good entertainment. This is provable, since otherwise so many people wouldn’t enjoy them. My advice? Pop up some Orville Redenbacher’s, turn off that rational part of your mind that expects the world to make sense ... and just enjoy!

5 comments:

  1. Good Friday morning to you dear Andrew.

    I have lost interest in movies or books that portray a world or people whose values are ineffective.

    I think much of what is dysfunctional with society is the assumption that accuracy and healthy values are irrelevant.

    A vampire movie just seems like a total waste of money. Why can't we face life head on as it is instead of pretending to something that never was nor never will be?

    Escapism in books or movies avoids the whole concept of living in the present.

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  2. Hi Again! Nice to see you back to the land of blogging.

    I agree, just enjoy, this is a fiction book turned movie, the books are better (only my 2cents - and yes, I have read all the books and seen all the currently released movies). I also loved reading Eat, Pray, Love and I am looking forward to seeing how this is worked into a movie - along with The Shack.

    FICTION FOLKS - not for taking and turning into your world - JUST ENJOY!

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  3. Cold marble lips? Yea, NOT. It appeals because it's a teen-aged love story. You can substitute the geek for the vampire and the beauty queen for the misunderstood teen - same story.

    It's like True Blood. I'm drawn to it like a crowd is drawn to a train wreck. It's the love story and the character interaction, not the premise, which is the vampires living side-by-side with humans.

    Besides, Vampire Eric is just plain hot. :)

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  4. Thank you, Andrew. That was a good read, and a down-to-earth take on what is, for me, a very strange phenomenon - the vampire fad.

    "Young" seems to be the keyword, and as it no longer applies to me, this could be the sole reason why I just don't get the attraction of these tales. I never did, even when the fad came around in the past. This vampire theme has been visited on a fairly regular basis ever since the Count Dracula stories, and appears in even earlier tales or poems.

    I do enjoy the "Harry Potter" movies though - they are pure fantasy. But the "Twilight" series blends real life with fantasy along with some (what I see as) rather unpleasant and unhealthy ideas. Just my reaction. I'm very obviously not on the wavelength of "Twilight" fans, in spite of my screen name.
    :-)
    Many thanks once again, Andrew, for responding to my request.

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  5. Anonymous6:28 PM

    I was never interested in Twilight. Vampires able to walk in 'sunlight'? Come on now, it just takes away a lot of imagination as to how a vampire can avoid sunlight.
    I am not ready to open my mind, and get Stephenie Meyer's interpretation of vampires.

    As for Harry Potter- J.K. Rowling is BRILLIANT!!! Her books come in 7. She knows how to add a twist to the story. Some things are predictable, some aren't. This is a series I wouldn't mind reading through out time.

    What I wonder is, will J.K. Rowling's books become a classic?

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