Sunday, February 19, 2012

Twilight Review: Introduction

Twilight is a Bad Victorian Novel

Twilight was published in 2005, and I’ve been talking about it ever since.

The vampire community analyzes vampire media as part of our ongoing series on the depictions of nonhumans, trans-humans, and immortals in the media.  Here, we can get some evidence of how the culture will react to us when the Masquerade finally ends, not to mention how our hosts will react to us in the meantime. It’s not perfect evidence, but as social experiments go, I can’t thank vampire writers enough. And when they create a publishing phenomenon like Twilight, where millions of people talk about it and you can see a whole spectrum of opinion: yeah. That’s very revealing.
Humans certainly aren’t shy about talking to us about vampire media, I guess because it’s a safer way of framing the very awkward questions they’re inevitably going to have. Hey, that’s fine; I want to get it all out in the open, and I love talking about this stuff. Let me tell you, though, it’s pretty funny listening to some questions if you don’t know much about vampire media and don’t know the context (Do my eyes change color? When I’m drunk, you mean? Can I turn invisible? You tell me. Can I travel through time to accelerate or decelerate my own aging process and experience all of human history in an eye-blink? Where did you come up with that, and can I read it?) The media analysis alone would be way too big a job for one person, and not everyone has the time or the inclination for it. Hence, a few vampires like me will interview individual recruits and have the conversation with them that no one else wants to have. And we don’t even have job titles.
            Hey, I’d have talked to my sire Cathy about this stuff too, probably with the same enthusiasm. Except I hadn’t read Carmilla, Varney, ‘The Vampyre,’ or even heard the word ‘vampire’ before in my life. Dracula hadn’t even been published yet. And now? I’ve seen Dracula evolve and grow as a character filtered through the perspectives of so many different creators: evil Dracula, really evil Dracula, romantic Dracula, sympathetic Dracula, campy Dracula, and maniacally evil Dracula. We grew up together! I’ve seen the vampire archetype emerge as one of the most fluid metaphors, versatile enough to be used in almost any genre, all but transformed from its folkloric roots. And I’ve seen the rest of literature do the same. So it really is a bloody wonder that Twilight is published over a hundred years later and it reads like a bad Victorian novel. Here are the telltale signs:

1. Purple Prose
2. Filler combined with a sensationalist plot
3. Submissive Mary Sue
4. Bastardized Byronic heroes
5. Obsession with social class and wealth
6. Obsession with beauty
7. Racism and colonialism
8. Misogyny
9. Black and white morality
10. Asceticism

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