Vampires…that’s so aught.

Thus spake the Universe: if you’re going to see a boring film, see it with a crowd, dummy.
Reported on 29th of November, 2008

Remember dinosaurs? They were really popular in the 90s, as children correctly intuited that the human race was vast, lumbering, and doomed. With vestigial dangly arms. Now, God help us, it’s vampires, who future historians will say represent our view that we inhabit a world where we are simultaneously bored with everything life has to offer, and desperate to have it last forever.


29 November 2008 @ The AMC Century City 15

$2.00 or, if one must be quotidian, and one must... 
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆


Now I may be bored with everything life has to offer, but no so much that I would actually see Twilight. Two things intervened to change this. First of all, my friend Nathan dared me. Then, as if a higher hand was guiding my movie going omniverse, my friend Adrienne mentioned getting a phone call from someone who was reviewing it, a phone call she could not make out over the screams of the fans, approving very kindly of the casting of Robert Pattinson as Edward and the way he, like, looks at stuff.

I realized I was avoiding the film exactly for the reason I should be seeing it: an uncomfortably crowded theater with an overly enthusiastic audience. This worked extremely well with Battlefield Earth, which I had the pleasure of seeing at the Hollywood Galaxy 6 opening day. Brutally dull, and somewhat confusing to boot, but you just don’t care when the Scientologists are being bused in from the Celebrity Center right up to the box office.

I’m not kidding by the way; I was there, and it’s the only place and time when ‘based on the book by L. Ron Hubbard’ would get a standing ovation. Up and until Mr. Jeffrey Tambor takes his rightful place as All-Powerful Leader of the Earth Planet, of course. Until that day, thus spake the Universe: if you’re going to see a boring film, see it with a crowd, dummy.

But I had missed the window. It was a week after the film had opened, so how would I get a crowd of screaming pre- and post-teen girls to distract me from all the annoying shapes and noises on the screen?

There was only one solution: see a matinee at the dreaded Century City 15 on Black Friday (which begs the question, if Black Friday is called that because of all the shopping, and the other Black Friday, when the stock market crashed, is called that because of the lack of shopping, does that mean that if there’s no shopping on this Black Friday, do the blacks cancel each other out? And even though I’m getting dangerously close to sounding racist, does that make today White Friday? Grey Friday? Or do you add the blacks and make An Especially Impenetrable Dark Black Friday? We’ll just leave it to the particle physicists).

The best way to lose our sympathy for a character? Go out of your way to make him or her ‘sympathetic’.

So there I was, on Goldenrod Friday, at the corner of Avenue of the Stars and Little Santa Monica. Why the Century City 15? Because of the reason I normally hate it: it’s just too crowded. You always wind up at the side aisle, one seat back, even at a film like Men of Respect, which no one saw, except for all the people on that day, at that showing, so I had to sit way off to the side, craning my neck as John Turturro, playing the lead in a gangster remake of Macbeth says, “Youse can’t kill me; I’m not of woman born.”

And no, I’m not making that up either.

I knew, and was correct, that Twilight would not be as inspired, but I had the crowds on my side. Or so I thought. I bought my ticket online, just in case. I biked halfway, so I wouldn’t have to worry about parking. I arrived fifteen minutes early, and had time for a quick trip to the Godiva store. And no, I don’t find their almond pralines cloying. They’re rather good.

But I misunderestimated the state of the economy. There was no one there (this despite the temptation of Movienachos, which are way better than ordinary nachos).

And so I sat, in a mall theatre, on the biggest shopping day of the year, waiting for a megahit only a week old, with maybe 20 or 30 people, most of them in their 40s. It was bad enough that we’re all going to be living off grubs and fighting punkers on abandoned roadways within a few weeks, but the doomed world economy had robbed me of the chance of not being bored for 1 hour and 57 minutes.

Curse you debit-based fiat monetarism!

