Edward Cullenoscopy

If you’re concerned with being hip you have one of two poses available to you RE: your response to the Twilight phenomenon.  You can either abhor the books outright or you can sort of shamefully admit to loving them with a sheepish grin on your ducked head.  I for one am totally on board with guilty pleasures.  For example, right now I can’t stop listening to Whip Your Hair, the debut single by Willow, 12 year old daughter of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith.  I hate myself.  And YOU should hate YOURSELF if you like the Twilight books.  The movies I will not criticize here, because I don’t know as much about what makes a movie good or bad.  I do however know a little something about what makes a book good or bad and the writing in Twilight is SO BAD.  SO BAD!

The plot is not totally wretched, at least not in the first book, which is the only one I’ve read– and do not tell me, Oh but you’ve got to read the other three, they get so much better as they go on.  That’s like if your friend had sex with Charlie Sheen a couple of times and then you have sex with him and it’s really bad and then your friend says, Oh but you’ve got to have sex with him three more times, it gets so much better as you go on.  No.  You only need to have sex with Charlie Sheen once to know you shouldn’t be having sex with Charlie Sheen.  (Actually, you probably don’t need to have sex with Charlie Sheen even once to know you shouldn’t have sex with Charlie Sheen– you can just read US Weekly– but I’ll grant you the one time, in the name of science or whatever.)  Anyway the plot of Twilight is not totally wretched.  I couldn’t put the book down for its first half, even though reading the prose made me feel like I was Alex undergoing the Ludovico Technique in A Clockwork Orange:

The plot’s first segment is classic he-loves-me-he-loves-me not fare that anyone with a weakness for romantic comedies and Coldplay (i.e. me) will love, and it’s made all the more interesting by the addition of vampire folklore.  I will say Stephanie Meyer does a nice job of explaining, without too much exposition, how her version of vampires exist in the modern world.  This part of the plot is however supremely derivative of Jane Austen, and when I say derivative I mean in the same way that urine is a derivative of Veuve Clicquot.  Bella, our heroine (And isn’t it a tad obvious to name a main character in a vampire narrative Bella, after Bela Lugosi? Or maybe it’s clever, I don’t know.) is given vaguely Austenian shadings: she likes to read, she doesn’t know she’s pretty, she rolls her eyes at her silly mother.  Unfortunately, as soon as the plot, halfway through, turns to action, all these slightly charming attributes fall away to reveal another side of Bella: the physically helpless codependent Victorian girl, unable to kiss without fainting, panicked and shrill at the merest suggestion of being dumped by her vampire boyfriend Edward.  At one point, while fleeing a band of murderous rival vampires, Bella is gripped by fear and LITERALLY CANNOT BUCKLE HER OWN SEATBELT.  Edward has to do it for her.  You can almost see the author cheerfully setting out to create a modern-day Elizabeth Bennett or Marianne Dashwood, but then, becoming distracted by the swoony good looks and fiscal or moral or physical heroism of Austen’s male leads, she throws all Bella’s plucky, independent characteristics aside to create a softcore rescue fantasy whose main female character most resembles the invalid daughter of Lady Catherine de Bourgh in Pride and Prejudice.  Whom, may I add, did NOT end up with Mr. Darcy.

I mean I totally have a little person living inside my heart that gets Taylor-Swift-music-video-dizzy when she kisses someone she really really likes and who wants guys to do things like open doors for her and give her his coat when she is cold and maybe use a matchbook to pick out the sesame seed that will invariably get stuck in her teeth during lunch (That actually happened to me once. Is that gross? I thought it was amazing.) but I keep her safely tucked away inside my heart and I love her and cherish her for never giving up hope in chivalry and romance but I do not make her the heroine of my life. And when she gets panicky and shrill at the thought of being dumped and left alone for the rest of her life I tell her to shut the fuck up already.  And I certainly do not bring her out of hiding when I am being chased by a band of murderous rival vampires.

It terrifies me to think that for millions of American girls this will be their ne plus ultra of fictional romantic relationships.  My friends and I had Ethan and Winona from Reality Bites and look where that got us.

The climax of the book has all the subtle pacing and logical dialogue of Air Force One, and the denouement involves the flimsiest cover-up in the history of fiction.  Like I literally told better lies, in Spanish, to my Spanish 102 teacher about why my homework wasn’t done.  Also I failed Spanish 102.

And now to come back to the writing.  It’s that sort of unpracticed prose style wherein every line of dialogue ends with a new adverb: “he said darkly”, “she said softly”, “he said happily”, “she sad sadly” and now I’m going to puke loudly.  This sentence structure is used over and over again:

“I felt a spasm of panic as I looked into her wild, childlike eyes.”

