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Day Late, Dollar Short, Solid Gold: “Dear Twilight…”

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Day Late, Dollar Short, Solid Gold: “Dear Twilight…”

Welcome to a joyous new appendix of the Fourth Wall, which I christen Day Late, Dollar Short, Solid Gold. For your enlightenment one critic shall offer his absolutely brilliant-in-hindsight ideas to Hollywood, obsolete and essentially useless as they may be now.

Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1 Hits Theaters November 18, 2011

To kick off the adventure, let us address the top online video sensation du jour, namely the spectacle of watching Twilight fans react to the new trailer for the upcoming final chapter, Breaking Dawn. In this film, Joan Jett (à la brunette!) marries the kid who got iced by Ralph Fiennes in a snake costume. A cross-section of scary pre-teens and peculiar middle-aged ladies know them as Bella and Edward, the sorely troubled protagonists of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight novels. In a bewilderingly short amount of time, these tales have transformed into blockbuster movies, doubling their money as a “degenerate, bodice-ripping alternative to the Harry Potter franchise” (I put that in quotes because someone must have said it before I did).

Moving on, before I get myself into serious trouble… for many fans of the series, viewing the trailer for a new Twilight movie has become as big an event as the opening of the actual film. For non-fans, this has bred its own annual tradition – watching Twilight fans as they see and react to new Twilighttrailers. This grotesque but compelling ritual has snowballed a great deal since the days of the first Twilight and New Moon, but if you happen to type the phrase “trailer reaction” into an internet search bar, the top results invariably feature one of the films in the Twilight saga. I regret having jumped on this bandwagon so late. We spectators are almost as sorry as the legitimate fans that Twilight soon will be no more.

Thank goodness so many online video jocks are helpfully compiling these precious moments for posterity. No doubt many of the videos you will see in the coming weeks will be stunts and parodies, but it is not difficult to tell which fans are sincerely freaked and which are merely faking.

Does this seem familiar to you? Who remembers the marketing campaign for Paranormal Activity? The parties responsible for that deft horror swindle used a simple, brilliant tactic to convince that this could possibly be the scariest movie ever made.

In essence, it hearkened back to the days of William Castle, who knew the best way to lure people into bad horror movies was to assure them that they might be scared completely to death. Of course, it was all very tongue in cheek. The real message was, “Of course not, but you’ll have fun pretending to be scared to death! And we’ll have fun using your money to make another movie just like it!” Same game, different century. Except Paranormal Activity was mostly lame, the promised spooky fun undelivered. And yet, three years later, they got us again. Paranormal Activity 2 trod the same ground, up to and including the ads. What can we say in our defense? The ads were still great.

Somewhere in the Twilight cutting room, did the thought never stir that they could drag untold ranks of non-Twilight initiates into the theaters merely by cutting fan reactions into the regular trailers? I was working as a movie usher when New Moon came out, and I had grown people stepping out of ticket lines with money outstretched, offering outrageous sums of cash to buy my promotional New Moon t-shirt off my back. And believe me, it was not an excuse to peek at my trout belly. This is for real, people! Star Wars and Harry Potter premieres have nothing on this.

Speaking as a movie fan, it is hardly fair or decent to treat fellow movie fans a sideshow attractions. Then again, what about the movie business is inherently fair or decent? If you had only known what you had on your hands, directors and marketers of Twilight, you could have booked entire theaters full of patrons eager to watch Twilight fans congregating in other theaters.

Please Note: The following is the newest sensation of the genre – a truly unhinged reaction to the first Breaking Dawn trailer, from one of the internet’s most famous Twilight fans. Please beware of strong language and content which some may find upsetting.

There it is, Hollywood. Gross exploitation of fans in order to con everyone the rest of us out of our lunch money, too. It may not be pretty, but from a cold hard business perspective I give you what could have been a golden egg. A few years ago. Next time you sign more than a three-picture deal with popular young people’s author, think on it.

Given the passionate nature of the particular literary and cinematic enthusiasts whom I have no doubt angered, it might be best to lie low for a bit. Just to be safe, I close with a fond salute to all avid readers and movie-watchers of the world. No matter how you get your kicks, we are all one. Some of you just act completely insane. My apologies for any offense given. It’s all in good fun. And by the way…. movies aren’t real. You do know that, right? Everything will be fine. I promise.

“… breathe on me, Bella.”

Dan Fields is a graduate of Northwestern University with a degree in Film. He has written for the California Literary Review since 2010. He is also co-founder and animator for Fields Point Pictures, and the frontman of Houston-based folk band Polecat Rodeo. Google+, Twitter

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