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The Anti-Twilight
John Shepard (radiographite@gmail.com) - Wed Nov 17, 2010 05:26:33 GMT - 1132
''Twilight fans should be required by law to watch Let Me In. ''

October 2010

It's October. Time of heady drama, and this year we don't have a rabbit to blow a head gasket on us. We do have a car to blow a head gasket, but it's already done that, so at least that's out of the way.

So also begins the annual Halloween Party, our month-long shape-of-awesomeness. It began with going to see Let Me In, the American remake of Let The Right One In, which somehow manages to take from its original the crown of best goddamn vampire movie ever made - the Twilight derpy derps ought to be required by law to watch either or both of these, and see what this vampire business is really the fuck all about. These films are dark, brutal, and hauntingly beautiful. And in keeping with recent Rastport topics, take place in some small town from which people keep fleeing - and at a school where a bunch of dickheads are trying to kill the nerdy kid. I'm not saying these films would have helped me when I was the character - but damn, how I wished for some vampire girl to rescue me from that hell.

Can't stop thinking about the movie, maybe because, as I said, I lived through it. I've long said I have unresolved school issues, maybe because everyone in America does too and the real world becomes the ghost of school, that all my enemies from the ninth grade are now holders of public office or law enforcement or something, in a position to perpetuate the only thing in their lives they were ever good at, namely lunchroom. These films - seeing the raging hatred in the bullies' eyes, that they're not even necessarily picking on him because they enjoy picking on people, they're picking on him because they fucking hate his existence and probably don't even know why (and although an attempt at an explanation is provided, I can attest that in real life the bullies don't always have older brothers) - brought back memories.

The film is set in 1983 and does what I'd consider an amazing job of being 1983. What I remember of 1983 is exactly like what I saw in the movie - 1970s junk that was already old, off-beige kitchen appliances, 1970s clothes, light bulbs that never seem to produce any light, smell of cigarettes in the wallpaper even if no one is seen smoking. But then, I'm also starting to find that I like movies whose interiors do not look like movie sets - nobody really has a house that looks like a Hollywood house, real houses are awkwardly designed with corners and bulkheads where you would never want to put them, the couch and the TV do not face each other, and your front door faces the alley.

It speaks to my apparently unresolved Indiana issues. The film's "Los Alamos, New Mexico" is a wasteland - here doubling for the original's Swedish winter wastes - there's nothing to do, nowhere to be, and no one to turn to. You isolate out of necessity. And I recognize that I'm in some sort of mild hot water lately for implying that I had no friends in Indiana - but I'm also not talking here about post-1993, post-high school, when I actually had friends. I'm talking about the dark times before that, where even my imaginary friends couldn't be trusted. My bully and violence and betrayal issues have roots in those days - when there were wedgies behind every corner. I may never know how much of an introvert I naturally am - I may have had to become an introvert to survive, to isolate to keep people from doing me damage, and it may have started early. The rest - of learning how to have friends - is exactly that, a learning process.

I'm going somewhere with all this, bear with me.

I want to write again someday. You know, like books and such.

Let Me In/Let The Right One In spoke to me, because of my unresolved school issues. The unsolidified story I keep feeling like I need to tell - somewhere in the back of my mind - would be the story of school. Except I want so bad to tell it right this time, not the shitty way I had to live through it - no, somehow this time the hero wins, leads a revolution and remakes school as it should be. I have no idea what that would look like. But wouldn't it be fun to see me take guesses?

Thing is, it's been so long since I wrote fiction that, like everything else I don't do for a very long time, once I start doing it again, I tend to feel like I have to justify it economically - that if I write a "school revolution" book, it must also be my "supernatural romance" book in order to be worth the time I'm going to expend on it. Is that the case? Well, it shouldn't be - but then, work has been kind of grinding on me lately, maybe this is me hedging my bets. Maybe this is me thinking in terms of lifeboats if the work thing does end up going sour. And hey. Maybe it's part of the thesis that a revolution can't be possible without supernatural help - be it vampires, wizards, angels, or aliens.

It's also possible that I'd have to write it as some sort of fantasy work in order to keep myself interested in it. I mean, on some theoretical level this sounds like an interesting thing - schoolkid leads a revolution - but in order to be readable at all, the rules have to start changing early on, or else reading it will be like being in school, endless slow-moving pain. Cheap and easy way to do that would be for schoolkid to discover that they have special powers, or their classmate is an alien, or something.

I know this much: what I write should be the anti-Twilight. Not saying the characters need to just get their freak on and stop messing around, but saying Stephanie Meyer's notions of impulsive abstinence ring hollow. Not saying there can't be angst, but Twilight slogs through it, entire chapters end where they began, and if you wanted to read that, you'd read Rastport circa 2007. Bella is everygirl and no girl - in order to make her palatable she is stripped of all identity, so that readers may all project on her and the result is a character whose only identifying trait is she likes a guy. Not saying things have to play out as pitch-black as Let Me In, but you know, if you're going to use vampires, have them be vampires, not sulky guys with porphyria and glitter; saying vampires indicates a level of evil and menace, the closest to which Edward ever gets is a brooding leer of teen angst.

I mean who am I kidding, I haven't really buckled down and written fiction in years - can't really remember how the process works and don't have a lifestyle conducive to it - but at the same time there feels like there's something here that needs written. The heart of this is classic science fiction, a hero leads a revolution against a corrupt system. The premise is that what we endured in school is so bizarre that it may as well be science fiction dystopia - and maybe it should have been addressed in a science fiction way.

It's also far from the only story I got rattling around in here - some of which actually have, you know, plot and characters and stuff. This is just thinking out loud.

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