Saturday, July 3, 2010

When the Audience is Into it: "Eclipse" the film (and the book)

Like half of teenage America, probably, I (although I am old) saw "Eclipse" last night. With my daughters. Those children were simply desperate to see the film. 

They both love Taylor Lautner (Jacob--see photo above) with a passion that unnerves me. Aren't they a bit young, I wonder, to have crushes of such seeming intensity? 

He's too old for you; he'll be too old for you for quite a while, I want to say. Plus, the character isn't real. Plus, I am sure it's a fair bet that Hollywood will have corrupted him--if not already, certainly by then--not that you'll ever get to actually meet him...oh, never mind. 

Some things (like Jacob, like Santa Claus) are too complicated to explain--especially without ruining some important part of childhood magic. 

Let them have their Jacob crushes. I had a Leif Something crush when I was young. I can't even remember Leif's last name, at this point. But I do remember he was nowhere near as exciting to me as Taylor Lautner is to my kids.

In our house, we have Jacob posters on the girls' bedroom walls. They own too-big Jacob T-shirts. Before we got to the movie, one of my kids insisted on writing "Team Jacob" on her cheek with a lipstain pen that lives in a cupholder in my car…but she was looking in the mirror when she did this, so of course it came out backward: bocoJ meaT in shimmery plum. 

I should have taken a picture; it was hysterical. She rubbed it off, laughing and blushing furiously despite her stained right cheek.

I myself sort of prefer Edward, which causes some division (but honestly, I do not really care that much either way. I am, thus, Team Switzerland).

What I notice when I watch the films is that even though the Bella-Jacob dynamic gets screen time, the romantic tension here does not really exist in the movies, not the way it does in the books. 

I like both of the actors who play these roles, and I appreciate both of the characters, but together, I think they have as much positive chemistry as petroleum and saltwater.  Or, maybe even a tank of tropical fish and a bottle of bleach.

When Bella tells Jacob to kiss her and he does, she looks as though she is putting up with a tooth pulling.  Jacob, for his part, is pushing the Who Wouldn't Want to Kiss Me? Look How Well I Kiss; Look at my Varied Kissing Moves! thing a bit too far, in my opinion.

What I told my daughter--who seemed a bit disappointed that Bella is so sure, in "Eclipse" the film, that she doesn't have the hots for Jacob in any way (even though Jacob insists he knows she does, but just won't admit it--which I think is a weird thing to keep saying, at least in terms of screenwriting)--is that the books really explore the life Bella could have with Jacob. In the book(s), she is truly torn at some points.

The movies can't cover this in the same way, I guess. 

No, "Eclipse" was all about Edward pushing Bella to marry him, and an elaborate proposal, etc., that was the Old-Fashioned/Fairy Tale Fantasy...and mostly unrealistic.

"Oh. My. God. There's water coursing down my cheeks! This is so touching! I'm a guy, and I need a tissue so bad. So bad!" the kid behind me was saying--(good actor), though I knew he was joking.

As a parent, I can appreciate the "values" contained implicitly within the Twilight series, but sometimes, it does get a bit saccharine.

YA is a difficult balance that way (and I realize that the author of Twilight, Stephenie Meyer, is Mormon, and has a certain, shall we say, worldview). It's a perennial (or contemporary, rather) problem: should premarital sex ever happen, or if it does, should it be glossed over, or should it be completely condemned as morally wrong?

I write YA, too, but I generally don't find YA sex scenes to be appropriate, especially since YA is usually read by pre-teens.

At the same time, though, I can see that it is more honest to write about people, even youngish people, having sex. It's just realistic. It is especially honest when it's written as disappointing, demoralizing, full-of-remorse and what did I do's?

Writing YA filled with hyper-magical, too-perfect sex actually does more of a disservice to teens, I think (and that will come later in this particular book series, although I think it is written in an extraordinarily vague way, and it also comes attached to marriage...)

Sex or no sex (and there’s no sex here), the Twilight books and films can be steamy, or borderline-so. Bella and Edward certainly do have chemistry. You can tell the actors really do like each other, and that’s cute.

Still, as Jacob even says in the film, “…I’m hotter.” The audience roared.

When Jacob was injured by a vampire and phased back into his human body, some young woman actually screamed, “He’s naked! Jacob’s naked!” Again, everyone in the theatre lost it.

