November 23, 2008

You have probably heard about Twilight (unless you’ve been living in remote Afghan caves for the past few years.) It’s this series of teen-girl/vampire romances, and the movie opened this weekend.

I am not a vampire person. Like, some people are just really into vampires. I don’t get it. I think I don’t have the required sense of high drama in my soul. I am also not really into romances. Unless the romances involve… explosions.

HOWEVER! I am totally excited about Twilight. Not so much to see it (due to the aforementioned skepticism about vampires and romance) but because I am hoping that it will make a gazillion dollars and people will briefly shut up about how girls don’t go to the movies.

First of all, that’s a self-fulfilling prophecy if I ever heard one. “Women don’t turn out in droves for movies where a male comicbook superhero saves the world and at some point beds a hot babe with nine lines! Ugh, women are so unpredictable! There’s just no pleasing them. Let’s stop trying.”

Second of all, I get really annoyed by the epically dull dramas that pass for “women’s movies”. Um, just because I’m a girl doesn’t mean that I don’t like fun, exciting stories. Just because I’m a girl doesn’t mean that what I really want is many boring ensemble dramas about someone with cancer getting a divorce. Why the surprise that these movies don’t make meeeellions?

Third of all, I think that people mostly go to see mainstream films to get lost in the fantasy. Your Walter-Mitty-style daydreams are mostly not about you playing the sidekick/assistant, are they? Most of us don’t daydream about being the person who brings the guy who’s saving the world a cup of coffee and a donut and who simpers at him and agrees with everything he says.

Since people who have enough money to make giant event movies tend to feel strongly that women do not really go to the movies, the majority of giant event movies cater to save-the-world daydreams from a dude’s perspective.The assumption, I guess, is that dudes would not turn out in droves on opening weekend if they were able to choose from such thrilling movies as:

*Ass-kicking, name-taking female superspy with many fabulous outfits and iPhones with LASERS IN THEM (also a broken heart due to her boyfriend dying in an underwater elevator… long story) makes snide remarks in the vein of “No, no, Professor. After you.” and then shoves villains off of skyscrapers. Also she has sex with some hot Russian guys but it doesn’t mean anything: men are disposable figurines in this universe.

*Hard-partying titaness of industry creates flying suit, uses it to party harder, battle insurgents, fight crime. Her loyal and long-suffering male secretary pines silently for her love. The titaness basically ignores him and has sex with random journalists instead.

*Nerdy female cube drone discovers that her mom was an assassin and that she’s inherited the killer gene! She’s recruited into a secret sorority of lady assassins (okay… there’s one hot guy assassin but he’s pretty much a fringe character who’s just there to look muscley) and a whole bunch of action sequences ensue. FYI, being a lady assassin is totally awesome.

Of course, the thing is, you don’t necessarily know that boys wouldn’t turn out for these movies. Because people don’t make them. So, because I like giant event movies AND I like stories about ladies, I really hope that Twilight makes a lot of money and movies like it make a lot of money and people around town stop going “Oh, pfffft, the success of that movie was a FLUKE! WOMEN DON’T GO TO THE MOVIES! I HAVE BEEN TELLING YOU THIS FOR A LONG TIME!” and sloooooowly start to entertain thoughts like “…huh. You know, maybe there is a market for female-driven event movies. GET ME A SCRIPT ABOUT LADY ASSASSINS. IN SPACE.”

Also, just to complain here, I have heard rather a lot of people at work say dismissive things about Twilight, along the lines of “Pfffft, so it’s selling out, so what? That’s just teenage girls. It’s a niche market! IT’S JUST TEENAGE GIRLS, IT DOESN’T COUNT!* STOP TELLING ME THAT IT COUNTS OR IS PART OF A TREND, BECAUSE IT’S NOT.”

Which I find frustrating, both from a “Hey… teenage girls deserve their own movies too, you know. MALE nerds aren’t the only ones with their allowance burning a hole in their pocket.” and from an “I like money” perspective.

Have people have not heard about the long tail? The future of marketing isn’t in making four 300-million dollar movies a year and hoping EVERYONE IN THE COUNTRY shows up, the future of marketing is in making more movies, cheaper, for niche audiences. AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO READ THAT BOOK?

PS, I have been reading these mysteries by this authoress Julia Spencer-Fleming, and they’re all set in this small town, and they’re sort of like…. if The Wire were more cheerful and set in a dying timber town in upstate New York. And not about drugs and full of white people who used to work in agriculture and the timber industry. Okay… maybe that was a bad comparison.

I just finished the last one and now I’m all GLUM. WHY AREN’T THERE MORE? Someone should turn them into a TV show. It would be so great! Every episode you could have a murder and the lead characters – a female Episcopal priest and the chief of police – would solve them and have angst about the state of the world and grumble about the snow and then go eat pie at the diner. I would be very happy. SOMEONE GET ON THAT PLS.

PPS, Get Your War On is particularly great this week, as they’ve run out of political things to argue about and now are forced to take that energy and have HEATED EXCHANGES about Jennifer Aniston and the Jolie-Pitts. Contains such gems as “Jennifer Aniston is like a cotton-candy Cadillac driven by Abraham Lincoln, with a beard MADE OUT OF DIAMONDS.”

*Zac Efron is standing in his personal diamond vault, laughing at you. RIGHT NOW.


8 Responses to “Twilight”

  1. Janiece Says:

    I’ve put Ms. Spenser-Fleming’s first book on hold at my local library.

    I’m always down for a good girl-based murder mystery.

    I just finished one by Donna Andrews that was fast and fun, if you’re looking for a withdrawal read…

  2. Seth Says:

    I had to read the word “titaness” two or three times before I figured out what it ACTUALLY meant. So that gives you some idea of where male screenwriters’ heads are at.

    That said, I absolutely agree with everything you’ve said here, and I would go see any of those movies. I don’t know why there are so many ass-kicking women on TV — Xena, Veronica Mars, Buffy, River Tam — and so few on the big screen, but it’s just one more indication, to me, that TV is attracting more forward-looking writers. Of course, maybe that’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, too.

  3. Elana Says:

    Janiece – I hope you like Reverend Clare and Chief Van Alstyne! I’ll have to check out the Donna Andrews book.

    Seth – I have that problem with “Titleist”. Only recently did I realize that it’s “title-ist” and stop laughing at people with it on their hats.

  4. Naomi Says:

    Dude, that series of books sounds less like The Wire and more like Murder She Wrote meets Fargo.

  5. Elana Says:


    (You’re not invited the set.)

  6. Seth Says:

    Oh, and I forgot INSANE Holly Hunter on Saving Grace. Maybe not a hero, exactly, but I feel pretty confident she could kick my ass.

  7. Nathan Says:

    Try T.A. Pratt’s Marla Mason/Felport series.

    Here’s my reivew of one of the books. Totally awesome female protagonist who seriously kicks ass at every turn.

    These books are just begging to be a movie or two.

  8. Maggie Says:

    I find it shocking that there is a belief women don’t see movies. In my life experience, it’s women who go to the movies and men who have to be DRAGGED out to see anything excepting the huge holiday blockbusters. When I was living at home, my mother and I went to a movie at least twice a month, sometimes every weekend if there was something interesting on ever weekend. And my Mom continues that tradition with her female friends, although it’s been reduced to about once a month lately.

    I think what you say is true about storylines and getting more women out in the kinds of droves movie execs want, but sometimes the reason is simply that many women are single moms who can’t get/afford a babysitter.

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