"Child, upon these maps do heed This black stain to be effaced Omitting it, you would proceed Yet better it in red to trace Later, whatever may come to pass Promise there to go you must To fetch the children of Alsace Reaching out their arms to us May in our fondest France Hope's green saplings to branch And in you, dear child, flower Grow, grow, France awaits its hour."
"To rid the map of every trace Of Germany and of the Hun We must exterminate that race We must not leave a single one Heed not their children's cries Best slay all now, the women, too Or else someday again they'll rise Which if they're dead, they cannot do."
"We have one and only enemy Who digs the grave of Germany Its heart replete with hatred, gall and envy We have one and only enemy The villain raises its murderous hand Its name, you know, is England."
Good Evening Deviant Art!
... I've been drinking...
Lets do this!
About a year ago, I finally gave into curiosity and read the first installment of the "Twilight" series, and I wrote down my thoughts, insights and opinions in this journal entry. [link]
Needless to say, It got more comments than any other journal entry that I've ever written. With the hold that Twilight has on the public consciousness, no matter how far removed we might be from mainstream culture, this phenomenon has touched us all to some degree, and my friends and even some people who I knew by reputation but who I had never actually spoken to, and even total stranger chided in and offered their two cents. Such is the universality of Twilight as a brand name that we all seem to have an opinion on it to one degree or another.
Much to the chagrin of those who stand counterpoised to the legions of fans who love and adore the series, it's popularity and profitability have become as such that it's become clear that the books and movies have evolved beyond the level of a fad.
In one sense or another, Twilight will bear some merit of note in the historical record and will never fully disappear.
It will never leave! It will never leave! ...
So what inspired me to do another journal entry on this phenomenon over a year after the fact?
Could I be commenting in an ironic and subtle way on how everyone who beats Twilight into the ground claims to despise it yet can't seem to stop talking about it?
Yes, but no.
Could it have something to do with the box office record sent by the film adaptation of part deux of the series "New Moon" that very nearly broke "The Dark Knight's" box office record?
Yes, but no.
No, what really hardened my resolve was walking into my local "Books A-Million" and taking a gander at the comic book shelf, only to see Twilight author Stephanie Meyer's smug face staring back at me.
Indeed my brothers and sister, Stephanie Meyer has her own comic book.
Low and behold[link]
And whether it was out of sheer wonderment or sheer curiosity... I bought it.
It did indeed feel as though I had purchased a compromising possession. And indeed my dear friend
expressed a serious concern that Steph would come alive at night from the front cover and devour my soul while I was sleeping.
If you're reading this now, Trish, that hasn't happened yet.
So in any case, I read it. And........................ I'm not impressed.
Not that reading the story of how a woman from a modest background might help inspire young girls out there, but there was really NOT THAT MUCH to the story.
All stories are based on one of the three dramatic elements: Man vs. Man. Man vs. Nature. Man vs. Himself.
In the life story of Steph Meyer, there's barely any conflict, making it quite hard to justify how it was made into a comic book, which is a medium normally reserved for the domain of action and adventure.
So, spoiler alert!
Here's the life story of Steph Meyer as laid out in her comic book:
-Born in Hartford Connecticut (The city of my own birth I should probably add)
-Moved to Arizona at a young age.
-Attends Bringham Young University
-Gets married and has her three sons
-Has a dream about a vampire and writer her book
-Twilight goes global and she makes a bagillion dollars...
... THE END!!!
Now, granted it's pretty easy to deduce that the whole reason this comic book exists is to milk even more allowance money off of the hordes of Teenage girls who follow this series. Outside of the context of Twilight, it's not even a good or entertaining life story.
Did Steph have to struggle to support her family? Did she meet any reprisal from friends or family in trying to publish the book? We don't know. The only conflict we get was that her mansuscript was rejected a couple of times before it got published. That's it!
Take two other successful authors from our time: Stephen King and Joeanne Rowling, and contrast their life stories.
Stephen King was raised by his single mother who worked cleaning houses in rural Maine, and had far from a glamorous life. He worked as a linen washer at a resort in Bangor Maine while trying to support his wife and two children until he finally achieved commercial success with "Carrie," and even after he became a successful writer he still had to struggle to kick his drug and alcohol addictions.
Joanne (J.K.) Rowling was forced to move back to Edinburgh Scotland after her divorce from her first husband in 1993, four months after the birth of her first child. Pulling herself out of clinical and near-suicidal depression, she spun the stories of a boy wizard that turned into a global marketing machine while writing in a Scottish caffe and tending to the responsibilities of a single mother.
Either one of these life stories has more drama and conflict than that depicted in Meyer's graphic novel. Where are Stephen and Jo's Comic books!? HUH!? HUH?! HUH?!
