Category Archives: Film

Predestination: Time Travel Mindfuck of the Year

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Predestination is a recent (2014?) low-budget independent science fiction movie that released with little fanfare in my movie-watching circles. I am not even sure it had a theatrical run. It stars Ethan Hawke (and convinces me that he, like Scarlett Johansson, is secretly a nerd, because no one accidentally makes more than one philosophical SF movie) as a man who can travel through time as part of a tragedy-prevention bureau. His job is to prevent mass tragedies, not minor personal ones; you don’t risk the butterfly effect for one person. He is nearing the end of his career (a person can only make so many jumps through time before they go insane), and chooses to “retire” to a point in time where he can perhaps still catch the one criminal he was never able to stop.

If this scenario sounds like your sort of thing, I suggest you stop reading this review, go watch it, and come back here so we can talk about it, because I am about to spoil the entire thing in order to discuss the philosophical concepts it brought up and its plot structure. The movie is well made, and it uses physical effects instead of CG and gets bumped up at least half a letter grade because of that. It is small, yes, but not obviously indie in the sense of being amateurly filmed, acted, or produced with obvious monetary corners cut.

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What It Means To Love

Probably the most hurtful thing I’ve ever said to my husband was along the lines of “Maybe I would have made a different choice 10 years ago.”

I like to pride myself for not saying things I don’t mean when we are fighting, even in anger, so this comment didn’t stick out as being particularly awful when I said it. When I realized, analyzing the fight later, just what a shitty thing to say that was, my initial reaction was a knee-jerk apology; of course, I didn’t mean that! But then I wondered: was this a time when I forgot myself and said something untrue in anger, or was it yet another time when I did something worse – accidentally speak a terrible truth?

So I forced myself to consider it. Knowing everything that would happen between us, would I tell my college self to run, or to stay? At first I wasn’t sure; things were that rocky. But a lot of good happens in a relationship, and the more I thought the more I realized, no, I would not make a different choice, even in the midst of a rough patch. Even, perhaps, when everything is in splinters.

I read a memoir once (Kingbird Highway) in which the man wrote, about meeting his ex-wife while hitchhiking, that even if he could have looked down the tunnel of years to their divorce, he’d have gotten in the car with her anyway. Even if I don’t make it to 80 on the porch with my husband, I believe I will always answer the question the same way.

Re-watching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind reminded me of that moment, and I realized – that is what it means to love someone: to choose them again anyway.

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Joel’s answer to her is, “Okay.” Okay, I’ll take the chance that things will unravel the same way they did the first time. Okay, I’ll take the chance that I will come to regret this choice. Okay, I’ll take the chance that you will hurt me. Okay.

Okay.

It’s the most beautiful scene in the film, to me. And it’s absolutely what it means to love someone – to choose them again, no matter what.

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#HIMYM Finale: Now We See the Betrayal Inherent in a True “Twist” Ending

We’ve passed the statute of limitations on spoilers for the finale of How I Met Your Mother, right? I mean it was over a week ago – surely if you were planning to watch it, by now you have. I’m going to assume so, anyway, and spoil the crap out of the ending without bothering to point out my spoilers other than to say: if you don’t want to know how it ended, just stop reading this post.

Or, What the Hell Did I Just Watch?

Perhaps I really mean “What the hell did I watch nine seasons for?”

I was NOT pleased and delighted by the ending of my favorite sitcom. I can’t even say that I was narratively satisfied, because the way the ending came about, for me, did not draw on what had come before but felt like an ending that had been decided on a long time ago and tacked onto the story stubbornly despite the fact that it no longer fit.

See, I always assumed the actual meeting of the mother would be anti-climactic…either that we would literally get nothing beyond Ted walking up to her at the bus stop and saying “Hi, I’m Ted,” or that it would be totally lame in the sense of love at first sight perfectness. I was not going to be let down by that sort of ending, because, by the time the 9 seasons had played out, for me the real story was Robin and Barney. Therefore as long as their wedding was epic and touching and romantic, then Ted’s meeting the mother being an afterthought wasn’t going to matter. It never occurred to me that the show might actually back off Robin and Barney being happy together. Not once. They always made sense to me. They made sense to me from the second or third episode I watched (which was somewhere around episode 8 or 10 in the first season) and continued to make sense through everything that happened after. I believed in the two of them together; I believed in the changes they underwent in order to be/as a result of being together. So for the ending to tear that down in order for Ted to finally, after 25 years of trying, get Robin, was just…infuriating.

