Thursday, 26 November 2009

On the Narrative Failures of Twilight Using Wrestling Terminology

On the Narrative Failures of Twilight Using Wrestling Terminology

There is something inanely seedy and perverted about watching films on a laptop screen. I find the charges of its illegality dubious; I refer to the picture quality it evokes. Just as one sees surveillance footage with a condemning eye (unless one were a security guard, why would one be watching such footage unless to condemn?), anything I see on a laptop screen - with an occasional pixelated face/frozen visual/poor sound - must activate a register in the subconscious instinctively recognising it as pornography (unfortunately through habit). However, TWILIGHT turned out to create a similar effect: I was left at the laptop screen feeling slightly cheated and depressed and angry that everything I'd just witnessed was far more multicultural and prettier than I am.

Self-conscious anxiety aside, disappointment towards the product solely derived from poor narrative structure and a failure to represent characters properly. Feedback from other sources, and noting the film’s targeted demographic (emo girls), I had preconceptions for the film being awful. Experience dictates this should make the film enjoyable. It worked, to an extent, but there seemed something terribly askew with the whole fiasco. To explore the reasons behind this I will be utilising wrestling terminology (please note the following are subjective opinions disguised as absolutes):

The major narrative flaw with the storyline is that the heels [1] are hardly represented or built up throughout the film. As the main event is a bout between the leader of the heel faction (James, bad vampire) and the leading baby face [2] (Edward), one would assume the build [3] would be far greater. Instead the feud [4] between the two is only allowed time to develop in the final half hour, generating hardly any heat [5] for James. More frustrating is the constantly teased heel turn [6] of Edward’s ‘sister’, Rosaline, and the sudden, informal face turn of Laurent when he warns the family of James’ vicious streak. Laurent’s is an intriguing turn and would benefit greatly from more screen time, hopefully bringing with it exposition on the (completely underdeveloped) character of James, whilst offering more of a back story on inter-vampire feuds . Rosaline, however, proves an obstacle to Edward and Bella at every opportunity. These are not even subtle disagreements (ones which would lend to a more complex, developed complete heel turn over the ‘saga’ of films), but huge, blaring ones which usually dictate a full heel turn at the end of a film. Instead, this storyline is completely abandoned and we are offered nothing more of her after refusing to put on a coat (to hide Bella’s smell from the tracking James). Although her complete heel turn is inevitable (unless she turns fully face through a love of Edward – the only other plausible storyline I can see for her), it should have been carried out far more discreetly in this instalment.

[1] Heels – wrestling terminology for the bad guy in a feud. For a ‘heel’ to fully work the spectator must feel the urge to boo him/her, thus creating ‘heat’. See: Chris Jericho during his Shawn Michaels feud

[2] Baby Face or Face – wrestling terminology for the good guy in a feud. For a ‘face’ to fully work the spectator must be overcome to stand on their feet and, in a sense of elation, cheer him/her, thus creating ‘heat. See: early 2000 The Rock

[3] Build – the effort and time given to developing a feud between two characters. This should eventually end in a match

[4] Feud – wrestling terminology for the tension between two battling characters. See: any build to a wrestling match, ever.

[5] Heat – wrestling terminology for an audience’s verbal reaction towards a character. For instance, if a baby face receives cheers they are said to have good ‘heat’. If a heel receives boos, they are also said to have good heat. The worst outcome for a wrestler is that they have no ‘heat’ – the arena would be silent– as this implies nobody buys or believes their character or feud. See: Mark Henry at any stage of his career

[6] Turn – wrestling terminology for when a character switches to an opposite role. For a baby face turn, see: Kurt Angle at Bound for Glory 2009. For a heel turn, see: Batista at Bragging Rights against Rey Mysterio, Jr.

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