Thursday, 8 December 2011

Twilight: A Defence

With the release of the latest Twilight film, Breaking Dawn Part 1, came the usual mess of needless abuse, pompous criticism and general hate. People have slated this film franchise so much over the years (it's only been around for just over 3) that I feel like I need to defend it from all the people who hate the series just for the sake of it, without properly thinking about it.

Firstly, as some of you are aware, I am a proud Twilight fan. Note I didn't say "Twihard", because I feel that a lot of stigma comes associated with that word. People hear "Twilight" and assume that everyone is a teenage girl who spends their time hyperventilating, screaming, or crying over the films and everything to do with it. In actual fact, we're not. I read somewhere that over 50% of people who went to see Breaking Dawn in its opening weekend were over 25. It's just because the idiotic teenage girls are the most publically vocal part of the community that they are the only ones anyone ever pays attention to, when actually those hysterical little girls only represent a small portion of the fanbase. I do understand a lot of people's hatred for these people, it irritates me beyond belief too. It's these fans that make me really pity the stars who have to stand there and endure having people scream in their faces... who would want to go through that? I don't envy them in the slightest. But I do disagree with the fact that non-fans seem to group all fans together with these hideous people. We aren't all like that. The day I turn into one of those fans, I want someone to shoot me in the head.

Yes, this represents how most people see Twilight fans. It's untrue (for the most part).
 As much as it has a huge number of people who dislike the books and films, I think people can't ignore the massive cultural impact it's had on the world. As someone who was quite into vampires before the Twilight series even came to my attention, I have seen, as I'm sure everyone else in Western civilisation has, the recent insurgance of fascination with vampires and the supernatural in fiction. The novels of The Southern Vampire Mysteries and The Vampire Diaries may have come out before the Twilight books, but have grown massively in popularity since the success of Twilight, with shows being made out of both of them following this success (True Blood from The Southern Vampire Mysteries in 2008 and The Vampire Diaries from... well, The Vampire Diaries in 2009). There are also now sections in bookshops called "Supernatural Romance" and "Teenage Fantasy" etc. that were not there before, but because there is such a huge demand now for books such as these that it's become necessary to have them.

It cannot be denied, therefore, that these books and films have power. They have caused massive levels of obsession which has lead to it being one of the most popular franchises of recent times, with merchandise everywhere, t-shirts on the chests of fans who wave their posters and scarves and the like. Their premieres are beaten only by Harry Potter in terms of turnout, and new films are often one of the most anticipated of the year. Celebrities are very vocal in their support of the series. Journalists would sell their mothers if it meant a decent interview with one of the stars. They are influential and powerful, and critics aren't going to put a stop to that any time soon, whether they like it or not.

I'd also like to point out the records that these films have broken. It has the second biggest midnight release and opening day ever (Eclipse, broken only by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2, which I think is something it can be very proud of), the third and fourth highest opening weekends in history (New Moon and Eclipse respectively), as well as winning many other awards. These awards may not be the most prestigious or even credible, but they really prove the success of the franchise. They may be mostly voted for by fans, but that just proves the dedication and commitment they have, that I think even outshines Harry Potter fans at times. These fans have ensured that, at the time of writing, the films have made over $2.4 million. Not too shabby, really.

Now we come to the acting, which has suffered more than its fair share of abuse. No, it's not the best, hence they haven't won any major awards, but I really think it's been blown out of proportion. If you go in and watch one of the films with a clear head and without any preconceptions (ok, maybe not the first one), you can see there are some moments that are actually quite good, especially in the latest instalment, Breaking Dawn. I've always said, the leads do the best with what they are given, considering the storylines and script they have to work with. It's unsurprising they get labelled as "wooden" or "limited" when they have very little wiggle room to show what they are actually capable of. Watch some of their other work (Water For Elephants, Panic Room, Adventureland, Bel Ami) and you will see that they are not limited actors at all, they are just limited in terms of what they can do in the constraints of these films at times.

Plus, just think about how much money they have now. Robert Pattinson is the third-richest Brit in the industry, and he was recently named as third in Forbes' "Hollywood's Best Actors for the Buck", meaning for every dollar he makes, his films make a lot back. Kristen Stewart was first on this list; this says a lot. These films propelled them from relative unknowns to superstardom, and they now have international recognition and are well-respected by other people in the industry, including high-profile actors and directors. David Cronenberg cast Rob in one of his new films (Cosmopolis) and has publically praised him many times on his performence, and basically every actor and director Kristen has ever worked with, from Jodie Foster to Garrett Hedlund to Melissa Leo to David Fincher, has had only glowing things to say about her. You cannot deny that they are two of the hardest working people in the industry and the effort they put into making these films and promoting them needs to be admired. It must be absolutely draining for them to do, and they deserve more than the casual panning they get in return.