The infuriating came from several different angles. First, the logic of it was flawed. Robin *always* matched better with Barney than with Ted – more naturally and more convincingly and more touchingly. I BELIEVED it when they had moments, near misses and changing minds and then finally the decision to actually commit to one another. Ted’s obsession with her never felt like real love; it felt like obsession. Additionally, if the reason Robin & Barney didn’t work was her career and the two of them not choosing to recommit to their relationship, what evidence can we find in the narrative that she and Ted would work ANY better? The entire reason she and Ted didn’t work was wanting different things…even at the end what Robin wanted was closer to what Barney did than what Ted did.

Also, on that whole divorce front…obviously we weren’t given the whole discussion between Robin and Barney, but it seems to me that how the conversation went was “Right now, yes, I would take an exit ramp,” and that led to “Then just take it” rather than the two of them facing and choosing to fix the problems. Call me old-fashioned, but that was a petty and stupid reason for them to divorce. It boiled down to them taking the easy way out rather than putting their relationship first. It was letting fear of failure and being hurt make the decision for them, not an actual failure of the relationship. Aside from whether I think they were still in such emotionally stunted places they could not see that, it would actually make more sense, narratively speaking, to see Robin re-marry Barney when he is all settled down and being a dad and her career is no longer pulling her anywhere but New York than for her to go back to Ted.

I keep bringing up the narrative and implying that it led us to Barney and Robin, not Ted and Robin. This is, for the sake of my writing blog, the heart of the problem. The show created an expectation in the audience that it then betrayed when it changed the ending from the logical conclusion of what had come before to…something else.

Exhibit: the time spent on each narrative (Ted and Robin vs. Barney and Robin) was 3 seasons to 6. No matter how many tidbits the show tossed in about Ted or Robin still maybe having feelings for each other or how many last-second “warning signs” they tried to throw in about her and Barney, the fact is that to spend so much longer building up the red herring story creates a false expectation in the viewer and sets up a betrayal of trust. This ending (the mother dying and Ted going back to Robin for one last try) would have worked and been poignant and heartfelt if it happened at the end of season 1, 2, or 3. Possibly even season 4. Not this far in, when the bulk of the story built a different inevitability.

Exhibit: the narrative structure itself. It makes sense that the story wasn’t really about Ted meeting the mother but about Ted overcoming his obsession with Robin. The whole reason the story of how he met the mother started with him meeting Robin was that he was hung up on Robin for 8 years and therefore couldn’t actually fall in love with someone else until he let go of her – the same way the mother was hung up on the guy who died and couldn’t really fall in love with someone else until she let go of him. The show built that dynamic perfectly, including layering in how Ted’s letting go of Robin was what moved her relationship with Barney forward. Including that part of Barney’s “final play” was telling only Ted of his (fake) intention to propose to someone else, knowing that if Ted told Robin it was tantamount to permission to win her permanently. One of the best moments in the last few episodes was Ted letting Robin go and her floating away from him like his red balloon had. That was the moment. That was the point when he became available to truly love.

Exhibit: the implication of Ted going back to Robin after losing his wife is that the mother and their two children were, as Marshall accused Lily of in their last big fight, “just a consolation prize” when Ted’s first dream (Robin) became impossible. The level of insult to his relationship with the mother was on par with Jacob’s creepy imprinting on Bella’s baby and the implication that his interest in her had always been her ovaries and not her. And if your story is reaching Breaking Dawn levels of dubious sincerity, you’ve pretty much failed as a storyteller.

The “twist” ending the show gave its fans was a betrayal of viewer trust. It felt to me like the creators were clinging to an original ending in defiance of the fact that the characters grew and changed in a way they had not anticipated when they came up with that ending – one of the worst sins new writers commit. Sometimes the characters take you for a ride and you end up in a different place than where you thought you would. And that’s okay. A worse explanation (worse in the sense of more insulting) is that the ending was an intentional “switcheroo.” The reason I find that an even more insulting possibility is because a switch that poorly executed is a parlor trick, a truly juvenile piece of showmanship that fails to hold up against scrutiny. See, a real twist ending isn’t really a twist at all – when you go back and revisit the narrative, the signs and hints are all there. The illusion is that the inevitable ending appeared to be a twist when it really wasn’t. In this case, the anticipated ending had been built too well for the twist to feel natural or inevitable. No, it felt plotted and forced, shoehorned onto a story whose natural outcome was something different, not the sort of twist you walk away delighted by, because in retrospect it seems so clear that you want to kick yourself for not seeing it. That is what the creators missed, that a twist ending has to be built into the fabric of the story. Ted’s obsession was, but the failure of Barney and Robin was not.

