Heavenly shades of night are falling–
But do they sparkle?
Twilight, unsurprisingly, has become a phenomenon. Not one that I particularly get into, being not all that keen on the vampire genre save for a passing taste for a little Sookie Stackhouse, but hey–and one whose problematic nature in a feminist sense has been documented in plenty of places (see below links for some good places to start). I’m not going to bother with all of that, because I haven’t read the books. I get the feeling I would probably want to spork things if I did, and I have enough stress in my life already. It’s not the first time we’ve had to sigh at the anti-feminist nature of a phenomenon terribly popular with teenage girls, and it won’t be the last. I don’t feel qualified to go at Twilight with the critical knife other than in a vague sense.
My issue is with the film as a film, and with the sudden ZOMG WOMAN DIRECTOR AND WRITER EMPOWERMENT reaction I’ve seen in some places in fandom. It’s true that yes, it’s pretty fantastic that a woman-directed and woman-written film that grossed $70M in its opening weekend; but if you dissect the process, you find that other than that basic fact, not a whole lot has changed in the system, except that maybe Hollywood execs will be willing to dole out a few more pieces of the usual Based On potential blockbuster dreck to what few women there are willing to mainstream. This is not to say I don’t want to give credit where it is due, but this is not the best thing ever to happen to female filmmaking for a number of reasons.
– Twilight isn’t Catherine Hardwicke’s or Melissa Rosenberg’s. It’s Stephenie Meyer’s, and the success that is the millions in gross dollars is credit to her creation of a fanbase. The film was never not going to gross well. It could have been filmed with Super 8 handhelds and put together in iMovie. It could have been the worst thing ever and people still would have gone just to see Cedric Diggory’s dead vampire brother. It could have been directed by a man, the screenplay by a man, and the opening gross would have been pretty much the same.
– I didn’t see the film, but the trailer and the stills I’ve seen are really too similar to the film versions of Night Watch and Blood and Chocolate. How many goddamned blue grainy CSI-lab filters do we need?
– Now I won’t blame anyone for selling out. I’d love to have the chance to sell out. But what kind of radical departure from her usual films is this for Hardwicke? All of the rest of her work is pretty damned edgy and thought-provoking. Not to mention she was production designer on Tank Girl, ffs. So I’m not so much criticizing her for selling out as more cocking my head and looking puzzled at traveling from badass young female protags in all three of her last films to Bella bleeding Swan. (Because, seriously, Twilight is about Bella and Edward, not any other characters that may appear.)
– This does not teach studio execs that they can make movies by and for women and not ‘saturate the market’, because Twilight was always a sure bet. Considering the massive popularity of the books, a paranormal teen romance with attractive leads will be bank for bringing in the women 15-29 demographic and the fantasy fandom demographic, particularly if you get a good late year release date. All you have to do is make sure it isn’t crap, and you can plan on a franchise. Just don’t say you are until you get a good open guarantee.
– Oh, and you might not need to rehire the director if you are franchising, seeing as she was really just the means to an end in the first place. Now that you’re set up, hey, you might just have to do some switching up top.
Basically, friends, we’ve been had. Not only with the whole bullshit about a strong idiosyncratic female protagonist, but also from the trumpeting of this great victory for women in filmmaking.
Sorta tastes like blood, but maybe that’s just me biting my lip.
I READ THE INTERNETZ
HuffPo: Twilight and abstinence-only ed (sp)
FeministSF: Ide Cyan is somewhat more generous than I’m willing to be regarding the film
Feministing: Kristen Stewart responds to feminists, and links to other Feministing posts on Twilight (sp)
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Tags: girls on film, i like to watch, oh plz