Guts and Grog Tooned Up

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Twilight is Bullshit- Jeremy Gaulkenstein(an essay)

 Mr Gaulkenstein writes a Mexican Pen Pal about his hate of Twihards....Enjoy

Why I won't watch Twilight.

America... land of the free home of the braves... until we killed them all. Because America started as an import only group of colonies and has always been less than tolerant when it comes to multiculturalism, we've always struggled with forming a unified history. We are still a young country, especially as we exist today and though a multitude of cultures have converged on our shores we've cherry picked a convenient and harmlessly bland selection of traditions to observe. For this reason, we lack the history to create a substantial mythology beyond the existing Judeo-Christian fantasies. We certainly have our myths and heroes of the wild west and of the founding fathers, but it wasn't until the twentieth century that we received the stories of our monsters.
Though the bulk of the stories that ended up in the Universal Studio lot (then in it's infancy) were of European origin, after Dracula hit the theaters in 1931 Dracula and the vampire myth became as American as racial cleansing. The same happened with Frankenstein, also made in 1931, adapted from the British novel by Mary Shelley, and The Wolfman in 1941 which sprung, as did the roots of Dracula, from Eastern European superstition. Unbenounced to their creators, Universal Studios in those early days of cinema, forged a trinity of American monsters.
This tradition carried on. Enthusiasm for the new mythos grew with every sequel. Every double feature, every technicolor drop of blood strengthened and expounded upon the stories of these essential American creatures. And for each, though he seemed invulnerable, there was always a means to destroy him and an unmitigated pattern of behavior. For the vampire in the early days it was a stake through the heart or sunlight. Admittedly, the rules of engagement for the vampire race have been amended many times. But almost always draw from some mythological source within the general scope of our original monsters. Some may shrug off crucifixes, others unaffected by garlic, still others terrified of water, and others given to obsessive compulsive behavior. However, the best films of the past or present that deal with the immortal blood suckers adhere to the basic mythology presented in America 80 years ago.
Of course there are other monsters that have been seared into our collective unconscious over the years, Romero's zombies, Hooper's Leather Face, Carpenter's Michael Myers, Craven's Freddy, Cunningham's Jason to name a few. And though the traditions of these new monsters are in peril as well, we'll save them for another rant.
What I've failed to mention so far is vampire charm and it is an extremely important and devastatingly distorted piece of the vampire's story in this country. Part of what makes vampires so terrifying, especially to men, is that in most stories they are equipped with what amounts to a telepathic Rufi. Lechery is essential to most vampires but their intentions are not necessarily sexual. At least not in the traditional human sense. Seduction is merely a means to an end in most cases. Or at least that was the case until the full frontal assault on our beloved monsters by oxymorman Stephenie Myer.
Now there are notable exceptions to this. Near Dark for example or The Hunger, both brilliant takes on the modern vampire with an undercurrent of human attraction. Though both have elements of what could be construed as deep human connection or love between vamps, there is no departure from the brutality of the vampire and the desire that is truly paramount, blood. But the seductive nature of the vampire, or at least his or her manipulation of human desire, has been exploded over the last couple decades into an overly important component of the mythology. It didn't start with Anne Rice but she is most notably devoted to exploring and exposing such bonds between fellow poofy shirt wearing vampires. She approached the topic with much more depth and sophistication than Myer will ever be capable of. I am no Anne Rice fan but I cannot deny her work's literary merit. She attempts the same probing of dynasties and of ancient vampirism that Brian Lumely does and for that I give her some cred. Mostly because, though there are some kinds of sissified elements to her work, she is devoted to creating thoughtful expressions of the minds of characters that are hundreds, sometimes thousands of years old.
Before I start in on Twilight, I will admit; I have never read any of the books or watched any of the movies. I never will, unless it gets me laid. But I have been around the fans since the first book came out because of a past life I spent working at Borders. At first the fans were mostly the girls who spent every weekend sprawled out in the manga section giggling and squealing every time some Japanese boy kissed a girl in their manga books. These girls, the awkward, shy, band geek type of girls were the first to bow at Myer's feet. As the years went by and the sequels came out I was confounded as their sales skyrocketed but thought it was better that they were reading actual fiction rather than badly translated conversation bubbles in “Super Orange Girl” or whatever it was they were reading before. The books continued to become more and more popular and the customer base more and more diverse. Soon cheerleaders were reading them and young guys too, probably trying to get laid but who can blame them.
I wasn't fully aware of how popular they had become until the movies came out and friends of mine had become devout fans. I still had no idea what atrocities were being committed to paper and film until I heard a friend mention that when the vampires were in sunlight they sparkled. I know I said this in my Martyr's review but you can never scratch the record too much. This is where it scratched. Sparkled? Do I have to continue? Really, of all the leaps this bitch could have taken, she makes vampires sparkle? That is enough to burn down all of Utah. To betray an essential component of the vampire myth, is much more serious than people can really fathom. But that's not the only problem, at least not that I know of. The whole premise of the first book, that a vampire falls in love with a homely teenaged girl (this is Myer putting herself in the story I think) and is conflicted about whether to suck her blood or try to fuck her. Of course the whole thing seems as inflated and one dimensional as a teenaged girl's “love” for the 32 year old dude who drives a Trans Am and goes to all the high school football games and buys the Freshman wine coolers. The only difference is this guy just hangs around in general, constantly saying to his vampire buddies, “I love humans, I keep getting older and they stay the same age.”

