Saturday, August 28, 2010

When the divorce rate for our generation goes up, we know who to blame...

Twilight. Overall, a pretty unimpressive film, but as we all know, it has started the biggest teen-pop culture sensation since Harry Potter, and, according to my bff IMDB, was the second most popular film in 2008, next to The Dark Knight. Seriously, guys? Seriously, females of my generation? Dark Knight is probably going to be considered in ten years to be one of the best movies ever made, and you already can't mention Twilight without every male or cultured female in the room either groaning or laughing at you.
But no need to get into that. Along with a lot of angry ranting that went through my head (and came out of my mouth, I'm sure, much to the chagrin of my best friend,) during this movie, and the added hilarity of the rifftrax we played along with it, (, I came up with three questions that I needed to find some answers to-1,Why did we like this? 2, Why do people still like this so much? And 3, I wonder how many relationships this movie has corrupted?
So when Twilight came out, my very best friend read it, and fell in love with it. It wasn't popular yet, and she, being very dark, fell in love with the atmosphere, and could relate to Bella living in an excruciatingly small town. I read it to, of course, and didn't mind it so much myself.
Now you must understand, my friend and I are not your typical everyday vampire fangirls, nor were we then. We were the outcasts at our school, we intentionally avoided every trend we could. And that is the girl that Bella is really meant to relate to. She cares more about school than she does her appearance or the opposite gender (well..), she isn't athletic, her family is a little off. Her character, and the whole book, really play to a trend that was very popular at the time that I like to call pop-emo. I think (or like to think) that this has been sort of displaced by the indie thing that's happening right now, but when Twilight started, when I was in about seventh grade, this "emo" thing was very popular. And if any of you four or five people reading this are very sensitive about this sort of thing, I don't mean really emo. There's emo, then there's "emo." There's The Cure, and then there's All American Rejects. There're nose piercings, then there are little rubber bracelets with skulls on them. There's Sylvia Plath, and then there's twilight. It was definitely the book of this softcore cultural movement, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't at least a little bit invested in that movement myself, at the time. It's angsty, it covers most of the life questions that thirteen year old girls have thought about, the atmosphere is dark.
And quite frankly, it's just a fun book to read. I wouldn't be the first one to say that the reason Bella is so painfully boring is because the less personality she has, the easier it is for middle school girls to cut and paste themselves into her character and be swept up in the unlikely romance. And the romance really is what makes the book, or more specifically, the fact that the romance is happening in Forks. I live in a place not unlike Forks, in a state not unlike Washington, and though I don't really want a vampire to be stalking me, shoot, at least it'd be something interesting to spend my time paying attention to.
I think it's fair to say nowadays that the oh-so-cute pop-emo movement has pretty much left the mainstream and a good chunk of the girls who are so obsessed with Edward Cullen are not the social outcasts of their school and cannot relate to Bella's trouble fitting in quite so much. Quite frankly, to be a proper Twilight fangirl, you have to have a lot of pep, and you would not be able to fit all the gloom that is necessary to really relate to Bella, the gloomiest gloomster in the gloomiest town in the continental US. So what's the appeal now?
Sexual harrasment, guys. That is the appeal. I'm only sort of kidding. Edward and Jacob are the reasons girls watch these movies now--they are so, very very invested in themselves--i mean Bella making her choice.
First of all, Team Jacob, you need to stop. Bella ends up with Edward. Jacob ends up with Bella's newborn daughter. You're fighting a loosing battle. That being said, I'm not going to really get into the Jacob thing, because he has less than ten minutes of screen time in Twilight, and i've opted not to watch the rest of the saga.
So after some serious discussion last night, my friend and i determined why Eddie is so attractive. And they aren't bad reasons to be attracted to someone--he's smart, he's unique compared to the other guys in Forks, he's musical, he has an old fashioned sense of chivalry and romance, his family loves and welcomes Bella and treats her like she belongs. And I'm not gonna lie, those are some of the things that make my very stereotypical high school relationship nice. My boyfriend threatens to beat up someone who threatened me somehow? Swoon! His family is incredibly sweet? How perfect! He doesn't act like the other guys at school? How refreshing! He's a homicidal maniac who likes to spend time with me because I smell like his favorite meal? Ama-wait. Here's where the problem is, people. Edward uses his good qualities to hide the fact that he's a horrible womanizing freak. Never have i felt less good about being female than after watching this film. Bella is supposedly a tough chick--and she totally is, until she moves to forks. It's like small towns secrete some sort of sexist ooze. Bella grew up with no men in the house, taking care of her mother, being an individual at school, and studying literature. As soon as she gets to forks, she's cooking and cleaning for her father, and as soon as she meets Edward, she's constantly being taken care of like some helpless cripple. Edward is so superior to her in his male-ness that he actually carries her around most of the time instead of letting her walk. He watches her sleep--and that's ok, because he's just being protective. The movie doesn't even try to hide this, like, at all--at one point, they are trying to run away from something, and instead of being rational and letting her get in the car to save time, he opens her door for her, pretty much picks her up and places her in the car, and then actually starts to buckle her seat belt for her. Seriously?
And unfortunately, i cannot answer question number three, but i can only guess it's a lot. Twilight teaches us that our high school sweethearts will be our significant others for the rest of our lives, and we should act as if our happiness forever depends on the success of that relationship. It teaches us that we only can ever have one real relationship--bella and edward get married at eighteen and they are immortal, werewolves imprint on someone and are with them forever, Bella's dad can't have another relationship because he loved her mom, etc. It teaches us girls that overprotective, chauvinistic men who are also aggressive, controlling, and violent make the best boyfriends--can you say abusive relationship? And it shows us that when we are really in love with someone, when they leave, for whatever reason, the most logical reaction is to give up on life and go into a deep, nearly irreversible depression and do life-threatening things all the time. I've seen it happen, guys. Don't let your relationship be...bellafied. Nothing good will come of it.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Legally Blonde+I Know What You Did Last Summer=...

