Sunday, November 27, 2011

Brow-Beaten - A Response to Erika Christakis's "The Harsh Bigotry Of Twilight-Haters"

Brow-Beaten - Where Words Hurt

Hey all!

Welcome to my new section Brow-Beaten, where we will be examining some of the debates that films, games and other media can invoke. I read a lot of reviews and opinion pieces online and for every piece that makes me think there is a piece that makes me sigh. It's odd that media meant for contemplation and enriching of the human mind can so often end up making us merely angry, or in extreme cases, stupider. With that in mind, let's re-examine Twilight : Breaking Dawn Part 1.

If you haven't already, please take a few minutes to read my review of Twilight : Breaking Dawn Part 1 ( the receiver of such rave reviews as "LOL" and " You paid money to see that? Really?") by clicking the link here.

Now if you like, you can read the following article, "The Harsh Bigotry of Twilight-Haters" by Erika Christakis, published on under the Ideas section by clicking the link here. You don't have to read it ; I'll quote the article here.

Erika Christakis (hence-forth known as EC) is an educated woman who wrote a rather impassioned article about Twilight-haters, which we will now examine. Is she an intelligent, articulate woman making a number of fine points or an imbecile hack who does not know what she is talking about? I want you, the three people who read this blog, to decide.

(But the correct answer is imbecile)

EC, Yesterday

Point Number 1 - Artistic Merit In Numbers?

Quote from EC -
"And with Twilight : Breaking Dawn Part 1, ruling the box office, the juggernaut hardly needs defenders."

This point is just moronic. That the popularity of something excludes it from all criticism (also known as the "Bella Swan Defense") is something a child should be able to deride. As popular as other trends have been in history (Nazis, New Coke, Bruno Mars), one could argue that they were ultimately not good things.

This statement that Twilight hardly needs defending is doubly annoying when the rest of the article is a sad boo-hoo of how mean boys won't stop being mean to Twilight. This amounts to claiming Twilight doesn't need defending, so stop picking on it?

Point Number 2 - Acting Is Hard

Quote from EC -
"Kristen Stewart and her co-stars have been excoriated for their “sullen” and “wooden” performances despite receiving respectable and sometimes highly favorable reviews in other movies in which they have starred."

Well what the fuck does that prove?!

What difference does it make if Kristen Stewart did her job as an actress and actually acted at some point, somewhere? If I once made a woman orgasm (it could happen), would that then make me Don Juan? To say she has got praise in other films doesn't prove a thing as regards her performance in the Twilight series. Robert De Nero was in Taxi Driver. That doesn't make The Adventures Of Rocky And Bullwinkle a work of art.

She is AWFUL, and I mean ABYSMALLY SHIT, in the Twilight films because her acting is sullen and wooden and ABYSMALLY SHIT, maybe that's why people called her out on it, you fucking cretin.

And while we are at it, quote your sources for fucks sake! Where are these so-called "highly favorable" reviews? I struggled online for almost half an hour to find a review that mentioned her acting as a positive.

On the other hand, here are some examples of other people thinking Kristen Stewart was carved from the same tree as Keanu Reeves. To find those reviews, please click here, here, here, here, here and here. Oh and here is a review from a professional reviewer. No need to thank me.

Point Number 3 - Camp 1 : The Dismissive Camp

Quote from EC -
"wedding ritual, honeymoon jitters and the shock of unintended pregnancy; the topics are apparently too boring and unrelatable for most reviewers."

Firstly I would like to point out that most reviews, including my own, stated that the wedding was by far the best part of Twilight : Breaking Dawn Part 1. Secondly, there is a large difference between the shock of unwanted pregnancy (which is dealt with in the film in a three minute scene) and the actual issue most reviewers seemed to have, which was the issue of a pregnancy potentially killing it's mother and the moral implications there-in. Bella's only act of self-assertion in the whole series is to tie herself to the duty of a woman to suffer/die in child-birth. How progressive.

Characters not doing anything for almost an hour is something I find personally boring though. As for what's too unrelatable for myself, that would be all the necrophilia, bestiality, pedophilia and hyper-possessive behaviour of the series protagonists. Glad you Twilight fans find that those actions totally applicable to your day-to-day life. Somehow.

