Tuesday, February 16, 2010

So this whole New Moon business.

I thought about coming home and writing some big snarky thing about how badly made the movie was (it felt like it was edited by an epileptic stuck at a Laser Pink Floyd show), how silly the acting was (Kristen Stewart bites her lip like it was made of taffy and Robert Pattinson is like the world's most natural Xanax spokesman), how twisted and hateful the sexual politics are (the obvious juxtaposition of losing your virginity to losing your soul, Edward and Jacob's clear emotional abuse of Bella, Bella making orgasm noises every time somebody gets into a fight around her), etc. etc. etc.

But then I got home and realized that it just sort of made me sad. The whole thing. The phenomenon of it, the attention paid to the delusional, pseudoliterary ravings of a woman that has clearly never had a healthy relationship, who is more terrified of sex than she is the idea of being eaten by a werewolf, and so on.

And then I realized that I just sort of feel bad for Stephenie Meyer. She's been lauded as having tapped into some kind of zeitgeist with her horrifying little books, and watching a crowd of 20-somethings hoop and holler at the whole thing made me realize that she has tapped into something. But it's nothing good.

What Meyer has exploited is the disappointing tendency of human beings to feel shame of themselves. Young people watch this stuff and, just like extensive repeated viewings of The Little Mermaid made four-year-old Andy think that relationships were that operatic (nice to see how THAT'S changed, eh?), an entire generation of people are going to assume that picking someone like Edward--with whom the movie clearly sides--because of some grand, misguided notion of cosmic fate or related unquantifiable justification is a good idea.

New Moon creates a false dichotomy in which the only two choices are Edward (emotional manipulation bordering on sociopathy) and Jacob (clingy virginity masked as hypersexuality). Either choice creates a relationship that defines its participants by itself, creating a positive feedback loop of self-reflexive existence; Bella and Edward exist only to be in a relationship with each other, and without the relationship, they wouldn't exist, in which case they couldn't be in a relationship, etc.

There's that third option, though, that the movie (hell, most movies) leaves unexplored: neither. The idea that someone just needs to be in a relationship because it's "the right thing to do" or because God hates single people or whatever is a sure-fire path to emotional abuse (or a misguided engagement leading to a great deal of Not Good Things).

So if someone's decent to you and you wanna be decent back, go for it. This isn't an Anti-Relationship Screed, this is an anti-codependency one. But some bizarre sense of socioromantic obligation, thinking that you need to be with someone (or anyone) because they're simply there or because you "owe it" to yourself (or to them, for that matter) is starting something that should make you happy on a club foot. It's handicapping something in the womb and it's not a good idea.

I know you all wanted my advice, especially considering just how successful my relationships always are, and I'll stop before personal subtext gets inserted into something more general, but there you have my take.

Fingers crossed.


W. A. Sandholtz said...

nice blog redesign.

martha said...

Andy, again you leave me mentally gasping for air due to your spunky wit and everything else that is great about writing. I agree with you. And I have recently felt like I want to be decent back. :)

I feel we have much to catch up on. For one, I somehow missed your birthday and I feel terrible. And two, don't we both always have news that one or both of us will have some benefit from sharing with each other?

Anonymous said...

i don't have the strength to stay away from [your blog] anymore.