Why do I hate the use of “as I” as a sentence joiner?  To me it smacks of amateurishness, of romance novels (which Twilight basically is), of short stories written (by me) for seventh grade English.  I ripped open my bodice as I gazed at his pulsating man-mound.  You know, that kind of thing.  Also, the above sentence is taken from page four of my paperback edition.  PAGE FOUR.  What on earth could your characters already be panicking and spasming about on PAGE FOUR, Stephanie Meyer?  You can’t throw away all your hyperbole up front.

It’s really all too bad, because nothing gives me a lady boner like getting completely engrossed in some serial fantasy fiction.  Oh well.  Off to don my Gryffindor dress cape and lion hat for the midnight showing of Harry Potter.


Pubic Activism

I guess if I had to be an activist for anything it would be for the return of pubic hair.  That would of course require me to live in a kind of moral vacuum where it would be okay for me to proclaim that I care about my pubes as much, or more than, I purport to care about, I don’t know, clubbing baby seals or child soldiers of the Sudan.  In private, however, I will continue to give my bush more attention than such international causes.

I mean, have you ever seen Debbie Does Dallas?  Have you ever read The Witches of Eastwick?  What on earth could have caused such a swift change in the culture of crotch hair over the last twenty years?  Back when I was kid everyone had lots of pubic hair.  But then something happened in the 90s.  This change coincided with my first forays into heavy petting and I distinctly remember the first time I was getting ready to go out and suddenly feeling like, if I wanted to be ready to get some ass, I should probably not only shave my legs but also most of my bush.  Just as I and my peers were reaching sexual maturity (and legal adulthood I like totally pinky-swear) we had the rug pulled out from under us, pun 110% intended.  But where did I get the idea that this was something I needed to do?  Of course, I’d always maintained my bikini line, you know, for those times when I was ACTUALLY WEARING A BIKINI.  Wherefore the sudden compulsion to reduce my glossy woman’s hedgerow to a mere wisp of decorative edging?  (Don’t even get me started on the term “landing strip”.  Okay you got me started.  It’s so Peter-Griffin-in-that-episode-Family-Guy-where-he-drives-the-dick-shaped-sports-car-in-and-out-of-the-tunnel-repeatedly.  Ooh, Sheldon, land your big man plane on my runway.  Do me, I’m a receptacle.  You want to call it a landing strip?  Fine.  Fine.  And we’ll call your dick “Delta Flight 182” and sex “a game of airplane”.  WHO’S ON TOP AND WHO’S ON BOTTOM NOW.)  Anyway.  It’s not as if my girlfriends were saying to me, Oh, you know you’re supposed to look like a Chinese Crested Hairless down there now, right?  That’s not how these things work.  It’s also not like my girlfriends in high school said, Oh, you know you’re supposed to be wearing Mudd Jeans now, right? and in college, Oh, you know you’re supposed to be wearing 7 For All Mankind jeans now, right?  No.  We just knew.  But how?

I’m assuming it must have started with some weird cultural shift in the Magical Land of Pornography.  Someone needs to do a survey of early 90s porn and time-line the general decline in the appearance of pubic hair on women “actresses”.  I’m sure it will be difficult to find a volunteer male anthropologist for the job.  I suspect it also had something to do with Baywatch and the red swimsuits, the cut of which I like to call “Front Thong”, and I feel strongly that Pamela Anderson is to bare vagina as Gaetan Dugas is to AIDS.  I think you can also claim that going bare didn’t catch on among the laity until the late 90s, and I say this as someone who has watched every, yes every, episode of Sex and the City, and it’s not until season three that Carrie gets a Brazilian and that’s only accidentally and she’s totally shocked by it.  And finally I suspect that it was such cultural cattle prods as Sex and the City (which we watched religiously), and Cosmo magazine (which we read religiously), that made us subliminally convinced that we all needed to make our vaginas look like foreheads.  Sexy foreheads.  My mom is also convinced that Sex and the City made me and all my friends smokers but I don’t know what she’s talking about.  Just because I’m a single twentysomething writing about vaginas on my laptop at my desk in front of my window JESUS GOD I WANT A CIGARETTE.

In any case, someone, somewhere, at some point– and, not to sound like Jesse Spano, it was undoubtedly a man– decided that on film the vagina looks sexier with less and less, and ultimately without, hair.  I think the important part of that sentence is “on film”; it’s absolutely mystifying how a representation of reality can bend reality toward itself.  And not only was this innovator a man, he was probably also a pederast.  It is very strange that women who are sexually active in America are basically culturally required, in some twisted version of the coming-of-age-tribal ritual, to restore their vaginas to their childhood appearance.