The House on Sorority Row! It's been too, too long since I've watched a good old fashioned slasher, and it makes me feel so good to do so again. So I decided to write a little rant about it.
First of all, lets define "good old fashioned slasher." I'm kind of a stickler for the rules on this one. And the rules are, as I've observed, are these:

  1. Teenagers: The "victims" in a good, true, old fashioned slasher, are teenagers, and they deserve whatever they get because they drink, do drugs, have sex, or, in a few special cases, kill old people. We'll be discussing this tonight.
  2. Survivorgirl: This is also referred to as "the last girl." There is always one girl, who either is reluctant to or completely avoids doing all the other bad teenager things her pals are doing. You may find yourself wondering, "why is this nice, smart girl who's probably valedictorian of the class hanging out with all these deadbeat potheads?" She, as the name implies, survives, and is the often the special interest of the killer (ie, Prom Night, Halloween.) Some newer movies like to play fast and loose with the rules here and have a boy and a girl survive (Nightmare on Elm Street 2010, House of Wax 2005, etc)
  3. Killer: The killers in good old fashioned slasher movies do not use guns. Traditionally, we do not see him until the end of the film. They are driven by some sort of motive, normally of a vengeful variety. 
  4. Ahab: This one doesn't always happen, but usually in slashers you see one important adult who explains the killer (often a doctor,) and who represents goodness and safety for the teens. Usually he comes too late to help much. 
  5. Plot: The plot goes like this: Teenagers do stupid things. Mysterious stuff happens. Teenagers ignore it and continue to do stupid things. People start disappearing. Teenagers stop ignoring it. Everyone dies. Ahab arrives too late. Survivorgirl bests killer, with some help from Ahab. Movie sets up for sequel. 
Now that we've done that! We can get on with the review.

