Tyrades! Face It: Undeath Is A Part of Life

Friday, July 9, 2010

If at first you DO succeed, Twi Twi again.

That's the philosophy as the third installment of the popular Twilight series smashes motion picture box office records.

For the uninitiated, Twilight basically chronicles a period in the life of Isabella "Bella" Swan, a teen girl who moves to Forks, Washington, and falls in love with a 104-year-old vampire named Edward Cullen. Edward belongs to a vampire family that has disciplined itself to drink animal blood rather than human blood. (This coven has so far resisted vegan pressure to leave even the animals alone, reasoning that "I vant to suck your rutabaga" sounds really nerdy.)

I know the target audience of female young adults is turned on by Edward as a great-great-grandfather figure; but a romantic dinner with a 104-year-old vampire has to be weird, even if he's supernaturally young and handsome. ("Back in my day, werewolf curses were only a dime apiece, and Orville and Wilbur Wright never charged me any extra fee for any carry-on luggage like those whippersnappers today...")

Yes, I understand that the fans get swept up in thoughts of brooding hunks and the excruciating unfairness of forbidden love, but the irony is not lost on me. Many of these "forbidden love decriers" will soon join the "Not tonight, I've got a headache" brigade.

Stephenie Meyer created her Twilight book series without first researching vampire lore, so her mythology omits many of the time-honored vampire clichés we've grown to know and love. Her characters differ from the traditional bloodsuckers in that they have strong, piercing teeth (rather than fangs), they don't hang out in coffins, they don't run for re-election...

Meyer says each of her four Twilight novels was inspired by and loosely based on a classic work of literature, such as "Pride and Prejudice" or "Wuthering Heights." If she decides to continue the series, publishers are touting several familiar books for inspiration. We might soon see "Pat The Bunny -- and Then Drink His Blood" and "The South Beach Diet: Join The Walking Dead."

The series is not overtly sexual, but it nonetheless made the #5 spot on the American Library Association Top Ten List of the Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2009. Challengers tossed around charges such as "unsuited to age group" and "has a religious viewpoint." Stephenie Meyer is indeed a Mormon, and her religion definitely crept into one rough draft. Twilight vampires glisten rather than burn in daylight, but one discarded scenario had an entire coven reduced to ashes by the glare from Donnie Osmond's smile.

The controversy doesn't stop there. The "Los Angeles Times" published a sensationalized story about Twilight obsession breaking up marriages. ("You've got bats in your belfry! What do you mean, 'No, I've got bats in your workshop'???") Miley Cyrus revealed she doesn't like vampires. And Stephen King offered the opinion that Meyer can't write worth a darn. (Edward Cullen said he dimly remembers his grandfather saying that King was once a hot writer.)

Some bloggers dismiss Meyer mania as a fad, but I think we're far from seeing "Twilights' Last Gleaming." And to think this empire all started with a dream Meyer had one night! I shudder to think what would happen if a film was made of one of my typical dreams. ("New Moon: My Dream About Making a Speech In My Raggedy Drawers.")

Note: Danny Tyree welcomes e-mail at tyreetyrades@aol.com.