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LONG BLOG

Chick Flix Club: Twilight

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[Chick Flix Club is a bi-weekly series in which I’ll examine a film within the female driven comedy/drama genres, (otherwise colloquially referred to as “chick flicks”) and discuss why I may or may not adore these films despite not being within the intended demographic]

Hello every/no one! Welcome to the first week of Twi-July! As a refresher, for the month of July, I will examine the four Twilight films because I have too much free time.

When I first started watching Twilight, I realized that the core of the film is basically Disney's version of Beauty and the Beast for the angsty generation (kind of nullifies that other one). There's a young woman who is separated from her family and eventually becomes enthralled with a monster who cannot really love her back since he's too different.

The difference here is that vampires like totally exist and the beast only abuses her because her loves her too much.

Is Twilight just Disney's Beauty and the Beast remade for Generation Angst? Am I Team Edward or Team Jacob? Does any of this matter? Please read on and find out.

Spoilers ahoy hoy.



Twilight is the story of Isabella "Bella" Swan (Kristen Stewart) as she moves to a small (apparently very cold) town to live with her father. She meets Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) and instantly falls head over heals for him when he reveals he is a vampire that has to force himself away from her because he loves her so much. Bella then gets caught up in some deadly family business.

Twilight is a surprisingly hard film to judge as a "chick flick". It follows the rules well enough. Bella is a literal and figurative outsider as she moves to a new town and keeps herself at a distance from the other, oddly super friendly, students at her school. Edward is introduced into her life and she becomes the literal center of her world as other vamps fight over her apparent super tasty blood. There's also very sparkly man candy. That's always a plus.

There is a lot to like about this film despite some major glowing faults. The film has a very "quirky" tone. In the film's small town setting, there a wonderful sense of disconnect from time. It negatively effects believability when I'm not sure how much romantic investment each character has placed in their relationship over time. The small town setting also brings a Cheers vibe, where everyone knows Bella's name, which is at first off-putting but ultimately successful. Also I love one stunningly obtuse scene in the film, where the Cullens play vampire baseball, for its outlandish shift in tone from the rest of the dreary film. It's so damn wacky that it's hard not to crack a smile.

Because Bella's a teenager, I can force myself to accept her questionable logic at times where she needlessly puts herself in danger for some dude. I've learned from analyzing Mean Girls that teenagers act pretty dumb sometimes. All character interaction feels like quick passionate flings that seem to throw caution into the wind which is proper for a traditional "high school teenager" relationship. If Twilight was going for an underlying tone of unintentional hilarity and dumb teenagers, then the film does a good job.



Now for the problems. Bella is a weird, slightly unlikeable person. She's standoffish to her father and the people around her, and when others try to approach her she willingly ignores them while she remains "irrevocably" infatuated with an animalistic ideal. Normally in the "chick flick" genre, the main female lead has qualities that make her an outsider but her positive attitude and other good qualities makes the audience root for her. Bella has none of these. Ultimately, her nature made me question why Edward has a fascination beyond her smellin' reeeeeal good.

Edward is also problematic as the main male lead. Twilight tweaks the male influence in the genre to an extreme degree. Edward constantly refers to himself as an "animal" or "predator". He warns Bella of how dangerous he is, but he backhandedly lures her further in as well. Throughout the film, there is a power play between the two leads that ends in Edward's victory. Bella may be unlikeable, but in the beginning of the film, she had some inner strength as a female character. She seems capable of making her own decisions, like choosing to live with her father instead of her mother, and at one point gives advice to one of her "friends" and calls her a "strong, independent woman". Unfortunately she throws that away, as well as her father figure, in favor of infatuation as Edward becomes the new center of her life. She's literally nothing but a sensual snack for him.

At times, Twilight is self aware of the abusive angle Edward and Bella's relationship takes. Edward mentions his vampire abilities allow him to seduce and consume his prey, so it calls into question every interaction he has with Bella. How much of their relationship is real? How much is Edward "playing with his food"? Edward carries far too much power between the two of them as the film notes how much stronger he is than her. Bella is reduced to this fragile object in need of protecting that cannot control her own emotions while Edward has the apparent self control to remain chaste and not consume her completely.



Bella and Edward's relationship has regrettably abusive undertones. Edward throws Bella around, he tells her what to think and how to act, and always reminds her of how strong he is. But at the same time, he "cannot leave her side" as he's afraid he's going to her hurt her. This comes to a head during the final scenes of the film. When Bella is in the hospital, and you remove all background information and just keep the dialogue and environment, Edward states that he put her there and needs to leave before he puts her there again. It's alarming when she begs him to stay.

I want to discuss the film a bit more, but I feel that the other three (released) films in the saga will allow me to eventually dissect every facet of Edward and Bella's relationship. As a standalone film in the "chick flick" genre though, Twilight centers around a beastly abusive relationship that sends unfortunate messages to the pale Generation Angst with a woman who gives up her life for some dude who just thinks of her as prey.

Eeeh...yup.

Next time (now on Thursdays!), Chick Flix Club is in the second week of Twi-July!

Next Time (July 12): New Moon

Last Time (June 20): 50 First Dates

Questions, suggestions, or comments? Drop me a line below!
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About Nick Valdezone of us since 3:34 PM on 06.06.2011

Nick Valdez likes donuts and cat videos. Someone also let him be News Editor here.