Archive for the ‘Twilight Saga’ category

Vampire Elephant Only Above “New Moon” In Terms of Height!

November 18, 2009

Vampire Elephant Contemplating Movie Ad

Vampire elephants getting pumped.

(All rights reserved, Karin Gustafson)

Kristen on Conan

November 17, 2009

Not Quite Kristen Stewart

Kristen Stewart appeared on late night television last night in the guise of a very nervous, earnest, and extremely young girl (okay, woman), who totally wants people to like her, but not (a) weirdly, nor (b) with expectations she can’t possibly fulfill.    These perfectly reasonable wishes could, unfortunately, disqualify a certain percentage of her fans, especially those who have tattooed her image on their bodies.  (Hopefully, their tattoo artists are better than me.)

What Makes Young People (And Some of Us Others) Re-read

October 27, 2009

For those of you who actually follow this blog, and don’t just click on a link that happens to mention Robsten or the Twilight Saga, I’m sorry!  There’s not been much poetry over the last couple of days, but a lot of clicks.

Yes, I like the clicks.  (And, strangely, “Robsten” seems to generate a whole bunch more than, let’s say, “sestina.”)

But I want to explain to you (who may not understand why in the world I write about this stuff) that I truly am interested in a couple of facets of Twilight mania (besides each of Rob’s cheekbones.)

First:  despite all the poetry I’ve posted on this blog, I am mainly a fiction writer, primarily for children and young adults.  As a result, I am fascinated by the question of what makes people read a book again and again.  And I have to say (without mentioning anything about my own experience) that the Twilight mania proves Twilight et al. to be a set of those much re-read books.

It’s a given that books that generate this type of obsessive re-reading are not always particularly “good” books, i.e. well-written.  In fact, many “good” books, that is, really profound, original, heart-wrenching, or poetic books, are not the most dog-eared at the end of the day (or lifetime.)  It’s almost as if such books are too sharp, too bitter, too stinging, to be savored again and again (in the same way that grapefruit is not typically considered a comfort food.)

This is not to say that much re-read books are poorly written!  (Charlotte’s Web and  Harry Potter are much re-read great books.) Only that good writing alone does not make a book a good re-read.  (Nor does a good plot, good jokes, good suspense, even though one or more of these is likely to be present.)

So what does make a book a good re-read?

To me, the distinguishing factor is that the book creates characters with whom readers like to spend time, sometimes, too, a world in which readers like to spend time.

Reading a book is a commitment.  It means hours in which you are not conversing, i-ming, watching TV; hours, in other words, in which you are alone.  Sometimes, in fact, a book is a way to be alone, a path to privacy in a place with hard-to-place boundaries, such as a subway, or, if you are a child, a family dinner.

Because of the inherent solitude of reading, it is important that the main character is good company—fun, cool (but not too cool as to be unempathetic), willing to share confidences.  Being admirable is helpful too, as long as there are also sympathetic and/or humorous failings and idiosyncrasies.  (Sam Vines, Captain Carrot, Granny Weatherwax in Terry Pratchett, even Hercule Poirot in Agatha Christie.)

The world of a much re-read book can, of course, have its dark side.  But it is hard to repeatedly spend time in a world that is overwhelmingly creepy or frightening. (The Road, by Cormac McCarthy, and even Cold Mountain, by Charles Frazier, are obvious examples of wonderful books in which the worlds created, or re-created, are just too horrific to motivate re-reads.  On the children’s shelf, similarly, the later tomes of the wonderful, His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman, that is, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass, also, with the exception of certain scenes, get both too threatening and rarified for a child’s immediately repeated visits.)

Ideally, the created world, even if dark, has a fun, semi-magical side.  (Hogwarts, obviously; the barn in Charlotte‘s Web, Florida, as seen by Carl Hiassen, Discworld, as envisioned by Terry Pratchett.)

Re-reading is a particular practice of the young and the young (or perhaps, immature) at heart who can repeatedly find sustenance in something that’s already well-digested.  (Sort of like baby penguins.)   This may be because the young (and not young, but immature) are themselves subject to (i) so much fluctuation, and (ii) so much beyond their control, that they find special comfort in the predictability of a “known” fiction.   The combination of the familiar with the fantastical may be especially appealing.