So…if they needed to go semi-dark rather than a totally happy ending, the mother still could have died by the time Ted is telling the children the story, and that casts the whole of it into a bittersweet shade of nostalgia. If they wanted to go darker yet, then the wife left Ted and his children pick up on the fact that he is still and always has been in love with Robin (which implies that’s why his wife left him)…and he takes a walk and sadly stares into a window where Barney and Robin are celebrating their 20th anniversary or something.

The consolation of Ted getting Robin in the end did not make up for the tragedy of either the mother dying or Robin and Barney not working, as the Ted/Robin pairing is the lesser for both of them, so to pretend that it’s some happiest ending we should all clap for is ridiculous. All I can say, if this was supposed to be the real narrative, is that when Ted says the second-greatest love story ever was about Maggie, the ultimate girl next door, and her window that closed for the last time with her childhood sweetheart, then first greatest was Marshall and Lily, AKA the only demonstration of actual love in the show.

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STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS? More Like Star Trek: Into Lameness

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Another delayed review, although this one was delayed because I put off seeing this movie for that perfect afternoon of having nothing better to do and there being nothing better at the theater. I am not sorry I waited so long to see this new Star Trek movie, unless you want to count being sorry that I did not wait longer. Like forever. This second movie in the Abrams reboot annihilated my interest in the new series.

I don’t say this simply to be a contrarian who refuses to like what is popular or different from the original; my complaints are based on what I perceive as lazy storytelling and overeager pandering to the casual fandom. As per my usual reviewing policy, I warn ye: Warp spoilers ahead.

What I liked about the new movie: they brought back Khan. And cast Benedict Cumberbatch to play him.

*crickets chirp*

Yes, those are about the only two real positives I can come up with for this one. First, I didn’t like the way the movie was marketed. The trailer made it look like an action flick – and while, yes, Star Trek as a whole has plenty of action, it is not known as being an action flick per se. The trailer was nothing but one grandiose effect and near-escape after another, designed to appeal to the same crowd that keeps showing up at Transformers movies and allowing Michael Bay to keep making movies. If I had not heard Khan was in the film, I probably would have waited for DVD and maybe even not bothered to watch it at all. But, I thought, maybe they are just showing us ALL the action moments to get that demographic in, when really the film is deeper than that (I mean, it has Khan, for fuck’s sake!). From the glowing write-ups I saw amongst my friends on social media, I thought that was even likely the case.

It was not. This movie betrayed both the spirit of the original series and all principles of good storytelling.

First of all, I am tired of Emo Kirk. I get that this franchise is a reboot, a retelling, and that the experiences and attitude Kirk brought to his captaincy in the original series is not the path this Kirk has trod, therefore we are not necessarily going to get the same Kirk. But what we’re given is someone who does not think the same way Kirk thinks, rather than someone who weighs his thought process against different life experiences. I didn’t mind his emotion-based decisions in the first movie, because he was so young and untried, but I felt like he learned nothing from that experience. Throughout this film he makes his decisions based on his feelings, NOT on his instincts. Huge difference. Kirk sometimes followed a path that seemed illogical, but was actually highly logical – it just relied on data that Spock did not have at his disposal, and that was Jim’s sense of tactics and knowledge of human nature, which is driven by irrationality, so it sometimes seemed illogical. And Kirk did not flinch away from feeling the emotional impact of his decisions, but – and this is the lynch-pin but here, HE DID NOT USE THE POTENTIAL EMOTIONAL IMPACT OF THOSE CHOICES TO MAKE HIS DECISION.

That is the key difference. Emo Kirk can’t do anything that will make him feel bad. So he violates pretty much the only rule he is given as an officer in order to avoid the guilt and sense of loss he would feel if he watched a promising life form perish, and he goes haring off to enemy space and risks starting a civil war merely because he wants revenge. About the only logical choice he makes is to sacrifice himself to save his vessel and his crew at the end, but I read even that one as emotion-based: he couldn’t bear the guilt of not saving them. It was not a noble sacrifice to orchestrate his singular death in order to save hundreds of lives; it was a guilt-based decision because he would feel bad if he didn’t. Aw.