Point Number 4 - Camp 2 : The Deluded Camp

Quote from EC -
"The deluded camp, conversely, takes Twilight far too seriously, faulting it for leading young girls to mistake fantasy for reality in dangerous, disempowering ways."

Hmmm... So it's deluded to assume media can influence people eh? But then why do you say later in your article that "Violent imagery is, after all, associated with violent behavior"?

So which is it? Does the tone of imagery influence the viewers thinking or doesn't it? Are the haters deluded or not?! You can't have it both ways. Is your assumption that Twilight, a series that features multiple deaths (including dismemberment followed by burning and being torn to pieces by wild animals) somehow not violent? Nice of you to tear your own argument apart for me though, thanks!

Point Number 5 - What's A Vise?

Quote from EC -
"You want to saw someone in half or put their head in a vise"

My friend (and handy editor on this article, much love) Gillian would like to take this time to point out that you probably meant vice. Also, if you write for the TIMES, use your spellchecker. I don't get paid to write my articles, you do.

(N.B. I have just been informed that vise is an American spelling. Which almost makes me more annoyed then I was before... Thanks to Ernest Blythe for that one)

Point Number 6 - Critics Against Kooky-Ness

Quote from EC -
"Maybe part of the reason critics deplore these movies is not only because they are so unfamiliar with kooky heterosexual female fantasies but also because they don’t really like what these fantasies say about men."

No, as mentioned above, critics deplore these movies because they are fetid shit.

As for "kooky" sexual fantasy, is that the kind of sexual fantasy the cookie monster has? If you mean eccentric or unusual, I can accept that fantasies (by their nature) are difficult to critique, as everyone's fantasies are unique to them and their experiences. But that isn't really what the issue is about here.

Ladies of the world, do the following things make you wetter then an olympic swimming pool?

1. A man who threatens you with murder when you are both alone for the first time?
2. A man who destroys your car so you can't visit a male friend?
3. A man who can't kiss?
4. A man who hurts you severely during sex, then feels sorry for himself?
5. A man who abandons you, knowing it will cause you to have a mental breakdown?
6. A man who performs cesarean sections with his incisors?
7. A man who can't act?

This is the heart of this article and, much like Edward's, this argument has been dead awhile. These fantasies may make men look like abusive stalkers with an abundance of self-pity but they make women look like pathetic morons with no self-respect for desiring such a man. Twilight as a series shows no empathy, remorse or pity for the women involved and is far more insulting to them and females as a whole then it is to the male characters.

Bella gets literally ripped apart during birth, after suffering numerous injuries and seriously insulting and hurting those close to her, most of all her father Charlie. Male films, even those with questionable values, usually show male figures as empowered. Female fantasy like Twilight does not empower the female characters but rather strip them down to their most sexist, meager standards. To me this kind of media, which has reached millions of young, impressionable people worldwide, is dangerous; even wrong.

The ultimate irony here is that EC seems to feel any attacks on Twilight as a whole are just male-pysche knee-jerk reactions to women getting what they want in the cinema (which is apparently emotionally-unresponsive, sparkly, abusive vampires...?) and finds attempts to rationally critique the series as inherently sexist.

It's hard to believe standing up for women as a sex would make me the target of an angry rant about chauvinist cinema. Who would have thought that it would be so easy to convince women to angrily defeat a vicious, woman-hating piece of shit like Twilight? How can something so simple not make sense to so many people?!
This. Does. Not. Compute.

Point Number 7 - When In Doubt, Quote 3rd World Health Statistics!

Quote from EC -
"Most mothers know the sense of their body being taken over by aliens, and more than 500,000 women still die in childbirth every year worldwide"

Um... what?

I assume the alien take-over EC refers to are fetuses and not probings by visitors from Mars? If so, then she regards the act of pregnancy as something of a repugnant act. As a male, I have little right to judge but is this a somewhat hostile view of the act of pregnancy? If anyone can answer this, I'd be grateful to know.

As for the half a million women dying in child-birth, most of those women don't have their spine collapse first as Bella does. Most of those women also live in the third world and give birth in unsanitary and often flat-out unsafe conditions, not in the delivery room of a luxury condo in the mountains. I'm going to guess most third world women probably haven't got a lot of time for the plight of a wealthy, obnoxious, strange sub-urban white girl and her struggle to get laid. Just a guess mind you.

