Monday, December 28, 2009

Why Even I Love Twilight

Why Even I Love Twilight

A few years ago I watched “Sex and the City” in my parents’ house. I was enrapt in the episode where Miranda was complaining about her new beau’s “funky spunk.” As I watched, sitting and transfixed with every word, with eyes agog and mouth agape my brother had the temerity to interrupt.

“I don’t get it,” as he munched into a tuna-salad sandwich.

“What the fuck do you mean? It is quite obvious what they are talking about. You know what I don’t get, ‘Sports Center.’ Is it that hard to open up the LA Times and read the sports section, do I need a gorilla to recite what happened fifteen minutes ago ….”

“Actually yes, Sports Center makes as much sense as the boring political stuff you watch. You made Darren write an essay – while watching C-Span.” He grinned.

I admit, I did make Darren do that. But after a brief moment of guilt, I was still perplexed. What can my brother, who is both intellectually superior and infinitely more socially graceful than I, can not understand about Sex and the City?

The central premise of the show transcends all race, sex, creed, religion, and sexual orientations. We have all been Carrie/Miranda/Charlotte/and Samantha at one time. Oh sure, I never had the joy of being much of a Samantha, but I did some things that she would have approved of. Note Samantha is emblematic of much more than sexual gymnastics. She is emblematic of freedom, a certain genou c’est quoi that we are all suppose to exhibit while living our lives. For example, without any consideration for Smith’s career (whom we were suppose to assume made it big under her wings) suggests that the four fly off to Mexico. Playing her professional ball-cutting attitude, Miranda suggest she can’t go because of work. But as I stated earlier, all four are archetypes. We have all been there.

I think the four archetypes in Sex and the City are not that much more different than the four in The Golden Girls, or Frasier, or even I Love Lucy.

(1) Carrie is Dorothy/Sophia is Frasier/Niles/Martin/Daphne is Lucy (when lucid), Ricky (when not screaming) or Ethyl (when not listening to Lucy)
(2) Miranda is Dorothy is Niles is Ricky.
(3) Samantha is Blanche is Frasier (at times, others is Daphne) is Lucy.
(4) Charlotte is Rose is Niles (at other times is Frasier, and near the end is Daphne) is Ethel

The running theme, is that we can exemplify all modes of life into four main characters: the capricious, the philosopher-king, the innocent, and the professional. Which is why my brother’s innocent comment “I don’t get it,” was, and to this day is so bewildering. What don’t you get? It has transcended generations of television. We would all ditch the male/female if he/she had funky spunk.

But unlike Sex and the City, the one cultural phenomenon that I bet my brother does not get – and rightfully so, is Twilight. I am on page 140 right now, but from what little I can gleam from this teenage epic is that it can only speak to the hearts of teenage girls, women, and special subsets of gay men. The first hundred pages of Twilight is all about (a) a red truck, and (b) the stages of some sort of love you know will end in a disaster.

For no good reason, the main character, Bella obsesses over the mysterious-pale fellow with ochre eyes. The first time we are introduced to the enigma he is described as “the beautiful boy …. Picking the bagel with long pale fingers.” By page 87, Meyer opens up a thesaurus and wrote “It was hard to believe that someone so beautiful could be real. I was afraid he might disappear in a sudden puff of smoke….” The book continues with this obsessions. “I wonder what Edward would say,” (about walking along the beach no less)! She dreams about him. She compares different potential mates to him. One would imagine that if she was in the middle of cuninglingus with a werewolf, she would ask him to bare his proverbial fangs. But unlike the characters in Sex and the City, I think my brother has a right in not understanding Twilight.

A quote that I can actually relate to is:

It was the same as yesterday – I just couldn’t keep little sprouts of hope from budding in my mind, only to have them squashed painfully as I searched the lunchroom in vain (for Edward) and sat at my empty Biology table.

This was during Bella’s obsession phase, where she was constantly longing for this random stranger (whom by the way she has spent the total time-span of a few lab experiments with). Edward this. Edward that. And yes even being disappointed when he is not at lunch. But guess what Dear Reader, that is me, and every woman out there. Now sure don’t send me hate mail by my general statements aimed at large cross-sections of the populace. I am sure there are the sentimental heterosexual males; for example, I work with one. I am also sure there are many women who really do live like Samantha Jones; for example, go to law school. But I can state that I know of many man-whores who can relate to the Chinese saying “For as many stars are in the sky, there are as many women on Earth.” But I, my female coworkers, my best friends (who are all women), and even a friend whom I refer to affectionately as the “Mo” have been there. We all looked at our cellphones to see if there is a missed-call, even though we last checked 5 mins ago. This Sunday, I even scanned my church several times to see if my crush appeared. Forlorn, I passed the collection plate without even reaching into my pockets.

People demonstrate surprise when I tell them I am reading Twilight. When I tell them I am reading a book about Katherine Graham it is acceptable, but Twilight – how dare I besmirch my bookshelf. But guess what, I read it because I am Bella. I (and every romantic) have searched the lunchroom in vain. We have all sat at an empty biology table.

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