OK, so I like the Twilight films. The actors and the scenery are pretty, the plot is a perfectly good vampire story, and I like the way Kristen Stewart says everything in a flat monotone (I genuinely do) and the way Robert Pattinson has cute teeth and seems to be taking it all much less seriously than everyone else. Also, Michael Sheen.
I’d like to think that in a few years’ time, this will be roughly the attitude most people have towards the films. At the moment, of course, it’s difficult to fight one’s way through the clouds of obsessive adulation on the one hand and hostile mockery on the other to form any kind of measured opinion; and having managed to achieve one, I intend to guard it carefully, like a fragile glass jar filled with mild but sparkly enjoyment.
All of which is to say that last weekend I went to see Breaking Dawn 2 (The One Where Everything Wraps Up, More Or Less) and liked it. So did the majority of the audience, or at least I assume they did, since they didn’t get up and leave. Well, apart from all the people sitting in my row, who did in fact get up and leave as soon as the film started. But I’m assuming it was either that they were in the wrong screen, or that I have some form of personal problem that someone should have told me about by now. Or it was a form of performance art/creative protest against the Twilight franchise. Or perhaps they’d once been bitten by a snow-covered landscape and found it all too much to take.
Anyway. The point is, Twilight audiences are a sharply divided group, and all their permutations were reflected in my screening. At the back there were quite a lot of very, very excited teenage girls, who cheered and booed and generally really got into it all, which was rather endearing (I felt, in the patronising way of a woman in her late 30s going to see a teen vampire flm on her own). At the front were a handful of people who found the film hilariously worthy of mockery. In the middle were some, like me, who had just come to see a film they expected to enjoy.
While noting all this, I had a thought. You know how cinema listings these days often give you a choice of screening types? There are Over 18 screenings. (I initially assumed these were films with sex and swearing specially added for your viewing pleasure, but I think they’re probably just the same film with no under-18s admitted. Bah.) There are Parent and Baby screenings. And of course there’s 3D and IMAX. But there are important demographics being ignored here, and with modern culture becoming increasingly customised and tailored to niche markets, I think it’s time we got a few more options. This should be called The Twilight Division in honour of the founding franchise, and in the case of Breaking Dawn II, the screenings we needed were, at the very least:
- Twilight (Mocking)
- Twilight (Fan)
These two categories are in effect watching two completely different films, and should be treated as such. Let the fans enjoy themselves in their own way; let the mockers have fun in theirs. Putting the two together can only lead to friction, shouting and possibly some kind of West Side Story-type riot afterwards.
And yet, is this binary division enough? Some mockers like the films but find their enjoyment enhanced with a bit of laughter. Some genuinely just want to make fun of the entire enterprise (and are prepared to pay good money to do so, apparently). Some fans want to appreciate Bella and Edward/Jacob in reverent silence, some want to cheer every time Tayler Lautner displays any skin whatsoever. Some fall outside the binary altogether. So we need to subdivide. For example:
- Twilight (Mocking: Affectionate)
- Twilight (Mocking: Hostile)
- Twilight (Fan: Quiet)
- Twilight (Fan: Excited)
- Twilight (Fan: Screaming Uncontrollably Throughout)
- Twilight (In Wrong Screen, Meant To See Skyfall)
- Twilight (Just Likes The Pretty Trees, Yes OK And Also Topless Jacob Is OK I Guess But Don’t Tell Anyone I Said So)
And even this ignores the various factions within each subdivision. Given a big enough set of screens, you could easily provide for:
- Twilight (Mocking: Affectionate: Secretly Team Edward)
- Twilight (Mocking: Affectionate: Secretly Team Jacob)
- Twilight (Mocking: Affectionate: Secretly Team Bella)
- Twilight (Mocking: Affectionate: Secretly Team Alice)
- Twilight (Mocking: Affectionate: Secretly Team Michael Sheen’s Character, Whatever His Name Is)
- Twilight (Mocking: Affectionate: Secretly Team Jessica And Very Disappointed in Breaking Dawn II)
- Twilight (Mocking: Affectionate: Actually Genuinely Loves The Franchise But Can’t Admit It To Their Friends)
- Twilight (Mocking: Affectionate: Owns All The Merchandise But Definitely In An Ironic Way)
And so on.
Alternatively, of course, you could have one big screen, but make it like a silent disco: everyone gets noise-cancelling headphones so they can’t hear anyone else’s reaction. Yes, you lose some of the cinema-going experience. But at least the Mocking, Affectionate: Secretly Team Bella and the Mocking, Affectionate: Secretly Team Alice factions won’t end up in a choreographed fist-fight. Or maybe that’s actually a downside. My money’s on the Alices.