And that sacrifice? Was a complete bullshit sacrifice. Remember my rant about how World War Z had no consequences? Neither did this Star Trek. Viewers who had seen the original movie with Khan knew that Spock kills himself to save the ship, and so Emo Kirk’s choice was a parallel to that, the way almost everything else in this reboot is so predictably role-reversed. I didn’t necessarily mind that decision, even if it was obvious film-making, except for this: the writers/producers/director didn’t have the balls to actually let Kirk die. The audience could not be allowed to think, even for one movie, that Kirk was gone. I would have liked this movie if Kirk stayed dead – especially if it really is the last in the reboot (which I sincerely doubt is the case).  I don’t say that to be macabre or because I like sad and depressing stories (I don’t; I write and primarily read romance for a reason!) but because his actual death would have lent consequences to the story that, thus far, it had pretended were there but had not demonstrated. Instead, with the injection of Khan’s magic rejuvenating blood, we have a hero who cannot be allowed to die, and so no future movie can ever hold true narrative tension again.

Aside from that fatal storytelling flaw, the film also made too-obvious references as a sop to casual fans. First, the parallel with The Wrath of Khan where Jim and Spock have traded places was, again, obvious. I saw it coming the moment we learned “nothing can save” the ship. Neither the moment nor the switch felt like clever storytelling; they felt like lazy storytelling, where the writers were trying to force the narrative back to a handful of origin-film plot points, and that was one of them. (In fact, going back to my previous point – the very existence of an “out” from that scenario of certain destruction made this film seem like it had no consequences.)  Second, the Tribble inclusion. What was that doing there? It served no narrative purpose – any number of alien lifeforms could have been on McCoy’s dissection table and gotten reanimated with Khan’s blood – and so the only reason for its inclusion was to make people squee and say “Tribbles! I GET it! I get the joke!”

That the writers used Tribbles for this says they were not aiming that joke, that sense of inclusion – AND THEREFORE THIS MOVIE – at true fans of the show. There are countless other episodes that could have been referenced, that are not among the most famous three episodes from the original series, that would have felt like a nod to true fans. The obviousness of this one gave me the same distaste I feel for The Big Bang Theory, which is not a show for actual nerds but people who like to think of themselves as nerdy because they watch a really popular SF series or two.

I have nothing against dropping references. In fact, I adore it.

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Francis Crawford of Lymond is my favorite fictional character ever because he basically speaks in quotations, but they are always apt and often so obscure no one he’s talking to understands that he’s quoting someone. My husband and his friends, and to a lesser extent he and I, communicate with quotes and references from movies and TV. The entirety of Tumblr is a giant conversation among fans that relies on prior knowledge of the canon(s) being referenced. But if you’re going to use a reference, you should use it appropriately – and that, to me, is to aim it at people in the know. If you can explain to me why this caption is wrong, then you feel the way I do:

eleven words too far dude

The basis of this joke is actually great. The problem? Whoever wrote it explained it. The caption should be “Ain’t no party like a Timelord party cuz a Timelord party don’t stop.” PERIOD. If you know the reference, you know why a Timelord party wouldn’t stop. The explanation ruins the joke, because it aims it at people who don’t know the reference.

This is what the new Star Trek did. It made really obvious references that proved the movie wasn’t aimed at actual fans, just those hangers-on who consider Star Trek to be one of the few SF series they’ll watch sometimes, and that pretty much violated the prime directive of this reboot existing in the first place, as far as the real fans go.

In fact, much as Khan made me curious to see the thing, his inclusion as the villain was yet another reference anyone only vaguely familiar with the series should get. And going back to my lack of consequences point? This Khan was not angry at Kirk because of actions Kirk took against him; this Khan was angry at modern humanity in general, and Kirk just happened to be the one who stood up against him. Thus there was no heft, no momentousness to Khan and Kirk fighting one another. And the whole thing about Khan working with them at first, and being maybe not the villain, was just more role reversal of “hey this is a parallel universe so everything’s opposite! Isn’t that original?!” that was neither surprising nor original (nor was it surprising when he then turned out to be the villain, after all).

On the whole this movie just left me really annoyed. It was an unsatisfying narrative with no consequences and way too many gratuitous explosions, and no emotional impact because no one in the franchise will let this veer away from summer blockbuster fare and into actual darkness.

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World War Z’s Suspension Cables Unequal to Weight of Disbelief

I actually saw this movie the week it came out–no, before, as I caught a Thursday sneak preview showing–and came out of the film burning up with criticisms. By the next morning I had forgotten about reviewing it, because the movie was, for me, that forgettable.

