Posted tagged ‘Twilight’

Nanowrimo – Some will do anything for success

November 2, 2010

Doing What It Takes (Pearl Just Doesn't "Get" Plagiarism)

Calling Robert Pattinson

October 4, 2010

Where Are You RPatz?

Oh where oh where oh where is Robert Pattinson when you need him?

It’s October (possibly only weeks before another Black Tuesday) and I’m desperate for some escapism–mind candy, serial silliness, possibly  believable fantasy.  (This is not the kind of fantasy that imagines that the people of this country will finally join ranks to take positive action over any of the 4 E’s – Education, Energy, the Environment and the Economy – this is something I can sink my teeth into.)

Oh Rob!  What I need is something…  anything… to take my mind away from the facts that winter is icumen in, another office Christmas party almost upon me, and, most mindboggling of all, another year, another decade, is beginning and I still haven’t finished virtually any of the projects that I thought I would surely have finished by the last decade.  (Make that millenium!)

Rob!

Last October, you offered solace!  Smoulder! The image of a restrained, caring, wealthy vampire who would do just about anything for an outwardly clumsy and ordinary but secretly gifted and super sweet-smelling Everygirl.  (The kind we all are at heart.)   And, in the glare of you and Kristen and all those paparazzi, I could simply avoid all that work I promised myself I would do.

And now what?

Well, for one thing, you’ve cut your hair.

And, sorry, but now I’ve seen the movies.  (I don’t blame you.  Honestly, it’s the screenwriter, directors, producers–)

So what do I do?

Paul Krugman just doesn’t cut it.  (Seriously.)

I’m allergic to chocolate.

And forget about those silly Swedish books. Salander is sometimes fun,  but Kalle f–ing Blomquist?

I guess I’ll just have to get working.

(Lhude sing goddamn.)

Super Hot Day Brings Up Edward And Bella Again – Is The Fascination About Sex, Marriage, Feminism (Or Lack Thereof)? Or Just All the Carrying?

July 6, 2010

Modern Harried Female and Embarrassed Robert Pattinson (as Edward Cullen)

I hate to try the patience of my regular followers.  I ask for forgiveness based on the fact that it was 102 degrees in my city today, and  I have used very little AC for several hours in a perhaps misguided attempt to support Con Edison (as well as our troops abroad, and our environment at home.)

So, under guise of a very wilted brain, I am returning to a discussion of Twilight, it having re-entered my consciousness with the new Eclipse movie.  Only this time I’m approaching it from a sociological perspective and not an “isn’t-Robert-Pattinson-so-much-cuter-than-that-Lautner-guy” perspective.

There has been much discussion of the sexual conservativism of Mormon Stephanie Meyer’s books (the lesson of “sure, dear, sneak a vampire up to your bedroom every night, just don’t, you know, have, like, sex with him. “)

But the truly old fashioned aspect of the books relates to sex as in gender roles, rather than to sex (or the lack thereof) as an activity.  Frankly, when viewed through this lens, the appeal of the books to middle-aged women (the mothers or grandmothers of the target teen audience) is really kind of sad.

Much is made in the movies of a love triangle between Bella and her vampire suitor Edward and werewolf suitor Jacob, but, frankly, in the books – spoiler alert- Edward wins hands (ahem) down.

No, the true choice for Bella (as written) is not between Edward and Jacob, but between a) Edward, a life of very ample financial security, sex (finally) and devoted, if controlling, companionship, and b) having a life on her own—that is, going to college, having a career (vampires have to keep too low a profile to pursue work or renown in any meaningful way), having an ongoing relationship with her birth family, having children (although this one doesn’t come up for a while), having her choice of friends, having to wear sunblock, and (though rarely mentioned) eating food.   (Edward sort of sums all these things up in “having a soul”.)

This choice, if you think about it, sounds an awful lot like the choices faced by many women in the past (and currently in much of the world) in marriage.   Going from one set of fairly controlling males (the father and his sphere) to another (the husband and his sphere).   Trading off the possibility of independent personal development for material security and sex with a sole partner.

Even more strange from a feminist perspective is the fictional fact that Bella feels forced to make her choices quickly primarily because of her vanity.  (Okay, and hormones.)  She can’t stand to delay a transformation to vampiredom, even to go to college for a couple of years, because it will cause her to become “older” than her vampire beau.  She feels the tick of a biological clock that is not based on reproductivity but firm thighs and an unlined countenance.

Yes, young love is powerful.  But why do older women (much to their own embarrassment) read the books so avidly?

The only answer I can come up with (and I should know) is that Edward promises to take care of everything.   He is handsome, considerate, unconditionally loving, but, more importantly, extremely attentive to detail.  He loves to buy presents.   He arranges for house cleaners.  He cooks!  He carries Bella around, never ever complaining about how heavy she is.  One big reason he wants to get married is simply to be allowed to pay Bella’s bills.

The modern older woman a) rarely has anyone carry her groceries much less herself, and b) generally has to pay her own bills.

