Nov 30 2009

Fur and Loathing at the Twilight: New Moon Premiere

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On 20 November 2009, LS2FG writer Benn Hadland attended the premiere of “Twilight: New Moon” in attempt to study the crowd, and check out what new, disturbing oddities the film itself contained. This is not a review, but more of an observation on the event as a whole. Again THIS IS NOT A REVIEW OF NEW MOON. Enjoy.

With the arrival of New Moon, The Twilight Saga has solidified itself as a cultural cornerstone for our generation. Our children, and our children’s children will look back on this phenomenon and wonder, “What the fuck were they thinking?” What the fuck indeed.

In it’s opening week, New Moon has grossed enough money to buy any country on Earth ten times over. Girls of varying age ranges lined up hours, even days in advance to catch the midnight screening of the film, and the pandemonium shows no sign of stopping. Of course, this response from the public, or at least most of it, was to be expected by anyone who has paid attention to the rise of this book series and the fanatic devotion of its fans. That being the case, I decided to attend a showing of the film on opening night to witness the literary and cinematic hiccup myself.

Foolish? Yes. Unnecessary? Probably. Sadomasochistic? Definitely. Nonetheless, if you plan on bashing something, you might as well know what it is you’re bashing. Naturally, I proceeded to the event properly inebriated so that there would be no lasting psychological or spiritual damage due to the event. I don’t think any human being should be thrust into the world of Twilight without getting drunk first for precautionary reasons.

I arrived at the line an hour and a half prior to the film with only thirty people ahead of me. Those at the very front of the line looked as if they had been there for quite some time; they had furniture, blankets, lawn chairs, umbrellas, bags and bags of food, two liter bottles of soda and water, and, of course, the entire Twilight book series to keep them company.

The rest of those in line before and behind me were virtually all women, save for the few unlucky, sad faced fathers dragged along by their daughters, and a couple of boyfriends who hoped that attending New Moon with their girlfriends would mean sex in return (doubtful). All the girls looked identical; they all were holding the same tell-tale aluminum Chipotle wrappers, slurping on venti mochacaramellowfatwhip lattes, wearing the same short shorts or skinny jeans, the same oversized sweatshirts, same haircuts, same make-up, same everything. This isn’t all too shocking given that all teenage girls look more of less identical, but the twenty-something and middle aged women also looked like the status quo, which meant the oversized sweatshirts were undersized and the short shorts/skinny jeans were clinging on for dear life. Not to mention that, while sitting down on the concrete, the visual appeal was that of a sea of buttcracks and muffin tops, which is, to say the least, unappetizing.

Sitting out there in the middle of the herd was mind numbing, and I’m so thankful for those drinks before the showing. Usually, for midnight showings, if you didn’t come with friends, you’d be inducted into whatever group you were closest too. The people were geeky, sure, but they’re extremely funny, have a great taste in film or music, and the conversation is great; not serious, but immeasurably fun. Being in the middle of the Twilight gang was like nails on a chalkboard. It sounded like the inside of a chicken coop in there, except instead of clucking, it was nonstop sentences comprised solely of the following words: “like”, “I”, “me”, “like”, “omigod”, “totally”, “bitch”, and “like”. The girl on my right pulled out her Jacob Black scrapbook and talked about how she, like, felt like she knew him. Another group of girls were gossiping about how Edward was the perfect man, yet I could not hear any of them say why exactly. I couldn’t help but over hear some girl on my left go on and on about how she was tired of having been single for the last three years (she didn’t look a day over 16) and was planning to steal one of her BFF’s boyfriends for a night. I’m not sure why she was here for this film, since she was more interested in getting laid than finding love, but then again, the messages in Twilight are so bizarre and twisted anyway that… sure why not. Go ahead and equate passion and love for a Papst Blue Ribbon-fueled roll in the hay with a trucker hat-clad bro.

Everyone started screaming, which was the cue for the line to start moving. The hysteria exhibited by the girls is beyond anything I have ever seen; they just screamed the whole way from the beginning of the line to the theater, not caring who looked at them with expressions of confusion or annoyance. Some of them needed assistance walking to the theater because they were just too excited to put one foot in front of the other. Most actually started sobbing for reasons I cannot begin to explain or understand.

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I made sure to grab a seat in the front (third row, aisle seat to be exact), just in case it became necessary for me to get the fuck out of dodge. Also, being in the front gave me a really good view of the audience as a whole. There were young girls, old women, fat ones, gaunt ones, bookish ones, airheads, girls in black, girls wearing Jacob Black, girls in glitter, pre-teen babysitters, and the dead-eyed fathers and boyfriends who were beginning to realize their mistakes way too late.

The film didn’t start for another twenty minutes, so I sat there bored out of my skull while the room pulsated with ambient, unintelligible chatter. What was interesting was the uniformity of the chatter; the entire room would fluctuate from loud to soft to loud again at the same time. How was it that everyone was in perfect sync with one another? Of course, when the lights dimmed and the projector kicked on, the entire theater came alive with blood-curdling scream. Honestly, it must have sounded like an abattoir from the outside of the theater.

