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“Twilight” has no fangs

Part one of "Twilight" review:

I don’t know how or why, but I’m one of those people who likes vampire stories. Maybe because my sisters and I watched "Buffy" religiously when I was growing up, or maybe because my mom bought me "Interview with the Vampire" while I was in New Orleans. Either way, I couldn’t resist seeing what the "Twilight" phenomenon was all about. I started reading the book about a week ago, and while I was reading it, I came accross the headline "’Twilight’ is the ‘High School Musical’ of vampire stories." It initially seemed odd, because "HSM" is the most lobotomized example of children’s entertainment since "Spot the Dog," although "Spot" is for kindergarteners. "HSM" features ridiculously happy, good-looking and talented kids coming up with conflict-like-things and singing about them, only to realize that their problems aren’t really problems. "Twilight" is a book narrated by a depressed and cynical teenage girl caught between divorced parents. After her immature mom sends her to live in a sunless town in Washington, she gets reacquainted with her quiet, shy father and moves into a dreary isolation. Doesn’t really sound like singing "Bop to the Top" does it?

But "Twilight" writer Stephenie Meyer does share a certain marketing-friendly story telling savvy that the creators of "HSM" have clearly profited from: the ability to cleverly edit out direct conflict in a story. While the narrator and the tone of the story are glum, "Twilight" is essentially a hyperbolic love story that relies on the general perfection of Edward Cullen, the hot vampire. He doesn’t share any of the strife that typical vampires have; he can go out in the sun, he doesn’t worry that he’s a creature of Satan because he casually snacks on woodland creatures, he can move as fast as cars, and he’s Superman strong. All the vampires have secret powers, are stunningly attractive and their skin even sparkles in the sun, like – as the author puts it – marble mixed with diamonds. He treats the narrator perfectly and does everything she asks for. There is a small conflict at the end of the book, but instead of unraveling the problem, the narrator dips out and the readers are never explained what happened. Essentially, she doesn’t bother with the problem solving of the non-existent but chronologically necessary action scene.

That ability to edit out conflict is almost a talent. It increasingly seems like the next generation wants media content that doesn’t serve any purpose but complete escapism. Parents might like the trimmed-down violence, but any kind of philosophical speculation is lost at the same time.

Tomorrow I’m going to see the film, so "Twilight" review part two is on its way.

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