I can’t think of anything else I’ve written online that is a rant, actually. This is it. It’s long, it’s calculated, it’s upset and disturbed and angry. It’s also the result of editing with footage of New Moon for six months. My brain was caving in on itself and my right pointer finger was in a splint.
However, if you’re looking for a place that breaks down just how terrible New Moon is, then look no further. Laying out all of the reasons was cathartic for me to write. My hope was that it would be cathartic to read.
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(published May 25, 2010)
Well, for starters Noom Wen is over. These are my closing thoughts.
Last November I wrote about how funny the first movie of the Twilight saga was (see Twilight Dump). That seems like such an innocent time now. Not to say that Twilight isn’t funny- it was funny, and still is. But back then it all seemed so harmless. I must admit now that I didn’t know the whole story once those credits rolled and Linkin Park started wailing.
I remember the day my friends and I found out what would be taking place in the successive films in this series. We heard from people who had actually read the books. We didn’t believe them, so we went online. To say the least this led to a sobering and rather disturbing discovery. We started laughing, then we stopped laughing. Then we started wondering if we were being fucked with. Then we started feeling sick to our stomachs because everything we were reading was 100% true.
Twilight was not a masterpiece. It wasn’t even good. In fact, it was so deliciously bad that it revealed a new level of entertainment for us. Adam once joked that we “had a massive hate hard-on for that movie.” We just loved to make fun of it. In comparison, after watching New Moon Andy actually got online here and wrote his first post. His first post. Andy, who hates technology. Andy. Got. Online. Because he was unbelievably pissed about what he saw.
Compared to New Moon, its predecessor, Twilight, is kind of cute. I mean, first of all the premise is laughable: a clumsy, unintelligent (not to mention uninteresting) and completely self-involved girl falls in love with a glittery vampire who still goes to high school. After, like, three days they decide they’re totally in love with each other, which is just like any other annoying high school relationship.
There’s no plot, a lot of staring, and said girl wants to bang said sparkly dead guy soooo bad it makes her blink and huff a lot. Then some random evil vampires show up to ruin their love and are defeated after five minutes. Then they go to Prom. Overall, it’s pretty hilarious and seems to have come from the mind of an eleven-year-old. The screenplay could have been written in crayon.
Cut to New Moon. Suddenly the same characters are back, only sadder, whinier and brooding intensely from the first millisecond of the film. This terrifying, soporific feeling begins to creep up on you. You think, “Wait, is this franchise taking itself seriously? I don’t think the first one was, really… was it?” then “OH MY GOD THIS FRANCHISE IS TAKING ITSELF SERIOUSLY.” It begins to push the idea that this sexually repressed, co-dependent and emotionally abusive relationship is the most amazing thing to come along since the invention of the wheel. And yes, you should take it seriously. And you should masturbate to it as well. It will even show you how.
Trying to dissect what is wrong with New Moon (or, for one thing, the Twilight saga as a whole) is like being asked to clean up the trashed hotel suite in The Hangover. You don’t know where the hell to begin.
So you can only try.
Let’s start where it isn’t disturbing yet. First of all, the movie is relatively plotless. Am I the first person to write this down or say it? Er… no. Look it up. Even Billy Burke, who acted in the damn thing, couldn’t keep his mouth shut about it. I’m not talking about something that was overheard or accidentally blurted out during a junket. He mentioned it in front of a large crowd of TwiHards. At a TwiCon panel a fan questioned him about his character’s development in New Moon, to which he responded sarcastically: “Uh, what happens in New Moon?”
Besides being plotless this movie centers on a character who doesn’t evolve in any way, shape or form (yes, this means Bella; sure, Jacob changes physically and emotionally… into a raging asshole). Everything revolves and recurs around this deadweight of a human being, who- I’m sorry- doesn’t deserve to have someone like Kristen Stewart playing her (I’d prefer a sack of potatoes). You’re watching the same things happen over and over again: scenes, actions and images that are beyond similar. Certain words and phrases are used repeatedly.
