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Friday, 18 November 2011

Team Meh

There's nothing for it. The time has come.
It's time to talk about Twilight.

Robert Pattinson is much creapier in real life.
Photo from here

Right about now, at six o'clock in the evening on the 18th of November 2011, millions of Twihard fans all over the world are in the movie theaters to see Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1. Some are perhaps already going for the second time, what do I know. Also, right about now, at six o'clock in the evening on the 18th of November 2011, millions of die-hard Twilight haters share a savage pleasure of taking as much mickey out of Twilight as possible via a selection of online social media.

Let's look at these two fractions separately. We'll do the haters first.

A prime example of a well thought-through fail poster. Not repetitive at all.
Photo from here

Online, there seems to be a sort of ongoing competition of who hates Twilight the most. Whether it's by making fun of the books, saying they're badly written, that Edward is a pussy for still being a virgin after 108 or so years, or how Stephenie Meyer has violated the Pure and Holy image of The Vampire by explaining the many myths behind them in a new way. Or making fun of the movies, of how bad Kristen Stewart's acting is, how Taylor Lautner's shirtlessness is hilariously over the top or that the only good thing about them is Charlie Swan's moustache.

Now, for the average internet user who good-humouredly caption the odd movie still from Twilight on Failblog, that's okay. The real problems arise when the same type of ridicule appears on arenas that usually keep a higher level of seriousness and quality, like newspapers. Even the movie reviewers in such media (albeit still online) seem to write their pieces under a mandatory understanding that "this movie sucks, but I have to write about it anyway, so let's get it over with". Example quote from www.pressfire.no, from an article written by Martin Bergesen (translated from Norwegian by me):

"The only explanation for there not being a "Twilight"-game must be that Stephenie Meyer and the other demons behind "Twilight" are too distracted by raking bills in their money-garden to notice all the millions they're missing out on by not whoring out their sparkle-vampires to a games company."
(Here's the article)

I mean, seriously? Demons? Whoring? That's a bit harsh. Not just a bit, either. It's really harsh. And full of speculative prejudice, too. These reviewers are people who know their job, and they get paid to do it. To sink that level of ridicule is just unprofessional.

Alright, on to the lovers.

Don't feed them after midnight.
Photo from here

 They are, of course, equally one-track-minded. They find the books amazing, groundbreaking, life-changing. They plaster their walls with posters of a brooding Robert Pattinson or a flexing Taylor Lautner, or both. They place themselves in either "Team Edward" or "Team Jacob", fiercly defend their chosen hero on online message boards, and probably take long walks in the forests of Washington in the hopes of catching a glimpse of something sparkly. Or hairy. Or both.

This, of course, is obsession. And when you're obsessed, you tolerate no critique of your chosen object of desire, much like how a drug addict will get really angry if you take his drugs away. Seriously. I've been an obsessed teenager myself, I know how you completely lose your sense of logic.

The Twilight books are in the genre "Young Adult", which means the target group are young people between 13 and 19. Teenagers. In this case, girls. And there are many of those out there. Hoards. Sort of like zombies. Only they don't want brains, they want the pants off Robert Pattinson. Or Taylor Lautner. Or both. At the same time.

And for some reason, teenage girls are one of the generic groups of people (regardless of nationality, skin colour or religion) that most people fail to take seriously. If you made characters out of the human age groups, teenage girls would be the Dumb Blonde. Of course, teenage girls in general feel that they're much more mature and experienced in life than what their age suggests, and that their feelings are pure, sincere and not in the least affected by all the hormones currently zooming around in their bodies. Which can cause seventeen-year-olds to think that the crush they have on that pale, mysterious boy in the corner of the canteen is True Love and will Last Forever, when really they get a new crush two weeks later. All hail to Stephenie Meyer and her fellow Young Adult authors for finding this age group important, really.

My point here is that I believe many of the reviewers that heartily dismember the Twilight movies (or books) and then chop them up in little pieces with their metaphorical machete (read: keyboard) completely fail to consider the target group. Or if they do, they use it as an additional reason for why the movie is beneath them. "This is a movie for teenage girls, so automatically it sucks." And particularly because it's Twilight, that is all right. And when the reviewer is a 37 year old man (or whatever), and the movie's target group is a 16 year old girl, it's a disaster waiting to happen.

What I would really like to read is a Twilight review written by someone trying to see the movie from the target group's viewpoint. 

I bet you're just dying to know what I feel about Twilight now, right? I also bet that if you're a hater, you think I'm a Twihard, and if you're a Twihard, you think I'm a hater, right?

Wrong.


I'm neither. I'm part of what I'd like to coin as "Team Meh". I've read the books. They were entertaining. In the same way that The Da Vinci Code was entertaining. Both not excellently written, but both pageturners, and both worth the read. I've seen the two first films. They were all right. I've seen much better, of course. But I've certainly seen much, MUCH worse.  
(Like La Dolce Vita. I nearly died from boredom. That's a story for later.)

I've also made fun of Twilight. I made a comic about it once, but a good-natured one, as my target group for that particular comic is 8-15-year-olds.

But I genuinely don't understand the epic proportions the Twihating has taken. People who haven't even read the books or seen the movies are practically frolicking in the garden of Twihate, repeating the old jokes over and over. I certainly don't think it's appropriate to bring all that hate into professional movie reviews. Sure, write a review about how bad the films are, but make it balanced and fair. Write in a way that makes me think you're an educated person who knows quality in films, rather than a person who spends most work days scrolling around Failblog.













(To Martin Bergesen, if you should by any chance read this - nothing personal. Don't hate me. Just ... be reasonable. You would hate Stephenie Meyer and the other "demons" if they really HAD sold the game concept, so there really is no reason to hate them for NOT doing it. Damned if you do, damned if you don't, right? I did laugh out loud at the video examples at the bottom of your article though. But the text in general was a tad over the top.)

4 comments:

Kristine Sunde Fauske said...

Here's one: http://p3.no/filmpolitiet/2011/11/the-twilight-saga-breaking-dawn-part-1/

Jorunn said...

Yeah, I read that one. I still feel there's a bit much of the "the fans will love this, whilst I ...". But it's a lot better than much else of what I've read.

Samgoose said...

Jo, I love your reasonableness. I've only sen the first Twilight film after quite a few friends declared their love for it. Oh dear, it was pretty dreadful. A dull, dreary storyline with dull, dreary characters about whom I couldn't care less. Kristen Stewart's character was so grumpy and ill tempered I couldn't have cared less about her. Not very endearing to say the least. But you are so right about the relationship of critic to film. How indeed, can a 34 year old man objectively comment on a film aimed at 13 - 19 year old girls?

Jorunn said...

Sam, I agree on Kristen Stweart's acting - I cringed a lot, also she talks with an annoying stutter that's probably meant to be endearing, but it's just too much. But main characters aside, the worst for me was the look of the Cullen family. They're meant to be unearthly beautiful, but their hair colours and pale skin are so obviously fake that it's distracting. At least they got a proper pale Brit to play Edward, eh? :D

But I like the look of the films in general, the colours, the settings. I'd gladly see the two last films too (and, in time, the fifth) but I won't bother going to the cinema to see them. Not because it won't be worth the ticket price, but because the rest of the audience will be teenage girls who wont shut the hell up.