Friday, January 30, 2009

What Twilight Taught Me

I haven’t read it, by the way, or seen the movie. My knowledge of Twilight is completely based on conversations I’ve had with fans, who have managed to infiltrate every single part of my life. What’s more, the Twilight fan is no ordinary fan. She (it’s always a woman) doesn’t just love Stephenie Meyers’s series, she lives and breathes it, and does not hesitate to tell innocent bystanders not only that it’s her favourite, but exactly why it’s her favourite. I have managed to be surrounded by these types for months now, and therefore feel I have enough knowledge to definitively inform the world why I will never, ever be reading or watching them.

But enough about my expertise.

I’m not going to launch into any attacks on individual fans; this town is far too small for such carry-on, and I hardly want to go about alienating people. But there is one thing that I have heard from literally every fan that bears mentioning. “He’s real pale but, like, he’s also real hot. Isn’t that funny?” This is always done with an enormously incredulous tone. Rather than tonally shift upwards on the last couple words, every word is turned into a question, creating an effect that cannot be accurately described in a written medium.

The tone is always accompanied by a furrowing of the brow, like a Cro-Magnon being upon presentation of a cigarette lighter in action. Fair enough, too. Pale, and hot? The mere thought of it has blown my mind, and I haven’t even been confronted with it on the big screen like these fans have at least three times.

The plot is pretty basic: your standard forbidden love affair. Think Romeo and Juliet, and the bones of Meyers’s Masterpiece is pretty clear. Bella’s in love with Edward, who is beautiful (in a pale way, of course), and who loves her too, but because he’s a vampire he also wants to eat her. Obviously, the dramatic potential is huge as these two try to reconcile these conflicts and be together.

I have two favourite plot points. Here is one: Eddie is a vampire, which means he doesn’t age. So while Bella, the love of his life, is in her mid-to-late teens, he is no less than a hundred years old. Even though he has the body of a teenager, encased behind that beautiful milky skin is the brain of an old, old man. But fans seem to either miss or purposely ignore this fact: far more romantic to concentrate on his predilection for human flesh than the fact that their illicit love is extreme paedophilia without the window-dressing of wrinkled skin, false teeth, and memory loss.

But that’s number two. My absolute, number-one favourite aspect of Twilight is its sequel, New Moon. Because Eddie is so consumed with his desire to feast on Bella, he leaves town at the beginning of the book, to nobly protect Bella from his primal urge. So, after a several-month period of depression, Bella meets another man: Jacob, the Native American with long hair, dark skin, and gentle eyes. He’s no Ed, but if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with. Besides, at least he’s human, without the supernatural baggage Ed brought with him, right?

Wrong! He’s a werewolf! Bella has some truly awful luck. I was a little pleased to hear this new relationship development at first, but was disappointed when I learned that Jake is the last variety of mythical creature she encounters, much less dates. I had dreams of the third book focussing on her clandestine affair with a misunderstood minotaur who, behind his bovine torso and human legs, has a kind soul and is only looking for someone to love.

I could picture the love scene so vividly – steam puffing out his snout as he advances towards Bella, looking at her with wonton lust. But that would be all Meyer would deliver; being a Mormon, her faith heavily influences her writing, so she keeps it PG\. Except for the flesh-eating, of course.

At any rate, it wasn’t meant to be, and the very forbidden love affair between a young woman and the minotaur from her school remains unwritten. Someday, maybe I will write this story that so very badly needs to be told.

So what does Twilight teach me, other than the fact that marketing alone can make a best-selling series and box-office bonanza of something that sounds more like a parody than anything else? Considering the amount of otherwise smart, decent women who are into it, it reveals one thing: there really is no accounting for taste.