I am a bit too proud to “let it go” when critics pan something I like. So I have to justify, through thought and theory, why something is good. And perhaps I should just let sleeping vampires lie… but I enjoyed almost every minute of New Moon, a movie most critics said was inferior to its predecessor.
So first I must start earlier in the franchise. This past weekend I re-watched Twilight, and was re-creeped out by Edward being such a fucking stalker.
Twilight‘s version of love is deeply melodramatic and unfeminist; but it speaks to cliches that are apparently still quite deeply embedded in little girls. Ed is exactly the kind of guy young women should avoid; he confesses he’s extremely protective of Bella; he watches her while she sleeps without permission; he stares at her unnervingly in public; his moods are unpredictable; he lies to her all the time; he even threatens to fang her. She laps it up. Yet it’s still easy to see why this portrait of clandestine love is appealing. Ed’s single-minded obsession is really hot; who wouldn’t want to be the fixation of a deliciously sexy Victorian goth boy? It also speaks to the narcissism of some types of love; we want to be craved, to be the focus of somebody else’s life. It’s also narcissistic because that consuming sort of love allows us to hide in that love and shut out the universe, thus becoming an excuse for all sorts of selfishness on the lovers’ behalves. The point is, the first movie is pretty fucked up. A better argument than I could ever make regarding this topic is featured in this hilarious youtube mash-up of Buffy and Edward.
Many critics regaled the first Twilight movie for being an ode to teenage love; but for real? Twilight offers mystical magnetism as the only explanation for Bella’s and Edward’s love. B & E apparently have nothing in common, and the only time they are shown to have what looks like a normal conversation occurs during a montage sequence with no sound but the music track. What the two lovers say during pedestrian conversation remains a riddle wrapped inside of a question mark! The only thing those two have in common is that they’d both like to die for each other. Not so realistic, methinks. (Mehopes!)
New Moon, despite featuring further proliferation of the supernatural, portrays the most realistic version of “teenage love.” And it doesn’t take place between Edward and Bella, but between Bella and Jacob the Wolfman. Jacob is such a muscled sweetie-pie, literally an All-American hunk o’ love; maybe our first Native American heartthrob? (Sadly, the actor isn’t really Native American, though he claims to be part Potowatami and Ottowa through his Michigander’s mom side.) Jacob and Bella pursue a common hobby (motorcycles), they take scenic drives, see movies called Facepunch, hang out with friends, etc, and do pretty normal stuff. Their attraction is grounded, it makes sense, and it is no less hot just because it is more realistic. (How could it not be hot? Those MUSCLES! Here is a slideshow of them. [Thanks, Rach])
Next critique: New Moon is long and boring, they say. Well, sure, it’s long, but is it drawn-out? That depends on your perspective. The awkward pauses, long glances and hesitant touches between Bella and her two loves make for luxuriously drawn-out courtship rituals. My sister and I squealed with delight every time it looked like something might happen between the romantic leads.
Which leads me to my next point (bear with me). This movie is fundamentally feminine in perspective and an escape from the drudgery of daily life, like a harlequin romance would be. And that’s why everyone thinks it’s stupid. New Moon really takes female desire seriously; Bella is at the center and the plot turns on her being the fixation of two really hot dudes (one of whom is shirtless in almost every scene). Bella isn’t as good looking as her two love interests; she’s an everygirl. She has brown hair, not blond, thank you very much, and she wears frumpy-ass poofy coats to school. She is the blank page on whom we project ourselves. And you know? This movie’s pace is feminine, as opposed to masculine. Fantasy movies for guys are full of car chases, then some sex scenes, probably some gadget scenes, more sex scenes, battles, etc. This fantasy movie is not so much full of events as it is the possibility of events: again, the luxurious pauses, etc. Desire simmers slightly below boiling for most of the movie, and what we’re left is the possibility of the gratification of desire.
We women just love that. I’d rather use my imagination than see a fantasy created for me on screen; New Moon is all about possibilities, and that’s why I can’t wait to watch it again.