Friday, June 05, 2009

New Moon | Why Is Twillight / New Moon So Popular?

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Maybe you all can help me with this. Ok? Here goes. Why is the Twillight Saga so popular? The official trailer for the movie "New Moon" is out and it looks interesting this Trekker's just not feeling it. Especially since the one person who appears to be the baddy is a rastafarian black guy who's about to get it by a guy, "Jake" who turns into a wolf in mid run.

What's that you say? I've got to read the book series Twillight? I guess so; there's four of em. Look, I've seen the book all over the place: on the BART Train, at the gym, in the hand of a passer by. Almost always a woman between the age of 20 and 50; mostly white or Asian in the Bay Area - seldom black. Just an observation. I've only once seen a guy reading the book. Just an observation.

I have to admit I became more interested in this because the author of the Twillight Saga, Stephanie Meyer, came up with this four-book marvel of success out of a crazy dream she had in 2003 about a 17-year-old girl and a studly vampire who loves her but wants to kill her and suck her blood. Moreover, Meyer, reportedly expecting a $10,000 book advance just to pay off her minivan, got a $750,000 deal, and the book series has sold 17 million copies worldwide, has made her a new millionaire,

That's great. For that alone, I'm proud of Stephanie. Hugely so.

But why the heck is it so popular?

Last year, Gawker's Alex Carnevale explained that Vanity Fair's James Wolcott "pulled out the stops" in trying to pull together all of the pop-culture referrences that seem to have found their way into Twillight:

"Here's the full list of cultural references from Wolcott's piece: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dracula, Vampire Academy, Gossip Girl, The Morganville Vampires, Vampire Kisses, The Vampire Diaries, Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter, Into the Wild, Mary-Louise Parker, Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire Mysteries, Six Feet Under, Harry Potter, Debussy, Rudolf Nureyev, Chris Isaak, Michelangelo, Chopin, Superman, the gays, Sarah Palin, James Dean, David Lynch, Bob Dylan, Abel Ferrara’s The Addiction, and Brideshead Revisited. An impressive array, to say the least."

Ok. But that's not necessarily a receipe for success as the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. So I'm using new media to take the question to you: why is the Twillight Saga so popular? Also, when I look at the Vanity Fair photo here:

All I see is the common picture of white American youth plus one African American and one other person of color out of 12 people. Interesting. It's a photo so common it implies anyone who's not "that" need not be at the party for the most part, except as a token. And therein lies the problem for me, specifically.

Why does the Twillight Saga have to be an almost totally white picture of a fantasy? Because Meyer's Mormon and it's her dream? I'm not comfortable with that notion only because I don't know Meyer and admire what she's done. Since I want to like her, I'm afraid to go that route of thinking.

I'm just being honest. I'm just thinking, which I do too much of perhaps. But I just can't accept what's tossed at me chapter and verse. Sorry.

That feeling of racial isolation is a bit bothersome to me, especially as our society becomes ever more integrated. I don't think for a moment most readers of Twillight think about the story in this way as presented in the book. But the movies -- the movies give a different take because they paint the picture for us.

See? Our ability to create a fantasy and install ourselves within it, skin color and all, is taken away. Then here comes Vanity Fair to cement the deal.

The real wildly popular story of an interracial set of as President Obama would say "folks" has yet to be told. But I have the feeling one can't achieve success by setting out to write that story. I suppose some guy, somewhere, will have a dream about a 20-year old African American boy and a space alien in the form of a hot-for-teacher, 40-year old hardbody Asian woman who wants to kill him and take his bones back to some home planet in Orion's Belt, but is so in love with him she winds up...

You get the idea.


Obama on Iraq, Iran and Israel in Cairo

From the AP: President Barack Obama addressed a wide array of issues, including the Iraq war and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in his address to Muslims in Cairo Thursday. (June 4)

Susan Boyle Released From Hospital; Will Sing For Demi Moore

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Susan Boyle, who's set to perform for President Barack Obama, has been released from Priory Clinic in London, where she was treated for emotional exhaustion, and has been offered $30,000 to sing at Demi Moore's wedding anniversary event in Los Angeles (hey, I thought hubby Ashton Kutcher was supposed to plan this?).

At any rate the American offers are starting to pop up for Boyle. Meanwhile, Britain's Got Talent judge Amanda Holden said on Larry King Live on Tuesday of this week, that the show was not at fault for Boyle's problems stating that the contestants are all "extraordinarily well looked after."

Are you kidding me? Really, Amanda? So why did this happen if that's so? Moreover, I don't think Holden would have come on King's show were it not to do damage control regarding Boyle's horrible treatment. I still think she should have quit early and I said so here:

But maybe, as someone observed on Twitter, (where she's still a hot topic as of this post time) Boyle's coming in second place on BGT was the best thing to happen for her. Perhaps all of this will work out in a sideways fashion. But the big new issue is how people are treated on television. There should be a government review of what happens to new celebrities and what responsibilities TV producers should take, including explaining the risks that come with being on television to those who want to appear on a show, and protecting the persons from harm.