Of course, the success of the books probably also arises from the fact that even as Bella makes some very unliberated choices, she ends up repeatedly saving the day, and generally doing adventurous, independent, types of things.   (All the while being carried at moments, and having important bills, such as medical and travel, paid.)

It’s interesting that the non-Mormon director and screenwriter of Eclipse, presumably sensitive to feminist issues, actually change the dialogue to have Bella say that her motivation for becoming a vampire is to be her truest self (rather than her love of Edward.)   While the change may be intended to promote the idea of strong women, it ends up meaning that Bella’s choice is for wealth, supermodel looks, superhero/bloodthirsty strength.  (And still no college or family!)  Somehow the doing-it-all-for-love part seemed better.   (Especially given the carrying.)  (And the saving the day.)

Pattinson and Poetry

May 2, 2010

Comparative Hair - Billy Collins/Robert Pattinson

After a month of posting draft poems in honor of National Poetry Month, I have to say that there’s a certain payback to blogging about Robert Pattinson (the 23-or-4 year old star of the Twilight Saga movies).

The fact is that not that many people are interested in poetry, particularly the draft poems of an unknown blogger, while many many people are interested in Pattinson (as in gaga over, or contemptuous of). Sure, there are also a lot of people who are disinterested in Pattinson, but often disinterested in a way that borders on the self-righteously dismissive (e.g., a teeny teeny bit interested).

Lately, an important percentage of the fascination does not seem to be with Pattinson himself, as with the very interest he elicits (all those screaming girls.) He was recently named, for instance, one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world.

Curiously, the commentator justifying this designation did not cite any particular example Rob sets, or influence he levers, so much as the fact that any information about Pattinson–public sighting or comment–is the immediate subject of a zillion tweets and retweets.

And why are people so interested in Rob? Okay, the looks—Nureyev cheekbones, tortured eyes, hair—this blog has already discussed those at length. More importantly, however, Pattinson is identified with a character (Twilight’s Edward Cullen) who is an escapist ideal—the perfect…oops! nearly perfect…oops! not quite man. Here Pattinson plays into a double fantasy of male perfection and vampirism, with each element vying for the most incredible. (Sorry, guys!)

Poetry is tremendously down to earth in comparison. A good poem tends to bring the reader more fully into the moment, or, at least, some moment, rather than out of it.   Even fantastical poems, such as those by Yeats or Keats or Robert Bly, deal in the real and human and very imperfect.

But people like perfect escapes. Which may be why poets, even those super popular poets, like Billy Collins, tend to earn much less than movie stars. That and the hair.

Rob Pattinson – Homage to Haiti, Wolf Pack, or Soltzenitsyn?

January 23, 2010

Rob Pattinson – Homage To Haiti, Wolf Pack or Soltzenitsyn?

Breaking News:  Rob Pattinson joins the wolf pack (in animatronic form) in Hope for Haiti telethon.  Apparently (finally) broken by the constant onslaught of paparazzi and palpitating Twilighters, Rob seems to have traded fangs for fur, smolder for shell shock.  Although Rob’s message, delivered with the lightness (and facial hair) of Alexander Soltzenitsyn, was taped from London, he looked dazed, as if he’d seen, first hand, the horrors of Port-au-Prince.  I like Rob, and despite my sympathy for charity, I hate celebrities simpering about disasters, so I’m going to assume that he wasn’t simply stoned or disinterested, but young, embarrassed, and not great at reading from a teleprompter.

After the Ninth Southern Vampire Novel

December 7, 2009

Under pressure of pressure (that is, randomized, yet persistent, work and life demands), I read nine vampire books last week.  (The “Sookie stackhouse Southern Vampire Mysteries” by Charlaine Harris).  This is not something I am proud of.

I also managed (for the record) to get to work every day, to work while there, even to put in several hours on Sunday.  Cooking was done Laundry was not.  (I hereby send an open apology to all members of my gym.)

Sleep was intermittent.   Perhaps, as a result, I felt a bit dazed finishing the ninth novel this morning (“benighted” may be a better description.)

I’m not quite sure why one (“I”) turn to silly books under pressure. Of course, there’s the whole mind candy business.  (See my earlier post “When Escapism Hits Hard –  https://manicddaily.wordpress.com/2009/12/03/blocking-write…pism-hits-hard/ )

And yes, it’s embarrassing.  Still, there it is.  Some nights (and mornings, Saturday afternoons, and subway rides) will have their vampires (in print.)

Since I am new to this genre, I don’t know what is standard.  I did notice a considerable overlap between the Sookie Stackhouse novels and the Twilight Saga – cool, perfectly handsome, powerful, vamps in love triangles with warm, slightly less handsome and powerful, “were” figures (werewolves, shape shifters, were tigers) and a humble but cute gal who has an extra-special zing to her blood.  There are also characters who can read minds (Edward Cullen and Sookie Stackhouse), but who fall in love with those whose minds they cannot read.  Jokes about the ridiculousness of vampires and baseball.   Enforcers of  vampire “law”.  Many descriptions of clothes.