So your whole point is women suffer during childbirth and that justifies the extremely truamatising scene in Twilight : Breaking Dawn Part 1 that ends in an absolutely horrific death and near infanticide? That point doesn't really hold up to the harsh light of logic. That's like saying rape exists so more teen films should include rape by elephant to really drive home that rape is an unpleasant experience.

Point Number 8 - Men Are The Devil

Quote from EC -
"The other thing women know all too well is the lurking danger of men. The idea of a wildly earnest romantic lead who isn’t demanding oral sex in the high school parking lot (and who happens to look like Robert Pattinson) is all very appealing, no?"

No. No it isn't.

Wildly earnest is somewhat different to an odd stalker who repeatedly threatens you. That would strike me as something that hints at the lurking danger of men. Edward and his demands may not include blow-jobs but his courtship does feature injury, abandonment and segregation from your friends, family and everyone you care about. EC's article has now collapsed into a sexist, ham-fisted attack on males, not even as regards their role in cinema. At least your right that it's lucky Edward looks like Robert Pattinson though.

Point Number 9 - Everybody Needs Good Neighbours

Quote from EC -
"Is it any wonder that the young man whose heart Bella tosses aside for Edward is, you guessed it, a wolf? As one of my jaded neighbors once opined, “All men is half dog.”

Do I even need to analyse this one? Who cares what your sexist jaded neighbour thinks of men? To say nothing of the fact that through-out the series, Jacob is the ultimate victim, which somewhat under-mines your argument for him as an avatar of male aggression. Team Jacob doesn't exist in popular support of a dangerous male figure but more in support of a wounded male figure who, by all accounts, would be better for Bella then her final choice Edward.

Jacob is sympathetic and kind to Bella. His motives may be romantic but he makes a lot of effort to stay friends with Bella after he realises she loves Edward, even appearing at her wedding even though it hurts him to do so. He attempts to build bridges with Edward, despite Edward being nothing but hostile, abrupt and rude to him.

To say Jacob is somehow a huge threat to Bella does not mesh with how the story in either the books or films depict him. The only hint of danger is his animal side which never does anything to Bella beyond stare at her with sad puppy eyes. But who knows, perhaps they are secretly the sad puppy eyes of a monster.

Ok he falls in love with a baby (and seriously, what the flying french fuck?) but aside from that, Team Jacob for life!

Point Number 10 - Why Can't We All Get Along?

At the end of the day, if EC wants to enjoy the Twilight series then that's fine. She is a well-educated, adult woman who is simply enjoying escapist fiction. That's cool with me.

But to come out online and insult those who hold an alternate opinion to her, then go off and write an article that does not support her views and have the gall to use a smug, self-rightous, smarter-then-you tone pissed me off to no end.

That she contradicts herself or that her points often seem outside the topic is insulting enough, which makes it all the worse that she does this while insulting anyone who may feel differently. I may not hold Twi-hards in the highest esteem but I don't automatically assume they are all morons then use blatant sexism to back up my theories.

The only worthy idea she has (that female fantasy is under-explored in modern cinema) is totally disregarded very early on. This is sexist drivel masquerading as opinion-based debate.

If you wish to read an article that examines the long-term benefits of a phenomenon like Twilight then look no further then this excellent and much more humble article written by Anne Billson that is available via The Guardian online, click here to view it.

Anyhow, that's all from the first episode of Brow-Beaten. I must admit, that was fun! If you liked it, let me know and maybe I'll do more of these further down the line. Anyhow, I'll be taking a break for about two weeks I'm afraid. Don't fear, when I return, I promise it shall be worth it...

Til then!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Film Review/Recap - Twilight : Breaking Dawn Part 1

I'm back!

Sorry for the huge delay, life seemed to keep getting in the way of this blog. But now I'm back, with plans for an article once a week and a score to settle with the world! Starting here with THE film I've been waiting all year to see.

