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Reflections on Twilight

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honoria plum

honoria plum

My personal quest is the search for a life inspired by the literature of P.G Wodehouse. Plumtopia celebrates this quest with other Wodehouse fans.

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Spoiler alert: If you are a Twilight fan, this may spoil your day.

A curious urge to watch crap television comes over me when I’m sick.  At least, I’m claiming illness as the cause and hoping nothing more deep and troubling led me to watch Dancing on Ice, several episodes of Are You Being Served, followed by the second Twilight movie, New Moon.

I’d seen the first Twilight film, so I knew what I was letting myself in for: a high-school melodrama, distinguishable from other high-school melodramas  for it’s lack of humour, and a few vampires. But I preferred the second film, primarily because Edward, the dyspeptic vampire love interest was ‘off-stage’ for most of the movie. In his blessedly few appearances, he looked less like a star-crossed lover than an emergency patient in urgent need of Imodium.

It was difficult to empathise with the heroine’s self-indulgent sulking over the loss of her vapid, humourless ham. Bella Swan, who bears the sloppiest, clichéd name ever to smear the pages of fiction, is completely devoid of wit or charm. Actress Kristen Stewart saves her from being utterly loathsome on screen, but it’s not enough to make her interesting. Is this really a character 21st Century women relate to?

Actor Robert Pattinson who plays Edward, apparently not in character.

Jacob the werewolf has a bit of sparkle. He’s a sort of back-up love interest for Bella, who seemingly can’t cope without a regular dose of male-monster attention. He’s far more appealing, but Bella falls into the classic trap of mistaking brooding introversion with depth of feeling and character. A fatal error. Edward is a 100 year old adolescent who will never get any more interesting. Imagine how she’ll feel about him after 100 years of marriage. Yes, they get married, I’ve looked it up.

Vampires and werewolves are a minor, but welcome diversion from broody teenagers in love, and the film makers have used every trick in the book to make them appear interesting. The vampires look stunning and ooze class, like something from a St Etienne film clip, but it’s essentially a smoke-and-mirrors ploy to disguise a fairly ordinary romance between a couple of dull teenagers, obsessed with their own importance.

My mortal life is too precious to be spent reading these books, so I can’t speak with authority about their literary worth. I’m also cynical about the current fashion among authors to drag stories out into a series for monetary gain. I’m confident the Twilight ‘saga’ could have been condensed, with good writing,  into one novel. The argument that there is a market for multiple books holds no weight with me. There would be a market for public hangings if we allowed them.

HP

 

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17 Comments

  1. trewisms says:

    Twilight’s underlying message is also really disturbing – don’t anger your boyfriend or he might kill you, and it would be your fault. It’s a depiction of abuse dressed up as one of romance.

  2. Bobbie Helland says:

    I think a great saga requires a Hero’s Journey; either a real one, as in the Lord of the Rings series, or an internal one, as in the Anne of Green Gables series. Compelling characters grow, and are well-drawn. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have the books be brilliantly written. The only thing brilliant about Twilight is Edward’s odd glittery arms.

    • honoriaplum says:

      Thanks Bobbie. You’re spot on with your criteria. A good series with recurring characters (as opposed to a saga) needn’t necessarily involve an ongoing hero’s journey, but the characters and writing need to be compelling. I’m thinking of Sherlock Holmes, and the great sleuths of Agatha Christie.

  3. Elina says:

    Hi,

    Nice to see someone else watches AYBS.

    I run an official “Are You Being Served?” site at:

    http://www.aybscentral.com

    There are a lot of images and info pertaining to all the cast members.

    There is also a lot of other stuff for the AYBS fan including a blog, forum and an online role playing game.

    Enjoy!

    Elina

  4. honoria plum says:

    Reblogged this on Writer's Workbook and commented:

    I posted this criticism of Twilight to my original Wodehouse blog, but it’s better suited here at my Writers Workbook.

  5. Very funny!

    I agree with trewisms: I seem to remember reading somewhere that it ticked about 16 out of 20 signs of an abusive relationship.

    I watch it if it comes on television but I doubt I’d ever go out and buy the DVD, except as a curiosity if I found it in some bargain bin. I can definitely see, though, how it would appeal to 14 year old girls who feel misunderstood and that they’ll never get a boyfriend. As a scriptwriter, that’s the key ‘hook’ of the films – that no matter how weird you are or feel there’s a place and a people out there for you (even if their weirdness takes an implausible form).

    Stephanie Whatsit has put a couple of chapters on her website if you were in that wallow-y mindset again (I know it so well).

    It’s very enjoyable reading your stuff – keep writing!

    • honoria plum says:

      I’m really interested to hear about your scriptwriting work. I started an adaptation of a Wodehouse novel that I think has great potential. Perhaps we could collaborate?

      • An adaptation is a good way to start if you’ve never done it before – all the background work that is 90% of script-writing is done for you. All my original work is in storage (long story) but I’m keeping my hand in by working on an adaption of some Billy Bunter stories in odd moments.

        Collaborating sounds fun but I think you should write it – I’ll be technical adviser. Seeing that Wodehouse novels are based on the conventions of musical comedy anyway, it should be a doddle.

        The only difficulty is whether it fits in with the current zeitgeist or not if you want to hawk it round when it’s finished – I don’t really know what’s happening in the cinema world these days; haven’t been for years unfortunately (money again).

      • honoria plum says:

        Good advice Victoria. As a project that started for fun, I’ll enjoy completing it anyway. If anything can be done with it afterwards, that’s a huge bonus. I look forward to sharing it with you.

      • I suggest the easiest way is if you set up a private blog – it’s much more flexible than exchanging stuff by emails and the notification bit enables prompt replies.

        Don’t spend time trying to make it ‘look better’ or more like a script – just upload it.

        Very much looking forward to seeing what you’ve written so far!

      • You seem to have gone very quiet on this.

        I’m not sure if you’re still skipping lunchbreaks, whether WordPress’s habit of not always listing notifications chronologically means you’ve missed my previous comment, or you’ve rethought your suggestion on collaborating and don’t like to tell me (no problem if so).

        If you’re in need of a boost look at my latest post at http://moulderslane.wordpress.com.

  6. honoria plum says:

    Hi Victoria. Aha. Thanks for the message. I saw your post and buzzed off to investigate setting up a private blog, but appear to have omitted to tell you this. I love the idea and would be keen to share what I’ve done with you. I’m currently trying to develop a new writing routine to make more time for this blog. In the last six months or so, I have been trying to compartmentalise my writing time — keeping particular sessions for different purposes. It’s been necessary to keep the focus as I have such a small window of writing time. But it does mean missing things like this — and quite a lot else. I did a stocktake of my current writing projects on the weekend and found that I’m working simultaneously on 19 different projects. Or rather, not working on them, as that would be impossible. My next step is to pick a focus — one writing project and this blog — and get some things finished.
    I can’t wait to read your post.

    • Only just seen this – it didn’t come up on my notifications as you started a new ‘reply’.

      Not to worry if you don’t have time for the scriptwriting thing just yet – it’s more important in terms of encouraging yourself to keep writing to finish what you have in hand.

      Good to hear you have a wealth of material, if little time!

  7. There’s a good analysis of the Twilight books from the Accessible Academic at http://www.litlove.wordpress.com/2009/02/04/vampire-love/ which makes some very interesting points.

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