Romance makes a great re-read as well.   First love is a story that has been told again and again and again; is it any wonder that some people don’t mind re-reading the exact same version of it?

Which brings me back to Twilight.

Tomorrow or in the near future (if I get time),  I’ll write about the second facet that I find interesting—that is, what makes people re-see a movie, as opposed to re-read a book.

In the meantime, check out 1 Mississippi by Karin Gustafson on Amazon.

For Romantic Twihards – Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa…errr…Robsten (Maybe)

October 25, 2009

This morning, I wrote a post that suggested that many Twilight fans may not be rooting for “Robsten” (that is, a real life romance between Robert Pattinson and Kirsten Stewart) because it runs counter to the whole gist of the Twilight fantasy (which is the nearly perfect Edward Cullen pursuing the nearly ordinary Bella Swan.)  The emphasis of the Twilight series on Bella as “everygirl” (who is secretly strong, brave, and deeply attractive) made me think that many fans may be hoping for a romance between RPatz and another everygirl (that is, a fan rather than a movie star.)  Given the lives of the two Twilight stars though, I compared the magic (and likelihood) of such a fan-tastical relationship to the existence of Santa Claus.

Thinking about this post later, I worried that I was a bit ungenerous to Twilight fans.  Frankly, I think many fans find the alleged romance between Rob and Kirsten to be fairy-tale-like enough to be perfectly satisfying.  In other words, for these New Moon-struck fans, Robsten may be Santa Claus enough.

Then I wondered, what exactly makes these fans root for Robsten?

1.  Rob and Stewart are simply both so young.

2.  And good-looking.

3.  Not just plain old ordinary good-looking—go-together, top- of- wedding-cake good-looking.

4.  Kirsten is very pretty, but, at least when playing Bella (and not going too heavy on the eyeliner), has a definite American girl-next-door quality.

5. The paparazzi have hounded Rob and Kirsten enough to give them an “underdog” quality.  (You really can’t have a fairy tale without an underdog quality.)

6.  The alleged interest in Pattinson by established female stars, such as Shakira, makes Kirsten a double-underdog.

7.  Most importantly, if “Robsten” is real, other elements of Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn, also become credible … elements such as the existence of perfect male romantic heroes pleading for marriage (and abstinence beforehand),  the happily ever after ending for one and all (even third wheel Jacob), one little bite turning Bella into a super-model.

(The repeated requests of certain Twilight fans to Rob to “bite them” tends to support this last theory.)

For prior post in favor of Team Fan (and no Santa Claus) check out:  https://manicddaily.wordpress.com/2009/10/25/is-there-reall……errr…-robsten/

For more Robsten, RPatz, Stewart, and Twilight, check out other posts in thosoe categories, by going to my homepage:  https://manicddaily.wordpress.com.

For Wishful Twihards – Is there really a Santa…errr… Robsten?

October 25, 2009

Waiting to get my hair cut yesterday, I happened onto a magazine covered with pictures of Rob and Kirsten.  (To the non-cognoscenti, Robert Pattinson and Kirsten Stewart.)

Yes, I only happened onto the magazine (OK!), although I confess I had noticed it before (on nearly every newsstand I walked by.)

The headline  is something like “Welcome to Our Home” and describes the 34th floor of a hotel in Vancouver as the Robsten “love nest.”   As “proof” of the Kirsten/Pattinson relationship, the article declares that Rob refused to leave Vancover during a recent solo one-week break, because Kirsten was stuck there still filming.

During my shampoo, I tried to reconcile OK’s article with (i) recent reports in other “news” sources of Kirsten firmly disclaiming any love relationship with Pattinson, and (ii)  the sinking feeling in my stomach.   That sinking feeling reminded me of the terrible disappointment I felt in the December of my fourth or fifth year of life when, after I had badgered her  nonstop for several weeks, my mother finally admitted that there was no Santa Claus.

It was odd.  I had been quite sure that there was no Santa Claus.  I had gone through the impossibility of it repeatedly in my head;  my endless questions were framed with the statement, “I already know the truth, so just tell me okay?”  But when my mom actually said the words aloud, tears sprang to my eyes, a huge lump filled my throat and chest, and I could hardly stand to believe her.

