Team Buffy Being a 31 year old straight male who has had only reasonably functioning stable relationships with women in my adult life*, I am not the target audience for the Twilight Saga by any stretch of the imagination. The cliche joke, which I can’t possibly have been the first to come up with but likely came unbidden, from the Muses, into the mind of any self-respecting geek the moment they heard there was such a thing as Team Edward or Team Jacob is that I am on neither of those teams, but on Team Buffy instead. Though that of course is only for the serendipity of the punchline: I am of course not actually on Team Buffy, but Team Willow instead, even though Willow no longer plays for my team.
* This is true! Not as many as I’d like, or, to be more precise, not in one of those RFSRwW as constantly as I would have liked, but I’m nevertheless a long way from the desperate life of a confirmed bachelor.
Many people better writers than me have complained about the Twilight Saga, so for the most part I’ll skip over the common complaints, about how terrible Bella is as a character, about how Stephenie Meyer is incapable of writing dialogue or reasons to like Bella, how the entire thing reads like the type of fan fiction you’d find on any corner of the internet for Sweet Valley High, except with vampires. My complaints, as a geek, are how drastically inferior the Twilight Saga is as a genre fiction. This is poorly written fantasy that reflects badly on those of us who hang out in that section of the bookstore.
Let’s just start with the most glaring example, no pun intended. In the Twilight Universe, the “children of the night” aren’t afraid of the sun because they’re damned, or because it hurts, or kills, or anything like that, but because in direct sunlight they’re too beautiful. They sparkle and awe all mortals with their ineffable beauty. Going into the sun is only a threat for them because it risks people finding out that they exist. Stephenie Meyer just comes off like she’s writing crappy fan fiction with a hero that is so beautiful that he looks angelic. She can’t be bothered to make a Mary Sue** worthy of respect or interest, but her Mary Sue’s love interest glitters like a teenage girl at a rave. In the movie, we actually get to see how absurd this is--when Edward steps into the light, he doesn’t actually look angelic, he looks like he’s suffering from a sparkly strain of smallpox. That may be sexy to some people, but we have vaccines for these things these days. It’s a more expensive effect that just running him through a preschool art supply closet, but the extra money pays off in absurdity.
** A “Mary Sue” is character who acts as an “author’s pet,” basically, a character that exists as wish-fulfillment for the author rather than a well-rounded character in a story. Amateur writers put them into books because they are role playing their dreams rather than writing a narrative.
Meyer’s contempt and ignorance of vampire mythology comes through in other places as well. Her contention that the youngest vampires are the strongest just seems poorly thought out--they are allegedly still filled with fresh blood that gives them strength. This would make vampires the only creatures other than zombies that get weaker with age rather than stronger.
I’m not saying that Meyer needed to follow all elements of vampire mythology--most everyone has ignored Bram Stoker’s contention that vampires can’t cross running water without assistance, and only the Blade series pays attention to their vulnerability to silver (something left almost entirely to werewolves these days, but part of some legends). Even the stake to the heart, allergy to garlic, and aversion to the cross can be set aside, and has been by a number of successful and well-made vampire series, such as Preacher or the books of Anne Rice.
Meyer’s problem is not that she doesn’t use the mythology that has been cobbled together over the centuries, but that she seems totally ignorant that there even was one. She just heard that there was this blood sucking creature called a vampire, that some kids find them sexy, and then she just made the rest of the shit up.
And then she decided that her vampires really needed to go to high school. Edward is over 100 years old, and still hanging out in high school, trying to pick up the high school girls. He is essentially David Wooderson, Matthew McConaughey’s character from Dazed and Confused. “That's what I love about these high school girls, man. I get a century older, they stay the same age. Yes they do.”
This would make some sense if Edward were a predatory vampire, a pervert who enjoyed feeding only on the underage young and innocent, but as a character we’re supposed to know and like, this is deeply creepy. Wooderson is not a role model, he’s a punchline (four or five of them, actually, all of them significantly more funny than any joke Edward attempts, that dour motherfucker). Edward is sitting there being tempted by all those barely legel and not-even-legal teens, and we’re supposed to think he’s admirable? Jacob, if he were anything more than an empty set of abs, would be an improvement on this, but they’re both shitty male role models, and it makes me perpetually happy that I’m no longer trying to date teenage girls.
Edwards who are Superior to Twilight’s Edward
Edward James Olmos
Edward I of England, known as Edward Longshanks
Edward II of England, who was allegedly killed by being suffocated while a red hot iron poker sodomized him until he was dead
Edward the Confessor (this is according to my girlfriend, I have no opinion on the guy, but I know she likes the guy, and doesn't like Twilight's Edward)
Yes, indeed, there are Edwards out there who are worse than Edward Furlong, and one was in the biggest movie of this weekend.