This level of screaming continued through the trailers, which starred Robert Pattinson (his royal Cullen-ness), Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried, all in desperately romantic films that contained the same star-crossed first love/ true love bullshit that serves as the backbone to Twilight. The one silver lining here was the screaming drowned out the dialogue from the trailer, which almost certainly contained dialogue like, “I’ve never felt like this before”, “Tell me this will last forever”, and “wait for me”. I had pondered the possibility of bringing an emergency flask with me, and at this point I really wished that I had brought it.

Finally, the movie began, and everyone managed to scream even louder than before. New Moon opens with the image of a full moon, which, in hindsight, is hilarious because this is the first and last time we ever see a moon in the film. Really. The movie titled New Moon, which features werewolves, only gives the moon a cameo appearance in the film. Twilight, at the very least had scenes that took place at night, and the bright, starry twinkle of twilight was seen all over Edward’s sun-soaked torso.

And speaking of torso, we see a lot of it in No Moon. Taylor Lautner, who has no idea what kind of tween shitstorm he’s going to have to endure, and his werewolf buddies all run around in the rain clad only in cut off jean shorts because, when you’re a monster in Stephanie Meyers’ world, you’re also a fashion model; the vampires being from Burberry, and the werewolves being from Abercrombie & Fitch.

I’ll get it out of the way now: the film is god-awful. The plot is slow, the dialogue is garbage, Pattinson is phoning it in, and Lautner, who isn’t terrible, just can’t be taken seriously. I have to say though, I am amazed that Kristen Stewart can appear more hollow, dead and empty in every which way, even when surrounded by the undead. Fans will argue that the film’s production quality is much higher than the previous film, and that the cinematography, effects, makeup and editing is up to par, and they’re right. Unfortunately, no matter how vigorously you polish a turd, it’s still a turd, and it still floats (and all the way to the top, apparently).

There are a few things I noticed in the film that profoundly disturbed me. The first is the idea expressed by the Cullen family that, as vampires, they are soulless and damned. Yet, when Bella insists on being turned, the family is all for it. The Cullens even vote on the matter, and all but one (the one NOT being Edward) are, not only for it, but very excited to gain a new member to their family. Granted, Bella disagrees with the Cullens’ idea that they are soulless, but you have to remember that this is what the Cullens believe themselves to be. That being the case, are they not, in their own collective opinion, agreeing to damn a human being into soulless immortality?

This goes along with Bella’s obsession with becoming a member of this singled-out, exclusive group of people who shun everything around them. Despite being inexplicably adored by everyone around, Bella herself seems to have scorn for anything and anyone who shows her affection, yet that group who pays her no attention at all? Those are her people, they just have to be, and she’ll become them at any cost. Bella appears to live in some contrived, ass-backwards version of the ugly duckling (her first name in Italian means “beautiful”, so her name can be translated to “beautiful swan”) that involves her ignoring those who accept her for who she is, blindly throwing herself at those who find her, in some way, inferior, and willing to sell her soul for admission into the in-crowd. That kind of mentality has served well for many social groups, from the high school football team to the Manson family.

There is an old musical called Carousel, which deals with domestic abuse, amongst many other things. There is a scene when the film’s protagonist slaps his daughter, who claims the slap felt like a kiss. This kind of bullshit defense for domestic violence is a central theme in both Twilight films, and I’m surprised that I’m one of few who have noticed it so far. First off, it is frequently brought up that Edward, at all times, wants to kill and feed on Bella. Most girls find this concept romantic because it is Edward’s love for Bella that keeps him from tearing her throat out. However the fact still remains, Bella’s boyfriend HAS TO CONSTANTLY KEEP HIMSELF IN CHECK SO HE DOESN’T DISEMBOWL HER AND FEAST UPON HER BLOOD. Ladies, if you have a homicidal boyfriend who has to struggle to not kill you, it’s not romantic, its frightening. Your significant other should not have to struggle to not hurt you. The fact that I have to say this is cause enough to worry.

And it’s not just the vampires; the werewolves have their own problems with not attacking their loved ones. In Meyer’s universe, werewolves have a Bruce Banner temperament, meaning that anger is one of the things that sets them off (it should also be noted that a full moon is NOT one of these things). In one scene, Bella is introduced to the fiancée of the alpha male werewolf (I do want to point out that I feel entirely ridiculous having to write this crap. Alpha male werewolves? Vampiric instincts hindered by true love? Am I really talking about this?!) who sports a massive set of scars on one side of her face. The explanation? One day her husband-to- be got angry, turned, and clawed the shit out of her face. The couple, however, still seems to remain amorous and lovestruck with one another, showing us that GETTING CLAWED TO SHIT is a-okay in this household. The girls in the audience seemed to “ooh” and “ah” at seeing the eviscerate-centric couple share a warm loving embrace, and I’m sure the intent and response towards said characters suggests that, if true love is involved, forgive everything. I wonder what Stephanie Meyer would say about Rhianna and Chris Brown? Well, maybe it just wasn’t true love between the two, otherwise Rhianna would have given Brown yet another chance.

