The Twilight Saga: New Moon Image

Full disclosure: I haven’t read the books. I only recently watched the first movie in the name of informed journalism because I knew that would be reviewing “New Moon.” I had a reaction that I didn’t expect. Based on what I already knew about what my favorite gossip blogger calls “Twitards,” I suspected that I wouldn’t love it. I knew about the abstinence “metaphors.” But I didn’t expect to find a story so rich with anti-feminist ideology. A quick Google search tells me that many a literary scholar has already touched on the Bella-as-a-battered-woman interpretation, so I’ll try not to rehash. But I will say that I absolutely agree with it and don’t see it so much as an interpretation as the only way to read the damned thing. The same Google search also tells me that the movies are very similar to the books. So I feel pretty confident in my understanding of the “Twilight” universe.

I watched “Twilight” at home with a friend. But my “New Moon” experience was with an audience. Dear god, the audience! Naturally, it was mostly female. Tweens and their mothers, divided into opposing teams of Edward and Jacob. They were so pumped for the movie that they cheered for the production company logo. They cheered for first appearances of their team mascots. They whooped whenever a male character appeared without a shirt. I felt like I was attending a Barely Legal Chippendales show with my young cousin and h***y aunt. I’ve been more comfortable staring directly into a stripper’s backside. I’m not even joking.

I won’t really try to avoid spoilers because if you’re reading this, you’ve most likely either read the books and know what’s going to happen, or you’re morbidly curious and don’t really care. If you don’t want to be spoiled, consider this your warning.

“New Moon” opens with Bella, on the eve of her 18th birthday, having an anxiety dream about getting old while her immortal boyfriend, Edward, stays young. A legitimate worry, to be sure, but she follows it up with a declaration that she’s already old at 18. This is something that teenagers and people in their early 20s like to do, and it drives older folks absolutely f*****g nuts. Bella is actually a pretty typical teenager in a lot of ways, none of them positive. She constantly ignores the sound advice that more experienced people give her, choosing to do the rash thing at every turn. She sneaks out. She makes ridiculous declarations like “I don’t really like music” just to sound rebellious. She treats the nice boys terribly, always opting to make time with the troublemakers instead. This is the s**t that new parents worry about when they learn they’re having girls. And, for some reason, this character is serving as a role model for teenage girls all over the world. Excuse me while I go have a panic attack.

So anyway, Bella has a really eventful birthday. The possessive Edward has a scowl-off with Jacob, one of the many friends Bella has been ignoring ever since she got a boyfriend. Later, at Bella’s oddly formal birthday party, she gets a paper cut. This abruptly ends the festivities since half the attendees immediately want to eat her. After all this, Bella still doesn’t get what she really wants for her birthday: eternal life. Instead, she settles for a really awkward kiss goodnight from a guy who acts like he has history’s worst case of Blue Balls.

The next morning, with furrowed brow, Edward dumps her like one would a stray puppy. Literally. When he’s done, he actually leaves her in the middle of the woods and she just curls up into a whimpering ball until nighttime. She doesn’t belong in his world, he tells her. She’s not good for him. Considering how many times he’s told her that both he and his entire family would love to gobble her up like a bucket of fried chicken, he makes a valid point. And with that, the Cullens disappear from the town of Forks and from Bella’s life.

Brokenhearted, Bella immediately becomes a useless lump. So useless, in fact, that she doesn’t even try to find her way home from the woods and must be rescued by a shirtless fellow named Sam. (Can anyone tell me why no one, not even Bella’s dad, bats an eyelash when a half-clothed man walks out of the woods with an unconscious teenage girl? They just thank him and get on with their day.) After that, she sits moping in a chair for two solid months. Seriously. That’s a whole montage: Bella staring out the window while seasons change. Her dad tells her that he’s worried about her and her behavior isn’t normal. And guess what? He’s right!

Bella finally decides to get out of the house and that’s when the trouble starts again. After seeing a movie with one of her long-neglected friends, she goes on an impromptu joy ride with one of the Port Angeles rapists. As she straddles the bike, phantom Edward pops up like the angel on her shoulder to tell her that she’s being reckless. Instead of heeding his warnings, she takes this as a cue to become an adrenaline junkie. She decides that being haunted by Edward’s morality ghost is better than nothing. And then she selfishly drags the doting Jacob into her plan to be a moron.

