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WHERE THE WILD THINGS USED TO EXIST…

The Modern Vampire?

The following piece was written by my cousin, Jody Callahan. (With a little editing/paraphrasing on my part.)   I decided to post it because I think it’s a damned good commentary on the subject.  I haven’t subjected myself to the “Twilight” movie.  (After reading Jody’s opinions I may have to see it, after all.) But I must admit to reading the books.  Mainly because a nice but misguided Barnes and Noble employee recommended the books for my son, and I often like to read what he’s reading to see what he’s interested in.  These books and movies seem like a backlash against real horror movies more than anything else.  The premise of the first novel is that Bella, your average misunderstood teenager, goes to live with her father, who she has never been very close to (geographically or emotionally).  She soon notices that there are several students in her new high school who are different from all the other kids.  (I’ll say.)  She finally realizes they are vampires.  But they’re good vampires (of course) who only drink animal blood.  One of these, Edward, becomes Bella’s vampire love interest.  He, naturally, is supernaturally handsome, charming, kind, restrained, modest, wealthy, worldly…there’s not even a mild undercurrent of bad boy or bloodsucker in him.  I understand that the writer of the novels the movie is based on, Stephenie Meyer,  is Mormon.   I can see where the concept of cautioning teenagers against premarital sex and advocating morality and virtue is appealing to her.   In this case why choose the format of the vampire/werewolf novel for this?  Just a currently popular vehicle for the message – I grok that.  This doesn’t make it any less annoying.   Of course, most of the main vampire characters in the novels are of such high moral character and such models of self-discipline, I have to wonder why Ms. Meyer didn’t choose a band of angels to come down from heaven and attend high school.  And the werewolves in the series… aren’t.  Not in the traditional horror movie sense.  They’re an extremely noble and loyal tribe of shape-shifting Native Americans who protect the area from vampires.  Politically correct werewolves, so to speak.

There is no doubt who the target audience is for the movie itself.  (At Christmas I saw a ten-year-old girl having a serious meltdown in Target because they didn’t carry the particular “Twilight” movie poster that she wanted.)  But as far as I know, with some exceptions, since when are vampire and werewolf novels and horror films appropriate fare for kids that age? (And for all you people who know me and know I’ve been reading Stephen King since I was twelve  – YES – I’m one of the exceptions.  As is my son, who I took to see “Blade” when he was five.  Some kids can handle real vampires and most, apparently, cannot.  In fact, at the time I took Will to see “Blade” I remember thinking about how his cousin, also five, was still afraid of the Wicked Witch of the West.  And that’s more the norm, I think.  And did my son like “Blade”, you ask?  No…he psychotically loved it.) 

 Dracula  sure as hell wasn’t written for kids.  And granted it may seem a little tame nowadays.  But the underlying message is the same today as it was then:  Monsters will harm you…kill you if they can.  They’re evil.  It’s their JOB.  They’re not interested in your chastity…or your virtue…or your life.  Their goal is to rob you of all those.  So when did vampires stop being evil, undead bloodsuckers?  When did werewolves stop ripping people apart?   (And don’t even get me started on the love story angle of the “Twilight” series.)   Watering the subject matter down to guarantee yourself a larger, albeit younger, audience  just doesn’t cut it.  Shame on you – Stephenie Meyer.  In any case – on to Jody’s thoughts – seeing as how he’s the one who suffered through the film. ( Thankfully, he didn’t fork out the cost of a movie theater ticket  to see it.  Although, even at Netflix prices…I sense that it wasn’t worth the time.)

“Twilight”

Jody Callahan

I don’t know where to begin. Not that I have so much to say, but the movie is so forgettable it’s hard to get a hold on it as a whole – like some particle floating beneath the surface of the water –  the harder you try to grab it the more you push it away. Actually, that simile was more than this movie deserves. How about I go at this bullet point style?

