the end of the Twilight Saga (4;5): Breaking Dawn parts 1 and 2

Part 1

Part 1 of Breaking Dawn was a let-down after Eclipse -- where Eclipse had a smooth, satisfying build in intensity up to a crescendo and a calm, pleasant dip towards a happy ending, Breaking Dawn part 1 was... er, lumpy.  That's the best way I can put it.  The points of drama were disorganized and incoherent, and most of the time Edward and Bella talked to each other, it seemed like they couldn't get on the same page about whether they were doing a fairy tale thing like usual or whether this was real-life-now-but-seriously.

The imprinting thing was a little less creepy than I was expecting, but it was still really, really creepy.

Up to this point, my top 4 Twilight movies were Eclipse, Twilight, New Moon, and this one.  New Moon edged this one out because it had more Michael Sheen.

Seriously, though,

Part 2

I'm putting this chunk below the fold, because it contains spoilers and it literally came out a couple hours ago.

I just want to start by saying that the thing at the end where basically everyone dies was NOT. MOTHER. FRACKING. OKAY.  I was sad when Carlisle got killed.  But when my partner, sitting next to me, sobbed, "This isn't what happens!" I became suddenly very open to the possibility that the writers had decided to end the movie version of the series with everybody dying.  Yeah, we got trolled hard on that one.

Bella's development as a vampire was pretty cool, and I really enjoyed the gathering of all the different vampires from around the world.  My favorites were the one who hates European rock, the one who lived in the attic, and the Russians.

They managed to scrape most of the creep off the imprinting thing across the bulk of the movie, but then they dumped it all back on when Jacob asked Edward if he should call him "Dad."  Seriously.  So creepy.  So, so creepy.

Final thoughts on the whole thing

This was the first, and will probably have been the last, time I ever saw the Twilight movies.  That said, they aren't horrible.  They're not cinematic masterpieces, but few movies are, and it wasn't painful to spend a whole day watching them -- especially having gone in with expectations as low as mine were.  A lot of the characters were likable, even if the main trio weren't super-engaging, and they were very pretty.  And the action was good.  These movies have great fights.

They're also still really problematic, and promote a really unhealthy set of relationship styles and expectations.  I'm not thrilled about the idea of teenagers getting their ideas about love from this movie.  I remember a lot of mistakes I made figuring out how relationships worked, and how many of them were inspired by the bad impressions media gave me -- for a lot of those kids, it will probably only mean a little more unnecessary pain, and for some of them, it could mean backing themselves into some really bad corners.  That whole part is no fun to think about.

Now, I want to sleep.  I've been in a movie theater for thirteen hours.

the end of the Twilight Saga (2): New Moon

Two movies in, and it is going downhill.  The second movie wasn't as good as the first.  That said, the best bits of the second movie were better than the best bits of the first one. Also, I love Michael Sheen, and I was thrilled to see him in the movie as one of the most badass villains featured.

Look at him.  He's just so badass.  Unfortunately, his lines weren't awesome, and weird phrasing frequently took all the wind out of his awesomeness sails.

The romances are arguably getting even more creepy and abusive in this one, and I'm very unclear on whether Bella was just hallucinating Edward when she was seeing those visions, or whether he was actually projecting himself into her mind when she was in a hightened state of danger or something.

I'm starting to think it would be fun to write my own version of the Twilight narrative -- completely change basically everything, but keep the basic character outlines and roles and settings.  Like, I would definitely add fairies.  And more lampshades.  So many lampshades.

I will report back after Movie #3 of the Twilight Saga.

I'm more conflicted than I thought

Yesterday I wrote that I wasn't sure whether analyzing Paul Ryan's suit was frivolous. It turns out, that conflict runs a lot deeper than I realized:  This article started out with the headline, "I'm NOT conflicted about whether this is important," and featured two articles that popped up on my Google newsfeed this morning:

Don't get me wrong, these publications' coverage is horrible, in the case of the E! Online article, it's super fracking[1. BTW, does anyone else feel like it's sort of perfect that the main curse word from Battlestar Galactica is being used to describe a natural gas extraction process that causes air pollution, radioactive water, and earthquakes?] creepy.  But the basic premise, that the style decisions of the super-scrutinized are worthy of analysis, is the same.

There are three major areas of conflict, in my mind:

  • These are all people asking for our attention.  Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates, to prove they're capable of doing a massive job at the top of our government; super-celebrities, to make themselves sufficiently marketable that their mere name is enough of an asset to any creative work with which they're involved that they get bigger paychecks.  In both cases, it's awful that this is our relationship to those roles in society.  But in both cases, it's also a feature of our society.
  • The style decisions of the super-scrutinized have resonating influences throughout the whole of our culture.  By this point, the amount of attention we pay to them is good and important, though it's also self-reinforcing.  These people are building the narratives of our culture, and their stylistic choices establish the costumes of those narratives.
  • Directly adjacent to that point, the way we pay attention to the style decisions of the super-scrutinized reinforces the harmful cultural norms of our society.  The Paul Ryan and Robert Pattinson articles are about sexiness and relatability, stemming from their conformity to the norm, and the Miley Cyrus article is about the remarkable fact that at least one person is standing up for a super-scrutinized person trying to resist that norm.

The first bullet-point reminds me of an article I read yesterday about rape culture, called The missing stair.  While I wrote that bullet point, I felt the end of that article itching at me:

This isn't just about individuals, either.  Everyone who says "I don't want to be a victim-blamer, but girls should know frat parties aren't safe places" is treating rape culture like a missing stair.  Everyone who says "it's an ugly fact, but only women who don't make trouble make it in this business" is treating sexual harassment like a missing stair.  Everyone who says "I don't like it either, but that's the way things are," and makes no move to question the way things are, is jumping over a missing stair somewhere. [Emphasis mine.]

And while I wrote the last one, I remembered a Ze Frank video, in his 2006 series, "The Show."

We need these narratives, and these people giving us touchstones to build these narratives.  Life, it turns out, is way too big and complicated for anyone to handle working out entirely from scratch.  But it also seriously hurts a lot of people when we don't question them, or think about whether the narratives we're using tell the truth about the people who fit into them.

This was always a problem for the people moving within the narratives, but I think it didn't used to be such a problem for the people setting the trends -- those people where characters in books, plays, poems and mythologies.  We don't have to worry, for example, about how Romeo feels that everyone on earth imagines him as a hopeless romantic, or whether it hurts Darth Vader's feelings that people only ever see him as the bad guy.

As every child star grows up this generation, it seems like they have to face the impression that their transition from child to teenager to adult is a symbolic struggle on behalf of all culture, whether between innocence and corruption, or childhood and maturity, or stagnation and fluidity.

I know very little about Miley Cyrus and Robert Pattinson, so I can't speak to the nature of their struggles.  But I will say that I'm not 100% certain that it's not important, and shouldn't be noticed.