“I learned the truth at seventeen
That love was meant for beauty queens
And high school girls with clear skinned smiles
Who married young and then retired
The valentines I never knew
The Friday night charades of youth
Were spent on one more beautiful
At seventeen I learned the truth…”
– Janis Ian, “At Seventeen”
*Apologies for the tardiness of this review. I (drunkenly) watched Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part II at the AMC Metreon in San Francisco on Saturday – 17 Nov. 2012.
I never knew what it was like to be one of The Cool Kids in school. My well-read thirst for knowledge, combined with an off-beat artistic temperament, made me a loner most of the time. Oh, I had friends, and lots of them. But I never had any regular clique with whom I was most often associated. I migrated from group to group, taking a bit of their idiosyncrasies with me and assimilating them to my own (which would probably explain why my tastes are so eclectic).
Travelling from one group of misfits to the other really opens one’s eyes to how they each view one another: they all interact with one another on an individual basis, whilst by-and-large mocking anyone and everyone outside of their social circle. And everyone has someone to mock. It doesn’t matter if you were so low on the social totem pole that you began to grow moss, there were no shortage of visible traits from your peers that opened themselves for lampooning.
I’d like to think that because of my aforementioned artistic sensibilities elevated my mockery of others to wonderfully sublime heights. As a kid whose razor-sharp tongue developed from his love of hip-hop, The Simpsons, Berke Breathed comics, Daria, countless stand-up comedians, and an obscene devotion to MST3K, I told myself that my mockery was no mere childish teasing. No, sir – what I did was unappreciated social satire that was unafraid to slaughter contemporary pop culture’s most sacred cows for the greater good.
And man, oh man, would my teenage self have had a field day with the Twilight films.
Before this I’d never seen any of the films. Not out of some self-righteous sense of superiority to mock the newest teenage fad (hell, we’re all into weird shit at that age), nor to protest a work so renowned for its sexism (have you heard the music I listen to?). I simply had no interest. None of the trailers appealed to me, I didn’t recognise anyone starring in the films, and the few friends I had that genuinely did like the films were only able to sell them as guilty pleasures – and not the sort of guilty pleasures that appeal to me.
That’s why when my friend, the gut-bustingly hilarious Kelly Anneken, invited me to her annual birthday tradition of drunkenly riffing on a Twilight flick, I jumped at the chance. I’d never seen a single flick, let alone the first half of the finale, but the chance to be a 30-something lush in an auditorium full of acne-ridden dorks was too tempting to pass up.
Bella is a vampire now. She has a half-vampire child with Edward. Her friend is Jacob, a wolf. There is the vampire equivalent of the Vatican that wants to kill Bella, Edward, and their baby. They call other vampires for help.
The description above is not my attempt to mock the “story”, it’s my attempt to grasp it. Seriously, as much as I’d like to blame it on my flask of Jameson, the above is the best I could pick up from what I saw. Never mind that the first thing I saw was lint. Apropos of seemingly nothing, the very first image of the film is lint.
We later realise that the lint is representative of Bella’s newly-heightened senses. She runs fast and she’s stronger. She also has a thirst for human blood, but that’s only mentioned once before it’s forgotten. She also has to hide her new powers from her dad because he doesn’t know, but that’s only mentioned once before it’s forgotten. She also has some sort of vampire life insurance, but… are you sensing a theme here?
The problem with this movie – I mean, besides the stilted acting (or, in Michael Sheen’s case, wonderfully over-the-top), mediocre dialogue, lack of character motivation, inconsistent character traits, and a God-awful CG baby and toddler – is the fact that every time it looks as if the film is even coming close to raising its stakes, it finishes anti-climactically. Hell, the film’s major setpiece, a vampire war in the snow, turns out to be [SPOILER] just a dream sequence (to which I shouted “What the fuck?!” at the top of my lungs). If I’m to judge the entire series based on this one film, then it truly is the ridiculous cinematic cock-tease I’ve been lead to believe it is.
And if I’m to judge Twilight’s teenage fans based on the sold-out audience with whom I saw the film, then they’re a bunch of easily-impressed slut-shamers. Try as I might to steer clear of celebrity gossip, it’s hard to do so when it’s splashed on the front of my web provider’s homepage. As such, I know more about Kristen Stewart wandering eye than I would like. The crowd were very vocal about calling her “slut” and “bitch” at various parts of the film. The one and only time they gave it a rest was the end credit call: as every castmember got their own title card, the crowd responded with applause. But when they got to the end of the roster, Stewart’s face was met with a deafening silence to which I couldn’t help but laugh.
And yet, I had fun with the whole experience. Granted, several shots’ll do that to ya, but atleast the evening wasn’t a total waste (even though I tried my best to get wasted). It was an interesting experience to watch a youth fad from the outside in. Years from now those kids will cringe at the very thought that they took such a ridiculous film and book series so seriously that they hurled misogynist insults at a movie screen. Then they’ll see what the new fad is that year. Then they’ll head to a liquor store and stock up on necessary supplies. And they’ll laugh at the kids who take the new fad so serious.
Because if you can’t laugh at it, then you didn’t really enjoy it.