· I can see how a 13-year-old little girl would go for this, because what does she know about anything? What disturbs me is how many grown-ass adults are into the Twilight movie and the books. (It’s as disappointing as back in MySpace days, when adults would list as their favorite books several titles from their childhood, one classic read from high school, Nicholas-fucking-Sparks, one from whatever minstrel representative of their particular political view, Harry Potter, and the Bible. This means to me that most people read shit if they read at all. Yes, I get that Harry Potter is for fun, but if I’m given a choice between an HP title and one appropriate for my age…)

· I don’t care how hot you are, staring and mouth-breathing at each other does not make for lasting sexual tension.

· I love horror movies. I love the lore. I love rule breaking. But you have to know, respect, and follow the rules with devotion and discipline before you can be worthy of breaking them. Vampires do not fucking sparkle in the sunlight. The light of day kills them dead. They don’t glint and glitter like a teen or twenty-something that insists on dressing like a “sexy” fairy for Halloween. Go find a friend who hasn’t seen the movie or read the books. Tell him that you came up with this new and awesome vampire story. Tell him your new take on the lifestyle of the undead is that instead of being burned to death by the light, they stand with their arms outstretched in the sunbeams like it’s a Creed video and sparkle like pretty diamonds. Then stand still with your arms by your side, because you friend is right to run up and punch you and demand that you apologize.

· Allow me to paraphrase some dialogue:
Edward: “I’m going to kill you.”
Bella: “You’re pretty.”
Edward: “Seriously, I will rip you apart and feast on your blood and entrails.”
Bella: “I drive a truck.”
Edward: “Are you listening?”
Bella: “Huh?”
Edward: “I’m a sexual predator and serial killer by nature. It’s difficult for me to not rape you to death right now and eat your dead, lifeless corpse.”
Bella: “You’re so complex and hard for me to read.”
Edward: “Forget it. Let’s just climb some trees in the next scene.”

· Is there anything a crippled beer-drinking Indian in a wheelchair can’t lend credibility to? Like the story that once upon a time in pilgrim days some vampires dressed as foppish dandies and killed a guy in the woods…

· Of course, God forbid the film show much of West Coast Indians, or their reservation at all. Instead, let’s whisk Bella away to her high-school-for- Abercrombie & Fitch-models who can’t be all that bright because they appear to be 25.

· Let’s see. Somewhere else in there the girl from “Up In The Air” put on a prom dress while Bella didn’t care. It was the closest I felt to the movie.

· Did they play baseball or did I dream that?

A bigger reason I can’t comment more on this movie is because it doesn’t matter.  I was too old for this film when I was 19.  It’s a movie about people wishing something more remarkable would happen, and maybe that’s the connection between it and its loyal following. And I’m being sincere. The romantic leads barely kiss. They were going to have sex but decide not to, and spend all their time wondering what it would be like if they did. At the end a bad-guy vampire wants to eat Bella “just because”, so the good guys go for a drive, get bored and have a “climactic” battle where no one really gets hurt except the bad guy. Then Bella and Edward go to the prom.

The only saving grace is that Kristen Stewart is getting notoriety for this. I think she can/will be great based on her performances in “Adventureland” and “Into The Wild.”

I’m gonna go find a cute girl and stare at her and mouth-breathe and see how far that gets me.

Jody

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  1. BDay
    March 2, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    I had thought there were no zombies in Twilight . . . but you and Jody make it sound like they’re all zombies.

  2. lytanorman
    March 3, 2010 at 12:16 am

    Worse…they’re all teenagers.

  3. jennofark
    March 3, 2010 at 9:58 am

    Reading Stephen King at age 12 isn’t all that far out there…not like reading, say, the Exorcist at age 9 or 10 after swiping it from your mom who has forbidden you to read it, and then passing it on to your friends Beth and Jennifer, who have also been forbidden to read it.

  4. Mark D
    March 3, 2010 at 11:30 am

    A kid asked his Spanish teacher what the Spanish word for “gay” was.

    The teacher responded: “Twilight.”

