Twilight of the American Idols
I’ve been having problems sleeping lately. When I have problems sleeping, I become restless. It’s hard for me to get much reading done, especially anything heavy, because when I’m at my apartment I prefer to read in my bed, and if I’m tired and distracted what generally happens is that I fall asleep mid-sentence (and bend my glasses). It’s hot out. It’s really hot out. I have no A/C in my apartment. This is perhaps the reason I’ve been restless, and hopefully that’s true, because the heat is something I can adjust to.
Because I live across the street from my favorite bar, when I get restless I head to the bar and have a few drinks, generally with the intention of facilitating sleep. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes I end up at the bar and there’s nobody I know there except the bartenders and it’s awkward. Usually I can count on familiar enough faces to at least guarantee conversation.
Last night I couldn’t sleep, found myself restless, had already watched two movies and an episode of Twin Peaks (which I’m revisiting for the first time in the decade since I originally saw it), so I said fuck it and headed to the bar. I ordered a vodka gimlet first. Then I ordered a whiskey & soda. I was out of cash by this point, because I don’t carry that much cash on me regularly, and I knew that after mixing vodka and whiskey it would be unwise to drink that much more anyway, so I went home. I had a bit of a buzz going on. I got on my computer.
Like I do every time I sit down at a computer, I immediately went to Facebook. I keep around 15 tabs open in my browser at all times. It’s a bad habit, I’m sure it drains resources, but as someone who has been heavily using the internet since he’s been able to think for himself, I’ve cultivated a specific sort of A.D.D. which necessitates the constant fragmentation. Two of the tabs that I keep open at all times are Gmail and Facebook. This is just the habit I’ve developed.
I click on my notifications, poke around my news feed, and I come across a video that my friend has posted. She has prefaced the video by saying “this is really, really wrong.”
I watch the video. It’s almost 8 minutes long but I’m drunk enough to not get bored. It’s kind of amazing. The video, that is. On the one hand, I’m aware that the TWILIGHT franchise has a fanatical cult following. On the other hand, the genuine & earnest emotions on display in this video are astounding. Rare even. Most of my life is drowned in irony, to the point where I considered enacting a performance art piece in which I swear off any sort of ironic posturing or appreciation. A refusal to buy into anything insincere. I imagine it’d be an interesting experiment, especially as, existing in what could be considered a ‘post-ironic’ time (all of that hipster irony that the New York Times warned us about seems to have muddled culture down to a pool of pure capitalist acceleration without any sort of actual consideration of “meaning”), I’m not even sure what the position of irony is in culture any more.
Today, on twitter, 2011 Poet Laureate Poncho Peligroso tweeted the following:
There’s an extent where my gut reaction is to agree with this. I harbor a specific ill-will towards the Twilight franchise perhaps due to being employed at a Borders during the height of the books popularity. Attempting to sell basically anything literate to a customer base with no interest in anything without vampires (sexy vampires at that) really beats you down. I mean, if you have any faith in humanity to begin with, and somehow despite a decade long stint in retail I did (and still do).
I think the Twilight series is terrible. I think the books are terribly written, I think from a point of morality & cultural influence they’re really god-damn harmful. I think that they’ve probably irreparably fucked an entire generation’s idea of gender-relations. But the more I think about it, the more I attempt to sort of consider the phenomena as a phenomena qua phenomena, the more interested in it I become.
As someone invested in some sort of idea about art being the most important, the most powerful thing, this actual demonstration is overwhelming. Some sort of Stephanie Meyer/Robert Pattinson/Summit Entertainment hybrid has created something so influential that this girl loses her shit as she watches a 2 minute trailer three times in a row.
I’m going to go ahead and be honest here: if I am ever responsible for a work of art, regardless of the medium, that results in this sort of fanaticism, this overwhelming desperation & potential insanity, I would ultimately feel like I was really doing something; I would feel like my work was successful. This is a dedication that passes beyond love, lust. This is a pure physical experience for the viewer. It’s almost fucking transcendence.