Twilight : Breaking Dawn Part 1 (subtitled "The One With All The Fucking") finally allows the two protagonists of the series thus far to get married, after the entire third movie (Eclipse) seemed to exist just to cock-block them. Yup, Edward Cullen (vampire in the loosest sense of the word, hot, bored) and Bella Swan (into both necrophilia and bestiality, hot, bored) get hitched and give themselves over to Vampire Jesus. As a side note, Vampire Jesus seems totally ok with implied homosexuality.

Oh and spoiler alert!

It is at this point that a recap of the series so far might be useful but if you arn't a Twi-Hard then fear not, all you need to know is that ordinary yet also super awesome Bella (Kristen Stewart) is madly in love with kinda-Vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson) but only somewhat in love with Jacob (Taylor Lautner). Oh and Jacob is a kinda-Werewolf. All of them behave like creepy stalkers to each other which apparently makes them deep and complex. All good? Then lets-a-go!

The film opens with Jacob's chest, proving that the director at least understands what kind of audience he is attracting. Then the wedding takes place, which is probably my favourite part of the whole film, because Bella's father Charlie (Billy Burke) gets to be the only credible thing in the series yet again. Him and his bitchin' pornstar mustache own every single scene they appear in, confirming to me that we should all forget Team Jacob and Team Edward and join Team Cockduster instead! That's the mustache, in case anyone though this film had implied homosexuality in it. Oh, wait...

And Not Even Crossing The Finish Line Is Team Mike, Bless Him For Trying

So after all that, Bella and Edward go to Rio De Janeiro for three minutes, then to the most perfect Island getaway ever. Once here they immediately pout and panic, Bella's rationale being that she is about to lose her virginity while Edward's reasons being he may have to touch a vagina. Edward also doesn't want to kill her with his super-amazing vampire cock, because of his super-strength. Will his semen explode out her back like a shotgun? And how can Edward have sex if he has no blood-flow, is he planning to have sex on a softie and hope Bella doesn't notice? Will Edward and Bella ever learn to kiss properly?! I can't handle all this drama!

Of course they have limp, passionate-less sex and Edward totally trashes the room, apparently in some sort of post-coitus frenzy. It is here that the film stops explaining itself fully and unless you have read the books you may get confused. The reason there are feathers everywhere is Edward bit the pillow during sex, perhaps as some sort of vampire aphrodisiac, who knows? I've been known to devour an entire Watermelon during sex myself, just because I can.

Also Bella is heavily bruised. Edward immediately activates his trusty emo-shield and whines about hurting her (instead of, you know, trying to look after her or whatever). Bella insists that it doesn't matter that he hurt her, because she loves him... Teenage girls of the world, take notes. After totally ignoring his very legitimate concerns the two of them whine about how unhappy they are now because they have made each other unhappy by being unhappy. Then they cheer up and have uncomfortable sex some more. Seriously, I have no fucking idea what kind of message the film is sending out here. Bella?

Of Course!

Still, a message built around only sleeping with those you love probably isn't a bad message, is it?

Oh wait, Bella IMMEDIATELY gets punished for her sexy time by getting pregnant with a ultra-fast-growing monster baby! You read that correctly. Bella, after getting married to the one she loves, has sex and is rewarded by carrying a demon baby that starts to literally rip her apart from the inside out (In the book, her spine shatters during the birth).

Aw well, at least it was a beautiful wedding right?

Bella hides at Edwards house where his father figure Dr. Carlisle (Peter Facinelli) explains that the baby is apparently a son/daughter of Krypton as needles and ultra-sounds can't penetrate the womb. Meanwhile Bella gets to be played by Linsey Lohan as she gets more sickly and ill from her little developing bundle of joy.

While abortion is discussed (but never directly mentioned, wouldn't want to upset the kids would we?) Bella insists on keeping the baby, thus making the one scene where she stands up for herself as a woman also the scene where she accepts dying to keep a child, the ultimate in old-fashioned wife duties. Feminism? Never heard of it!
Now Away To The Kitchen With You And Cook Something

This set-up continues for over an hour. At one point Jasper (Jackson Rathbone) delivers the worst line reading of the whole series so far. Good for him. In another scene, Edward googles demon babies, for the LOL's i assume. I think it would have been more sensible to have googled birth control at an earlier date. You fucking moron.