This prologue has conveniently prevented me from having to talk about the actual film, which I have been avoiding. Why? Well, the tagline says it all: ‘Nothing will ever be the same.’ And before you accuse the publicity department of a serious lack of energy and imagination, check out the tagline for Four Christmases: ‘Nearly Everything Will Remain Unchanged’

Unfortunately for Twilight, nearly everything will remain unchanged, which is where we get to the gradual destruction the vampire myth over the years. Ann Rice began ruining it twenty years ago as she posited that vampires could live off of animal blood, meaning that 1) they were no longer murderers, and 2) they were no longer interesting. The best way to lose our sympathy for a character? Go out of your way to make him or her ‘sympathetic’.

Twilight takes this a million steps further. It seems to actively miss any potential conflict, drama, tension, or even slightly hurt feelings. Bella arrives at a new school and…everyone immediately likes her. Two guys want to date her and…she sets up the one she doesn’t like back with another friend. Even in the ‘adventure part’ of the movie, as she is being chased by evil vampire guy (and while being chased by evil vampire guy, always stay at the Phoenix Hyatt. Ask for Murray; he’ll give you the chased by evil vampire two for one rate), her mom is kidnapped. Will she have to choose: her own life for her mothers?

Though the Visa corporation appreciates its one percent cut, it was an unnecessary preemptive strike.

Though the Visa corporation appreciates its one percent cut, it was an unnecessary preemptive strike.

No; it’s a recording. This, the most basic trope of movies, the hostage, cannot exist in this world. It’s just too much to take.

The most bizarre moment comes when Edward reveals why vampires can’t exist in direct sunlight. Finally, I thought, an hour in, and something might actually happen. He swoops Bella, very visually, into the mountain tops and…his skin gets all sparkly, like he was mauled by a thousand crazed post-rave teenage girls in glitter makeup.

He’s a monster!

I get why the book and film are so popular; it captures, and pretty well, that feeling that sex, especially at the beginning, is both overwhelmingly desirable and dangerous to the point of deadly. Yielding is death, and wouldn’t death be great? And it’s fun for the brief scenes of teen romance that convey this. But without any actual danger, it kind of loses the thread. When Bella asks, logically, why don’t you just make me a vampire, and we can, you know, make out forever and stuff, Edward refuses. Largely to keep the series going, to be sure, but if we don’t think he’s a monster, she doesn’t think he’s a monster, and common sense doesn’t think he’s a monster, he isn’t one.

Because what future historians will really say about our generation’s interest in vampires isn’t that we were obsessed with being them, but with defanging them. After all, don’t vampires live off the blood of everybody else? And as we expiate this collective guilt, and the vampire economy implodes, wouldn’t it be nice to fool the rest of the world into thinking that vampires weren’t so bad after all? Maybe we can even fool ourselves.

There’s that time, where he totally does that thing,
and then he, like, you know, doesn’t even have to say anything, because she like totally knows.
I forgot. How many films these days have actually camp value?
Total Profits
My own unrealistic, and completely unfair expectation that something might actually fucking happen.
Total Losses


Thoughts on Twilight

  1. Uli de la Lama says:

    … Bobby Pattinson is hot… and stuff 🙂

  2. Morehotmenonscreen feminist says:

    Despite everything that has been said, I still think that there is a feminist dimension to Twilight. The main character is a female who does not, as they so often do in films, objectify herself to prove she’s a sexual being but instead turns her gaze outwards as she visibly lusts after two beautiful men – Rob Pattinson is sex on legs all right but I don’t care too much for the other midget, talk about bad casting! I digress… She owns her desire and it’s Pattinson that is the sexpot; the object of desire. Women and girls do not get to be offered Beauty very often in life, or in films, so Twilight played an important role in providing that.
    There are several problematic aspects to the film but as you’ve already slated it, I won’t participate in that. Team Bella ☺

  3. Scott Scott says:

    I’m all for hot men (see anything marked Flimsily Concealed Homoeroticism – how is ‘homoeroticism’ not in the spell check?, anyway), and kudos to the female gaze. However, it is a long epic about a girl who takes three movies to make a choice, only to find out that choices have no consequences. Which is true in real life, but not allowed in movies! So, plus and minus. It’s not like I didn’t see all of them in the theater.

  4. Dorothée says:

    We are merely talking about the first film here though and she chooses everything fine in this one.

  5. Scott Scott says:

    I realized why I was taking so long to respond to this: it would mean I’d have to see the movie again. So, you win…for now.

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