Cloud: Another Twilight movie premiered this past weekend. Silver lining: They tell me it’s the last one. A few years ago, I had my first and only experience with the franchise. Let’s just say I was not swept away by the romance.  Originally posted December 17, 2009.

 

photo by rhoftonphoto

Way late to the party, but The Man of Mans and I finally watched Twilight. I’m not au courrant with movies the way I was in day P.B. (Pre-Bean), but I don’t live in a cave.  I knew that Twilight was a not-just-teen-movie sensation, featuring a dreamy vampire and epic romance.  Its appeal seemed to span both gender and generations and several people had recommended the movie/books as addictive, escapist fun. I am a big fan of big-screen fluff.  I’m happy to shut down my inner critic in favour of easy to digest entertainment.  Such was my mindset when we popped Twilight into the DVD player.  For those of you who are fans, I want you to know that I tried. I tried to qualify the content as “teen-fluff”.  I tried not be a prickly, curmudgeonly crank. I tried to let the heated passion of impossible vampire romance melt my icy heart.

I failed.

I did not love Twilight. I did not like TwilightTwilight totally pissed me off.  For a few reasons.  (Warning: It’s ’bout to get spoilery up in here, y’all!)

1.Edward is a douche.

I hear a lynch-mob of adolescent girls coming for me.  I will not bend.  The first time Edward meets Bella, he’s blatantly hostile towards her.  The second time they meet, he doesn’t apologize for being a jerk. Instead he explains that he was worked up with vampiric desire and that it’s Bella’s fault for making him want her so badly.

He repeatedly initiates contact with her, then admonishes her for being near a dangerous, untrustworthy vampire.  Later, in an masterful display of douchebaggery, Edward intervenes when Bella is set upon by a gang of predatory men.  He whisks her away to his car where, rather than asking how Bella’s doing in light of having almost been raped, he demands that she tend to his feelings and calm him down.

And of course there’s the lovely revalation that he sneaks into her room at night to watch her sleep.   So romantic.  So stalkerish.  So douchey.

2. Bella puts the “ass” in “passive”. 

Truth: Bella’s not really an ass.  I’m just tryina have  fun with subtitles.  Bella is a really beautiful young woman with pretty hair and nothing significant to contribute to this romance.  She’s  just there as a support/vessel for Edward’s desires. She reassures Edward that she trusts him, even as he assures her of his unrelenting desire to drain her blood.  She lets Edward dictate the pace and terms of their relationship.   She knows he’s a vampire but doesn’t admit it until he commands her to.  The movie didn’t give me any sense of who Bella was beyond a girl who chewing her bottom lip, while waiting for Edward to save her from peril

3. Oh, Nadine. Chillax.  This isn’t Citizen Kane, it’s just fun fantasy for teenagers.

Note to self: Rent Citizen Kane.

As far as this being teen fantasy fare, that’s precisely why the themes in the movie bother me.   I’m constantly hearing/reading about youth, girls in particular, swooning over Edward and wanting precisely the type of “romance” portrayed in Twilight. Bella/Edward is not a healthy relationship.  I saw a movie that conflates love with disregarding a partners’ violent nature, domineering behavior,  invading someone’s personal space, imposing your will on your partner and obsessive fixation on one another.   I saw nothing in this movie that implied there was any true spiritual connection between Edward and Bella.   Just a bunch of surface sparkle (literally).  And while I accept that some relationships are surfacey…this is a story penned by an adult author, produced by adults, marketed to younger people as the pinnacle of true love.  Not a good thing in my crabby, old lady opinion.

4. A Final Note

There was no dance off. I can overlook a multitude of cinematic blunders if the plot culminates in a dance off.  This did not. Bad Twilight! No biscuit!

I welcome thoughts from those of you who have seen the movie and/or read the books.  I’m especially curious about how the book compares to the movie.   Is it a faithful adaption?  Does reading the inner thoughts of the characters make change the dynamic of the romance?  Are there any dance offs in the sequels? I will also accept cheer offs and/or skate offs.

To: Glee

Re: Domestic Abuse Plotline FAIL!

