A chapter in my life is drawing to a close. I have always made a hobby out of hating things that are not awesome, and now, one of my favorite targets is retiring its cultural significance. It could be a long time before another cultural phenomenon this obnoxious, empty, and thoroughly hilarious comes along. People I respect tell me The Hunger Games is quite the page-turner. I suppose I could start watching the Disney Channel again, but that would just make me feel creepy. Seriously, what are the kids into these days? I wasn’t up-to-date on that sort of thing even when I was a kid, but I must confess to having a certain fascination with something that is so obviously a product. Looking at the lead actors, I see that Robert Pattinson doesn’t much care for the series, Kristen Stewart has only one facial expression, and Taylor Lautner has looks and enthusiasm, but no talent that I can discern. He was the best thing about the first two movies, but that was just because he was the only cast member who seemed to give a shit. I’ll post a shirtless picture of him just for old time’s sake, but really, I think it’s better for both of us if I just move on.
I honestly don’t know if anyone involved in the books or films besides Stephenie “How do I spell that?” Meyer actually thinks that they have created good art. I have a soft spot for romances, but I need them to feel honest and realistic, not shallow and derivative. Out of sheer morbid curiosity, I picked up 50 Shades of Grey in a bookstore and read the first page. It took about 20 seconds. The print is very large, possibly out of consideration for the intelligence level of its target audience. If the author intends to write any more books, I suggest she consider leaving words out entirely and just telling the story through crayon drawings. It would probably be more titillating, and would spare the English language the great abuses that it has suffered at her hands. I am not a misogynist, partially because I know that men like things that are equally stupid and probably as misogynistic. But our stuff isn’t walled off from everything else the way that “chick stuff” is. I know women who like The Matrix. I’ve met some who enjoyed Michael Bay’s Transformers, and as soon as I finished shaming them for having such uncultured and intellectually unrefined tastes, I reflected that I know one, maybe two (straight) guys who would admit to enjoying Twilight. Taken as a film, Twilight is probably better than Transformers. It’s moody and atmospheric, with some nice flashes of subdued humor and a central relationship that isn’t particularly romantic, but is kind of creepily fascinating. I cannot say any such thing about any of Michael Bay’s filmography. (Okay, I did kind of enjoy The Rock, but sweet Jesus, what a loud, dumb, overblown movie.) See where I’m going with all this?
If there is one thing about the Twilight films (and I haven’t seen the latest one but will undoubtedly watch it as soon as the Rifftrax becomes available) that I genuinely enjoyed, it’s Bella’s father, Charlie. He is something of a stereotypically overprotective movie father, but he’s also the only truly sympathetic major character in the series, loving and supporting his daughter in good times and bad, and never missing the opportunity to undercut the melodrama with a clever aside. He also rocks a mustache that, in a fair and just world, would have its own separate billing (much like David Bowie’s crotch in Labyrinth deserved but was so cruelly denied.)
I used to make fun of Dan Brown a lot, but his date of relevancy seems to have passed. His characters were thin, his plots silly and full of holes, and his historical puzzles nowhere near as clever as they first seemed. I even wrote a scene parodying him for my undergraduate sketch comedy group, taking the time to research “Easter eggs” hidden in Michelangelo’s art so that I could piece together a mystery of my own. The scene ended with the villainess killing the other characters with David’s genitals (which turns out to be a magical artifact that gives the bearer power over life and death), then resurrecting them and leading her army of the undead off to the sounds of (what else?) “Thriller“. It was rejected for being “too intellectual”. I fail to see how that is a bad thing.
Where to go from here? I don’t know. I’m failing at least two of my classes, racking up tens of thousands of dollars of debt, and still firmly believe that I’m at least as smart, talented and driven as anyone at Columbia, if not more so. So maybe I don’t have to retire Twilight as an object of mockery just yet. It might be fascinating to see where the young actors’ careers go from here. Taylor Lautner, I imagine, will fade rapidly unless he turns to modeling. Kristen Stewart might survive, but since I don’t like her, I don’t give a shit what happens to her. Is Robert Pattinson a talented actor? It’s kind of hard to tell. He seems charming enough, but I haven’t seen anything else he’s been in besides Harry Potter (in which he had only a small role.) Not that David Cronenberg movie, not Bel Ami, not anything else.
Bel Ami, in case anyone is wondering, is a beloved 19th-century novel by Guy de Maupaussant. It definitely is not also the name of one of the best gay porn studios in the world. No, that would be just ridiculous.