Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Twilight is wildly overrated

I liked things that sucked when I was a teenager, too.
I liked the two Coreys – Feldman and Haim, respectively.
I liked ‘My Two Dads’ – a show that expounded the virtue of not knowing who your baby’s daddy was.
And I liked ‘Jaws 4: The Revenge’ – a movie that purported a Great White shark that followed a family from Maine to the Bahamas.
Twilight is like that shark.
It makes absolutely no sense.
I understand the movies and books are two different entities – meaning the movies are actually better than the books.
When you take a look at the books you realize that they’re a middling story with a “craptastic” writing pyramid.
These are books that rebel against the rule. Good authors show you instead of tell you. The ‘Twilight’ saga is exactly the opposite. The best I can come up with is purple prose.
Everything in ‘Twilight’ is about telling you something. Bella is clumsy. Edward loves Bella more than everything. Jacob thinks Edward is a twink.
When you juxtapose that against a series of books that is well written – ‘Harry Potter,’ for example -- there are glaring problems.
In ‘Harry Potter,’ the reader is never told that Hermoine and Ron would die for Harry. They’re shown it through actions, deeds and solid dialogue.
In ‘Twilight,’ though, it’s all about the telling. Edward and Bella are soul mates – they drill that into your head time and again.  Bella is sad because she knows Edward is the one for her -- but Jacob is a great guy. Yeah, we get it, Stephanie Meyer writes it in every chapter.
Another problem with the ‘Twilight’ saga is that it gives teenage girls – the target audience -- the wrong idea about boys. Men that love you don’t tell you what to think, they don’t make decisions for you and they most certainly don’t watch you sleep without your knowledge. That’s called a stalker/control freak.
In the 1990s, the WB introduced a series called ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer.’ It was a wonderfully underappreciated show that had a strong heroine – which Bella is not – and a leading man/vampire named Angel that had a lot of Edward’s qualities. In the Buffy universe, vampires don’t have souls, except Angel was cursed with one. David Boreanaz did the dark and brooding thing better than Robert Pattinson does – yet they had the same hair do – go figure. Unlike Buffy, though, Bella constantly needs to be saved. Buffy didn’t have that problem, she did the saving. That, of course, if why she was a strong heroine and Bella is a weak and sniveling wonder.
In the ‘Twilight’ saga, Bella constantly needs to be rescued. She’s weak. She begs Edward to stay with her. She complains about not being a vampire and the thought that she may look older than him – can we say superficial – and she patterns her entire life on what she thinks Edward needs. In the second book, Bella actually mopes for six months because the guy she was dating for a month broke up with her and then attempts to put herself in danger to see a “vision” of her lost love. What a great message to give teenage girls – you need a man for validation.
Why, exactly, would two men be vying for a girl that has no personality of her own?
The only things that are ever established about Bella is that she is clumsy and loves Edward – apparently on sight. We know nothing else about the character.
Now, I read the first three books and found them mildly entertaining but harmless. When I read the fourth book, ‘Breaking Dawn,’ things changed.
First of all, the entire book is an anti-abortion diatribe. Forget your politics, but Bella refusing to try anything to stop the fetus inside of her from killing her is a little odd.
The actual birth, though, is probably the most exciting thing to happen in the entire book. Kenneth Johnson, the man responsible for such great television as ‘The Incredible Hulk’ and ‘Alien Nation,’ should sue. Renesme – the baby from hell – is pretty much the clone of Elizabeth from the original ‘V’ saga. A half human hybrid that grows at a spectacular rate, has special abilities and is savior to the world. Huh, where have I seen that before?
I mean, let’s forget that the ending of ‘Breaking Dawn’ is a great big snooze fest., but when you take into account that you had some sort of threesome set up as an epic triangle and yet no one loses in the end – what the heck?  Unlike ‘Buffy’ and ‘Harry Potter,’ the fact that none of the characters in ‘Twilight’ ever actually lose – or have to give up anything – it’s ludicrous.
‘Twilight’ makes it seem that there’s a larger than life man out there to make everything perfect for you.
Exactly what world is that realistic in?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

New Janet Evanovich book is a Plum fiasco

I realize when you get 18 books into anything -- things might seem a little mundane.
It's hard to come up with new material.
What Janet Evanovich has done to the Stephanie Plum books is a fiasco, though.
While the first 12 books were pure magic, right around "Lean, Mean Thirteen" something awful started happening.
It wasn't that the accident prone Stephanie was becoming boring, it was that she was becoming unlikeable.
That progression has continued and now -- with books seventeen and eighteen in the series -- Stephanie isn't even a character with any rooting value anymore.
"Explosive Eighteen," which came out Tuesday, is the latest and worst book in the series.
What made Stephanie funny for so long was the fact that she somehow managed to bring in criminals despite the fact that she had no talent what-so-ever when it came to being a bond enforcement agent. Still, despite her clumsiness and ineptitude, she and her sidekick (former ho) Lula always managed to bring the bad guy in on their own.
Now, it's like Stephanie can't do anything on her own. Instead, she just calls the two men in her life -- police officer Joe Morelli and mercenary Ranger -- to get her out of every situation.
On top of that, the fact that she's now not even struggling with the Catholic guilt that stopped her from bedding both guys at the same time for the first 16 novels, Stephanie is a mess. I don't think many peole -- myself included -- think it's cute to have sex with two different men at the same time, whether you blame it on an Italian curse or love potion. It's not cute, it's actually fairly slutty.
And while the antics of the secondary characters like Lula, Vinnie, and Grandma (among a bevy of others) were often entertaining, they've veered off into the absurd.
It's one thing for Stephanie and Lula to make an apprehension at a Star Trek party. It's quite another for hobbits to lay siege to a house or Lula to show up and save the day with a rocket launcher (yeah, I said rocket launcher). When you add the low brow humor of a fart off at a chili competition (something that actually happened in the 15th book), Stephanie Plum has seriously fallen off the rails.
I know Janet Evanovich wants to ride this cash cow as long as she can -- but she's utterly destroying her own characters (which is her right, I guess). I just know that I'm done buying them. Evanovich won't let her characters move forward and experience any growth -- so I'm moving to the side and letting the series go.
By not letting Stephanie pick Ranger or Morelli -- I think because Evanovich doesn't want to anger one group of fans -- she's actually screwing her entire fan base. While I'm a Morelli fan, I would be fine with her picking Ranger at this point if it meant that Stephanie could experience some personal growth.
I'll remember the first 12 books with a great deal of nostalgia, the 13th and 14th editions with something akin to like and the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th editions with absolute loathing.
Goodbye Stephanie Plum. It was nice knowing you.