I posted a little about my experience of seeing Twilight: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 on my personal blog today, but seeing as how I've not seen a true post-mortem on this particular film, I thought I'd divert a little of my time to pick up the scalpel and dissect the Twilight phenomenon.
Fans, you may want to avert your eyes.
To go ahead and get the bona fides out of the way: I read the first book, have seen all of the movies with my wife, and in general don't dislike the notion of paranormal romance. So if I'm a hater, I'm at least a hater who tried.
And I did try. Really, I did. My wife read all of the books, and when I ask her questions about them, she answers in a way that makes them sound kind of interesting. Her enthusiasm for the story and its characters is what compelled us to the movie theater to see Twilight in the first place. And I genuinely went with an open mind.
But 13.83 seconds after watching Kristen Stewart wince her way through the movie's opening scenes, I knew I would never be able to like the movie. Let alone the entire franchise. I simply could not abide Kristen Stewart's portrayal of Bella.
Remember, I'd read the book. And what was a somewhat charming, slightly klutzy, sadly lost young woman on the page became an utterly bland, slightly constipated mess on the screen. Watching Ms. Stewart's Bella on screen in Twilight (and each subsequent movie) I suddenly came to realize just why my grandmother's preferred cure-all for any ailment was an enema. It certainly seemed appropos in Bella's case.
Compounding the issue was that the character became even more unredeemable with each sequel. Bella went from being whiny to being needy to being incomprehensibly selfish to being someone that I actively rooted against in the most horrific of ways.
Put it to you this way: in Breaking Dawn - Part 2, when the big evil vampires from Italy show up to kill Bella and Edward and their clan, I was the only person in the theater openly cheering for the so-called bad guys to succeed.
I got some stares that were scarier than anything onscreen.
Truthfully, what bothered me most about Bella as portrayed by Kristen Stewart (and honestly, about Bella in general) is that she was an incomplete person without her "soulmate," Edward. She was a half-measure; and while I can appreciate that Stephanie Meyers was trying to write a love story that emphasized chastity and finding your perfect mate, she really only succeeded in creating a character that was so myopically selfish that she had to end up with a vampire because no human being would take her.
That's not exactly the kind of heroine I want my daughter emulating.
Actually, calling her a heroine is a bit of a stretch. Sure she morphs into something powerful in Breaking Dawn, but before that she's just the object of desire for two different men. Her greatest gift is being attractive. And while you can certainly spin the idea that female empowerment can be found in utilizing looks to advantage, you can't really say that it makes for a compelling hero arc. Nor can you say that it's something all women can (or should) use for themselves.
I know I sound like an idiot. Like I posted on Twitter, my disdain for the character of Bella is irrational, and probably closer to unhinged than anything else. But for me, the series dies when I ask myself: is this someone I would want my daughter to know?
After watching all of the movies, but in particular Breaking Dawn - Part 2, my answer is an unequivocal NO.