Of course, for most women not of my generation (excluding the cast members of the various Real Housewives franchises), this is not an issue.  And I probably have lots of friends who don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about and feel no obligation whatsoever to do any kind of landscaping down there.  Ladies, I laud you for your imperviousness, your chastity, or your simply not giving a fuck, whatever it is that allows you to live a life unencumbered by $60 hot waxes that last two weeks, tops.  And now that I’ve spent all this time writing about the cultural implications of my pubes and their continual holocaust, I realize I want to bring back the full bush for one reason and one reason only.  Not because I want to fight back against misogynistic oppression, or champion feminism, or bankrupt local businessladies and their eucalyptus-smelling day spas.  No.  It’s because pubic hair maintenance is a huge, huge pain in my crotch.  And if men across America are putting down their razors and growing out their hipster beards, then dammit, so am I.

Los Hermanos Jonas

Sometimes I have this vision of the Jonas Brothers. I don’t even know what they sing but I know who they are. Sort of. I mean I get the three of them completely confused. Sometimes with Hanson. But so there’s the youngest one, who, after some research to clarify, I now understand is the one who dated Miley Cyrus. His name is Nick. The eldest one is the one who just got married and his super-tacky nuptials were profiled in a recent US Weekly that I read cover-to-cover. I read all US Weeklies cover-to-cover. Even the Fashion Police, which is less funny than The View. (My mom, however, loves the Fashion Police part of US Weekly, and that makes me love my mom.) Anyway the eldest is named Kevin and he lit his wedding reception entirely in blacklights. The middle Jonas brother is the one who dated Taylor Swift. And Camille Belle. And Demi Lovato. And now Ashley Greene who is one of the vampires in the Twilight movies. In that order. His name is Joe and I have a problem with him. Taylor Swift has written at least two songs about him (Forever & Always and Better Than Revenge. Better than Revenge is apparently about Camille Belle stealing him from her.) Then Demi Lovato had to go to rehab for being a cutter-bulimic and I read, although I’m sure this, and everything else I’m writing about, is not true, that she was extremely tortured by photos of him with his new girlfriend Ashley.

Look. I totally get it. I totally get being absolutely insane about someone that you thought you liked and then they pull the rug out from under you and you’re like Now I feel stupid because you weren’t even that good in bed but now I’ve been dumped and everyone knows and is laughing at me and that makes me want to punch someone. First: no one is laughing at you. Have you ever laughed at one of your girlfriends who’s just been dumped? No. (If the answer to that question was yes then please leave and maybe try not to kill any puppies on your way out.) Second: this young man is not even that cute and yet has basically run a train on several underage Hollywood ladies and so it makes me mad that they are all crazy for him. He was wearing a purity ring until like four months ago. I hate any pretense of virginity, in anyone, except virgins, and even then I don’t think it’s something you should be advertising with jewelry. He treats women like my grandfather treated cars: he trades in for a new Oldsmobile every year. Maybe even every six months if he’s feeling flush! Maybe these girls seem more crazy than average because they are so young and are thus responding those first green shoots of jealousy as we all did back in the sunset of our adolescence, with pure unadulterated public rage. I wouldn’t condone concealing one’s feelings, per se, but specifically in terms of jealousy and being jilted I think the best course is always an exterior show of strength no matter how much you may want to set someone’s house on fire, Left-Eye.

Anyway. I have this vision of the Jonas Brothers: of the eldest, Kevin, being this super-Christian naif, cuddling with his wife on the couch watching like fucking Lambchop or Lawrence Welk or Joel Osteen or something, maybe with a can of tuna and curving Texas McMansion staircase in the background, Nick-Lachey-on-Newlyweds-style, and the youngest, Nick, being still super-duper-crazy obsessed with Miley still and having all these Virgin of Guadalupe candles lit under this creepy shrine in his bedroom (first door at the top of the spiral stairs), and maybe some stills of her in the Party of the U.S.A video– I mean the cowboy boots, he just can’t get over the cowboy boots– and maybe even one of Billy Ray’s old puka shell necklaces for good luck or something. And then in the middle of all this, there’s Joe. And he’s just way, way, way more deviant than anyone in America can imagine. In he saunters in after a completely debauched night out in L.A. He plunks down on the couch, tosses his cocaine-dusted car keys on the glass-top coffee table, and begins regaling Kevin and Kevin’s wife with stories of how he traded oral with, like, Mo’Nique in the bathroom and then did speedballs in a Chateau Marmont bungalow with Robin Williams and Lindsay Lohan. And then he had sex with a horse.

I think they should have named AT LEAST one Jonas brother Jonas.