Here’s a more visual interpretation of this theory, courtesy of Jacksfilms. It’s quite educational. It was also made for less money:
Still not convinced? How about some solid statistics. Here is a breakdown of what you see and hear repeatedly in New Moon, using actual numbers and in descending order:
Guys Who Appear Shirtless In The Movie: 7
Flashbacks To/Shots From Twilight: 7
Times “Charlie” Is Mentioned (Even Though Bella Doesn’t Care About Him Or His Feelings): 6
Times The Word “Change” Is Used: 6
Scenes Where Jacob Appears Shirtless: 5
Fight Scenes That Are Completely (Or Almost All) CG: 5
Scenes Where We’re Subjected To Robert Pattinson’s Floating Head: 4
Scenes Of Bella Moping In Her Room: 4
Nonsensical Dream Sequences: 4
Breakup Scenes: 3 (4 if you count Laurent… wait, how many times does she break up with Jacob?)
Times The Camera Spins; Makes Audience Nauseous: 3
Scenes Where Bella Randomly Wanders Through The Woods: 3
Scenes Where People Jump Off Cliffs: 3 (7 Characters In All… Lemmings?)
Scenes Where Bella Screams In Bed: 3
Scenes Where Someone Drives Bella Home In Her Truck; Jogs/Walks Away: 2
Times Bella Says “I just want to see something”: 2
Times Characters Whine About Being “Good” For Each Other: 2
Times Jacob Attempts To Make Out With Bella; Fails: 2
Movie Dates That End Badly: 2
This list excludes the major WTF moments in the movie, in which the audience is subjected to things that are random, offensive, stupid or really familiar:
Times Actors Flub Their Lines: 4
Irrelevant Bear Subplot: 1
Needless Destruction Of Fishing Boat: 1
Premature Ejaculation Scene: 1
Scenes Ripping Off Joe Wright’s Pride and Prejudice (2005): 1
Now onto the stuff that’s more serious, eventually heading toward the disturbing.
For starters, this is not an original story. New Moon is a regurgitation of many other stories that are better written, more developed and have characters people actually give a shit about. It tries to be a Romeo and Juliet for dummies and shamelessly steals plot points and characters from other works: Jane Eyre, Interview With The Vampire, Tuck Everlasting and, of course, Dracula.
To prove some of these points, here’s a sarcastic illustration courtesy of Cracked, who has also caught on to these same similarities:
Of course, the most troubling part is that the Twilight saga’s author, Stephenie Meyer, has gone on record to say her love story is better than some of the aforementioned, as well as other books like The Princess Bride and Pride and Prejudice. Which is terrifying. It’s also quite a bold statement from someone whose series bears a striking similarity to two previous book series about vampires, werewolves and romance (The Vampire Diaries by L.J. Smith and The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris) and has been accused of plagiarizing from a fifteen-year-old girl. So just how original can New Moon be?
And of course, the whole concept of a high school girl hooking up with monsters is hardly new. In fact, it’s more than recent (Seriously- Roswell, anyone?). We have definitely seen this happen on Buffy The Vampire Slayer, which is also about a girl who falls in love with a vampire while in high school. Then there’s a love triangle. Does this sound familiar? The similarities were obvious enough to be referenced in Joss Whedon’s Buffy comics, making a tongue-in-cheek reference on the cover of issue #36.
(via MTV Splash)
But sadly the core of this terrible, terrible movie isn’t a love triangle. Not really. We’ll wait for Eclipse to come along and fuck that up (with much more whining, a mouth rape scene and enough Wuthering Heights references to choke a horse). The movie’s core is this totally, like, awesome relationship that is soooooo deep, something that young girls- not to mention their mothers- lust after and aspire to. Its bonds are so incredibly strong that an arrogant, controlling and shirtless werewolf boy simply cannot break it. For some reason this is considered a tragedy.
But what’s so great about the relationship between Bella and Edward anyway? God knows I wouldn’t want to be in it. None of us want to be in it. If anything, Edward would be the Eeyore of our group, and when he became too emo for us to handle we’d send him to the liquor store.
Anyway, a lot has been written about this subject already, but I don’t think anyone has hit the nail on the head with more precision or finesse than a rather anonymous writer named Kar3n. There isn’t much information about her, but when she noted that something was bothering her after watching New Moon she ended up writing it down on her LiveJournal. Then, over the course of the next two days, it went viral.
Here is most of what she wrote below:
“We went to see New Moon this afternoon. Lord help me. It was cheese-tastic… suffice it to say, there was much laughter, we were loudly shushed by some Twi-hards, and when wolf boy took his shirt off, I think 100 women ovulated all at once.
But there was something else… something kind of screwy happening. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it while I was in the theater, but once I got out, it hit me.
According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, these are some signs that you may be in an emotionally or physically abusive relationship.
Does your partner:
* Look at you or act in ways that scare you?
