Hello, friends and strangers!
I have two short fictions in the new issue of The Normal School, and the issue looks great. It’s also the fifth anniversary issue and one that focuses on FIlm
and Music though my stories are neither about film nor music. Subscribe, perhaps!
I also have fiction up at Hobart. I wrote about famous men and xTx wrote about famous women and we mashed it all together.
Last but not least, I guest-edited the November fiction for Guernica, with fiction from Jennine Capò Crucet, Brad Green, Delaney Nolan, Saeed Jones, Ruben Quesada and myself. Get started, here, with my introductory essay.
I was watching this commercial other day and after, I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I kept thinking, “If a man proposed to me in Kay Jewelers, I’d kick him in the nuts and say, ‘You don’t know me at all.’”
Then I would check out the quality of the diamond, just keeping it real.
The only thing that mattered this weekend was Breaking Dawn 2: Dawn, Completely Broken. I saw this movie and I will see it again but let us be clear from the outset. This movie is terrible. It makes Breaking Dawn 1: The Breaking of the Headboard, look like an Oscar contender. Like, say, Contagion, this is a movie where nothing happens., nothing at all. Of all the trilogies movie producers have shamelessly expanded into quartets, this is the most shameless. This one is offensively shameless. Breaking Dawn should have been one movie, period.
The best part about this movie, other than the two hours of nothingness, was the audience. People lost their shit. There was screaming, shrieking, gasping, and, at the end, applause. We went through something together, okay? It was a journey, however, that began and ended in the same place—utter stupidity.
When we last saw Edward and Bella, we learned that vampires! They ejaculate! Bella was pregnant and had a horrible pregnancy, all to make a big point about the sanctity of life, which given recent events in Dublin, is even more offensive than it was last year. Edward bit Bella a C-section. I repeat. He performed an oral C-section on his wife, ate his baby right out of the womb, and then killed her which was the only way to save her. Just go along
Part 2 opens with Bella, waking up, her senses immediately heightened now that she is one of the undead. Sounds are crisper, colors brighter, smells stronger. Let’s all die! When she opens her eyes, there’s Edward staring at her like the creepy stalker he is prone to being. He smiles at her and she immediately wants to meet her daughter, Renesmee given that she died for that baby, but Edward says she needs to hunt first because babies are so delicious.
Here is the latest in modern hunting wear, and you can pick it up at your local mall.
This movie is so…. bad that they only half-ass most of the plot points including Bella’s supposed thirst for human blood which we barely see. Stewart conveys intense vampiric thirst by deepening her scowl. Great acting, all around.
So, Edward and Bella go on a romantic romp through the forest to kill animals. True love. Bella is incredibly strong as a new vampire and once they are far from the beaten path, Bella suddenly smells tasty human and shoots across a gorge or something to eat a hiker. As I write this it feels so unbelievable but this is something that happened. She begins clawing her way up that mountain like the mountain ain’t shit. I couldn’t control myself. The CGI was TERRIBLE. I laughed and laughed, and my eyes watered and we were like five minutes into the movie.
Edward talks Bella off the ledge and they return to the forest where she wrestles with a mountain lion and drinks its blood.
All the LOLs, right?
Back at the house, Edward and Bella casually stroll up and there’s Jacob. Cue ladies in the audience gasping even though he’s not attractive and he was wearing a shirt. He tells Bella she looks like herself and she makes a crack about how he stinks. She makes to go meet her daughter, the baby she killed herself having, and Jacob is all, well, let’s test it out first and Bella looks at him like, “Motherfucker, what are you smoking?”
As she holds her half human, half vampire baby, Jacob is watching like the codependent stalker he has become. After a few minutes, he says, “I think that’s enough,” and Bella wants to know W T F is going on. You can’t really fault her. Jacob is really overstepping. Like Charlie Murphy says, he is a habitual line stepper. Jacob carefully breaks the news that he has imprinted with the unforunately named Renesmee and Bella goes BALLISTIC. Edward loves every moment of it as Bella starts kicking Jacob’s ass all over the place and Jacob is desperately trying to explain that it’s not his fault he’s in love with an infant. That’s when I realized, oh dear, this movie is an apologia for pedophilia. Because pedophiles just can’t help themselves, you know?