However, as there were some interesting narrative-structure flaws, I have decided to go ahead and tell you what I didn’t like about this film. Spoilers ahoy.

A quick word about the movie itself: might as well have been Transformers X: Decepticonomicon. Lots of action sequences, quick-cuts and big explosions and fires and CG-generated panoramas to try and show the scale of the zombie horde. As with most computer effects, these left me unmoved. The scale felt sterile in its vastness, and for all the deaths there was very little sense of it mattering–or concern that it did not matter. This was an action movie, not a vivisection of human psychology the way, for example, The Walking Dead is.

My first problem with this movie is the scale of it. We are asked to believe that one guy manages to single-handedly save the world. Literally. He flies around the world twice in search first of Patient 0 and then safe haven and finally a potential inoculation that would give humans the chance to fight back. One dude does all of this. He spots patterns no one else spots and puts together information no one else has and instead of passing his theory as far and wide as he can he goes to test it himself in person. One dude.

Riiiiight.

My second problem with the film is that it’s built on a string of near-escapes and coincidences. I know the near-escape is part and parcel of action flicks, but these were…not even good near escapes, by which I mean situations the hero survives on his own wits. These were near escapes that in any game and any other kind of movie would have been certain death. Caught in a city overrun by zombies? No problem. Just call your friend from the UN and get a helicopter sent to you, which will reach your rooftop just as the zombies break through the door, but don’t worry, the clingers are easy to shake from the bottom of the chopper! Caught in a different city overrun by zombies? No problem. Just convince an escaping jet to stop and pick you up by sticking your gun out on the side of the runway instead of your thumb. They’ll be delighted to pull over and let you on board! Caught on a plane with a zombie that turns the entire coach cabin into a new horde? No problem. Shoot a hole in the hull with said gun and hope for the best–this is a movie so you and your friend will miraculously be the ONLY survivors! Remember, everyone: always buckle up!

It was ridiculous. Just moment after moment that should have ended in catastrophe for the main character, and didn’t only because doing so would have ended the story right then and there. This film was a classic example of stakes and consequences, and how you have to have both in order to make your story seem realistic. This story had stakes, but no consequences. There was never a sense of real threat to the characters (or at least not the main character), because the first rescue set up that this was the hero of the story and therefore nothing could touch him before the end of the story. Say this for Game of Thrones – no character feels above the reach of consequences, and that’s the real reason Ned Stark lost his head at the end of the first book. Brad Pitt’s head was never in danger, and that lack of threat made the story weak. Again and again, coincidence and luck rule the outcome of these “impossible” situations. If the only way for the story to advance is via deus ex machina, you’re doing it wrong. Either have the courage to let the character get caught in the trap you sprung, or back up and choose a different plot twist.

I want to go back to something I mentioned but did not expand upon above, and that was the hero being the one to piece together a potential neutralizer for the zombies. This guy had a conversation with a disease expert who talked about how in nature, a weakness is often portrayed as a strength, and then observed a couple people whom the zombies just ran right past as if they did not exist. He concluded they were terminally ill and that zombies didn’t register terminals and cripples as viable food sources, ergo they didn’t even “see” them. He then takes this knowledge to a WHO lab and has to test it on himself to escape from a zombie inside the lab. Triumphant and validated (and infected with God only knows what, because he sure didn’t stop to look), he gives humanity the means of salvation. Yay. Or not. I mean…you really expect me to believe that not on single other person on the entire planet observed that zombies didn’t eat everyone? That no one else saw such a phenomenon enough times to put together that the people being ignored were sick or defective in some critical way? That there were not, like, I dunno, entire wards of cancer children who were left intact while their doctors and nurses were savaged? (THAT would have been a way more interesting story, a platoon of sick and wasted children taking to the streets and killing zombies with their last weeks of life.) Or that, I don’t know, the 30% of the entire continent of Africa who are infected with malaria couldn’t figure out that they were safe from the zombies and realize what all of them had in common? Come on.

I don’t even know whether to call that coincidence, that he was the first to put it all together/be in a position to do something about it, or just a plot hole. I lean toward plot hole. This is why you take your zombie story out for beers with your friends. I guarantee someone would have pointed out that flaw if this screenwriter had shown it to his friends. It took me approximately  5 seconds after the credits rolled to wonder how on earth he was the only one to even hypothesize about it.

