02 December, 2009

Irony shorts out

I guess the cool thing to say about Twilight is that you’re “hate-watching” it or something. The thing is, there sort of is no division for me between thinking something is genuinely really good, thinking it’s funny because it’s bad, or knowing that it's probably considered trashy but having a sincere enjoyment of it nonetheless. Actually, that's probably not true; I guess I'm just trying to say that there's less division for me, or I'm less conscious of which kind of enjoyment I feel about something.

For example: I theoretically understand that Video Game Pete Campbell is a stupid character, and I make fun of him, but it takes a lot for me to feel something sometimes so I enjoy ridiculously angsty woobie-ish characters. Even though I laugh at him I also have a completely sincere attachment to him, and even when I laugh it's like I'm laughing at a friend.

For another: when I was a kid my dad and I used to listen to Blink-182 in the car together, and why I always need to bring this up as if justifies it I don't know, but anyway, I really love Blink-182. And more recent embarrassing bands like My Chemical Romance. I don't even really understand what makes a band embarrassing--like, I guess for Blink-182 it's because their songs are so simple? But lots of non-embarrassing bands have simple songs. Anyway, I am very quiet about this at my hipster college but I don't really understand how my attachment to MCR for example is just supposed to disappear because their music is melodramatic. I mean, it is, but so what? Am I only supposed to listen to bands that are really tasteful and realistic about everything?

And, also: I have this anthology of 70s and 80s lesbian fiction that I bought at a used bookstore, and my favorite story is about these two physically disabled lesbians who are professors at a college and are always reading Latin and historical biographies, and one of them writes these journal entries where she compares her love for her girlfriend to Jesus ("it goes out it into the world to be put to death"). I thought it was The Best Story and then I sent it to my friend and he was like, "hey, you know this story is really bad, right?" and I was like "...yeah, totally, of course, ha ha!" But I didn't. I mean, I get that it's melodramatic to compare your feelings to Jesus but can't it be awesome at the same time? I think my friend's other complaint was that it was pretentious because they were so overintellectual and didn't talk like people, but I thought that made the story feel pleasantly crowded.

Once I made my dad read the first paragraph of the second chapter of The Sound and the Fury and he said it was pretentious. I know that public opinion is on my side in this case, but I don't really understand the difference between Faulkner's Quentin voice and a lot of things that are generally considered to be Bad Writing. I just know I like writing that's crammed full of pyrotechnics, sometimes.

So, anyway, this was going to be a post about New Moon but I think I'll write about the first Twilight movie instead because I actually don't feel the way about New Moon that I do about Twilight. Obviously the standard reaction you're supposed to have to Twilight is to laugh at how overdramatic it is, and that's definitely a reaction I have to parts of it (more or less depending on who I'm watching it with). At the same time, I can enjoy the movie sincerely.

I really enjoyed the book but the book is definitely something you laugh at because it's dumb. I read it with a notebook so I could write down lines like, "Edward stood outside looking like a male model in an advertisement for raincoats." (Although the voice of the book is very dry, so I guess you could make a case that lines about Edward's unholy gorgeousness are sometimes intended to be funny.)

But unlike the book, the movie is well-made. Maybe I just think that because I like the color green, but really, I think Catherine Hardwicke made the plot and characters better while staying on the same emotional level as the book. When Bella and Edward are looking at each other with super zoomed in eyes, you can laugh at how it's stupid, but the first time I saw the movie I just thought about being in high school, the feeling I had when a girl I liked touched my arm. It made me laugh to see Bella and Edward looking at each other like that, but it was an affectionate, familiar kind of laughter because most teenagers have felt that incredibly obsessive and panicked about someone they have a crush on. I felt sincerely close to them.

My friend Ami really likes the movie too and when we were talking about it she said, "Just so you know, I don't mean because it's funny, I actually think it's a good movie." Which was refreshing to hear because I feel like every smart person who likes this movie is falling all over themselves to insist that they like it an ironic way. For me I can switch a million times from liking something ironically to liking it sincerely, and there's a bunch of different shades of liking in between.


  1. My boyfriend made me see Twilight. I didn't want to because I thought it was going to be god awful ridiculous and overly dramatic. I was really surprised that it was actually a good movie. It was overly dramatic but very connected to real relatable experiences (minus the mythological creatures of course). Don't ask me why, but I didn't want to see New Moon either because I didn't think they could possibly pull off a sequel that was pretty good like the first one, but I ended up loving it. I think it's a great movie for the sake of being a movie. What makes a great movie is not always the same thing that makes great literary fiction.

    I was never a fan of blink 182. Yeah I like hipster rock but I also love Justin Timerlake. You like what you like and nobody else needs to be concerned with that or try to invalidate your reasons. Invalidation goes both ways and once someone slashes red marker through your interpretation they can no longer cross that line without invalidating their own voice.

  2. New Moon is really weird because it seemed like instead of taking it seriously like CH did, the director was trying really hard to broadcast "I'm actually cool even though I'm directing this stupid movie." like the parody movie titles and stuff. It was an enjoyable movie in a completely different way.