The Sookie Stackhouse books are much more diverse than Twilight, with (i) a soap-opera-sized number of characters, (ii) nearly non-stop corpses, (iii) an interesting social context (Northern Louisiana); (iv) an interesting political context (the vampires have “come out of the closet” with worldwide TV announcements), and, of course, (v) actual sex/frequent biting (as opposed to abstinence/last-resort biting ).  No wonder the books have successfully translated to a television series (True Blood, which I confess I’ve never seen.)

And yet, despite the fact that I read all the Sookie Stackhouse books straight through, I can also see why they do not have the devoted readership of Twilight.   First, the books are not written for tween/teenage girls, a viciously loyal  group.   Secondly, the books are basically crime mysteries,  inherently written for just one read.

Third, and most important,  where’s the Edward (i.e. Robert Pattinson)?    Bill Compton (and remember, I haven’t seen the TV series) is the closest to unconditionally devoted and droolworthy. (Eric is promising but sneaky, Alcide too hairy, and Quinn, the were-tiger, too unintelligent.)  But after the first book or so, poor Bill only briefly passes, longingly, through the dark of Sookie’s yard.

By the ninth (and last published) book, anyone with a romantic temperament  (read “me”) is getting really tired of Bill’s near-absence.  But, lo and behold, the series is not yet finished.  Ms. Harris has apparently realized that, in our high-pressure world, the appetite for mind candy, like the appetites of Sookie’s vamps, takes many many bites to satisfy.

UPDATE TO THIS POST FROM JANUARY 7, 2010–After much “review”, I’ve found that the Sookie Stackhouse novels are pretty good “re-reads” after all.  If you are in the mood for escapism, they definitely hold up for repeated reads.  I also want to revise my question: “Where’s the Edward?”  The male characters, especially Eric and Bill, do grow on one.  “Like a fungus,” as Sookie says in one of the books (to Eric).   Eric and Bill have certain advantages (for the reader) over Edward as well that almost make up for the fact that they are not embued with the image of Robert Pattinson.  They are quirky, definitely flawed, have senses of humor, and are very sensual.   Fun.

Celebrity News

November 29, 2009

Addiction has long plagued man (and woman).  (Even, as was shown at the Central Park Zoo a few years ago, polar bear.)   There are the standard traps—alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, and, if you are a polar bear, your 9 by 12 artificial arctic pool.   But addiction is not only a by-product of human nature, it’s also a creature of its time.  As a result, there are always new and interesting practices that people can get taken over by—crystal meth, online shopping, computer gaming, non-stop twittering or facebook checking (non-stop “stat” checking if you are a blogger), texting while driving, the 24 hour news cycle.  Even worse than an addiction to the 24-hour news is an addiction to the 24-hour celebrity news cycle;  worse than that, is the intense craving for celebrity status itself–the obsession with achieving fame.

Some addictions are obviously more damaging than others.  I, for example, view an addiction to either (a) Robert Pattinson, or (b) the Twilight books, as relatively benign.  They may be damaging to one’s reputation as a serious and/or thoughtful person, but they  are a relatively cheap indulgence, don’t truly harm others (except, perhaps, a thoroughly bemused spouse), and can even be satisfied in chocolate.  (See e.g. new Twilight assortments with foil wrapped and embedded portraits! )

Both Twilight and Pattinson also have the absolutely most healthy quality an addiction can have, which is that they get pretty boring pretty quickly.  (No offense, Rob; it’s not you so much as the dialogue.)

The addiction to the pursuit of celebrity status is a little more troubling.   Recent examples include Michaele and Tareq Salahi, the couple who crashed last week’s White House State Dinner, and Richard Heene, the father of the “Balloon Boy,”–all people apparently addicted to the pursuit of their fifteen minutes.

What’s more worrisome to me, however, is the Salahish, I mean salacious, pursuit of celebrity by people who once played serious and dignified roles in our culture.   I particularly mean people in the news business, who seem, increasingly, to want also to be people “in the news.”

In the early years of televised news, there was a dignity to the newscaster–Walter Cronkite, Frank McGee, David Brinkly, were TV personalities, but soberly somber.   We all know how this has changed in more recent years.   The reasons are obvious and not new—advertisers want ratings, outrageous and/or boorish commentators, perky blonde reporters, and “news” which is really entertainment (i.e. reality shows, sports, sensational crime shows) apparently achieve them.   Recently, however, the “celebritization” of newspeople on TV has not only become more intense, it has also spread to other sections of the press, which, due to commercial pressures and online versions, have  become increasingly TV-like.  For example, the New York Times now posts photos and videos, and advertises blogs and tweets, of its op-ed writers.  To some degree, this is useful;  you can better understand the overall stance of a commentator, and, if you like, you can read a lot more of them, but sometimes, well, you end up wanting to read a whole lot less.

Politicians increasingly crave “celebrity-style” status as well.  (Yes, Sarah Palin.)  As Colbert has demonstrated through his “Colbert bumps,” it’s better, election-wise, to be known, even if slightly ridiculed.  (Ideally, if apearing on Colbert,  it’s better to be known, and if ridiculed, also good humored.)

I guess people want circuses, even when bread is in short supply.