Received my free Hampton Inn copy of USA Today. Opened to the “Life” section. Lead headline, middle of the page: A TOTAL ‘ECLIPSE’ OF THE HEART? Subheadline: “Some adults are fretting that Bella’s rush to marry a vampire will sway teens to do something equally rash.”
Once, not all that long ago, I was a features writer for The Tennessean, required to come up with story ideas akin to this one. There’s a time-worn formula, which is:
A. Find your most gullable and out-of-touch editor.
B. Tell him that a new movie (like Twilight: Eclipse) is out, and that it’s incredibly hot.
C. Tell him that it’s so hot, people are [FILL IN THE BLANK WITH EITHER: A. Concerned by the graphic content and protesting; B. Camping out in front of theatres; C. Mimicking the behavior of one of the characters].
D. Watch as your editor immediately assigns 1,500 words, and starts thinking art.
E. Find some college professor with a love of seeing his/her name in print to offer smart-sounding quotes.
G. Hello, Pulitzer!
This particular story, written by Maria Puente, is straight out of The Onion. I mean, it’s utterly, utterly ludicrous. Yes, millions of American teens are going to copy the fictional vampires and get married! And suck blood! And sleep all day! Run for the hills!
There’s the mother from California who worries the movie, “over-romanticizes teen sex and marriage, creating unrealistic expectations.” (Uh, memo: It’s a movie). There’s the professor from George Mason, chiming in that, “teens develop complicated relationships.” On and on.
I’ve written silimar stories. Plenty of them. So I understand the writer’s plight.
But, well, blech.