But I don't think Meyer can be blamed for the comic book based on her life. The book itself is only a tiny piece of the great marketing machine that Twilight has manifested as. The demand for anything and everything Twilight related has truly become a beast that can not be fed.
For those of you who have stepped into a shopping mall or walked into a bookstore or visited an online news source lately, you're keenly aware that anything relating to Vampires and Werewolves is selling like gangbusters. And the nature of the fans who devour said merchandise is evolving into surprising new dimensions: Case in point.
Observe this group calling themselves "Cullenists" Or a religion based off of Twilight.
... I'm totally not making this up.[link]
In truth, it's a web-based discussion group which is devoted to the values and ideals presented in Twilight, and claim not to be a religion.
The group does however claim not to be a religion in the same space as the button for their site "Cullenism, my new religion."
This seeming contradiction makes me think a more appropriate label might be one along the lines of:
"Cognitive dissonance, why we don't experience it."
While this might seem frightening on the surface and might lead one to believe that Twilight fans have evolved to a whole new level of strangeness, their idea is actually based off of a much older one, one which first came to public attention 60 years ago with the publication of the book "The Hero with a Thousand Faces."
Now, anyone who's known me for any amount of time is well aware of my obsession with the late Joseph Campbell and his postulated theory of the Monomyth, or the one collective myth that runs through all cultures and ties all of human storytelling together. And in my studies, I've read many of the famed pieces that were directly influenced by Campbell's masterwork.
In "The Writer's Journey," Christopher Vogler related Campbell's description of the Hero's journey, the central theme to nearly every epic story that features a central role in every human culture.
Vogler's gift is describing the Hero's journey in very approachable, understandable terms.
Armed with these tools, when one looks at the whole of world mythology, it becomes much easier to discover underlying patterns and themes.
This is essentially the aim of the Cullenists.
The stated objective of the group is, and I quote,
"To appreciate the values and ideals represented by the Twilight series. We are not a religion(or a cult,lol) But we will be comparing and discussing Twilight with religion."
I hate to disappoint these ladies, but the good Joe Campbell beat them to the punch by three generations.
Anyone familiar with the Hero's journey concept can pick apart Twilight and see how it breaks down when compared to other stories, myths and religious lore.
Understanding the story, it would be pretty easy to pick out "The Call to Adventure," "Crossing the first threshold," "Supernatural aid," and so on.
If these ladies are looking to compare and contrast the Twilight series to the New & Old Testament, and the stories of the Judeo-Christian-Muslim God of Abraham, they probably won't have to look to far. The heavy-handedness of Christian influence in the first book at least (From my own experience as a reader) ranges from subtle to hard-not-to-miss.
But perhaps the most telling comparison to be made between the lore of old and the Twilight series.
In "The Writer's Journey." Vogler makes note of the architype known as the "Animus"
The Animus is the masculine force of nature. It is present in all men and all women as well. Yet in women it is present largely on the unconscious level.
The function of the Animus is for women to exercise their image of masculinity, to generate an idealized version of manhood that can either come from without or from within.
With a picture of idealized masculinity, the woman "Projects" this image onto the men in her life, and measures all men by that inner standard. Men do the same thing with women, projecting their "Anima" onto the women in their life and judging them by that standard.
We have multiple sources confirming that Edward Cullen, the focal point of the Twilight phenomenon emerged directly from Steph Meyer's unconscious.
He is, in short, the idealized, umbral, feral aspect of manhood. The height of lust and desire.
The most common character associated with the Anima or the Animus is the Shapeshifter. In Twilight we see both the dark and the light aspect of our protagonist, Bella's, Animus' battling for her affection. (colloquially known as "Team Edward" and "Team Jacob" respectively.) One of these suitors even takes the form of a shapeshifter, thus cementing the architype.
It has long been the function of fantasy and literature to be a wish-fulfilling medium. We see our dreams played out before us and if we are emotionally invested in the characters, we are along for the ride, watching our dreams come true before our eyes.
However, the richer and more satisfying a story on the whole, one thing must come about as a result of the story and conflict: growth.
Characters change, develop and evolve over the course of a good story. We see this is the case in many popular stories in movies and books today. Although sadly, Twilight is not a great example of this.
The story itself seems more concerned with wish-fulfillment and the feeding of the penumbral Animus than it is with growth, learning or development.
The crux of much of Twilight can be taxonamized under the label: "Blind desire."
Base longing seems to form much of the story rather than actual romantic chemistry or actual compatibility. From what I've been able to gleam in reading the first book, reading the plot outlines to the others on Wikipedia, or watching half of "New Moon" from a source that was... probably illegal (Thanks
for the link, by the way.