This reminds me of that Gawker piece on pedophilia that made me so mad I started an essay and it devolved into !@K*(JNjn WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON? @*#UH*H@$YU *@$, so that’s just hanging out on my hard drive.
Anyway. Jacob explains that the reason Bella was so drawn to him during his pregnancy is that he had basically imprinted with the fetus. And why not? If you’re going to commit to a shit show, fucking commit.
Bella tells Jacob he best stay away from her daughter and he says, “You know I can’t do that,” and it really heightens the creepiness of this imprinting business. This is all based on a book that millions of young people have read, just so we’re clear.
Now, these rocket scientists need to come up with a story for Charlie, Bella’s dad, because she is so different (but not really), and she’s cold and has no heart beat, etc. They decide to devastate the man by telling him Bella died in child birth or something ridiculous. I was so disconcerted by the stupidity I couldn’t focus for a minute. I mean, you expect US to believe vampires and werewolves are real but you can’t tell Charlie? In addition to lying to Charlie, Bella and Edward also have to leave because she can’t be dead and strolling around the Pacific Northwest at the same time. Jacob, predictably, freaks out. But it’s not his fault. He can’t help that he’s in love with a baby. It’s a wolf thing, deal with it.
Jacob is sent to deliver this sad message but instead, he shows Charlie he’s a werewolf, by undressing in a truly funny scene and morphing into a wolf. Ladies went nuts when the shirt came off and fine, that body, DEM ABS!
Let’s refresh our memories:
Now do some penance for ogling that young man. He’s jailbait.
Now that his secret is out, Jacob takes Charlie over the the Cullen manor and Bella tells Charlie he has to be on a need to know basis about what happened to her but she’s fine. It’s just so…stupid. It was one of those things where a writer is like, “Well, at this point, they’ll swallow anything.” Then the young lovers introduce Renesmee as their adopted daughter but Charlie is a cop and also has a brain. He says, “She has your eyes,” and it’s pretty clear he knows Bella, YOU ARE THE MOTHER!
Charlie lets it go and marvels at his granddaughter and its all very sweet.
The Cullens give Edward and Bella their own house nearby and Edward and Bella finally get down to it. Now, during this scene and many others, you cannot help but wonder, “Where is Renesmee?” The casualness with which they parent is bizarre. Not once do you really feel like they are the actual parents of the wonder child.
Anyway, Bella and Edward finally have sex again and it is as awkward as you might expect–hazy glamour shots and deep eye staring and shitty music and NO HEADBOARD BREAKING. I was so pissed. The headboard breaking scene in Breaking Dawn 1 is one of the best things I’ve ever seen and so I thought now that they were both vampires, they’d bring the house down or combust and none of that happened. Cockblockers.
Somewhere in all this nonsense, Bella talks about how she was always meant to be a vampire. She’s also excited that they don’t need to eat, sleep, or rest so they can just bone all the time. Sadly, she tells and does not show. There’s only one interesting sex scene in this movie and it is not interesting.
Time passes and Renesmee is aging rapidly, too rapidly, the Cullens fear, because what if she prematurely ages herself into death like in the movie Jack? Somewhere in there, Bella arm wrestles with one of the indistinct Cullens and wins.
One day, Bella, Jacob (so fucking gross), and Renesmee (that name!!!), are playing in the snow. Renesmee is catching snowflakes because, get this, SHE CAN FLY! One of the Cullen’s “cousins” just happens to be standing on a nearby cliff, misunderstands what she sees, and rushes off to Italy to warn the Vulturi that a vampire law has been broken. There can be no vampire children, you see, because they cannot control their urges and therefore they threaten the vampiric secret. Way back in ye olde medieval times, the Vulturi killed a child vampire and the woman who turned him and thought herself his mother, and that mother was also the tattle-tale’s (Irina, I think) mother.
Now, this flashback scene, like most of the scenes in this movie was blatantly cribbed from another movie. Here they copied, kind of shot for shot, a scene from Underworld. The most hilarious part is that the set decoration was tragic. I was embarrassed for the movie. I could go into the field behind my apartment and find some hay and sticks and make a more convincing medieval village.