“Reliable reports” posit that Summit Entertainment, the maker of the Twilight movies, won’t let Rob and Kirsten admit to their relationship for fear of scuttling the credibility of the Jacob-Bella focus in the upcoming New Moon and Eclipse movies.  (For any non-cognoscenti still reading this post, Jacob, played by brawny Taylor Lautner, is the werewolf rival, of the divine vampire Edward, played by RPatz.)

That doesn’t make sense to me.  First of all, even the most rabid Twilight fans must know that the Twilight movies are just movies.  (Although some are crazed enough to seem to need Midsummer Night’s Dream’s Peter Quince explaining that “Lion” is really played by a man.)  Still, it’s hard to see Jacob as a credible rival to Edward, even in the books.

Even so, Summit may be on to something (besides publicity) in keeping “Robsten” under wraps.   The fact is that the people who like Twilight like fantasy.  And the true fantasy of the books and movies   (other than the werewolf/vampire bit) is not the love affair of two super-glamerous, wealthy, and successful movie stars who are constantly thrown together, but the unbreakable romance of the nearly perfect (though secretly flawed) Edward and the nearly ordinary (though secretly attractive and brave)  Bella, despite all of his efforts to keep his distance.

As a result, I suspect that the true Santa Claus story for most fans is not the real-life probability of “Robsten” but the other-wordly possibility of Rob holding out for a real life Bella, someone who, like them, is loyal, brave, true, klutzy, and, with the right makeover, could look really great.

Sorry, girls, but I don’t think there is a Santa Claus.

If you’re interested in slightly silly…errr… thoughtful posts re RPatz, Robsten, and Twilight, check out my other posts in those categories, especially post discussing why some modern females prefer Robert Pattinson to Marlon Brando, and why I know my feelings for RPatz are strictly maternal.  Find these from ManicDDaily home page:  https://manicddaily.wordpress.com.

Also for subsequent post re Yes, Virginia there is a Santa…errr… Robsten, check out:  https://manicddaily.wordpress.com/2009/10/25/yes-virginia-t……robsten-maybe/

The Twilight Amorality of Edward Cullen – What Does It Mean?

October 15, 2009

Maybe it’s the stress of the bad news (that horrible moment when the balloon landed and the first responders realized that the six-year old boy was not in it), or relief at the good news (the wonderful moment when it was discovered that the little boy wasn’t ever in the balloon, that he had been hiding in a box in the garage)—

Or maybe it’s the fact that the Dow’s close above 10,000 and Goldman Sachs’ good earnings report have been called by some at Fox, the “Bush” recovery, and  by others as  no recovery at all (apparently Goldman would have done better if it had simply invested in an index fund and the economy is certainly not out of the woods yet)—

Whatever—it’s all made me decide to write about Twilight again, the phenomenally successful series of books by Stephanie Meyer – 70 million sold and counting.

Specifically, I want to write about the amorality of Twilight, and to wonder what this amorality, or really, the audience’s acceptance of this amorality, may mean.

First, for those who don’t know the series, the Twilight saga, written by Mormon Meyer (a graduate of Brigham Young University), has typically been considered to be an anachronistically moralistic series of books.  This characterization has resulted primarily from the fact (spoiler alert) that the sexual consummation of the passionate love affair between vampire Edward Cullen and human Bella Swan (even full frontal nudity) is pointedly delayed until marriage.   Then (double spoiler alert), once they do get married, Bella nearly instantly becomes extremely pregnant.   (It was a good thing they waited!)

Edward is repeatedly characterized in the last three books, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn¸ as a “perversely moral vampire” with very old-fashioned ideas.  His “family” is also characterized as amazingly moral because, by and large, they feed only on the blood of wild animals.  And, although they do seem to take particular pleasure in certain endangered carnivores, they try to avoid having an unduly negative impact on the environment.  (At least it’s not Aunt Susie.)

A closer look at the books (which I must confess I’ve taken, repeatedly) shows the vampires’ morality to be very one-sided, i.e. it’s all about sex and very little about money.   (Yes, the vampires, who are rich due to prophesy of stock market trends, do give their old clothes to the werewolves, but even they admit that they only wear things once.)

Not only are the vampires amoral, they are also incredibly solipsistic:  they (Edward in particular) only care about their own (Bella.)