Meanwhile, Jacob has his own problems. Shirtless Sam and his gang of equally shirtless cliff divers have been courting him to join their mysterious group. After an awkward third-wheel date with Bella and that nice blonde boy, Jacob flips out. Anyone who’s seen “Teen Wolf” recognizes this as werewolf puberty. The next time Bella sees Jacob, he’s a changed, shirtless man. Fortunately for her, he’s wolfed out just in time to save her stupid a*s from evil vampires in Edward’s absence.

Bella takes this opportunity to become a complete and total hypocrite. “It’s wrong,” she lectures him about being a werewolf. “It’s not a lifestyle choice,” he retorts. “I was born this way.” Leave it to a Mormon to compare being a bloodthirsty monster to homosexuality. I bet Stephanie Meyer even thinks that’s a really open-minded viewpoint. Anyway, Jacob tells her they can’t be friends anymore because he could flip out at any time. By way of example, he points to Sam’s scarred girlfriend. At this point, I’m surprised Bella isn’t totally smitten with him, seeing as how she has such a boner for men who want to hurt her. But nay, she still prefers her predator boyfriends scrawny and sparkly.

And then Edward’s sister returns to tell her that Edward, believing Bella dead, now has a death wish of his own. It’s here that things really start to drag as Bella has to save Edward and then get saved about 100 more times herself. The girl really is useless. Also, Dakota Fanning is there. Of course, the audience is meant to think that this is all so romantic and sweet. Love against the odds. Romeo and Juliet. And the worst part is, most of the audience does think that.

As you can see, “New Moon” is not for me. It seems like it should be. I’m a fan of supernatural stories. I was once a brooding teenager who dreamed of gothic romance. But I absolutely hate what Stephanie Meyer has done. She’s reversed everything that Joss Whedon did for female empowerment. She’s taken all the sex out of the sexy vampire. She’s boiled the “inner demons” metaphor down to nothing, and dressed it with a slightly condescending and bigoted sauce. If you liked the books and the first movie, you will probably love “New Moon.” It’s going to make a ton of money and Stephanie Meyer is going to continue to be lauded and rewarded. I know that there will always be bubblegum pop for tweens but this is so much worse than the Backstreet Boys. This is, to borrow a phrase from the source material, a lion in lambskin. It’s intellectually and socially detrimental to both literature and cinema, simultaneously. The fact that so many girls will see this movie and drink up the messages like poisoned Kool-Aid depresses the hell out of me. But there’s nothing I can do about it. You’ve already picked your team.

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  1. Chaz says:

    I have the first two movies mainly for the lols (and I have a 15 year old sister in law who loves them so I’ve kept them to give her something to watch when I see her) I think they’re both hilarious.

    a point of interest that pretty much everyone I’ve spoken to has a pick out is the fact they go out in daylight this isn’t actually inaccurate depending on which version of the vampire myth you use. Stoker did have Dracula appearing during daylight (he had to wear special glasses though) the bursting into flame in daylight is actually a fairly recent addition to the myth. But not self respecting vampire should sparkle!

    The major issue I have with the werewolves is the speed with which they transform… while it’s an interesting idea human and wolf biology are simply far too dissimilar to allow that quick a change (FFS it requires a total change of bone structure and shape) Although I do like that they actually change into real, intellegent (albeit larger than average) wolves rather than the slather man beasts that have been traditionally seen, it’s certainly how I’ve always pictured a werewolf in my head.

  2. Laci Carlisle says:

    I really wonder if people had their panties in a wad about Romeo & Juliet.

    The Twilight Saga is about a love story, a true love that leaves the characters not wanting to live with out each others existence. The suicidal inclinations in the Twilight Saga are no different from Romeo & Juliet, of which they actually did commit suicide.

    Bella is not meant to be a damsel in distress, she is meant to be a normal clumsy teenager with normal insecurities. If there is any point that has been missed it is this, Bella is idolized because she is normal and still found love.

    I am not a tween or teen, I am 28. I love all four books way more than the movies, but the movies are great, and that goes for any book turned movie. I am looking forward to Eclipse.

  3. masha says:

    There are wonderful points made here! I read the books and saw the movies. To me “Twilight” is a drug. I’m 15 and my friends dragged me to see the 1st movie because they thought James looked like my brother. They were shocked when I got up before the credits were done. It was definitely entertaining and while all my friends swooned over Edward I always preferred Jacob though he’s stupid enough to like Bella. Why? Why do guys all like her? Don’t they see how boring she is?