) The series is less a rich and complex love story than it is an outlet for shortsighted, arduous desires.
Not looking too deep when we get into a relationship is a recipe for disaster. And the point of this was driven home when the National Domestic Violence Hotline listed fifteen signs of an abusive relationship between the famed couple Edward and Bella:
Does your partner:
* Look at you or act in ways that scare you?
* Control what you do, who you see or talk to or where you go?
"Stay away from the werewolves. I love you."
* Make all of the decisions?
* Act like the abuse is no big deal, it's your fault, or even deny doing it?
"If I wasn't so attracted to you, I wouldn't have to break up with you."
* Threaten to commit suicide?
"I just can't live without you. In fact, I'll run to Italy and try suicide by vampire if anything happens to you."
* Threaten to kill you?
On their first date.
These are some more signs of an abusive relationship.
Has your partner...
* Tried to isolate you from family or friends.
Bella doesn't have time for anyone else!
* Damaged property when angry (thrown objects, punched walls, kicked doors, etc.).
* Pushed, slapped, bitten, kicked or choked you.
Does tossing her through a glass table count?
* Abandoned you in a dangerous or unfamiliar place.
"We're breaking up. And I'm leaving you in the forest."
* Scared you by driving recklessly.
* Forced you to leave your home.
She had to run away with him to flee from the other vampires in the first movie, and she had to drop everything and run to Italy in the second.
* Prevented you from calling police or seeking medical attention.
Check. Even in the hospital, nothing is a big deal.
* Views women as objects and believes in rigid gender roles.
Remember girls, no sex before you're married! And the first time you do it, you're getting pregnant!... That's all you're good for!
* Accuses you of cheating or is often jealous of your outside relationships.
If any one of these signs is present, it could be the sign of an abusive relationship. But this is fifteen!
Standup comic Jeff Foxworthy once opined:
"When surveyed, most women said that they most fantasized about a "Dangerous Man." Well that might sound exciting at first if you're thinking James Bond or something. But remember ladies, that "Dangerous Man" is the one most likely to be lead away from your house in handcuffs while you're yelling from the window to the cops, "LOCK HIS ASS UP!!! LOCK HIS ASS UP!!!"
You know we're in trouble as a nation when our premier Redneck Comedian has more psychological insight than or current bestselling author.
Well, in any case. All y'all are free to draw your own conclusion in this whole Twilight business.
Love it, loathe it, or just think it's okay, It's certainly not going anywhere anytime soon.
Now, I would really like to end this journal on a positive note.
And seeing as how it's the Holiday season, I would really love to recommend a movie I've recently had the very great pleasure to view.
I saw it first on the Nostalgia Critic's "Top 11 Christmas Special Runner Up" List. [link]
Firstly, if you're not already a fan of Doug Walker and his Alias the Nostalgia Critic, SHAME ON YOU!
And secondly, this list bore a movie that I recently saw for the first time and was blown away by.
If you haven't already seen the 2005 "Joyeux Noël" [link]
You're really, really in for a treat.
Based on the extraordinary story if the "Christmas Truce" that first took place in 1914 during WWl, the film depicts regiments of German, French and Scottish soldiers stuck in the trenches during Christmas Eve, and how in the spirit of peace, they lay down their arms and actually rise from the trenches to greet each other. They share food, stories and even hold a mass.
This makes things pretty awkward as things progress, and the reality of war come to intrude of the fostered peace and Christmas brotherhood the men forged, and the film shows the sacrifices the men made to keep the small peace they made alive.
This really is an underrated film, as it's brilliantly acted and executed and it doesn't shy away from the grizzly realities of war, the grief and anguish that comes form having family, friends and lovers on the front line or the sheer, gentle power of the human spirit.
Probably my favorite scene is the German officer Nikolaus Sprink singing "Silent Night" and thus ushering the ceasefire. I'll even admit that I got a little glassy-eyed watching it.
If you haven't seen the movie, it's really a more powerful scene of you have time to let the tension build up to it, but in case you don't get a chance to check this movie out this Holiday season, (And you really, REALLY must,) You can enjoy it here in all of it's radiant glory...[link]
Well, seeing as how it's only four days away from the absolute biggest holiday in the western world, I should probably take this time to say, Merry Christmas to everyone!
A happy Hanukkah to you non-Gentiles.
A Solemn and dignified Ramadan to my Muslim buddies.
A joyous Yule and Winter Solstice to all by bestest Pagan chums.
And to all my Nihilist buds out there... Merry... Something.
So to all my Deviant friends out there, to those of you who I've shared pixilated joy with through the years, I love you madly, and to al of you...
"A loving heart is the truest wisdom."