    :-)

    Dracula (the original) is a damn fine book, whereas Stephen King has really morphed from just trying to come up with crazy, twisted ideas and themes designed to scare and surprise, to becoming an amazing story teller who just happens to come up with crazy, twisted stuff.

    As a writer myself, I find myself defending King numerous times. Totally underrated.

    • jennofark
      March 3, 2010 at 12:03 pm

      You’ll find that we all agree RE: Stephen King. I think I speak for all three of us (since we’ve all had this conversation before) that King’s one major weakness is that he usually has an unsatisfactory ending to his stories. I know why he does it; it goes along with his theory about how bad thing(s) happen(s) and then stuff returns to normal. But for the kind of stuff he writes, that kind of ending is a big letdown. The only one of his books that I’ve read that had an ending appropriate to the preceeding story, IMO, was Pet Sematary.

      He may have gotten better about this; I stopped reading him years ago after It. The bad dreams about the clown and my complete disgust at “It” turning out to be a giant spider pretty much ended my read-everything-Stephen-King-writes phase. I’ve picked up one or two of his books since then, but don’t really search them out any more.

    • jennofark
      March 4, 2010 at 8:16 pm

      But I should have added, yes, he is a very good writer – except for endings, in a lot of cases. Other than that, he spins a helluva yarn. I always enjoyed his books until the end. Maybe that’s the problem – I wanted them to go on longer. Or end sooner and leave you feeling like the evil was still lurking out there, like in Pet Semetary.

  5. lytanorman
    March 3, 2010 at 11:45 am

    Or getting my aunt, Sarah, to take us to the movie when we were ten…

  6. B^4
    March 3, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    I haven’t read the series, but all the reviews and overviews of it set my Spider-sense tingling like mad. I think the series of books is a Mormon allegory in the same way that The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is a Christian allegory. If the main thrust of the love-story is that the heroine has to abstain from worldly sexual desires in order to attain immortality, and an eternal love with her perfect, superhuman sparkleboy, this is a direct parallel of the LDS concept of Celestial Marriage. I would be on the alert for any sub-rosa messages implying that the heroine should be submissive to her undead beau.

    As far as the noble shamanistic werewolves go, it’s hard to picture something as beautiful as a wolf as an evil being. Since both wolves and Native Americans have been subjugated (with extreme prejudice) by Europeans and European-Americans, they lose their power to threaten, to instill fear. These werewolves are tame, the two sides of their nature have both been rendered “mostly harmless”, victims of colonization.

    Of course, as a “Nerd American”, I also have to note that both emo vampires and ecowarrior werewolves gained prominence through a series of
    role playing games released in the 1990’s.

    Wow, this has been a long comment, but I dig this nerdlicious stuff.

  7. B^4
    March 3, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    Doh! I forgot to add that, while I love the Ken with fangs and halo, I think a Mitt Romney with fangs and halo would be better- he’s as blandly handsome and as plastic as Ken, but a lot more ‘Mormony’.

  8. not a gator
    March 3, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    Beautiful post.

    Should not be surprising that of all my friends, the only one truly “into” Twilight is a successful but lonely woman in her late 20’s who got burned by a couple of men and just gave up. Even my silly mother-in-law realized that the book was a bit misleading for young girls … most of us think it’s because it makes glamorous a guy who is giving off major “abuser” vibes, but her take is that girls will reject good guys because they don’t match up to Edward. Either way, it’s basically just fanfic in print.

  9. lytanorman
    March 3, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    Mark D – I find my self defending Stephen King all the time, as well. I’ve had people actually argue with me that he didn’t write The Green Mile or Shawshank Redemption. What they don’t realize – because they don’t read enough Stephen King – is that he can write anything in any direction he turns his twisted little mind. And all us King fans love that. Had to brow beat some of my friends into reading “The Man in the Black Suit.” (For all you literary, high-minded types out there – King did win the O. Henry award for that story.) Salem’s Lot…Silver Bullet…S.K. knows what vampires and werewolves are ALL about.

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