  4. J. Home says:

    A bit rambling, but here are my thoughts:

    I just saw New Moon on DVD – mostly because I like to keep up on what is currently trendy. I read the first two Twilight books for the same reason. I thought book one was well-written. I sped through Book two and couldn’t finish it as it didn’t keep my interest.

    On the movies’ messages: yes, I agree with your assessment. Message-wise, this series is the equivalent in “messages to girls” of really really bad junk food – except this gets fed to the soul, not the body.

    I loved Joss Whedon’s Buffy series and was thrilled to finally encounter a woman who was strong and resourceful. And, yes, Bella takes us all back to “the old days” and to the traditional romance heroines who are constantly in need of rescue. Not good.

    More troubling: Bella chooses things that are bad for her. Edward warns her he’s dangerous. Bella: no problem. Bella believes she may lose her soul if she stays with Edward. Bella: no problem. Edward’s gone and Bella finds the only way to sort of “see” him again is to put herself in danger of rape, death, and drowning. Bella: let’s do it!

    Hopefully teen fans get that this is a “far end of the spectrum” romance and that this is not a template for how to live your life. But you have to wonder.

    Kids love candy too – even though it rots their teeth and makes them obese. They’ll still pick candy over carrot sticks and brocollil – without adult supervision. In this case, the adults responsible for Twilight and New Moon want to shake the jingle out of teen pockets and they figure they’ll be living in mansions on Malibu and, hey, someone else will have to look at and deal with all the spiritually “obese kids with rotten teeth” they are creating.

    I don’t hold the actors responsible for this. Actors have a tough time landing roles and have to take prominent roles like this when they’re offered. Rob Pattinson rocked in the Harry Potter movies. He truly has potential. But New Moon is not his movie. I think he’s being overwhelmed by the fan craziness – and no one in his circle is giving him the support he needs to balance out the effect it’s having on him. Hopefully, with time and some good friends, he will regain his acting stride. (I suspect also he has been poorly directed and edited.)

  5. Fatalist says:

    Delivers to the target audience.

    Let us not discuss it any further.

  6. DJo says:

    Having already admitted that you have not read the books, your critique loses validity when you mention Meyer. Yes, the movie is based on the book, but the movie does not follow it exactly. I watched New Moon before reading the book and found it kinda jumpy and found that the actors seemed kinda bored in the movie. I had a completely different perspective on it after reading, but the books and movies do need to be considered separately as others have already mentioned.

  7. Sharon says:

    This movie seems to me to have a very clear suicidal message all wrapped up in a very romantic package. A very bad message for tweens. Bella wants to give her life away, she’s suicidally reckless, Edward wants to kill himself. The minimizing of their lives here is bad bad bad and it’s done so romantically. Not a good mixture.

  8. I agree with Mark For instance take the Vampire’s Assistant, it was a great book but the movie wrecked it.

  9. ace.02 says:

    Hahahaha,good review,mate. Now i understand why so many emo-kids love to watch this movie 100 times a day. Ridiculous!

  10. When are people going to realize that one has to look at the books and the movies as a separate entity? A lot of people say that the novel for Carrie was much different than the movie. So DePalma ended up making an excellent movie, and when the remake stuck close to the book, it sucked. Arguing that the books are good, doesn’t help influence people to like the movie.

  11. Mark Bell says:

    I still don’t know how one can defend the film by praising the merits of the book, as they are not the same thing. The movie should be critiqued as a stand-alone, independent of the book (otherwise, just read the book). If I say a movie is bad, and someone says the movie isn’t bad because the book is good, they’re not the same thing. The book is the book, the movie is the movie. If the Bella character is amazing in the book, then yay for the book, but if she doesn’t come across that way by how she is portrayed in the movie, then boo for the movie.

  12. lexi says:

    I don’t see how you can be so critical of new moon. Read the books for crying out! The best romance story ever…

  13. Stephanie says:

    You have it all wrong. If you read all the books you will see Bella is a strong women. This story is wonderful and I look forward to reading and watching more twilight. If anything you are the one that is so stuck on religion.

  14. Frida says:

    Great points in your review.
    I’m 16 and i found the first one ridiculous, the second mildly entertaining but i also don’t get what all the big fuzz is about.

    I’ll have to come back to read more reviews.

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