I fully admit that the books and films are not amazing - far from it, in fact - but when they aren't taken too seriously, they are fun. And I think that's another big problem, that people are just too serious about them. Yes, it can be argued that they take themselves too seriously sometimes, but we all now know the sort of thing we're going to get when we watch them, and therefore we know what to expect and have a vague idea of how we're going to react generally. They are always going to be attacked by prissy pretentious critics who prefer works submitted to Cannes or Sundance, but these are big-budget Hollywood movies who aren't out to impress the critics, but rather the fans. Cast and crew have said repeatedly that they make the films for the fans, and to be honest, do we really think they take the criticism to heart? They know the films will be successful in the box office and in the eyes of their fans, and that's what matters to them the most. They wouldn't have continued to make them otherwise.

On a positive note, it needs to be said that no matter what you say about the films, they always have amazing soundtracks and that cannot be denied by anyone. Hundreds of very well respected artists submit songs to be considered for inclusion on them, including Florence and the Machine (best song on any of the soundtracks I think), Beck, Paramore (the less said about that the better really, in my opinion, but I hate them for different reasons), Bon Iver, Bruno Mars, Death Cab for Cutie, The Killers, UNKLE, and of course, Muse, to name a few. The soundtracks have all been in the top 5 on the Billboard 100, and have basically provided a platform for artists both well-known and rising to showcase their work. Bon Iver were on the first soundtrack before they were really big, and have provided what is probably the ultimate song of the series. So really, the films not only help to propel actors into the public eye, but also musicians, which should not be scoffed at, to be honest. It's ended up being a prestigious thing to end up on a Twilight soundtrack.

I don't understand really why people have singled out these films to consistently debunk and criticise. Ok professional critics, I get that it's your job to give your opinion on the film, but then just leave it there. There is no need to constantly go on and on about how bad you think it is, and give it worse reviews than you ordinarily would have because you have previous misconceptions and views on it. Other films don't get this type of abuse. There have been much worse films released this year that haven't had this much attention drawn to their flaws (*coughGreenLanterncough*), yet people repeat themselves over again when it comes to this series. Why? You're entitled to your opinions, of course, but stop banging people over the head with them. It's at the stage where everyone now has their opinions on the films and nothing is going to change it, so stop harping on.

What I'm trying to get at, really, is that you don't have to like the series. Just accept that it's popular and there is a big fanbase out there and leave it be. There is no need to constantly debase and ridicule it, it just ends up irritating people (and also riling up the crazies even more, so don't encourage them!). It's just a waste of your own time and energy. We all know it's flawed, but it has such a massive following that clearly a lot of people don't care. So you shouldn't either.


  1. OK, OK, my thoughts on Breaking Dawn. It's... not actually as bad as I expected, I will give it that much - 3.5 stars out of 5, perhaps? I totally agree with you about the moment when Edward asks Jacob to have children Bella needing to be left out; when I thought that was coming up, I almost died :o and weirdly enough, I actually quite liked the wolf-talk and I think I am the only one who did. It worked, and it's worked in far less credible/believable films (Huskies, anyone?)

    The CGI on Kristen Stewart was fucking amazing; she looked like an AIDS victim. If they want to put girls off having sex (even after marriage), just show them the latter half of this film. I really liked the actors who played Leah and Seth, and if they don't put her backstory in the second part, I will be very annoyed.
    The way Bella's spine snapped really reminded me of that bit in Black Swan when Nina's legs snap back and forth; it was so fucking scary as you could her bones splintering!

    Stephenie Meyer's cameo was so fucking unnecessary and distracting.

    Far too much music. Good music, don't get me wrong, but there was far too much music, which bothers me because it reminded me that it was a film; if that's a deliberate effect, then fair enough, but I like to have a few hours of suspension of disbelief with my fantasy, and that was hard to do.

    LOL at all the sex. The sex dream, the splintering of the bed, juat LOL. And there was quite a bit of thrusting!

    The make-up was so much better this time around; they look unearthly but not ridiculous *firstTwilightfilmcough* shame I couldn't say the same for the wigs... (Nikki Reed is hot; why do they make her look so bad).

    I would have liked a bit more exploration of the dynamics of the Cullen family; I think it's good that they very obviously had two female characters on opposing sides about Bella's pregnancy (important given that Twilight has been so criticised for not being v. feminist). But I would have liked much more of that. I thought the angry speech Edward made at Bella was awesome; I think the whole baby thing can come across as very pro-life at times and it can be intense, so it was very interesting that they took both sides and that that was fully represented.

    Jacob's imprinting. That was always going to be shit. It was horrendous in the books. Only slightly less horrendous in the film. Still fucking creepy though.

    AND THEY ACKNOWLEDGED HOW AWFUL THE NAME RENESMEE IS! Edward thought it was shit, Rosalie thought it was shit, Alice thought it was shit, Jacob thought it was really fucking shit and Edward could hear him thinking it. Oh, how I laughed.

    Anyway, it wasn't as horrendous as I thought. Those are my thoughts. I have a few more, when I remember, I'll come straight here :)


  2. also also also:

    1)Robert Pattinson has a lovely, LOVELY back.

    2)Kristen Stewart has a really nice arse.

    3)Taylor Lautner's had a nose job. Almost 99% certain of it.