TwiHards Finally Find Middle-Aged Guy Critic?

by Elizabeth on January 21, 2011

Over at Twilight Lexicon this week, the biggest Twilight fan site, there is in article praising Mark Kermode for his BBC5 radio review of Eclipse, in which he lauds the film, defying the trend of most film critics. Kermode, who makes a pretty good living by writing against the flow, praises the third cinematic installment of the Twilight Saga (which we also reviewed positively here), despite having never read the books.

The readers at Lexicon commenting on the review are, for the most part, tripping over themselves to applaud him. Oddly enough, they seem to think Kermode is (A) the only intellectual-type taking Twilight “seriously” and (B) the only middle-aged guy doing that. Actually, they are wrong on both counts, and he’s not even first.

While it’s nice to see a film critic giving this story more than an eye roll, it’s puzzling that many of the comment writers over at TwiLex seem to think he is the only “middle aged guy” who gets it. After all, our headmaster John Granger, who falls into that rather crudely labeled demographic, brought us Spotlight: A Close-Up Look at the Artistry and Meaning of Stephenie Meyers’ Twilightb Saga, the very first text to really examine the literary merits of the series (the books, not just the films) by delving into its four layers of meaning, looking at its Mormon history influence, and analyzing why it is so very engaging, and not just to a certain demographic (The stereotype is that the Saga is just for either teenage girls and their mothers, or women old enough to be their mothers, like me, of course). Steve Walker, Meyer’s BYU prof and an early reader of the novel who noticed its merits, along with James over at the wonderful Twilight News site, may also be scratching their heads and wondering if people think they are actually women.

Kermode admires the structure of this third film, especially as compared with that of New Moon, but he apparently doesn’t see how much of it is Meyer’s doing, nor does he acknowledge its depth of meaning.  Rather than taking seriously her artistry, he’s excited about the director’s work (which is, admittedly, good, but not made from whole cloth). He also praises the way Eclipse returns to the Gothic roots of the vampire story, a fact that is covered in Spotlight, has a chapter in Twilight and History and which even came up in a recent Hogpro BookClub chat about Jane Eyre.  In Spotlight, here at HogPRo, and over at Forks High School Professor, we’ve been taking Twilight very seriously for a long time.

We’re not just trying to toot our own horns, of course (begone, Gilderoy Lockhart-itis!). Rather, we find it interesting that critics seem to think they are breaking some sort of new ground that no one has ever covered, when, in fact, we’ve been there a while (sort of like the Vikings’ reaction to Columbus’s “discovery,” perhaps?–”Vell, enjoy da ‘New Vorld,’ but ve vere over dere first, lads”).  We’re thrilled that folks are getting on board, but there’s no need to act like you’re Huck Finn on the raft when there’s a big, well-built ship already on these waters.

Also, the readers seem to be oblivious that this work is already going on. The people throwing laurels on Kermode’s head, aside from needing to get a copy of Spotlight and needing to visit us in the blogsphere, seem to think he is all alone in his opinion. Granted, Mr. Kermode, who pretty much will argue in favor of anything everyone hates, and blast anything everyone else likes, does have a pretty hefty PR department, but it would be nice to see a little more even-handed response. This is not to dismiss Kermode either, who seems like a thoughtful guy who isn’t ashamed of his faith or his love of horror films. Rather, we hope that readers will explore thoughtful texts and conversations on the books (not just the films) and notice that Kermode isn’t the lone voice of Twilight support; rather, he’s part of group hoping for better understanding of a text whose appeal is about far more than someone’s team.

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