Foreign Correspondunce: The Dawn Of My Twilight
My inaugural post for Frothygirlz will see me revealing a secret. After years of effecting moral pop culture superiority which involved poo pooing Hollywood’s low-brow dreck in favour of thoughtful low-budget indie efforts, I have grown weary. I am tired of declining invitations to see the latest Beyoncé flick because there’s a screening on of Eisenstein’s Strike that would be simply criminal to miss! It is closer to the truth to say that I am practically frothing at the mouth to see Beyoncé go head to head with some random, not-famous chick, preferably in a style which incorporates both her dance routine from “All the Single Ladies” and num-chuks.
This assumed demeanour also extended to books. A best-seller you say? Well I wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole, none of that formulaic entertainment meant for the masses will enter my sightline, no sir, think again. And worse yet, those adult women who gorge themselves on a literary diet consisting solely of serialized books for the pre-teen to young adult reader. My god, how sad is it that these women are so stunted mentally and emotionally that the deepest concepts they can plumb are to be found in the likes of Harry Potter? Pathetic.
Yeah, well, that’s the old me, I’m no longer in hiding. Today, I am here to declare, with only the smallest amount of mortification: EDWARD CULLIN, I LOVE YOU!!!! That’s right, I’ve jumped on the Twilight bandwagon.
Not that I don’t see the glaring problems of this series (full disclosure: I have completed only books one and two in the series: Twilight and New Moon, as well as the aborted attempt at telling the story from Edward’s POV, Midnight Sun, available only on Stephanie Meyer’s website), for there are many. Meyer’s writing style is thin, to put it mildly. The tradition of academics writing for a younger audience, from Carroll to Lewis to Pullman, has shown that prose of both gravitas and wit does translate, regardless of the age of the reader. However, Meyer’s underdevelopment in terms of style is a success only in that a 500 page read can be managed in a dedicated weekend.
Additionally, her characters are maddening throwbacks to an age of girls tied to railroad tracks and villains twirling their moustaches. Bella is in a state of constant peril, Edward is her rescuer. Bella, while smart in school, functions as a surrogate wife for her father, acting as cook, maid and general Keeper of the Domestic Space. The fact that she drives a kick ass old truck and has a pretty strong, not to mention imaginative, death drive after Edward up and vanishes in book the second only makes up slightly for her ways.
However, that said, Meyer’s does an excellent job of capturing the all-consuming obsession of teen love. Not unlike that sop-fest, The Notebook, with the impassioned chemistry of Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams bouncing all over the screen, there is a genuine believability to the tortures Bella experiences as she finds herself crushing hard on that dreamy, but super-moody, Edward boy. The anticipation of seeing him in the cafeteria and the subsequent devastation when he is absent are all too familiar. Who of us does not recall the object of our teen desire being potentially anywhere in the halls of our high school from long ago…okay, maybe not too long ago, and not anywhere like in the janitor’s closet, but you know, around the corner or something. But I digress.
I have read some critics refer to the Twilight series as Pacific Northwest Gothic, a classification that I admit has a certain charm to it. Being from the great PNW myself, I would love for a literary genre to emerge which casts my childhood region in a creepy, spectral light, as if the high percentage of serial killers weren’t enough. But exception must be taken with such a label. The three elements of gothic literature, patriarchal oppression, a fixation on decaying architecture and a sense of isolation can be found only by some pretty far-fetched reaching, the kind done to prove one’s point when writing a master’s thesis. And as I have just invoked the word ‘patriarchal’ in a light, frothy piece on the Twilight series, I think I’ll flip a bitch and get the hell out of this vampire-laden forest.
So there, Gentle Reader, is my great secret divulged. As of now I am casting off the shroud of cultural self-righteousness and slipping into a frothy bath of bubbly pop culture offerings. Finally, I am clean, so squeaky clean.