Friday, August 6, 2010

Twilight Part 1 : or how I stopped blaming a dillusional mormon and learned to hate society.

Few books or movies illicit the level of sheer pure-hearted, fiery eyed, passionate hatred seen when Twilight first devastated creativity as a whole when the first movie hit theatres like an anthrax attack.

Twilight is infamous for being the embodiment of a failed attempt at style over substance.
It is as if Meyer herself were attempting to dig a vast tunnel system of plots but only got far enough to have a shallow trench, convenient for disposing of the corpse of postmodern literature which she so thoroughly brained with hardback copies of her insipid saga, before covering in lime and burying under a patch of posies.

From a literary standpoint, Twilight is the big budget equivalent of an Anne Rice vampire chronicles fan fiction gone horribly, horribly awry.
In this case the self-insertion the author attempts is executed with all the finesse of inserting a cactus into the rectum of a man who has previously undergone ad-hoc surgery that replaced his anal sphincter with a cheerio. I apologise for the imagery on that one but when you reach this layer of critiquing hell, the level that gets your hotmail account bombarded by even more shit you don't care about than facebook already does, you begin to grow bitter.

That's completely irrelevant to me, because as you can tell I am so utterly jaded already that I could supply the entire legend of the five rings continuity with enough materials to allow them to make mechs out the the stuff.

What's odd about Twilight's infamy is that it's almost memetic in nature.
That is not to say that Twilight isn't deserving of hatred, it is the insipid ramblings of a psychotic Mormon woman who has severe romantic issues to the point where she has gone on record as being willing to leave her (I would expect long suffering) husband for her own characters.
However, Twilight turning up in mainstream media is comparable for net critics to the discovery of the true cross in a back garden in Basingstoke.

It is one hundred percent pure, undiluted, uncut, diamond standard snark bait.

This brings me the the phenomenon of Twilight itself, by far the most interesting aspect in my opinion i.e the only one I give a fuck about because I'm a selfish prick.

Twilight represents many things for may people and it is that quality that draws out attention, as it is a symbol of many movements.

The fans that support this series like Atlas holding up a sky saturated with effluence do so not because it is a good book and I'll argue anyone on that subject, but because it symbolises the penetration of fan fic quality writing into mainstream literature.

Twilight itself is formulaic, it is every fan fiction written by a rabid fan since the idea's inception with a few worthy exceptions.
It is laden with transparent faux-flawless characters (The dreaded Mary sue/Marty Stu character archetype) who can do no wrong and who's sense of logic sets the sympathetic status quo, or protagonist logic as I call it.
To elaborate, protagonist was not always a term for good people doing good deeds for people to see in stories.
Originally protagonists were just political, social or religious proponents, varying from spokespeople to shit-kickers and perhaps this is closer to the common standard than some writers would intend it.

Before I digress into picking out every little flaw (and I'll get to that in time), I'll try to convey exactly why this series has gotten as far as it has.

It gave people hope.

Not in the inspiration of the characters, but in the fact that it could get to where it is.

As soon as this was published, it was guaranteed to hit the big time because it represents an aneurysm in the otherwise stringent standards of literary publishing.

It represents opportunities for the sanity damage inducing grade fan fiction writers to penetrate the market, it is the MOAB of bad literature, breaching the canopy to let through the fucking swarm.

Twilight being published was like the call of cthulhu for shitty fan fic fans, and like cultists to the great god with a mollusk for a face they flocked to it.

Don't mistake me for a man who mindlessly bashes all fan fiction regardless of quality, I'm not.
I used to write fan fiction myself and I appreciate good fan fiction like any other good quality media.
However, the factions that Twilight championed are not the good fan fic writers.
They are the essence of the mediocre.

Now Twilight stands as a vast monolith in the center of modern day media, cleaning out awards shows, backed by its unified horde of fans which have been lead into this shit storm by a glimmer of hope that their own work will be appreciated when Meyer is finished eroding standards world wide.

Now we're getting down to the thick of it.

We've waded through the fan logic, now it's really time to hammer the nail of Helena itself into the heart of this sparkling abomination.

I'm going after the motivations of the 'author', Stephenie Meyer.

