The Twilight Saga - Catherine "I'm Actually a Real Filmmaker" Hardwicke (Dir.), Chris "You Killed The Golden Compass" Weitz (Dir.), David "30 Days of Suck" Slade (Dir.), Bill "Awkward Last Name" Condon (Dir.), Kristen "Lip-bite Extraordinaire" Stewart, Robert "Herp Derp" Pattinson, Taylor "The Alpaca" Lautner, Peter "Sickle Cell Anemia Affects Millions of People" Facinelli, Billy "The Stache" Burke, Ashley "Nosejob" Greene, Michael "FUCK YES" Sheen, Dakota "SPOILERS - She Gets Decapitated" Fanning, Anna "She Was Nominated for an Oscar, Seriously" Kendrick, etc., etc.
The topic is: what do you fantasize about? Or, rather, whom? The reason I ask is because of this new series of books now available, the first of which is called Fifty Shades of Grey. Heard of them? Apparently, the series started out as Twilight fan fiction by this English woman, E. L. James. It’s an erotic novel (her first) that centers around this young, inexperienced girl who falls in love with a somewhat older, wealthy gentleman with very specific tastes. Let me begin by saying I have not read Fifty Shades of Grey and everything I know about it is from word of mouth, internet articles and Entertainment Weekly.
Actually, allow me to back up a bit and first say that I disliked the Twilight series. I read it and felt the story would have been compelling were it not for the characters in it. I disliked the series not because it was teenage fantasy but because I was entirely unable to relate to the main character, Bella Swan, and I did not like her love, Edward Cullen. Nothing about the cold, stone-like description of him appealed to me but, even putting all that vampire stuff aside, he seemed to me a jealous, possessive boyfriend with serious stalker potential. I know that all teenagers, when first in love, would like to spend every waking minute of their lives together. On paper, I understood why teenaged girls loved Twilight and adored Edward. But why the fuck did their mothers love him? If I were a mom, I would not want my 17 year-old daughter dating a boy who told her whom to talk to, watched over her while she slept and treated her like a breakable toy – like a porcelain doll incapable of surviving without his watchful eye upon her. In fact, those are the kind of guys I was always told to steer clear from, as they are the ones we see on the news – you know the stories: “Man shoots ex-girlfriend after she gets restraining order against him, says he’d rather see her dead than with someone else.” Guys like that are scary, not sexy. I know that the Twilight series was written for a Young Adult audience, so naturally the characters in it would be chaste and virginal. Not exactly realistic in today’s world, but whatever. And author Stephanie Meyer is a Mormon, undeniably a patriarchal community, so sure, her female characters are likely to treat their men as stronger and wiser that they. Fine. But the fact that millions of adult women loooooved Edward Cullen shocked and, kind of, disgusted me. The response to this new book, Fifty Shades of Grey, is even more appalling.
Back to the matter at hand. Here’s what I’ve gathered from reviews and articles about Grey: the main character is a 21 year-old virgin who falls for an older billionaire who offers her a contract that clearly states he has control over her. She signs said contract and then becomes something of a sex slave to him (of her own free will), engaging in bondage and pretty hard core sado/masochism. He tells her what and how much to eat and watches her like a spy as she goes about her life, becoming so irate when he sees her speaking to any other men that he goes into jealous, rageful fits. This book is hugely popular and has been dubbed “mommy porn,” because its audience is about 98% women and the sex scenes are pretty graphic.
Look, I’m not against bondage or sado/masochism. Everyone is free to do anything they choose with a consenting adult – that’s not the issue here. But it surprises me that, apparently, millions of women in their 20s, 30s and 40s want to be controlled by a man. I get that there is a certain freedom in not making your own choices but I thought that applied more to letting your guy pick the restaurant or the movie, not exactly what and how much you are allowed to eat or with whom you can speak.
The truth is, I think people should read whatever the hell they want. If you’re into harlequin romance novels, fine. And if this book is something that appeals to you, that’s fine, too. I just can’t help but wonder what it says about American women today that these possessive, controlling men are the ones they lust after and day dream about. Are they bored and simply enjoying the excitement? I wonder if, in their actual lives, they’d prefer a man like that over one who treats them with trust and respect, as an equally valuable and free human being. I’ve had a few “bad boy” boyfriends and I get the appeal. But after a very short period as the girlfriend of the bad boy, the shine wears off. The jealousy thing stops being cute because it’s much less about their affection for you and more about their need to control and manipulate another person. And they’ll lie and cheat and exaggerate to get what they want. And if you won’t be the person they want you to be, they quickly pick up and move on. They are okay to rebound with or have a fun, summer fling with. But these are not the men you want to marry or be fathers to your babies. Because, as you should be able to guess, they’ll want to control and manipulate their daughters, as well, and raise them to be docile, submissive women because those are the women they like.
100 years ago, female authors wrote about men who treated their women as equals, who were inspired and enlivened by their women. Men like the beloved Mr. Darcy who fell for Elizabeth Bennett because she did not blindly worship him for his money and power, as most other available women around him did. Or Robert Lebrun who loved another man’s wife – a married mother of two (not an untouched virgin) for her passion and independent spirit. And the hardened Mr. Rochester whose soul was stirred by the conviction and integrity of the poor and plain Jane Eyre. Back when women literally were oppressed and controlled by the men in their lives, they dreamed of a man who valued them for their minds and willfulness. Now that we have achieved relative equality, the modern woman’s ideal man is obscenely rich and ties his lady to the bedposts, violently penetrating her while she gags on a chokeball. Oh, how far we’ve come.