All that said, I didn’t want to walk out of the film, so for a popcorn flick I guess it was’t bad. It just wasn’t good. If you want good zombies, well, any number of other, better movies or shows are out there. If you want a good modern plague movie, I highly recommend Contagion. WWZ seems to draw heavily from that film, except where WWZ is unbelievable (and not because of the zombies), Soderbergh’s film is full of both stakes and consequences and has real heroes–multiple, because it takes more than one person to save the world from a plague.

My biggest complaint about World War Z the movie, though, is that the movie that got made was not the story of the book, and that the story of the book likely never will get made because this film was such a big-money picture. Blocking the creation of an actual good adaptation of what is, by all reports, a very good book is the film’s biggest flaw. Maybe in a decade HBO can buy the rights and make a series that consists of one story per episode that, one by one might not mean much, but in aggregate show the scope and tragedy of the zombie war.

For now, alas, all we have is an overblown hero movie that ultimately fails because it cut all tethers to reality yet expected the audience’s disbelief to remain suspended in the face of all manner of improbabilities. Haven’t you heard? You only get one free suspension, so use it wisely. After that your story has to carry its own weight. World War Z most emphatically does not.

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Mud: Chekhovian Storytelling at Its Most Detrimentally Obvious

Saw Mud. On the whole well worth watching, but the ending was disappointing for me. More than that, the way the end came about was so obviously foreshadowed as to be obnoxious, and gave me a different perspective on storyboarding. Before I get into that essay, however, a quick overview of the film.

In case you don’t know the premise (which I assume is based on a Primus song, making it even more badass from the inception):

The Good: Fabulous directing that matches what he did in Take Shelter. Acting jobs that to a (wo)man lived up the hype being made about them. The movie was a wrenchingly realistic depiction of life in the rural South–both my husband and I walked out feeling like we had just watched a movie based on an alternate reality of our own childhoods–unlike, for example, Beautiful Creatures (which I am still convinced was written, cast, and directed by people who have never even been to the South except for helicoptering in to a few set locations that were first scoured of actual local inhabitants). The premise was super-interesting and well executed until the final sequence of events. And, finally, the lead boy reminded me so much of my husband at that age based on pictures and the stories I’ve heard that he was almost painfully sentimental to watch. (The boy’s look and attitude reminded him of himself, too, so this was not just me.)

Imagine him all grown up, college-educated and come back to his blue-collar-family roots. <3

Imagine him all grown up, college-educated and come back to his blue-collar-family roots. ❤

The Disappointing: The climax seemed…out of step with the rest of the film. ***Spoilers through the rest of this column. Read on at your own risk*** Continue reading

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Beautiful Creatures: Just another sexual morality tale masquerading as a witch story

So I got drug to see Beautiful Creatures over the weekend, and though the film was pretty terrible I saw enough potential in the set-up that I decided to download the book. I couldn’t focus well enough to write last night, so I finished reading the novel instead. Better than the movie, for sure, although I have some serious suspension of disbelief issues–no way a boy spends that much time emoting; have these people ever been to the rural South, much less lived there?; there is no way two creative and determined teenagers can’t figure out how to get off together even without “mating” if that will kill one of them, so why bother pretending otherwise?

My corrollary reaction was simply, WTF is up with all these teenage forced abstinence tales? First Twilight with Edward’s diamond penis and now this.

I think it’s the acknowledgment that, without such an outside imposition, two kids in love aren’t going to find a whole lot of reasons to resist physical intimacy, because they never have. It would be unrealistic for a pairing as electrically attracted as this couple not to have sex sooner or later, but their doing so would take the book out of the “safe” zone of intense longing and wanting to with no fear that it could actually happen.

For me, it’s a cop-out of addressing the actual issues of teenage sex and physical intimacy and what happens when it sucks the first time or two (or ten). I understand the impetus to leave such uncomfortable topics out of books that are about “other things” (like magic or vampires or the end of the world), and I get that a demand exists for “clean” YA, since apparently much of the plain contemporary YA has a lot of sexual content, but at the same time…why, then, do you need to write a romance? Why couldn’t this story be about lonely witch girl finding a best friend? Not a whole helluva lot would change if it were. Castrated romance is actually kind of pointless, now that I think about it.

Well. Time to go enjoy another day at work with the dulcet tones of actual Southern drawls instead of–well, whatever those atrocities were. And maybe now I’ve finally found my inspiration for that sex scene I’ve been debating….

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