Tonawanda News

Night & Day

June 28, 2010

Take a bite out of 'Twilight'

NORTH TONAWANDA — I can’t believe I consumed the whole thing.

When I made up my mind months ago to actually watch and read installments of the “Twilight” series, I figured it wouldn’t be too difficult. I wanted to be able to constructively dissect the series while denying naysayers the chance to tell me that I didn’t know what I was saying because I never saw/read it.

Well, I did both, reading the original “Twilight” and watching the film upon which it was based.

And I came away with two thoughts.

First, that book was darn long.

Second, I don’t get what the big deal is.

I don’t mean to say that the story is lacking. Girl moves to Washington, girl doesn’t fit in, girl meets vampire, girl falls in love with vampire — the idea is well fleshed out (especially in the book).

What I mean is this seems like a story that’s been told a thousand times before. The mopey teenage girl (and I mean MOPEY) falls for the “bad boy” who she knows she shouldn’t be with but — darn it all — she’s head over heels for.

Human nature has dictated from the beginning of time that most of us are drawn, to some extent, to forbidden fruit (remember that the “forbidden fruit” cliché comes from the biblical dawn of man, so I literally mean the beginning of time). And Edward Cullen, sitting there smugly with his brothers and sisters in the high school cafeteria, is as forbidden as anyone.

He only adds to his appeal by his initial rejection of Bella (the mopey girl), shooing her away and acting rude so as to dissuade her from coming near him (vampires love blood, after all, but the Cullen coven only consumes animals). No matter what a jerk he is, she broods over her inability to gain access to him (much, much more so in the book).

He does it for her benefit. She doesn’t care. Eventually, she gets her way (after almost becoming a vampire snack — ad then an actual vampire — herself).

I’m willing to look past the horrible example of womanhood that Bella sets — there’s no way I would want my daughter to take a man’s barbarous behavior and then ask for more — and focus on the whole picture.

And that whole picture? Meh.

The details from the book, or at least some of the details, made it the superior product over its film counterpart. I wanted to smack Bella out of her slump after reading for the hundredth time how unhappy she was, but the background information on the vampires’ lives/origins and vampire life in general were compelling (I can’t wait each Halloween to watch Vlad the Impaler stories and other Dracula shows, so I have a natural penchant toward that sort of thing).

The movie stayed true to the book, but it left out quite a bit of information (I watched the film first and literally didn’t even realize that Jacob the Native American was the Jacob of “Team Edward or Team Jacob” fame). Only after I read the book did I get why the vampires settled in dreary Forks, Wash. (not much sun). But the movie was quickly paced and wasn’t terrible as a standalone piece of fiction.

That being said, the book was average, at best. I acknowledge that I am not the target audience, but the conversation was merely passable, the plot was hackneyed (although somewhat redeemed by the previously mentioned details of the undead) and the tone was sophomoric.

I can’t get behind the main theme of love at all costs (surely the biggest draw for female fans), so it’s all pretty much lost on me. And that might just be what attracts so many female readers — they can picture themselves as Bella, falling in love with a man who literally transforms his whole way of life just for them (whether a woman should need a man’s love in order to achieve fulfillment is an argument for another day).

I also can’t past certain details to immerse myself in the disbelief. Why, for example, would a coven of vampires want to be in high school if their objective is to hide their way of life? Why not just hide away in the shadows or the forest — there’s a lot of that in Washington, after all.

And while the idea of lovers who can’t stand a moment’s separation is romantic, it’s just plain idiotic if you think about it pragmatically (I love my wife and children more than anyone, but life dictates that I not spend every minute with them, and I don’t turn to goo upon disengagement).

I’m not going to change any minds either way with this review, but I can now at least say that I honestly gave my best shot at understanding what the “Twilight” series means to people. And for that, I feel vindicated.

I have no desire — blood lust, if you will — to continue on with the saga. But I now get why so many people do.

Sort of.

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