Sunday, November 20, 2011

An open letter to all Twilight fans

Director: So. How do we make this love scene more cliched?
Good evening,

If you're reading this, I'm going to presume you're either a Twilight fan or someone who's bored and decided to click into here for a chuckle. Whatever your backstory, welcome, but be aware post is directly directed at anyone who might be planning on going to see The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1; a shoo in for a nomination in 'titles that really aren't suited to twitter discussion' Oscar category this year, along with the really long winded Harry Potter title.

Up until now, I've observed the Twilight franchise with a mix of bemusement and apathy. It's something I assumed I simply didn't 'get', wasn't supposed to 'get', and was more than happy to ignore it in favour of stuff I could care about. I just wrote if as a social phenomena that wasn't aimed at me: the cynical, mid-twenties male film student.

But today shit got personal. Well, not really, but I'm taking it as a direct insult. Bored and searching for a social activity I decided to check out the local multiplex timetables in the - admittedly false - hope that they'd be snowing Australian break through hit Snowtown. Since I've spent approximately two-fifths of my waking hours this week commuting, the idea of trudging into the city arthouse theatre to see it doesn't appeal. So: I checked the multiplex timetable, admittedly with little hope.

It, obviously, wasn't showing. But very little else was either, apart from a load of silly action films and a bound-to-be mediocre heist film from the king of mediocrity himself, Sir Brett Ratner. A few decent films - notably Tinker, Tailor... somehow lingering in the cinema around two months after its initial release - were still showing, but been there, bought the t-shirt etc.

What was showing was Breaking Dawn.

Thirteen. Fucking. Times.

Now this bothered me. Surely one - a mere single screening in the what must be three screens dedicated to a single film - could have been excised to make way for something that us non-Twilight fans could watch and enjoy. I'm well aware Twilight is popular, and it would be remiss of me to begrudge the cinema owners out of making money, but still.

Thirteen! And over thirty times over the course of the weekend. That's nothing compared to a city centre cinema that literally has twice that many screenings. Absurdity!

So: it's time I let you in on a secret. This may come as a shock, but it needs to be said as Snowtown continues to be relegated to arthouse cinemas across the country (or, more specifically, Dublin. My thoughts are with my rural comrades). Here's the truth: you don't like Twilight.

Now, who am I to make such a ludicrous, even condescending judgement? It is not my intention to insult or offend. I'm also aware many viewers watch Twilight ironically, or even as a guilty but disposable pleasure. That's fine, I'm not necessarily cool with it, but it's entirely your decision. I'm directing this more at anyone who has been - understandably - tricked into thinking this is any way shape or form anything other than worthless trash. I just feel it's important to get this out there, and if I can even prevent one person from paying into see this film, I consider my work complete.

Firstly, you should be aware that the studios are tricking you with attractive people. I myself have fallen victim to this: I once watched Brothers because it featured Natalie Portman, and I regret that decision to this day. But the reality is they're trying to numb you into submission by parading all manner of shirtless superhunks in front of you. Friend: Google image search will serve the same purpose in a far less melodramatic, cheaper and time-saving manner.

Secondly: this is the perfect example of peer pressure, or suggestion by force. It's like schoolyard dynamics: if everyone's talking about something, you can be damn sure I'll want to be part of the party, no matter how poor the subject in question is. We see this all over society as it continues to shamelessly celebrate mediocrity, while manic producers snort cocaine off their stacks of laundered bills. The undeserved popularity of the X-Factor, Glee or indeed the glorified karaoke act Michael Buble are further examples of this triumph of untalent.

Thirdly, this really doesn't need to be two films from any (lulzworthy) plot synopsis I've endured. You're being taken for a monetary ride.

An aside: I could fill this paragraph with thoughts on the highly objectionable morals of the quote saga unquote, or indeed a breakdown of the failings of this franchise on a purely cinematic level (having had the misfortune to see bits and pieces of the first film during my time in a video store). However, I think more highly of you than that, so we shall leave these self-evident truths and begin to wind up.

Mostly we can blame Stephanie Meyer: that crafter of inane, deplorable, offensive subversions of classic mythology. In her continued failure to grasp the appeal of the vampire myth, she has instead decided to appeal to people's basest, most (deservedly) hidden instincts and created a franchise that has the artistic merit of a particularly narratively lazy pornographic film. It's a feat to make Buffy the Vampire Slayer look comparatively thoughtful and reflective. But Ms. Meyer has somehow achieved what in a just world would be the impossible: managed to make her slightly embarrassing personal sex fantasy a commercial goldmine.

Vampires aren't meant to emote and declare their undying (ho!) love for each other, and they sure as shit aren't meant to sparkle. They're meant to be creepy, confused beings with shocking bloodthirst. Although - let's be honest - a caesarean section with fangs is a step too far, Stephanie, especially for a franchise predominantly aimed at tweens.

Let the Right One In, Nosferatu (the original and the Herzog version), Thirst, even the camp nonsense of Interview with the Vampire (if Twilight is heroin, IWTV is methadone): many of which cover similar topics, in a far more cinematic and much less lame way than the Twilight films have. Please: watch one instead of Twilight 4, or 5, or whatever the hell it's on at this point. You'll find it's much more rewarding in the long term, and you'll soon forget you were even a member of Team Jacob. You'll be on Team Klaus Kinski instead. Phwoar.

Yours sincerely,
A concerned citizen.

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