Attn: Angry. Ranty. Possibly triggering and HIGHLY spoilery for S3E18

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I’ve said before that when it comes to film and television I am willing to overlook virtually any shortcoming if the work in question includes a dance sequence. But despite Kurt’s lethal dose of “Not The Boy Next Door” gold lamé awesomeness, I am SUPREMELY ticked off at executive director Ryan Murphy and everyone responsible for writing this week’s episode of Glee.

If your going do an episode about domestic abuse, do it right or don’t do it all. Because you people fucked it up. Badly.

Resurrecting a character who hasn’t been seen or heard from in weeks, showing us flashes of an argument AS PART OF A MUSICAL MONTAGE and then having her announce “He hit me” feels less about effecting change and more about the producers trying earn their “Very Special Episode” badge.

The victim-blaming lesson about how abused women just need to be more empowered was not inspirational, it was condescending.

There’s also the part where Glee decided they could say everything that needs be said about this issue in a single one-hour episode (real time: 42 minutes and change). An episode which also featured two major other plots. The students at McKinley have plenty of time to fix an abusive relations AND help Puck cram for his geography test!

For reals, WTF? I’m guessing perhaps the controversy surrounding Chris Brown and Rhianna was at it’s peak when the writers were breaking this episode. (BTW, the fact that the credited writer of this episode is Marti Noxon, former Buffy scribe, makes me want to cry.)

Perhaps executive producer Ryan Murphy heard how some young women made jokes about Brown’s abusive behaviour on Twitter. Did he decide it was okay to have the characters on the show mimick those same vile, ignorant comments? Was he even aware that those “jokes” can be WAY triggering for a lot of people? Which I could have accepted if a thoughtful, affecting storyline about the realities of parnter-abuse has ensued.

Instead Glee gives me some weaksauce “hitting is bad” lipservice. And the worse part was the self-congratulatory tone of the entire episode. I could practically hear the the writing staff patting themselves on their collective backs, having song-taught millions of viewers that the simple solution  is for women to get confident, get empowered and leave.

It’s NOT that simple.

My problem with  “just leave” is that it’s pretty fucking arrogant. It assumes that leaving is easy. It assumes that the abuse survivor is unaware and just needs someone to tell them “walk out the door”, because clearly they don’t know that that’s how you put an end to it.

It’s NOT that simple.

Glee doesn’t even touch the complex issue of abusers and why they’re abusive and how prevent that behaviour. Because walking out on an abuser doesn’t stop them from being violent

Glee ignores the fact that people stay in abusive relationships for all sorts of complicated reasons – emotional, financial, religious, cultural. People sometimes stay to protect children or other family members. People stay because of a legitimate fear that their partner will become even more violent, perhaps lethally so, if they leave. That’s not weakness. That’s survival.

And even if we can’t understand see the reason, there’s a reason. Being hurt by someone who allegedly cares for you is awful If a person is staying, to them, the option of leaving is even worse. It can be hard to comprehend when you’re outside of the situation looking in. Given more time and care, Glee you could have helped us understand the reason.

If Glee had been braver and less lazy, they might have explored this issue through some of the principle characters. The one we love and we’re invested in as an audience. Because abusive relationships are still relationships. There’s beeen an emotional investment. There’s affection. There’s love.

Using Bieste and Cooter was the E-Z Bake answer. Cooter’s been on the show for all of 20 minutes. No one cares that he’s suddenly an angry jackass who punches because his dishes aren’t done. Dot Jones as Bieste tells us she needs his love (and does it pretty well considering the script), but we don’t feel it. So the writers insert message to audience “Don’t put up with this, ladeez!” and high-five each other for solving the problem of domestic violence.

Suck. Pants.

Glee, I’ve been loyal to you. But between this and your abysmal teen suicide episode (an event also depicted in montage), you are REALLY starting to piss me off! What you used to do so well (and what I wish you’d done the Rachel’s story last night) was create episodes evoke the emotion of those absurd high school moments. The ones that seem like nothing in restrospect, but felt like everything at the time. Keep doing that. And the musical numbers.

Please stop doing the “very special episode” stuff. You’re terrible at it and if you keep this up, not even a Steely Dan theme-episode will make me forgive you.

Sincerely,

Nadine

p.s. Where’s Quinn?