Ew Moon: Why Twilight continues to hurt America…
You all knew this was coming. After the debacle that was my initial reaction to teen movie Twilight last year, I just had to go watch the sequel, and review it. The things I do for you people.
Over the past year, the Twilight thing has become a joke with me.Â The article remains one of the most read posts in Skepchick history and I am regularly inundated with emails, tweets and comments about some of the strangest stuff that has come out of the Twilight franchise.
I went into the movie fully expecting it to be awful. I was actually looking forward to writing a snarky, funny review, with lots of jokes and mockery of the fans of Twilight and their ilk.Â I came out of the movie less smug. I remembered why I had written my original review in the first place. This movie made me sad and angry, just like the last one. Come along on the sparkly adventure to find out why, after the fold.
Hundreds of thousands of teen and tween-aged girls tuned in this weekend. New Moon broke the record for a single-day opening at the North American box office, earning $72.7 million across the United States and Canada on Friday alone.
SPOILER ALERT: If you don’t want to hear about the details of the ‘plot’ (a kind word…), don’t read any further.
When we last left our heroine, Bella, she was dancing with Edward, the 108-year old vampire who could barely kiss her without being consumed with bloodlust and refused to turn her into a vampire herself because she deserved better.
Eddie and Bella are still together at the start of New Moon. Still broody, still hot for each other, still unable to do anything about it. Bella is obsessing over her age and her looks. She turns 18 at the start of the movie and is having nightmares about slowly aging while Eddie remains eternally young and beautiful. She continues to ask Edward to turn her into a vampire and he continues to refuse. Edward, you see, is worried about Bella’s soul. He considers himself damned and doesn’t want the same fate for her.
He has other worries. After an incident where Bella gets a paper cut and the blood drives one of the other Cullen boys into a violent frenzy and he tries to eat her (not making that up, really), Ed decides that perhaps being a human living amongst bloodthirsty monsters may not be the best lifestyle choice for young Bella.
So he leaves. Of course, Bella has no choice in this. Big Ed tells her he’s leaving with his family:
“I don’t want you to come”
They don’t intend for that line to have a double meaning, but it does…
Bella is devastated, of course. She mopes for months and starts having nightmares that she can’t explain. She weeps, she grumps and generally acts like a teenage girl who’s been dumped for the first time.Â She also blows off her family and friends, becomes distant and uninterested in anything. She is nothing without Edward but an emo wreck in plaid.
She discovers that if she puts herself in danger, the adrenalin rush makes her hallucinate Edward being there, trying to stop her. Actually, I’m not sure if it is a hallucination. I guess it’s possible Crazy Eddie’s actually stalking her in some supernatural way, to keep an eye on her. Either way, it’s screwy because Bella decides her only option is to put herself in danger as much as possible.
Enter Wolf-Boy, a.k.a. Jacob. Jacob is just about the only thing that makes this movie worth watching, and that’s because he looks like this:
After two movies of pasty and sparkly, Abs… I mean… Jacob is certainly a pleasant diversion. Jacob is an old friend of Bella’s and he’s filled out in wonderful ways. He and Bella get closer, as he helps her rebuild some junk motorbikes. Bella feels better! She has a boy to provide her with a personality and worth again! Yay!
Except, like every other male in this series, he has a DEEP DARK SECRET. (I’m looking forward to the 4th book when we find out that Bella’s father is secretly a leprechaun). Jacob reaches adolescence in a hot, biceppy way, and with it comes the realization that he’s a (dah.. dah… dahhhhhhn….) WEREWOLF.
(Aside: I spent most of the movie after the werewolves showed up going “WHOOOSAGOO’BOYDEN? WHOOO’SA GOO’PUPPYWUPPY? HMMM??” I’m a dog person. I can’t help it. The bigger the dog, the more likely I am to call it a puppy. And these puppies turn into hot-bodied brown boys! All of a sudden, there was not THING ONE wrong with this movie….Ahem.. Ok… except for the evil.. let’s get back to the evil…)
Ok, so… let’s recap. Sparkle-tits is gone. Hot Dog is in. The only problem is, Jacob now has the same problem Edward did. He’s scared he won’t be able to control himself, will get angry and hurt Bella. He introduces Bella to his wolfy pack, the leader of which, Sam, has a human fiance who he attacked in a fit of random rage. The girl still bears terrible scars on her face.