In scene after scene, mayhem occurs just offstage.  In New Moon (the movie about to come out),  a large tourist group is fodder for the “Voluturi”, the vampire leaders.  Edward hurries Bella away so she won’t be upset by the sounds of the mass slaughter, but makes no effort to save even one tourist.  (Okay, they’re tourists….)

Similarly, when vampire mayhem stalks Seattle (of all places) in Eclipse, Edward’s main concern seems to be the negative attention the slaughter may bring.  In a hypothetical plane crash in that book, he talks, hypothetically, of reaching out to save only Bella from certain death.  (Doesn’t he have two hands?)

In the fourth book, Edward and Bella even stand passively (if uncomfortably) by as their vampire guests roam the countryside feeding on humans (granted, the guests go out of State.)

I know, I know.  There’s only so much a person…errr. ..vampire… can do.  Maybe Edward is right to focus his energies.  But what’s amazing to me is is the shift this represents from the classic romantic hero.

When did Superman even abandon a kitten up a tree to save only Lois Lane?  In nearly  every opera you can think of (Aida, Il Travatore, the Magic Flute), the hero must part from his love for the sake of Truth, Duty to  family, society, or gypsy clan, and some really heart-wrenching singing.   Romeo (yes, a hothead) forsakes Juliet to avenge Mercutio.    Even Harry Potter (who is a classic, if modern hero) leaves Ginny to save Hogwarts.

Edward’s solipsism is especially misplaced since he is supposed to be a World War I kind of guy.  It’s hard to imagine another generation so bound by duty.

So what does Edward’s amorality, and more importantly, fan inattention to it, say about modern culture?  (And please don’t get me wrong, I still love both him and his portrayer, Robert Pattinson.)

Certainly, we live in a country with a lot of fellow feeling.  I think about all the wonderful first responders who chased down the balloon today in which the little six-year old was, thankfully, not lodged;  I think of all the millions of Americans who undoubtedly hoped and prayed for that little boy’s safety.

But then I also think of the health care debate, the intense furor over the “public option”.

And, forgive me, but I also think of the outrage over Obama’s comments to “Joe the Plumber”; the casual ‘spreading wealth around’ remark that drew so much ire and concern, and that were raised with such anger (and comparisons to Stalinism) by my taxi driver in Florida.  (See earlier post re incredulity in Florida.)

Goldman Sachs’ outsized bonuses also somehow come to mind.

Hmmm…..

New “New Moon” Trailer – Not a Frame by Frame Analysis

September 14, 2009

Last night, my husband sweetly calls me to tell me that he heard something about a new New Moon trailer coming out soon.   (Although he is both embarrassed and mystified by my interest in the whole Robert Pattinson Twilight phenomenon, he also understands that my feelings about Robert Pattinson are strictly maternal.  See e.g. prior post as to why I know that my feelings for Robert Pattinson are strictly maternal.)

I thank him but tell him that the trailer was leaked onto the internet before its official release and that I’ve actually already seen it.  (I don’t mention the number of times.)

I also tell him that the trailer was almost immediately broken down by a blogger in a frame by frame analysis, a bit like a new iPhone.  Only in the case of New Moon, the first analysis (a written one) was undertaken on an incredibly superficial (bloggy-type) manner, as in at “l minute 37 seconds Bella jumps into water”,  at “1 minute 38 seconds Bella is pulled from water”.   (It seemed to be the type of analysis whose only real purpose is to be read to the blind.)

Today, however, there is a new “frame by frame” breakdown which breaks the trailer into stills, supposedly all of them.  (Though, from what I can see, there is at least one nice image of Rob that is definitely missing.)

Still, the effort the Robert Pattinson/Twilight blogosphere is making is pretty amazing.  I mean, I’ve never seen a frame by frame breakdown of the trailers for 8 ½ or Citizen Kane or Jules and Jim, or even some blockbuster type movie like Spiderman. (I have to confess I’ve never actually looked for frame by frame breakdowns of these trailers.  Even so, I’m pretty sure that they don’t pop up first search.)

It all goes to show that there are many many people (and probably not just teenage girls) with an awfully lot of time on their hands.

Ahem.

If you want to teach how child how to count the time on his or her hands, check out 1 Mississippi by Karin Gustafson, on Amazon.  Or check link above.