An unusual thing I noticed in New Moon was that, during many of the corny montages or particularly laughable dialogue, the audience actually laughed. How is it that the disciples of Edward Cullen actually laugh at some of this bullshit? I talked with a few fans myself after the film, and they made some bizarre, roundabout argument that, although they were obsessed with Edward, Bella, Jacob and the overall story line, they tried justifying certain scenes as camp. Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. For starters, John Waters is camp. The Toxic Avenger is camp. Troll 2, Showgirls, Starship Troopers, MST3K and all Sci-Fi (or SyFy now, I guess) original films are, intentionally or not, campy, “so-bad-they’re-good” films. The difference between these films and The Twilight Saga is that no one fantasizes over Johnny Rico, or joins Greenpeace because of the environmental themes of Troll 2; hell, MST3K is beloved for the men/robots who riff on terrible films, and not the films themselves. The Twi-tards are trying to justify their obsession with the series by posing as admirers of unintentional parody, or even guilty pleasures. Problem is, this excuse seems to only pop up when they are outnumbered by non-Twilight admirers, or as I’d like to call them, reasonable people.

The hysterical, over-obsessed fan base of Twilight wouldn’t exist if they were just a bunch of people who made fun of the film; girls wouldn’t be holding up signs asking Robert Pattinson to bite them, or camping out in front of a theater for ten-plus hours otherwise. If they truly appreciated Twilight out of irony, none of them wouldn’t even dream to suggest that Edward Cullen is the perfect man; they wouldn’t take him that seriously as a character or a template for what an ideal lover is (I’ve asked girls why Edward is so perfect, and they say it’s the mystery the surrounds him. Strange, whenever you ask what that means exactly, they have no answer).

At least he'll never go hungry...

At least he'll never go hungry...

So, Twi-tards, stop claiming that your really just snickering at the horrible everything of this film, and don’t compare this to MST3K; wise-cracking robots are WAY cooler than vampires doing bad James Dean impressions. Plus, no one wants to fuck Tom Servo or Crow T. Robot.

It’s difficult to really get into the minds of these girls, assuming that you’d really want to anyway. There’s no rhyme or reason behind the obsession; the books are terrible, the films are worse, the romance is sickening and Meyer’s apparent definition of romance is violent in a way that I truly find disgusting and disturbing. Let’s face it; Twilight fans make the Star Wars freaks seem like well-adjusted, socially acceptable, sexually active gentlemen. And why fear Twilight, really? Are girls really becoming indoctrinated to endure abusive relationships? Are they really influenced by these bogus, unrealistic notions of romance and true love? Well, who knows really? Only time will tell what it is girls are taking away from the series. But what about the older fans? The twentysomethings who can’t figure out whether their boyfriends are tortured souls, or just giant douchebags, or the middle-age women whose lifeless, loveless, sexless marriages have made Twilight their only sanctuary for a kind of love that doesn’t exist, and for good reason. The fans may not be brainwashed by some of the deeper themes within the series, but it is giving them a spineless, shallow heroine to look up to, an emotionally detached white knight to look for, and a mild, melodramatic rape fantasy to look forward to.

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6 Responses to “Fur and Loathing at the Twilight: New Moon Premiere”

  • Tweets that mention Fur and Loathing at the Twilight: New Moon Premiere | Lock, Stock, and Two Film Geeks -- Topsy.com Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ROCOM, Josh Hertz. Josh Hertz said: Benn Hadland went to theTwilight: New Moon premiere so you didn't have to. Mourn him here http://is.gd/58ddY […]

  • Ann Says:

    Haha. Wow. Nice images. I know for a fact that their are tons of mechandise for the teams Edward and Jacob (go into any pre-teen/teen related store and they are everywhere), but that underwear goes way too far. I feel disgusted just looking at it. I mean. WTF? Yeah, that would be a perfect place of where you would want Edward to bite you. Right on your crotch! Haha. Those who bought them or are planning to buy them are completely idiotic.

  • Nicole Says:

    Instead of seeing the movie and bashing that maybe you should read the books, and get your facts strait.

  • Bryn Says:

    Yeah, Benn, you should read the books and make your facts connect two bodies of water, you asshat.

    Oh. And I’d totally do Servo, fuh realz.

  • Valerie Says:

    I have read the books and he is pretty accurate on how lame everything is. Maybe you (Nicole) should start reading a variety of different books to have something to compare the Twilight Series to and help your argument. Just because every other adolescent girl reads a selected book does not mean it is the best damn thing out there. Also, what facts are you refering to that he got wrong? Oh. I don’t know about you, but next time I suggest you use spell check. This —-> “strait”<— is not how you spell straight.

  • Rocom Says:

    That’s strait up st00pid. The Twilight series has done for horror-teen-romance what Step Up 3D is going to do for dancing. Start a REVOLUTION, don’t ruin one. Read the books, they’re almost as good as The Vampire Diaries AND Smallville Season 6!

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