I remember they lost it, too, when Jacob first appeared onscreen (in the last film),  shirtless. Even the grown-ups were screaming.

The books, as usually happens, are better than the films (and the books are imperfect, too, though enjoyable), but seeing “Eclipse” was an experience that gave me material…and my eldest is now plowing through the series, and anything that gets kids reading is wonderful, in my opinion.


  1. So spot on, and so, so funny. Thank you for this!

  2. You are welcome. Knew you'd be into it.



  3. Was it Leif Garrett? He was referenced in some show I used to watch--I want to say Saved by the Bell or something teeny-bopperish of that kind-- and the name has just stuck. I don't know anything about him except his name, which I find funny.

    I cannot weigh in on Team Edward or bocaJ meaT (ha!) as I have resisted the Eclipse frenzy. Although many of my female students have raved over the books (and done book talks on them), I just can't bring myself to read them. I don't like that Kristen Stewart girl, either. She always seems stoned and greasy in interviews. Don't you find that? Yick!

  4. I like Edward better too although Jacob isn't half bad. I'm a full grown women! What is wrong with me? :)

  5. Natalie--yes, it was Leif Garrett! Thanks for reminding me. It's hard to believe I'd ever heard of him when I was young, given the very small amount of media exposure (compared to teen stars now) that he actually had.

    I know what you mean about KS; I actually saw a photo of her smoking a bowl in some Hollywood magazine that I was reading while I rode the elliptical at the gym. The "real life" photos of her I find not amazing, but I think she's ok in the films (if a little bland).

    I had to read the books because all of my students had...and I hate to not know what's going on. The books do suck you in, and I appreciate the craftsmanship and general storyline, but it's not classic literature (or wait, it could end up being so...)

    @Liberality--never fear, you are allowed an opinion and a preference. Both of these guys are little boys to me, but for the sake of argument, I sometimes choose. I am not into over-muscle-y specimens, though I appreciate health and fitness, so I find myself unsure about how I feel about that Jacob. Edward is irresistible (in character).

    Thanks for reading!



  6. First, let me point out that I am a fan. Die hard. Hard core. However you want to put it. But. My girls are younger, my oldest is twelve. I won't let them see the movies, or read the books. And I realize I'm strict, I get it, but what I don't understand is how it seems okay that Bella wants Edward to sleep with her. A lot. Sure the Edward character won't do it, but my question is, am I really that crazy for not wanting my daughters to see/read that part of it? Because at the age they're at, they won't get that Edward is a "stand up guy" with old values or whatever. And they also won't realize that pretty much every guy out there isn't like that. Not remotely.

    I'm working on a YA project right now, and as you said, it's not that appropriate, considering the age of the readers, to have that kind of material in it. How do you make it enough to where all ages will enjoy it, but not too physical to where it's going too far? *sigh*

  7. Hi,

    My kids are oblivious to the actual facts here, in some cases. So that's good, but yes, it starts to bother me, and my eldest is just barely old enough to even try to read these books (she doesn't get that far because the 600+ pages daunts her).

    i think that in order for this romance/passionate romance to be plausible, at least one of the characters really has to Want To. It's weird in this case that it's the girl, but even the most die-hard fan starts thinking Edward is sort of being ridiculous, no matter how gallant he claims to be.

    And of course, there isn't an actual real boy/guy/man who's really like that, I think (more unrealistic fairy tale stuff).

    The new YA I am reading (not my own) is filled with cursing, sex, drugs, abuse--whatever bad (read: edgy) thing it can be filled with. I just read a piece yesterday that said reluctant readers will be convinced to read if they think what they are reading is rebellious and different...

    It's very tough to wrap your head around. I find that either sex is stupidly vague (not that you'd want it to be explicit, because that's icky in YA) or rape when it's depicted in YA.

    I agree not to even go there, really, because it doesn't feel like something you'd want your own kids to read (and they will read it).

    Nothing wrong with romance and passion, though.

    I think it comes down to what editors demand.



    1. ah hello edward is just really hot in the movie but not in real life rob pattz is bleek but taylor lautner is just hot when ever i've read eclipse five times and new moon 5 and and breaking dawn 5 and twilight 2 but i couln't watch the movies tell i read them counsidering i was twelve at the time but the movies are the best cause they have kristen stwart she's my fav actor