Alice with her magic power of being able to see the future exactly when her vision is needed (CONVENIENT), foretells of bad things and so the Cullens come up with another ridiculous plan. Maybe if they reach out to all their vampire friends around the world, they can bring them to Forks, show them that Renesmee is a half-human child, and testify on their behalf to the Vulturi. Their great idea was to get their friends to vouch for them. This is essentially the movie’s entire “plot.”
Like I said, nothing at all happens.
In so many movies, we see a series of scenes where different groups unite to fight the power. Where have we seen this before?
This is where the movie starts engaging in some really egregious cultural appropriation and essentialism. Various Cullens travel the world and eventually 18 vampires have assembled. There are Middle Eastern vampires (cue vaguely Middle Eastern sounding music), two women from the Amazon, an Irish family, an Alaskan family, these Greek vampires, a couple scraggly English guys, and the most hilarious part is how they’re mostly all dressed in the kinds of costumes you might find in a children’s coloring book about “People from Around the World.”
Classy, and educational!
These ladies, by the by, spend the entire movie in their Amazon outfits. Because vampires don’t feel the cold! I was cold for them. That theater was freezing.
I couldn’t stop thinking about these guys during the meet the global vampires sequence:
One by one, these global vampires meet and fall in love with Renesmee, and Jacob, is of course, antsy. He just wants to be alone with Rensmee, who is now like 7 or so. Nothing fucked up there, right?
Alice and Jasper, for some reason, disappear, leaving a note telling Bella to get Renesmee to safety by the time the first snowfall sticks, or something along those lines. The page is torn from Merchant of Venice. Bella is hanging out in her house, flirting with Edward after they put Renesmee to bed and it’s like they might get down right there but Edward goes to draw Bella a bath and suddenly she realizes Alice is sending her a message. Bella finds a copy of Merchant of Venice in her bookcase, turns to the missing page, and sees a
note from Alice to meet J. Jenks.
Guess who plays J. Jenks?
The next day, Bella and Jacob (who is seriously ALWAYS around) take Renesmee to Charlie’s where he and his girlfriend are decorating the Christmas tree. Bella then drives to Seattle to meet with J. Jenks who gives her passports and documents for Jacob and Renesmee and Bella realizes she might be separated from her daughter because Alice doesn’t see Edward and Bella in their child’s future. Sad. Or we’re supposed to believe this moment is sad and we can’t because alas, Stewart is not the strongest actor in this trilogy-ish. (I actually don’t mind Stewart and have found her to be talented in certain roles. This is just not one of those roles.) She looked great, though. Respect.
Let’s take a step back. One of the most infuriating, disturbing things about the entire Twilight series is the damaging message it sends about young women and relationships with men. Edward is condescending and smothering and co-dependent. In the first three movies, he’s always making decisions for Bella and completely stripping her of her autonomy. Now, in the fourth movie, she is granted some independence but the damage has already been done and whatever autonomy she gains is cancelled out by this absurd imprinting concept which is designed to teach young girls that true love is a desperate need for another person that is biologically hardwired. True love is forever. True love is completely obsessive. And on and on it goes and young girls buy into this nonsense and get into terrible romantic situations because this is what they are told love is.
Look, I believe in love. When I am in love, I am all the way in–silly letters, pet names, sexual favors, extravagant baking, whatever. I am very into all of it and have learned how to be a pretty great girlfriend at this point. But I try not to lose my independence or my backbone. I try because for a long time I did sacrifice these things for “love” and guess what? I always ended up the loser, in terrible relationships. It is just not healthy to suggest that imprinting or stalking or codependency is romantic. It’s unhealthy. It means that your partner has no interests outside of you. I’m interesting but I’m not THAT interesting. If you date me, you are going to need a hobby because clearly, I have lots of hobbies and I can’t sit around staring at you while movies like this are being made. If your man (or woman), can’t be apart from you ever? SOMETHING IS WRONG.
Okay, forgive my rant, but come on. We can do better by young people.
When she returns to Cullen Manor, Bella is distracted but doesn’t tell anyone she will soon have to send her daughter away with a pedophile. She writes Renesmee a note professing her immense love and packs a backpack with the passports and a bunch of money, just in case.
There are some mind-numbing sequences where Bella practices her superpower which is that she is shielded from the effects of other vampiric powers. She also tries to shield others and on and on with some “funny” scenes involving Edward getting electrocuted from a sizzle vampire.