This movie came out in 1983, well into the slasher movie epidemic. So of course, it's pretty much whats to be expected. Which i loved. The cast of b-list actors (two of the seven sorority sisters are now prominent enough to have pictures on IMDB--nobody else in this film does) added a bit of extra cheese to the film, especially the lead actress, who looks like a mixture of Helen Hunt and Kirsten Stewart...
Needless to say, I was surprised when her blind date didn't try to suck her blood.

The movie begins with a nice flashback of a woman going through some seriously strenuous labor, and it is implied that she miscarries. (spoilers: she doesn't.) Then we quickly get to some good old sorority fun. Not any bouncy wet tee-shirt pillow fights like i was expecting, but instead a nice eighties version of the opening scene from Legally Blonde. Which was hilarious. Long story short, the girls are staying at their sorority house for a few extra days to have their crazy graduation party, much to the dismay of their elderly house mother, who is (gasp!) the woman from scene one. Extra-snob girl gets upset because elderly house mother tears a hole in her waterbed, so the sorority kills her. By accident. Then, one by one, the sisters get killed off mysteriously by a force with the SAME WEAPON that the elderly person they killed carried.
Wait, wrong movie. 

This makes it even easier for us to route for the killer. Yeah, i know they didn't want to kill the old woman, and they didn't mean to dump her in the pool when she was actually still alive, but honestly, they haven't even starting drinking yet. Make some judgement calls. I don't even have any sympathy for survivorgirl here, she so easily could have called the police and just opted out of it. Usually slasher movies are pretty subtle about the teenagers being punished--mainstream culture doesn't want to be too in their face about saying that drinking and having sex will get you killed. But its pretty much safe to assume that the viewers won't get contradictory with this message. Don't kill old people, kids. Its bad, you'll have a lot to clean up, and their ghosts will probably come back from the dead and stab you with weirdly weapon like old people stuff. 
     Luckily, the film does have a plot twist at the end, (though not one I had too much trouble predicting.) The doctor that delivered the house mothers baby comes back, in true Ahab style, and him and Bell-i mean survivorgirl figure out that all the other sisters have died, and are not being killed by old lady house mother, but the allegedly miscarried son, who was horribly disfigured and lived in his mothers attic for the past twenty two years. 

So over all pretty white bread and ketchup movie. My favorite part was definitely some of the especially gruesome death scenes.
This made me so happy

And some pretty beautiful clown imagery, which connected very nicely back to the house mother's obsession with her (unborn?) child and ended up doing some serious damage at the end of the film.
When you see the jack in the box, it means you're about to die.
But the thing i really want to rant about is this: the killer. Because Eric (house mother's son) was born as part of some sort of in-vitro fertilization experiment gone wrong, he was born with a horrible disfigurement that makes him look like every other disfigured serial killer before him. which made me realize: society sucks. Theoretically, we depict in films that are supposed to be scary things that supposedly scare us, and, theoretically, we fear what we don't know. So i guess it makes sense that a lot of movies depict children born with weird disfigurements (note: in slasher movies, "disfigurements" often stands for "downs syndrome," but people like to pretend it doesn't) because at the time, and still, we don't really understand things like that and every mother fears that her child will be born that way. And often they act the way they do because they were bullied or mistreated as children. But seriously? This depiction of them isn't really helping their rep, guys. "Hey, you better be nice to people with cognitive disorders and facial disfigurements, they're people just like us, and if you aren't nice to them, a screw will come loose and they'll grow up to kill your children in horribly heartless ways." Being disfigured puts our killer in league with some of the best, including Jason and Leatherface, and less famously, Victor from House of Wax (2005? Chad Micheal Murray and Paris Hilton? Anyone?) Often the killer is upset because his mother was murdered, which gets into the much less offensive themes of killer as victim and the devotion a mother has for her son being repaid posthumously, which is probably a more overlying theme. But we form opinions based on what we see being depicted in the media, no matter how subtle--so just make sure that when you watch this movie, you keep in mind that people with birth defects do not usually grow up to kill teenagers.
Even if those teenagers really deserve it.