It shocks me that there are so many submissive women in today’s society. Or women who fantasize about being submissive, about being dominated by a possessive man. I don’t want to get political, but seriously, are women advancing or regressing? Is this what the generations of women who fought so hard for suffrage and equality fought for – the right to choose to be dominated by a man? I may be in the minority here, but give me a Mr. Darcy over a Christian Grey any day.
*PROCEED WITH CAUTION: Spoilers and brazenly subjective opinions abound*
“The Twilight Saga” is one of my least favorite things in the world. (Might wanna quit
reading if you don’t want to hear a hater’s biased opinion) So why have I read all four books, and gone to see each film, you ask? Because I despise uninformed opinions. They irritate the shit out of me. IF I’m going to hate or love something, I want to at least know what I’m talking about. So, I feel that my hatred is validated, due to the fact that I’ve read all four plodding, terribly written, pathetic wet-dreams-of-teenage-girls stories.
I’ll admit there is much I forget from the books (probably blocked out on purpose, a sort of self-defense mechanism), but from the little I do remember, this stays fairly faithful to the first third of the source material. I’ve always been jealous of how the Twilight films are so true to the books, but when you ponder how UNcomplex the story is, it’s not hard to understand why.
When I first heard this book would be split into two films, my immediate reaction was, “How is this even possible? What’s the first movie going to be??? A marriage, honeymoon, and baby?” I got my answer, which is a resounding YES. The entire two hours are spent displaying some mild wedding planning, said wedding, the honeymoon, worrying about having sex, having sex, worrying about having more sex, getting preggers, and then having a baby. This is fairy-tale pornography in its purest form: What impressionable teenage girls fantasize will happen to them, until they grow up and learn that there are no Edward Cullens in the world. (Thank god) If it was physiologically possible, my eyes would have rolled out of right out of my head.
Bill Condon (Kinsey, Dreamgirls, Chicago – how the hell they convinced him to helm this, I’ll never know) directed, and while he tries his damndest, there’s not much you can do when you’re making a film that’s about nothing except a several-month period of teenage weddings, sex and babies. The look of the film is mostly lush and silky, with the exception of the god-awful wolves. I’ll NEVER understand why, in the day and age of fucking Avatar, one of the most successful franchises of all times has CARTOONISH WOLVES. Gah. The acting is terrible here, and I really think that’s saying something. This gang is always hamming it up, but here it’s worse than usual. What’s funny is, I don’t even think Kristen Stewart or Robert Pattinson are bad actors, but as Bella & Edward, they just suck (haha, pun intended). Watching Stewart pretend to almost have to throw up as she’s walking down the aisle (until she lays eyes on her beloved, of course, making ME want to throw up for her), or pretend to be scared to have sex, or pretend to HAVE SEX, just all of it – the gasping, the mouth biting, the twitchy eyes, it’s painful. Pattinson lays on the valiant, and while he is less psychotically controlling here (a mild blessing) he’s no less annoying. I find the rest of the Cullens to be horrifying actors; my high school drama club displayed better talent. I can barely stand to even type the words “Kellan Lutz” or “Jackson Rathbone.”
The things most people are looking forward to here are the Big Sex Scene and the Big Birth Scene. Regarding the sex: what you see on the commercial is basically exactly what you see in the theater. A bed shaking, some kissing, some feathers. It wasn’t sexy, or special, or even romantic, in my spiteful opinion. Regarding the birth of “Reneesmee” (one of the WORST NAMES EVER TO GRACE HUMANITY): I was actually looking forward to this, because it was nuts to think that this baby ripped itself out of her stomach, with daddy’s help. It was mostly shown in brief flashes of screaming, blood, and blackness. Meh. They did succeed in making Stewart truly look like death warmed over for her pregnancy and delivery, which made my cruel heart happy.
I was also interested to see what this magical baby would look like, and when you finally get to see her face, she’s mostly computer-generated, which is fitting, seeing as how she was described as having adult beauty on a child/baby’s form, which is disturbing as all fucking hell. Stephanie Meyer should have a special little spot in hell for coming up with that concept. Along with “imprinting.” (Shudder) Nice to see that gem portrayed as like, finding Jesus. So, so, so, astoundingly creepy.
Unsurprisingly, the soundtrack was great. This franchise has no trouble landing fantastic indie/acoustic/yearning/moody acts to give it that appropriate angst-y sound. This dreamy beaut is ranking up a high play-count in my iTunes.
My problem with the entire “Twilight Saga” is that it is simply, and wholly, a love story. Now I’m not saying there’s something wrong with love stories (I hope I’m not that bitter and angry inside) – I think films like 500 Days of Summer, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and even Bridget Jones’s Diary are fantastic, because they have something to say ABOUT love. Twilight has nothing to say. It’s a love story, with zero message. It’s like, See Spot Run. See Boy and Girl Become Obsessed With Each Other. I have no hope for future generations of mankind.