 One may be bold enough to compare the dynamic between Jailbait (I don't know her name) and
Matthew McConaughey (don't know vampire dude's name either) to the whole Dracula and Mina thing but Dracula really just wanted to eat her and make her a vampire Bride. And Mina was not driven by love but by the vampire's seductive graces. As I said earlier, the psychic Rufi. Now I'm sure there's a bad guy in the story and I've heard there are werewolves and I know that I won a free cheese burger from Burger King for scratching off some kind of Twilight family crest but beyond that I really don't know what happens in this shit storm or prepubescent dribble but I know what its doing to good, honest, hard working vampires and to virtually our only tradition of mythology in America. Its destroying it.
How can I say this without actually reading the books or at least watching the Riff tracks of the movies? Because I know what the vampire is to us. I've loved the little monsters ever since I saw Fright Night and Lost Boys as a pup. They are an integral part of our story, just as import, neigh more important than D-Day or the Fourth of July. The vampire, just as the werewolf, just as the re-animated corpse of Bud the Chud, is an American tradition of fear. The fear of our inner demons, of our desire to bend people's will to our own, of the beasts in us, of our secret longing for the macabre, for the complete inhibition that immortality brings. Just as we fantasize about being super heroes, we also secretly long to be monsters. The danger that we face when confronted by the enormity of something like the impending Twilight franchise is that for millions of young people with no inclination or access to the actual history and vitality of our monster myths, theses essential archetypical fears and desires are reduced to the unsophisticated and completely disconnected will of a fat Mormon chick. The corruption of this mythology could be likened to rewriting the story of the Minotaur or the Gorgons. Could it have been suffered in ancient Greece, if some charlatan described the Minotaur as a mild manner lute player or Medusa as having the power to turn people into pomegranates instead of stone? (how's that for pretentious?)
There are certainly traditions and stories that can adapt and change with time. In fact it is impossible for them not to. Change in the human world is essential. But there is a limit. We must not abandon our only real mythology. Our only indication that we ever truly tried to understand the darkest parts of ourselves. That these painted creatures terrify us, just as the ancients were terrified by their myths. When we see Bela Legosi and his perfect widows peak, even though the image is distorted by the years between us, it stokes in us a time when gods were created from latex and cellulose. When 90 minutes with a monster was a lifetime. So go, resist the assault on our precious evils. Learn the history of the American monsters. Seek brutality, seek senseless natural violence, seek the unsafe places that feel like home. Demand it from the monsters we all grew up loving and fearing. And remember, not all that glitters is gold. Sometimes its shit. It may be covered in butterflies and sparkles but its still just shit. 

Jeremy Gaulkenstein