Somehow Stephanie Meyer makes vampires even stupider than Anne Rice.

So not long ago I saw the movie “Twilight”. Having heard that it was a teen romance, I hesitated but since it had vampires, I figured “how bad can it be?” Pretty bad, it turns out.

In spite of the ethereal hotness of actors Robert Pattinson and Kristin Stewart, the film is a mawkish mess. Numerous times I felt myself cringing during the absurdly sophisticated sounding exchanges among what are supposed to be high school seniors. I don’t know what high school Stephanie Meyer went to but very few of the kids at my school talked like certified accountants.

Anyway, what seems to be the problem is that Ms. Meyer is unable to leave her own (middle aged) voice behind and truly “channel” her teenaged characters in a convincing way. She is however, a genius when it comes to tapping into the melodramatic romantic fantasies of your average teenage girl. From the smoldering glances to the breathily tentative touches exchanged by the star-crossed lovers, Stephanie Meyer has created a new genre — the adolescent bodice-ripper.

God knows why I felt the need to read the book after enduring two hours of concentrated cinematic schmaltz. I guess I was hoping it would be better. Nope. The book is just the same–possibly weaker, since there’s no stunningly attractive cast to look at. There’s still the bad dialog, the endless cheesy descriptions of Bella’s infatuation with “godlike” Edward’s golden eyes and crooked smile… Ugh.

All this is bad but could be tempered by the horror aspect of vampirism if the author cared to address it. Somehow she’s managed to remove all the risk, all the edge, all the downside of being a vampire in the interest of making her characters as glamorous as possible. The problem is, by doing that, she’s removed all possibility of them having any depth.

Anne Rice betrayed her vampire characters by doing the same thing, post-original vampire trilogy. What made her first stories interesting were the limitations of the main characters, the things they couldn’t do, like being exposed to sunlight, drinking “dead blood”, having sex. Anne Rice’s first conception of vampires was more subtly erotic, with blood drinking a surrogate for sexuality. This gave her characters a reason to be psychologically conflicted, to have some kind of inner life. Later, she lost her mind and wrote book after tedious book about rich, supermodel vampires who did everything humans could do only better.

Taking a cue from this repetitive dreck, Stephanie Meyer’s characters are vapid, vampire cutouts. They’re all brilliantly good looking, strong and indestructible. They’re cultured, refined and talented. Best of all, they don’t engage in any of that icky murder business; having some kind of merciful vampire code, they only feed on wild animals which allows them to live openly within the community.

For Stephanie Meyer, there’s just no downside to being a vampire. Not even the sun can touch her characters. Most vampires turn to dust the minute the sun hits them but Edward and company go out in the sun and–get this–sparkle like disco balls.

What really gets me about the Twilight series, above and beyond the utter lack of trade-off involved in becoming a vampire is its total lack of logic. It mentions that Edward doesn’t need to breathe, sleep or eat. That makes sense, since he is dead after all. At one point though, Bella challenges him to eat and he takes a big bite of some pizza. My first thought was, “That pizza’s gonna sit in his esophagus for the next thousand years” because although he may be able to consciously remember to breathe, I figure his dead digestive system may be unable to cope.

The most ridicuous of the anatomical plotholes is the sex issue. In the book, a titillating little scene has Edward and Bella alone in her room where she asks euphemistically if he’s able to you know, “perform”. He laughs and essentially says “of course!” which made me wonder what artificial means he’s using to pump blood to the necessary organ since his heart stopped a hundred years ago.

At the end of Twilight, Bella begs to be “turned” and Edward refuses to help her, saying “she’s just begun living her life”. What’s the conflict here Edward? Becoming a vampire in Stephanie Meyer’s world would hardly be a break in Bella’s routine. She’d still live the same way and do the same things, only she’d suddenly be preternaturally graceful and beautiful. She could still go to high school even. By the way, that idea wins the prize for dumbest thing in the series. That vampires would bother to go to high school again and again and AGAIN? I guess immortal super-beings can’t get enough of 9th grade biology.

Anyway, Stephanie Meyer has created possibly the most idiotic vampire franchise in history but she’s laughing all the way to the bank. Damn…why didn’t I think of it?

Comments (1) »

  • Zylvere says:

    This is the best review ever! I was looking for a good explanation of the draw-backs to being a vampire in meyers novels: this was just the explanation i was looking for. Thanks for the hilarious review.

Leave a comment

XHTML– Allowed tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>