Now Mrs Meyer has a rather strange relationship with her own series.
As mentioned she has obviously crafted the main characters as idealisations in her opinion.
Somewhat odd when you consider the level of satire it would normally take to create such abominations, and many find the series as a whole fucking hilarious, one or two of my closest friends included.

I theorise that it is your basic escapism fic, as found on every page of fan
Meyer is a married woman nearing middle-age.
Most people consider having an affair around that age, but if your idealised version of yourself is Bella Swan, a shitty Anne Rice rip off novel may be the easier sell.

Again i shudder to think what her husband has had to go through, I would expect that he's actually dead at the bottom of some ditch, murdered by spouses around the world dragged to the movies by the fandom's thralls. The poor unfortunate partners who spent hours in a cinema, desperately attempting to fashion a makeshift shotgun from chair parts, XL drinks cups and using the sugar content of cinema sweets as an accelerant to force hand fulls of pop-corn through their palettes in a vein attempt to off themselves before their internal organs either liquefy or attempt to vacate their bodies via their urethra.

In essence, Twilight is a standard mid-life crisis on paper were it taken by intent.
This is a literal representation of what Meyer was trying to achieve in writing this, though that is perhaps not the best way to articulate it.
There's something disturbingly fresh about a series writer who is writing for the sake of her own ego rather than money, but then again, some people still think about the evolution of characters, something Meyer obviously missed in Eng Lit class.

Now we can move onto the characters themselves, let us begin with Bella.

Bella is what is known in the Fan Fic business as an author avatar or Author self-insertion, if you prefer double entendres.
In all cases she is, in the series, an idealised, highly sexually desirable, humble, determined, intelligent, beautiful, etc,etc, bullshit, bullshit, bullshit this woman looks like her face caught fire and someone put it out with the ugly shovel.
Now I may be largely asexual with a few notable female exceptions, but there is something about Bella as a character that is so vacuous that it drains any sense of desirability from anyone involved.
The character is bland, clingy, obsessive, has no noted hobbies beyond reading (so Meyer could throw in obligatory Romeo + Juliet reference, as ever characterisation purely to try and validate the intertextuality, though I doubt Meyer knows what that is.) and obsessing about the male characters, who serve little beyond showing how sexually desirable Bella is and there are not enough drugs in the world for me to piece together the full cycle of ego-stroking on this one.

Bella is utterly insipid and it's frankly embarrassing if this is Meyer's idea of an idealised version of herself, and it likely is as beyond what is obvious to the reader (which may be seen as devotion by the author) no discernible flaws are shown.

Bella is a character that fails at every attempt at a redeeming feature Meyer puts forward.
She is simultaneously a whining, co-dependant headcase and an arrogant sociopathic narcissist.

This woman is more of an abomination than I am, and I'm essentially a super villain who has a side-line in poor quality, pseudo-intellectual Internet reviewing, that's a pretty steep summit to exceed, but Bella drives up the side of that standard in her shitty van and uses the incline to achieve geosynchronous orbit, apparently awaiting the day when the universe rightfully revolves around her and whatever poor fucker she fancies for the day.

Now we move on the embodiment of the death of vampires as a character concept.

Edward 'diamond skin dickhead' Cullen.

Cullen is, as this attached picture describes, as far away from vampirism as you could possibly achieve without achieving technological singularity level cybernetics and coding in the Cthulhu mythos.
In fact, this picture is too flattering, at least the Fae are capricious and psychotic and occasionally kidnap women and small children.
Cullen is a walking affront to vampires as a character concept, embodying the 'no weakness' school of vampirism to the point of satire.
Vampirsm in the Twilight continuity (I feel dirty just typing that, and not the good kind of dirty.) are just a vehicle for superhuman levels of bodily exertion.

Cullen himself is less threatening than the count from sesame street but doesn't fail in creepiness primarily due to being a super-powered stalker who makes a habit of breaking into peoples houses to watch them sleep.