It went a little something like this:
Things happen I can’t remember and then it’s time for the showdown, during which I basically could not stop laughing and I had to hide my face in my shirt.
The Vulturi arrive and we learn that this is all an elaborate plot for Aro, the Head Vulturi, to pull Alice into his lair. He likes to collect vampires who have exciting powers. Look, we all need hobbies. No judgment. This is the mysteirous reason Alice and Jasper ran away. The contrivances, they pile up around us and we can only stare, sadly.
So they’re on a frozen lake, which is also blatantly stolen from any number of movies including King Arthur (underrated). On one side, the Vulturi and on the other, Team Cullen and Assorted Global Vampires.
There’s a lot of blabbity blabbity but they prove Renesmee is half human. Bella uses her superpower to protect Edward. Etc etc etc.
Suddenly, Alice comes strolling out of the woods with Jasper, like it’s a lovely ice picnic. She walks right up to Aro, and lets him see the future which he can do by touching her or something. I frankly don’t get how all this works. Suddenly, she pulls her hand away and says, “You’ve made up your mind, no matter what you see,” and then, IT IS ON! Vampire showdown.
Forgive me for not remembering the exact sequence of events but Alice or Jasper, can’t remember which loses their head (the only way to kill a vampire) and then Father Cullen flips out and he and Aro run toward each other like they’re going to body joust and Aro comes away victorious with Father Cullen’s head. This is when, I shit you not, I started to worry about the emotional stability of the people in the audience. Girls started SOBBING. I was like, holy shit, this is so anthropological. They did not stop sobbing for the next ten minutes or so. It was awkward for me because I was giggling. The visuals were just terrible and lazy and terrible. The entire ethos of this movie was clearly, “It doesn’t matter what we put on the screen. We’re going to be rich, regardless.”
There is one exception–the wardrobe department, minus the global vampire problems, was on point. Bella’s outfits were fantastic.
Now all of the Cullens and Friends are revved up so they start running toward the Vulturi. Bella throws Renesmee up on Jacob who is in wolf form and sends them away, psychically telling him, “Take care of my daughter.” Nothing uncomfortable there, nope. Jacob runs away with the child, encountering various calamities but persevering. That’s how wolves roll.
Meanwhile, back on the lake, wolves are also in on the fun and BATTLE ON! Vampire body parts everywhere.
At one point, Edward uses Bella as a weapon in a hilarious hilarious scene. Oh, you don’t believe me? Mofos, please.
This GIF, forever and ever and ever. That’s teamwork, goddamnit.
Anyway the battle goes on and on. The losses mount up on both sides including that creepy little Dakota Fanning vampirette.
Then, like in any movie with a battle on the ice, someone on the Cullen side starts pounding the ice until it breaks and then the earth opens up. Vampires start falling into the crevice, and yadda yadda.
MOVIE RULE: If a battle happens on ice, that ice is going to get broken at some point and people are going to die. Write that down.
The Vulturi realize they might lose this thing and then, read no further if you don’t want to be spoiled forever but….
We suddenly see that it was all a vision. That whole battle, all the sad deaths, were just Alice’s vision. That’s the “twist” all the previews keep talking about. Shoddy stuff, friends. Shoddy stuff.
Aro is stunned and backs off quietly.
The audience LOST IT AGAIN which was awesome. This one girl shouted, “I cried for nothing.” I mean, she was fucking outraged but also relieved. So so great. Bless her heart.
Then, out of the woods, come two people from the Brazilian jungle and one of them is a half human, half vampire. Apparently, they age into maturity in seven years and then live forever. They eat food and drink blood, so you know, best of both worlds. Aro is temporarily appeased and the Vulturi disappear back to Italy. Bella and Edward are really happy they get to be parents, literally, forever, which I don’t think anyone would really want so you know this is all BS.
Then they flash forward to the future and ugh, so gross, but they show Jacob and Renesmee as a couple, meeting up with Edward and Bella. I was just so repulsed. Poor Renesmee never had a chance, first with that name, and then imprinted Jacob.
Finally, we end up where Edward and Bella’s great romance started, in a field, surrounded by purple flowers. Whatever.
This movie should have been called Breaking Dawn 2: YOLOBTOIFALOCTWH or You Only Live Once But That Once Is Forever And Lots of Creepy Things Will Happen.
You see what I’m willing to do for you?