Reading is one of my favorite pastimes. Magazines, novels, everything on this site (obvi!), the nutritional facts on the sleeve of Oreos I ate while reading about how people snack while reading. I find it most enjoyable when it’s a book. A tangible, in-your-hands, smell-of-the-paper, flipping-the-pages, book. Screw eReaders (unless you’re using one to read this… obvi!). As a kid I’d pour through a book a week, finding new authors who spoke to me, hearing the voices of the characters as I formed them in my mind, and then begging my mom to take me to the library (remember those?) to find more. I also read a lot due to the “Book-It” program in school because the more books I read the more free pizza I got, but that’s not the point. Reading has been a major influence in my life, and is a beloved hobby that has shaped me in many ways. I’ve always felt it would never dull on me. Until that time I accidentally read Twilight. Then I found out sometimes reading is one big pile of shit.
I say it was accidental because if I convince myself it wasn’t my fault then it will somehow help to alleviate the ignominy I’ve carried ever since. There are fewer wounds in life more painful than those self-inflicted, and Twilight cut deep (emo joke). But to understand how this tragedy befell me, I should start at the beginning.
While with a friend at a bookstore one evening we quickly realized we were in the midst of an outbreak. The place was buzzing with tweens and prepubescents scurrying around in a frenzy. We debated as to the best repellent for this apocalypse, but then we looked at ourselves and realized we weren’t in any danger. Many of them were in goth attire which belied their overly jovial moods. Then it dawned on us that they were in costume!
We stopped one kid who looked to have had a mishap in the arts and crafts section due to the random clumps of glitter plied with sweat on his pudgy face. I asked, “What’s going on here? Is it some kind of event?” The kid displayed to me the book he’d been carrying under his armpit (I chose not to hold it) and said, “Yeah, we’re buying Breaking Dawn.” When we asked what that was he astutely responded, “Uh, it’s a booook… duuuuuuh” then ran off to join his fellow future Drumpf/Hillary supporters (whichever doesn’t affront you).
Fast forward a few months to when we found out a movie was coming out based on the first book in the series. Well, we obviously couldn’t pass up an opportunity to see what all the fuss was about. Something as serious as the phenomena we witnessed in that bookstore must be worth watching. So, still knowing nothing of the story other than it had vampires (good) AND werewolves (gooder), we bought our tickets for opening night (when else?). That evening we waited in a line suspiciously vacant of anyone within 10 years of us and eventually settled into the only two remaining seats together in a jam packed theater. “Oh, this has gotta be pretty good”, we thought with unbeknownst impetuousness.
I’d say it was about 1/3 of the way in before we understood this was not a comedy. Up until that point it was almost palatable (the unintentional humor remained throughout, but it was more of a sad funny… like going to Wal-Mart). When Bella walked into class and Edward writhed in agony, so did we (I actually thought he was either constipated or, if we hadn’t already been told he’s a “vampire”, then maybe things were finally about to go down and he was gonna do that cool morphing-into-a-werewolf thing like in The Howling). After that we sat through the rest and wondered what the hell just happened. I enjoy bad movies when they know they’re bad and are intentionally campy. Twilight was not that kind of bad. Twilight was the bad kind of bad… the kind that made the plots of Transformers look like an Aaron Sorkin project.
Naturally, our opinions were that everyone at Summit Entertainment should throw out their business cards, erase their LinkedIn pages, and join the witness protection program. But to our surprise there was a huge allotment of the public who loved it! It was everything they hoped it would be! Bella was just sooo Bella! Edward was the brooding and perfectly gorgeous specimen they’d fantasized about for 3 years! And did you see the way he drove? Ha, what a Cullen! “But, no” we shouted, “did you really watch that mess?!” But it fell on deaf ears. Time after time I got into a debate with a Twilighter (or Fanpire or Twihard, depending on how much you hate yourself) with my stance being the movie was abysmal. The reply I received was the same every time, “There was so much in the book that wasn’t in the movie. You don’t know the source material, so you can’t really make an informed opinion.” First, I never read The Godfather either, but that film turned out okay. Second, I’m far too stubborn in my opinions to let a simple thing like not reading a book get in the way of me convincing you that you’re wrong.
And it was this unwavering resolve that led me to the worst decision of my life (if you don’t count those corduroy pants Freshman year). So, to back up my claim that Twilight is to movies what Batman & Robin was to movies, I decided to read the book (note: I borrowed a copy). And, boy, was that apple rotten to the core.
This is not a review of the film or the book (only because I can’t stomach either enough to revisit them), but every page was so much like a stake through the heart that I found myself wishing I was a vampire just so the pain would end! But what’s-her-face who wrote it (again zero effort revisiting this stuff) would probably make up more BS rules about vampires and say, “Nah, uh! Vampires aren’t killed like that. You have to wait for dawn to break following a new moon, pull out their fangs, boil them by twilight, and then make them drink the broth while staring into an eclipse.” Whatever, lady.
Perhaps the best and most honest review of the book was from my own mother who read it merely out of sheer boredom (which did nothing to satiate it, by the way) when she said, “If you take out the love story and the vampires and werewolves it’s really not too bad.” Perfect.
The polarity of experiencing both the film and the book is such that a) I feel vindicated in my opinion that Twilight is the manifestation of those dino droppings Dr. Ellie Sattler plunges into elbows deep, but unfortunately b) I was those elbows.
When did you read a book or watch a movie with a huge fan following and you completely regretted it?