The biology behind Cullen is also extremely questionable.
We have a creature who obviously has alterations in muscle structure in order to achieve the physical exertion anime fans and steroid junkies alike dream of, implying major biological departures from human biological structure, such as the molecular content of the tissues of the body, only furthered by the 'Saturday Night Fever' homage that is a Meyer type vampire in the presence of sun light.
It has been stated that the glittering effect, as well as the transformation on death of vampire corpses into a marble like substance is natural for this species, and that the former is caused by sunlight triggering an alteration of the skin surface into a diamond like material.
This doesn't impact on the dexterity of a vampire, though I imagine that if he were rolling up an RPG character his stealth skill would suffer as a result of being made of what equates to a treasure hoard.
The nature of the change also implies that it is a biological reaction to UV light that causes the conversion to a crystalline structure, which means that vampires have gained this trait via mutation and I'll bold the next section for the sake of my fellow biologists out there ravaging their eyeballs with broken bottles: Vampires have gained an evolutionary trait means their cells actively convert their epidermis into crystal, an act which undoubtedly requires the expenditure of energy and minerals, which confers no possible advantage and serves only to make them more noticeable, increasing the likelihood of predation and/or general acts of Sanguivoriphobic violence against them, this makes no sense in terms of natural law as there is no survival pressure fended off by this feature beyond getting laid in the 70's when disco was still in. This feature in fact means that vampires must feed additionally in order to maintain their sparkle-spawning organelles and the price will be hefty because diamond structure requires hideous amounts of pressure and energy to form, thus why diamonds are rare.

Vampires do not use the sparkling as a mating display, there is no data to suggest it stops them going up like a roman candle in sunlight, and it wastes energy, so by all means a trait such as this should have been in decline biologically since the species first arrived.

The rapid-rate calcification of corpses, or in layman's terms instant vamp statue, just add death by plot, is bullshit too, as it implies that vampires are a largely calcium based life form in order to support such a change when their precursors, humans, are largely carbon based lifeforms, and evolution rarely leads to a change in primary physical content when the original mutants prior to speciation were nutritionally supplied by carbon based life forms.
There is exactly one condition in this league of material shift, and it has a 100% mortality rate because it slowly calcifies the sufferer as bones grow in the stead of damaged tissue.
Admittedly I'm quite privileged in that British High school equivalent Biology is a similar curriculum to American degree grade Biology, but could Meyer not have learned basic evolutionary biology? I can recite this shit off the top of my head and I may not have even passed that A2 paper.

The sheer idea of a character of this type with physical capabilities demonstrated by this character is horrifying.
A creature who is essentially invulnerable by virtue of author fiat with a cognitive ability of a packet of prawn cocktail McCoys crisps is a scary concept, throw in the subservience to an emotionally abusive and manipulative character like Bella (I'm sure I'm giving her far too much credit on this one) and despite being hundreds of years old relying on an utterly chaotic, random flurrying combat style and maintaining a teen aged mindset (A few lobotomies thrown in for good measure) makes him perhaps the single most dangerous thing on the face of the Earth on a local scale.

Part 1 is at a close.
Here are some pictures of proper vampires to cleanse your soul.
Because otherwise any prospect of part 2 will evapourate into the ether like my dignity and self respect.

Castlevania's Dracula may have been cheesy dialogue wise, but he's an age ahead of the Cullens.
This iteration of the famous count is a blend of hammy vocal acting, aesthetic class and monstrous power (except for in Simon's quest when he's painfully easy to chain-stun, but that's for another time.) and it all fits together nicely as a sort of guilty pleasure, like an egg and bacon sandwhich made with fried bread.

Self explanatory for Hellsing fans, a reinvention of Vladamir Dracul, but true to Dracula's status as an eldritch abomination, nowhere near as human as his form suggests and probably quite capable of slaughtering countless humans.

The pictured variant, when fully unleashed, consumed the essence of every single man, woman, child and Nazi vampire in all of London, added it to the millions of souls at his disposal and was on the brink of becoming a god.
And he's the protagonist.

The humble varghulf.
Also known as what happens in the Warhammer universe when a vampire goes on an eating binge across the Continent.
Varghulfs embody the animalistic nature of vampirism and are known to eat entire villages without even making a dent in their appetite.
Again, how it should be done.
Don't get me started on when they start eating dragons.

Finally, something very close to my heart as a S.T.A.L.K.E.R player.

The ultimate vampiric creature.

Embodiment of what we fear in vampires.

Can you see it?
Then You're already dead.

Until next time folks.

Note: I've been ironing out the issues with this one, primarily failures on my part in terms of improving content and getting around to proof reading this article, which I forwent in favour of sleep due to time constraints and general incapacity.
Update: Expect an updated, more fluid style in future posts.