* Control what you do, who you see or talk to or where you go?
‘Stay away from the werewolves. I love you.’
* Make all of the decisions?
* Act like the abuse is no big deal, it’s your fault, or even deny doing it?
‘If I wasn’t so attracted to you, I wouldn’t have to break up with you.’
* Threaten to commit suicide?
‘I just can’t live without you. In fact, I’ll run to Italy and try suicide by vampire if anything happens to you.’
* Threaten to kill you?
On their first date.
These are some more signs of an abusive relationship:
Has your partner…
* Tried to isolate you from family or friends.
Bella doesn’t have time for anyone else!
* Damaged property when angry (thrown objects, punched walls, kicked doors, etc.).
* Pushed, slapped, bitten, kicked or choked you.
Does tossing her through a glass table count?
* Abandoned you in a dangerous or unfamiliar place.
‘We’re breaking up. And I’m leaving you in the forest.’
* Scared you by driving recklessly.
* Forced you to leave your home.
She had to run away with him to flee from the other vampires in the first movie, and she had to drop everything and run to Italy in the second.
* Prevented you from calling police or seeking medical attention.
Check. Even in the hospital, nothing is a big deal.
* Views women as objects and believes in rigid gender roles.
Well, they are Mormon… (I know, I know, cheap shot.)
* Accuses you of cheating or is often jealous of your outside relationships.
Now I’m pissed. According to the NDVH, ‘If you answered ‘yes’ to even one of these questions, you may be in an abusive relationship.’ This list is fifteen.”
(via Captain’s Log)
So supposedly this is all a big bummer for Team Edward. But look at the alternative. Jacob is no prize either. He has sudden mood swings, threatens violence and says smartass things like, “My size and knowledge base actually makes me older than you because of your general paleness and lack of know-how.”
Wow, conceited and racist. Swoon.
Perhaps the most disturbing scene with Jacob is when he talks about how one of his fellow werewolves, Sam, disfigured his fiancé during a fight because he got angry and changed into his wolf form, literally tearing off half of her face. Then Jacob asks Bella, “What if I got mad at you?” This is treated as a possible prelude to a romantic relationship.
And really? A romantic relationship? I don’t know why Meyer even bothers with this as a possibility. Jacob ends up being supposedly in love with… Bella’s ovaries. Or something. Who gives a shit, because it leads to inexplicable scenes like this:
Did I just spoil it for you? Good. Maybe you won’t want to watch anymore. Once you find out the convoluted reason for why Jacob is interested in Bella (and that’s never quite clear), you’re left with the knowledge that someday Jacob is going to bone Bella and Edward’s kid, probably at the age of seven or so. And that’s just peachy for some reason. Fade out.
But never mind. I’m too tired to continue pursuing this. The point is Twilight was funny because it was ridiculous. New Moon was funny because it was pathetic. However its core message isn’t funny at all. Keep that in mind. In fact, it’s plain scary. How can any of it be considered romantic, and to literally millions of people? Perhaps this is further evidence that the women’s movement still has a long way to go.
What about Eclipse? Will mouth rape and threatening suicide (again) be romantic?
What about Breaking Dawn? Will pedophilia and getting beaten during sex be romantic? What about dying during childbirth? I guess that’s hot.
Now replace the words “romantic” and “hot” with “funny.” It might be, because if you don’t laugh at how ludicrous it is you just might cry.
So that’s what I’ll do. Laugh. And if you’re an unfortunate TwiHard who has read this, remember, this is a suppository. And remember where it goes.
For further reading:
From Slate Magazine: “Vampires Suck,” by Grady Hendrix
Cracked Topics: Twilight / Stephenie Meyer
The TwiHard Attack Directory (now mysteriously removed from the internet?)
From ScreenCrave: “Twilight‘s Bella Swan Is A Feminist’s Nightmare,” by Krystal Clark
From Comics Alliance: “ComicsAlliance’s Twilight Drinking Game,” by Chris Sims
Otahyoni’s LiveJournal: “I Want To Beat Edward Cullen With A Stick”
From The Oatmeal: “How Twilight Works,” by Matthew Inman
From /Film: “How Twilight Is Destroying America and Harming Our Nation’s Youth,” by David Chen
From USA Today: “Twilight Weaves Mormon Ideas Into Supernatural Love Saga”
From ItThing: “Twilight Almost Cost Me My Wife (and My Life),” by Cole Benjamin