I should probably get this out of the way right at the top: I am not exactly a “Twilight”fan. I have never read a page of Stephenie Meyer’s bloodsucking series, I can’t tell you where the series takes place, or who Esme Cullen is, or why Taylor Lautner never wears a shirt (and yes, I just had to go to Wikipedia to learn that Lautner’s character isn’t even a vampire).
It all started with a rather spirited debate in the MTV Newsroom, led by “Twilight” superfan Nicole Guanlao (seen here hyperventilating about an Edward Cullen doll, er, “collectible figurine,” I gave her earlier this year), who proclaimed “New Moon” to be “the most emo thing ever.” Some agreed with that assessment, others didn’t, and I — as is usually the case whenever “Twilight” is discussed here — hid under my desk and prayed for a swift end to it all.
But since I am also the MTV News rock editor (and because I have spent some time with guys who may or may not actually be emo), the final say fell to me. That is how I ended up in a Times Square theater yesterday afternoon, jumbo popcorn in my lap, notepad at the ready. Was “New Moon” really the most emo movie of all time? I’d just have to see about that.
So, after two-plus hours, pages of furiously scribbled notes and one empty popcorn tub, here’s my verdict: yes and no, depending on your definition of the much-abused term “emo.”
I mean, sure, I know Rites of Spring, Sunny Day Real Estate and the Promise Ring are bands that most closely fit within the confines of what I believe to be actual emo music (which I’ll loosely define as melodic, stop-start sorta-punk, featuring confessional lyrics sung by guys with male-pattern baldness), but I never bought into the whole “Fall Out Boy/ My Chemical Romance are emo” thing, because they might have elements of that sound but don’t really fit the description. And really, I don’t think any of that has anything to do with what Nicole was talking about in the first place.
What she meant by “emo” was the more widely accepted (if not totally correct) definition, the whole “sad kids sitting alone in their bedrooms, writing bad poetry” thing. And by that standard, boy, is “New Moon” emo.
Bella Swan (played, of course, by Kristen Stewart and her eyebrows) is super-emo, as she spends roughly three-quarters of the film either a) moping in her room or b) moping in the rain. Also because she wears a hoodie. Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) is largely absent in the movie, but when he is onscreen, he’s way emo, too, mostly because he broods a lot and mutters lines like “What choice have I? I cannot be without you, but I will not destroy your soul.”
In fact, basically everything about “New Moon” — the languid pacing, the near-constant darkness, the metric tons of morose that seem to weigh down nearly every scene — is emo. Combine that with the setting (high school), the sentiment (constant, crushing yearning) and the soundtrack (not exactly emo, but certainly dark), and you start to believe that “New Moon” might actually be the most emo film ever made, only with CGI werewolves thrown in for good measure.
(Oh, and about those werewolves … they’re about the only thing in the movie thatisn’t emo. Rather, with their lack of shirts and penchant for jean shorts, the ‘wolves struck me more as Pennywise fans.)
But is “New Moon” really the most emo film of all time? I’d say no, if only because films like “Harold and Maude” or “Dead Poets Society” or “Say Anything” already exist. But it’s certainly in the running, which is (relatively) high praise, I suppose. And it bodes well for its legacy that after watching “New Moon,” I cried all the way home. Though not for any particularly emo reasons.