Okay, before you get all up and arms over the title let me explain myself. I am in no way comparing the awesomeness that is Scott Pilgrim with the melodrama that is Twilight (my not-so-guilty pleasure). I got the idea for this post after listening to a podcast by the folks at iFanboy. They made some great observations (listen here), but one comment in particular caught my attention. It referred to the relationships Scott Pilgrim has with Knives and Ramona, and more specifically what is going on in the heads of these chicks; why oh why are these girls interested in him in the first place? Don’t get me wrong, Scott is a pretty likable hipster-nerd (due in large part to Michael Cera’s ability to turn a rather douchey character in the books into a more sympathetic and cuddly character on screen), but there isn’t anything besides puppy-dog eyes and a rockin’ persona that makes the audience go, wow, that guy’s a keeper. Especially when he strings along the lovable Knives (Ellen Wong).
The comment from iFanboy made me think back to the multitudes of hate surrounding the Twilight movies, and again, one comment in particular about why the gentlemen of Twilight, Edward and Jacob, pine over the vapid wet mop that is Bella. For some reason, critics assume that if Bella were to grow a personality overnight, the series would have more depth to it, or at most, all the fighting and drama would have a point. But the great thing about movies like Scott Pilgrim and the Twilight Series is that they are about more than the story, they represent a snapshot of “adolescent” relationships in today’s world.
Now, Scott Pilgrim is first and foremost a culture satire. It strives to comment on today’s “adolescent youth” (Although the term adolescent has been used by critics to describe the characters in both films, I use the term loosely, since the characters in Scott Pilgrim are in their twenties. In many ways, they represent what Ryan referred to me as “adult adolescence,” and as a 24-year-old who still experiences high school drama, I couldn’t agree more. But I digress. A post for another day). Twilight is a series that takes itself more seriously in the sense that it wants the audience to experience the intense pain and havoc that adolescent love can bestow on it’s victims.
The reason why it doesn’t matter why Knives and Ramona and Edward and Jacob have the hots for our protagonists is because at their core, these relationships represent the fickle, shallowness of adolescence in love. And I mean that in the best way possible. Adolescent love is uncertain, and although it appears simple to everyone on the outside, to the people experiencing it, the process can be tedious. Scott craves a simple relationship with Knives because he does not seem ready to move on to a more committed relationship. That’s where Ramona comes in. Knives is infatuated with Scott because he is older, is in a rock band and has an aura of coolness, but that’s about it. And despite her vapid demeanor, Bella too possesses qualities unlike other girls her age that make the lads stand and notice (any ideas, please let me know!). Regardless of whether it’s enough of a reason for the audience, it’s enough for the characters, and it’s an accurate description of those early love affairs that only last weeks before someone with cooler highlighted hair comes rolling in.
Todd Martens said it best in his earlier Scott Pilgrim article posted on the Los Angeles Times website: ‘”Scott Pilgrim” captures the main character’s view of the universe; one where people don’t have personalities, they have traits, and compatibility is based on how one’s taste aligns.”…at least for the moment.