Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Nerd Journal and Movie News: "Twilight" and the Book-Movie Issue: a Rant (sort of)

How many times have you heard this line about books that are turned into movies? "The book was better."

Well, usually the book IS better. Still, I'm willing to declare a pre-emptive victory for one movie over the book that spawned it. The book in question? "Twilight" by Stephenie Meyer. Oh, sure, I know it's a bestseller and all that, but selling status is no indication of quality!

I read the book because it was popular, and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. My verdict? It's tripe. (Actually, it's worse than tripe. Actual tripe you can at least turn into delicious peasant dishes like menudo, trippa alla romana, or trippa alla fiorentina. But I digress.)

"Twilight" as a book is horribly, abominably, craptastically written. Some of the words on the page made me laugh out loud. I f I were a writing professor, I would have given this thing a big fat F. I can't believe this thing got past an editor and into a publishing house. Some of the word choices, vocabulary messes, and grammatical flops are unintentionally hilarious! The thing made me laugh because it's the realization of all the jokes my friends and I make about bad novels. Do you know what we literary ladies have often done as a game? We've sat around and tried to think up the most ludicrous words we can that could go into a pulp-y, cheap romance book of abysmal quality. We're talking about words like "smoldering." Then I cracked open "Twilight," and -- I kid you not -- there on the page, in all seriousness, is "smoldering." Does any self-respecting author actually use that word when referring to people?

(I'm starting to think, heck, I can do this! Maybe I'll kiss my self-respect goodbye, choose a pen name, and start cranking out formulaic, silly novels about trite vampire love stories. I'll make my fortune selling mental garbage. I'm at the point in my school term when I'm so deranged with work that I'm thinking, sure, why not? If I can make a darn good living by writing trash and contributing to the rot of society, why not? I'm currently heading into illness, bankruptcy, and exhaustion trying to improve society one class at a time by working hard and honestly, and I'm not making any progress. If anything, I'm getting more frustrated all the time.)

One comment, though: Vampire-human angst-ridden love in a high school? Joss Whedon got there first, and he did it better. Angel could kill that creepy stalker Edward Cullen with a look, and Buffy could kick whiny Bella's butt without even trying -- and all while administering quips and witticisms ranging all over both high and pop culture. "Twilight" is desperately missing a sense of wit and humor, but luckily for the reader, Meyer makes up for it by inserting pages and pages of purple prose and overcooked, ham-fisted descriptions of supposedly tender moments that instead made me want to shriek with laughter.

The worst of these has got to be weirdo vampo-boyfriend Edward and deer-in-the-headlights Bella's cringeworthy, awkward attempt to talk about . . . ah, how shall I say . . . physical intimacy. I actually laughed out loud. And this came after Edward confessed to stalking Bella and hanging around her window at night so he could watch her sleep. Are you kidding me? That's not romantic. That's CREEPY. There's something seriously wrong with Bella if she can zip right from this revelation to thinking out loud about doing the nasty with her undead stalker -- and then freaking asking him about it!

Actual trees died so "Twilight" the printed book could pollute the world? Oh, the humanity! Oh, the tree-nanity! Oh, the INANITY. Warning: "Twilight" is just the first of a whole pack of novels. Kamikaze Editor, in the midst of reading "Midnight Sun," coined her own word to describe all this. What do you call something that is this horrible and therefore this hilarious in its flaws? It's HILARRIBLE.

Anyway, "Twilight" the movie based on the book will hit the hapless cinemas of America in about a month. I have little hope for a great flick, but I will say this: at least the movie will be better than the book, because, frankly, there's no way that it could reek more than the book. The trailers of the movie aren't very exciting, but I'll possibly end up going to see the flick anyway because by November 21 (the release date), I'll be so insane with school that I'll do ANYTHING to escape, even for a couple of hours. I might wait, though, until I'm back home so La Parisienne and I can go to the cinema together and increase our fun when we make wisecracks at the screen. (Besides, "Harry Potter" has been pushed back to July 2009, remember?) Come on, this can't be worse and more degrading than getting myself addicted to "Supernatural," actually empathizing with Dean on occasion, and thinking that Papa John Winchester is kind of cute when he smiles. On that slightly disturbing note, here's the latest trailer (get ready for some truly awful dialogue, folks!):


By the way, you might recognize the actor who plays emo vamptastic creeptacular loverboy Edward Cullen. That's Rob Pattinson, the pretty (too pretty) Brit who was last seen playing the ill-fated Cedric Diggory in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" (the only Potter flick, BTW, that I never bothered to get on DVD -- well, that should tell you something!).

GOD HELP ME, all this "Twilight" stuff makes me feel as though I've been slumming with my brain. I feel DIRTY. I need to go away IMMEDIATELY and dive into something that makes my brain happy, like dive into Shakespeare, Mozart, and (gasp!) actual historical research. With footnotes.

I've been roaming around for a while now, lost in a mental cloud. Perhaps "Twilight" for me is the final, dreadful degradation that will make me snap out of my mind-killing stupor. It might be for me what that Burger King burger was for Robert Downey Jr. Dude, I need an intervention. Good grief.

PS: Not that I need to tell you, really, but the so-called climax of "Twilight" was the biggest cop-out and anticlimax I've read in a loooooong time. The movie version clearly means to show what Meyer never did, so I guess that's one mark in its favor -- such as it is.


Anonymous said...

Wow. I was thinking about reading it just to see, as well. Maybe not. On the other hand, something that bad is bound to become a cult classic, so I might be left out of all the "in" jokes if I don't ...

Hilarrible -- I am SO stealing that. At the moment, it pretty accurately describes my life.

Mad Minerva said...

Kamikaze Editor is indeed a wordsmith of rare talent. My life's hilarrible right now too!

Pat Patterson said...

I'm a little confused, were you describing the contents of the book or the contents of menudo? They seem interchangeable and just as difficult to digest.

Mad Minerva said...

Real menudo cooked correctly by someone who knows how is a glorious dish. The book -- ugh.

Anonymous said...

I'll go if we sit it in the back and mock quietly. These fans scare me. The chagrin!

Mad Minerva said...

OK, LP -- you and me (and hey! maybe even Kamikaze Editor) over the holidays, in an undisclosed cinema! We'll get a spot by the exit in case the rabid fangirls figure out that we're there to mock their dazzle.