This particular scene was very disturbing to me. And it wasn’t because for some reason the wolves were eating GIANT muffins. (Why muffins? Why GIANT muffins? What the hell?) When Bella and Sam’s fiancee meet, they refer to each other as the “Wolf Girl” and the “Vampire Girl.” Because I always want to be identified by the male in my life, right? It’s only logical. Please refer to me as “Phlebas Girl” from now on.
Also, Wolf Girl is a textbook case for domestic abuse. She’s horrifically scarred by Sam, but HE LOVES HER. He didn’t MEAN to hurt her. Ugh. It’s awful.
Finally, in one of her adrenaline/Edward-seeking moments, Bella jumps off a cliff. Yep, attempted suicide. Healthy, no? Jacob saves her but not before the Cullen clan sees her jump in a vision and thinks she’s dead. Eddie, in a fit of despair, decides to expose himself as a vampire to humans and therefore kill himself. (There’s a whole big vampire council thing… I won’t go into it; it’s dull).
Bella rushes off to save Edward and, to nobody’s surprise, succeeds. With Edward in place, she has a purpose again; she knows who she is. There’s a whole implausible scene in Italy where she saves him, gets threatened by the Vampire council and survives by offering her own life for Edward’s. It’s not all that important except for two key points: First, Bella is mostly impervious to various vampire ooky powers. They can’t read her mind and Dakota Fanning can’t psychically inflict pain on her. Second, Edward’s sister, who can see the future (and isn’t apparently held back by the same issues that the other vamps are when it comes to Bella), foresees that Bella will be a vampire someday.
In the end, Edward and Bella get back together. He tells her he never wanted to leave her and she forgives him instantly. They return to Forks where they have an encounter with Jacob. The boys have a pissing contest over Bella, Bella tells Jacob not to make her choose, because she loves Edward and will always choose him. Jacob turns into a wolf, almost attacks Edward, then growls and grumps off, presumably to drown his sorrows in a week’s worth of Beggin Strips and Scooby Snacks.
Bella is “happy” to finally have her way. (I think she’s happy. She doesn’t give a lot of facial or emotional cues to help us out.) She’s going to be just like Edward! And be with him forever. And, although Edward still isn’t happy about Bella losing her soul and being damned like him, he grudgingly agrees to eventually turn her. But simply having her forever isn’t enough. In the last lines of the movie, Edward asks Bella to marry him. Because, you know, there’s always the chance that in spite of the fact that she’s willing to give up her life and her soul, that she might still leave. Why buy the bat when you can have the blood for free, and all that?
I maintain: The Twilight series is dangerous. Not because Bella is a brainless, empty, shell of a female character. I don’t have a problem with weak women in the movies. What bothers me is that this tripe is being sold not just as normal but as DESIRABLE. As something that women should aspire to. Young girls around the country are debating whether she should choose Edward or Jacob. Which abuse is better? He’s insanely jealous and stalks me or he can barely control his anger and may physically abuse me at any moment?
In my last review, I compared Twilight to the fairy tales of my youth. Little Red Riding Hood (stay on the path) and Cinderella (work hard and your prince will come) and all the fantasy stories that tried to put women in their place. I was wrong. This series is far worse than anything I was exposed to. The messages behind Twilight? Be weak, let your man protect you. Be careful, don’t get him angry. If he hurts you, it’s your fault. Abuse is part of life. Accept it. If he really loves you, he’ll try not to hurt you but don’t be surprised if he does. You probably deserve it. You are nobody without your man, so don’t bother trying.
This was a terrible movie, with a terrible message. All the hot werewolves in the world can’t change that. But should you stop your daughters from watching it? If they’re eager to watch it, probably not. But know thine enemy. Let them watch it but talk to them about it. Use it as a teaching experience. How often do you get such a prime opportunity to explain what the term ‘dysfunctional’ means? :)