We start the Top 7. You finish the Top 10.
It might be awards season in my head, but it’s Twilight time everywhere else. For three weeks in a row now, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn has been standing as awkwardly stiff as Taylor Lautner in that poster over there to keep the top box office spot. Finally, New Year’s Eve knocked it out of the top spot. Sigh, that sentence doesn’t help, does it? While it’s also certainly December, Breaking Dawn has been fending off an onslaught of summer season-like releases including Happy Feet Two, and The Muppets.
As an outsider to the franchise who only “understands” Twilight through the films, there are numerous silly elements about the whole kit ‘n kaboodle that are simply strange to me. Sometimes they make me scratch my head, sometimes they make me giggle like a twelve-year-old girl, and sometimes I have both of those reactions. Such curiosities range from the strange minimal use of Anna Kendrick, to the recurring defiance by the poster gods to allow Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner to sit down for once (those would be in my Top 10). The whole vampire/human mating thing is old news. The franchise has become its own snarling, stupefying franchise.
I am also curious about what still drives the fan-demonium of Twilight supports, but I’ll leave them off this list, also because I am slightly afraid of them. Just look at the democratic headache we here at TSR had to endure a few years ago.
And now, on to the list …
7. The general craziness of Twilight monopolizing the MTV Movie Awards – The MTV Movie Awards might not mean much to some people, and those folks are right. Still, such an annual event stands as a decent indication of what teenagers, one of Hollywood’s most devoted demographics, are fondly receiving the most. In what other occasion could Justin Bieber beat out Natalie Portman’s Oscar-winning performance in Black Swan for the category of “Best Jaw Dropping Moment”? Having said this, of course Twilight has been awkwardly and obviously at the top of such a ceremony for years, hilariously beating out Oscar-nominated movies like Inception or Slumdog Millionaire for the “ultimate” award of “Best Movie.” And the MTV Movie Awards will be “Twilight Appreciation Night,” with Kristen Stewart as the uncomfortable recurring guest speaker, so long as anyone is given the right to vote, and Twilight movies are released. Plus, watching Stewart speak unscripted to her fans is a more joyful experience than any Twilight film. Lautner has been working hard (or not at all) for an MTV Movie award; he’s been nominated three times, but has never won. You know who also carries that same thespian cross? Leonardo DiCaprio. It hurts my head just thinking about it.
6. The acting potential Kristen Stewart and Rob Pattinson – It shouldn’t be hard to stomach that neither of them have delivered a truly noteworthy performance. And yet here’s Stewart, at the top of Forbes’ list of “Best Actors for the Buck,” with Pattinson at #3. (I guess that’s Twilight logic for you.) So kudos to “K-Stew” and “R-Patz” (Andre Bazin, forgive me) for looking beyond the Twilight perimeters, and using their “leading” powers for projects that don’t immediately play into their genre strengths. Admittedly, movies like Remember Me and Adventureland still have strong romantic connections, but what lies ahead for both of them doesn’t necessarily. Pattinson is going to be in the next David Cronenberg movie Cosmopolis (and he’s apparently in almost every shot), and Stewart is going to top actioner Snow White and the Huntsman opposite Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth, not to mention encourage her fans to do more reading with the upcoming On the Road adaptation directed by Walter Salles. With Twilight enslaving the the two to crappy dialogue and stiff characters, I’m kind of hoping they make it out of the films alive … or at least bomb somewhere else down the road.
5. The expanding and everlasting battle of Team Edward vs. Team Jacob – With all our encompassing appreciation of Twilight, so comes our own worldwide wrestling with the predicament that helps make the franchise’s arc so unnecessarily dramatic – Edward, or Jacob? Such a “rivalry” seems to have pushed the word “team” towards the meaning of “cult,” with fans identifying with a vampire or werewolf in the same way people used to choose which Backstreet Boy was going to be their future husband. It has exploded from a cute inside joke to now a pop culture phenomenon, influencing full marketing campaigns (Burger King) and standing as a sh*tty question to sarcastically ask during interviews. What does this say about us when even contained fictional characters cause such famous competition? Maybe, the worst part of all is that everyone, whether you’re burning Stephenie Meyer books or stating that you don’t care, has an answer. (Edward, duh.)
4. Breaking Dawn is actually kind of a sort of good movie – How did this happen? I say this with no shame or sarcasm. When I saw The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1, I actually left the theater without hating myself, something I feared would happen after having slugged through the first three movies. In fact, I was kind of happy I saw Breaking Dawn, for it proved to be the first movie of the franchise worth its beans – it gave us the honeymoon/hour-long money shot that such an empty long road was heading towards, and then it actually dared to scare the sh*t out of someone. Director Bill Condon brought a bit of the horror back to werewolves and vampires, and makes Breaking Dawn bloody and chaotic, especially with near-experimental montages that delightfully aim to wipe any glitter still lingering from the previous movies. Plus, Taylor Lautner’s appearance time is pretty damn small, which always guarantees something good in this world. (Although, my girlfriend did have to explain to me what his “imprinting” scene meant, and I have been trying to curb-stomp myself into concrete since).
3. No one has ever told me the books themselves were actually decent pieces of literature – With all of the hype and overwhelming love for all things Twilight, no fan/former fan has ever exclaimed to me, “Shut up, Nick, the books are actually quite good!” or, “They’re so well-written; you must read them! You won’t regret it!” (The casually polled participants include my 14-year-old cousin, my aunt, and my girlfriend). Instead, a lot of the responses I’ve heard generally include phrases like “guilty pleasure” or, “They were fine when I was thirteen.” Usually these statements come with a small critical caveat, which usually rounds up as, “They aren’t as well written as ‘Harry Potter’ … Bella is hardly a defined character … and ‘Breaking Dawn’ is a such a bore.” This all makes me wonder: At what point do people eventually become loyal zombies to the franchise and feel like seeing the films will give them a sense of completion? Is it generally wide-known and embraced that the source material just isn’t very good? Are we really that powerless to even mental images of love and shirtless dudes that now everyone has to put up with this crap?
2. The Politics of Shirtlessness – So, a person who is a werewolf has the right to be shirtless at all times, but a vampire can scar himself (and our eyes, apparently) if he ever goes shirtless? The “Politics of Shirtlessness” as I’m calling it, make no sense even in the world of Twilight. Do Lautner’s t-shirts, frayed victims of sudden werewolf transformation, disappear into thin air, turn into trees, or go to heaven? What about his pants? If there isn’t a tree of t-shirts that grows in werewolf territory, do they buy shirts in bulk? From what store? Do they get discounts?
1. Taylor Lautner – Everything about Taylor Lautner. And I mean everything. His acting past as “Sharkboy” in The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl, his acting future in crappy ‘n flabby duds like Abduction, and his shirtless purpose in all of the Twilight films. Dude is a statue, chiseled to resemble beauty in some eyes, but is just as entirely lifeless when it comes to any acting responsibility. Even his high-pitched voice feels a little contradictory to his machismo exterior, which is a tough sell to be taken seriously even as a mediocre action hero. Where did this guy come from, and where the hell else can he go? Considering his stick-thin acting ability and narrow selection for roles (so far, at least), Lautner will probably be the first of the main three to sign DVDs and books at Midwest comic conventions.