Tuesday, November 17, 2009
No, I'm not writing about Twilight to drive up my traffic.
The Bruin Theatre, with red carpet
Ah, another lovely California morning. As I meander through the Westwood Park on my way home from walking Amynah to work, I pause to take in the scene: behind me, the pok-pok-pok of socialites on the tennis courts behind me, in front indignant pigeons glare at me for interrupting their bath with my camera. Off in the middle distance, on a spot carefully chosen to avoid the sweep of the jets coming from the water sprinkler, an elderly Asian woman practices her Thai-Chi, her movements apparently undisturbed by the throbbing of the helicopter above, which is monitoring a possibly dangerous cloud of estrogen developing two blocks north of Wilshire Boulevard.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have seen the face of madness up close, and it looks like a Twilight fan.
The second movie in the Twilight series had its premiere last night at the Bruin theatre. Ordinarily, I would not be aware of this development, and would not have come prepared with my camera, except that that theatre is on the way to Amynah’s work, and there were people camped out for the premiere five days ahead of time.
Now, I won’t comment on the literary value of the books, nor of the cinematic value of the books – I’ve consumed neither. And in my day, I’ve been known to camp out in far less hospitable conditions for cultural phenomena for which I had an embarrassing zeal (cough… Aerosmith).
Of course, I was 19 at the time, and it was only one night, in my hometown. The woman in the front of this line – according to the Los Angeles Times – was 37 years old, and had driven all the way from Arizona. That level of fandom – be it for glitter-vampires or pseudo-Buddhists with laser-swords – is utterly beyond me.
Cardboard cutouts at the head of the line. Insert your own joke here about Robert Pattison's acting here.
According to the article, and my own observations, the crazed Arizonan wasn’t all that unusual – at least one other person interviewed in the Times story was in her mid-thirties, and evidently willing to spend over 100 hours sleeping on concrete in order to show their devotion to fictional characters half her age (or perhaps the actors portraying those characters, also roughly half her age). However, as one traveled further down the line, the average age of the fans descended out of the pedophile zone and closer to what you’d expect to be the target audience for a movie based on young-adult novels. Roughly half, for reasons that are a mystery to me, were wearing branded cardboard crowns from Burger King.
I stopped to get some pictures, and as I did so an old man on a bike stopped to ask what was going on.
“It’s the premiere for New Moon,” said one of a quartet of black-mascara wearing girls applying the final sprinkles of glitter to their handmade “Team Edward” sign.
“Oh, that’s… good,” said the man, obviously no further enlightened.
I will confess I do not at all understand the logistics of camping out for an event like this. Presumably, one wants to get closer characters/actors that moved you. But if you want to impress “Jacob” or “Edward” (or “Bella,” should you be that way inclined) do you really want to do so smelling like someone who’s been sleeping in the same “Edward ruined it for men” t-shirt on a sidewalk for the better part of a week?
The line stretched all the way around a city block.
In any case, I got whacked with the second-cousin of all migraines last night, and therefore missed the excitement of the actual premiere. Amynah (Team Jacob for those wondering), specifically timed her departure from the lab to check out the madness.
Parking, which that morning had been $8.00 for the day had gone up to $30.00 for the evening. Helicopters clattered overhead. Traffic was chaos, as half the streets in Westwood were either blocked by the police, thronged with fans and stages for the television crews, or slowly draining a thick stream of black stretch limos. There was also a line of young women Amynah described as "VIP party girls" - done up to the nines in short dresses and heels, apparently there in some official capacity, presumably hired to inject some glamour for the television cameras that could offset the tediously unfamous, average-jane fans lining the security fences.
Undisturbed by this the girls – and let me assure you, there was nary a Y chromosome to be seen in that line – were screaming at the blackened windscreens of the limos, waving their signs, clutching laminated pictures of their heroes on popsicle sticks. Sadly, the big stars were in the last limos, so when Amynah went by, no one recognizable was on parade.
Amynah reports that even the hardcore fans were sometimes confused as to who was who, although always retaining a firm grasp on their importance in the canon: “Who’s that?” “Oh, he’s one of the Vulcani. He’s really cute.”
* Part II of my Late Night with Conan experience is coming soon, though I don't know if I can muster the same bile. I'll try.