Meanwhile, the Werewolf clan Jacob is attached to wish to kill the Cullen's if Bella dies as this will void their treaty and WHO GIVES A SHIT?! The one good thing about this mess is an utterly hilarious scene involving all the Werewolves (who look like angry sheep wrapped in bath mats) debating what to do next while in wolf form and communicating telepathically. This involves really weak CGI, animal sounds and character actors screaming at each other like they are in a pantomime. Jacobs declaration to help the Cullen's is the most embarrassing thing Taylor Lautner has ever been a part of (and he surfed a cookie in The Adventures Of Sharkboy & Lavagirl In 3D).

And Only One Guy Can Make Cookies Cool

Anyhow, enough fun, back to Bella and her punishment pregnancy! Just to note that in the book, this section passes with so much more brutality then in the film. Bella "vomits a fountain of blood" and her placenta tears after a fall with a "muffled ripping sound". In the film, it just takes ages and then she has to birth a child without a doctor, as Dr. Carlisle decided the potential night of the birth is the best time to run off into the woods for some blood. The complete cock.

Thus it is up to Jacob and Edward to help deliver the baby, all the other vampires being completely over-come by the blood and unable to do anything but leave the delivery room while staring creepily. This scene, while much much tamer then the books birthing scene, is still like something out of Rosemary's Baby or The Exorcist with violent close-ups, blood and screaming. This is extremely disturbing and there are probably countless teenage girls truamatised about childbirth, especially when dreamy, perfect EDWARD CHEWS THE FETUS OUT OF BELLA.

No that wasn't a joke. Edward eats through his beloved Bella's uterus to get the baby out in time.


BTW It's a girl. Hurrah!

But wait, it gets better! Bella dies after the birth and rather then kill Edward, Jacob decides the new baby is more deserving of death and goes to add infanticide to the list of things this series teaches to teens. But then he decided pedophilia would be a better lesson and IMMEDIATELY FALLS IN LOVE WITH A NEWBORN BABY!

No, that also wasn't a joke.

Here You Go Jacob, You Earned It

So Jacob falls in love with (or imprints on, it's a werewolf thing) a baby girl fresh from the womb. Who is named Renesmee, because who the fuck cares about being taken seriously at this point? There's a fight scene, because every Twilight film must have an action scene that looks like it was shot by a spastic squirrel. The camera swoops and zooms in too close on the bathmats vs goths battle until Jacob comes out and ends it, by admitting his love for a baby less then an hour old. Interesting tactic to be sure.

Rather then everyone turning on Jacob and ripping him apart, they all just look confused and go home, vowing to never speak of this again. The Cullen's are left to ponder the merits of Dracula Day-Care and get the world most powerful restraining order on Jacob. The E...

Oh and Bella isn't dead because without her the Earth would stop spinning. So instead we end on a shot of her all red-eyed and super-duper sexy! The En...

No wait, we end on the Italian Vampire Mafia from Twilight : New Moon, discussing how the Cullen's have something they want. A newborn infant...? Ewwww! Is everyone in this universe creepy as fuck?!

If the review didn't sum up my feeling towards Twilight : Breaking Dawn Part 1 then allow me to explain. This was hilarious! That the Twilight series as a whole was ever taken seriously is a mind-fuck to me and this film is so insane that I imagine even fans are a little embarrassed at this point.

With characters being portrayed as...


... or even as...

*Swoo...* Wait, What...

... and the over-use of drama to the point where genuine dramatic moments have to be played as horror moments for them to work, this series has utterly lost it's way. Who would have thought it could get worse then New Moon?

Where most series reach for high camp at this point, Twilight : Breaking Dawn Part 1 just gets bogged down in it's own ineptness. The film is shot like an advertisement, saddled with weak, apathetic actors, given a slow, pointlessly padded pace (there did NOT need to be two Breaking Dawn films) and an hilariously awful script that ends up being funnier then Vampires Suck, which was at least meant to be a spoof of this kind of thing!

Bring on Twilight : Breaking Dawn Part 2 I say!

Rating : 1 Batty Bat Out Of 5, As The Count From Sesame Street Is Now A More Legitimate Vampire Then The Ones Here.

See It If You Like : The Other Twilight Films, Women Paying For Having Sex (You Sick Fucks).

Til next time!