Visual Arts: No Fab Abs at SAM

Twilight myths in need of debunking.

Ever since the Twilight book/movie phenomenon began, making the benighted town of Forks an unlikely new tourist destination, tweens across America have been alarmingly misinformed about our region's history and culture. Do sensitive, handsome vampires and hunky, shape-shifting, Indian wolf-warriors really roam the Olympic Peninsula, locked in eternal struggle? Poppycock. It's a serious enough misconception that the Seattle Art Museum has responded with a yearlong corrective exhibition, Behind the Scenes: The Real Story of Quileute Wolves, which opens Saturday.Organized by SAM's curator of Native American art, the show features 25 pieces, from canoe prows to carving tools, which reflect traditional beliefs that the original Quileute people were changed from a pair of wolves into human form. Says SAM in a press release:"The exhibition...offers a counterpoint to the fantasy of the Quileute as werewolves, as portrayed in the Twilight series. The books and films morphed the native origin story of wolves into tales of aggressive teen werewolves—a far cry from the poignant wolf creation myths that mark the true Quileute culture."Take that, R-Pat! Consider yourself counterpointed, Kristen Stewart! Taylor Lautner, you have been totally debunked, dude!But what other mistaken beliefs have been promulgated about the Pacific Northwest? We decided to investigate The Twilight Saga: Eclipse at a downtown theater and catalog its errors. Then we considered what remedies might be provided by our city's cultural custodians. We mustn't let Hollywood appropriate and distort our poignant creation myths!• Forks teenagers recite Robert Frost poems in flowery fields. The film starts with Bella (Stewart) reading "Fire and Ice""aloud to Edward (Robert Pattinson), then compounds the fallacy by reviving the scene at the end. It's a misunderstanding that might be best rectified with a Richard Hugo House symposium, "Twilight and (Endangered) Iambs: Sexting and Texting as the New Romantic Verse."• Northwest vampires won't have sex before marriage. Bella is 18, about to graduate high school, and still a virgin. But when she reaches below Edward's belt, the chivalrous "old-school" vampire insists they get married before taking things any further. Time, we think, for a Babeland seminar on the theme, perhaps, of "Bad Grrrls and Vampires Who Won't Bite: How to Turn Cold Blood Hot."• The Olympic Peninsula was colonized by vampires. In flashback, Eclipse shows how English bloodsuckers ("the cold ones") washed ashore, then immediately commenced battle with the lupine Quileute. This is an excellent opportunity for the Burke Museum to engage tweens who've lost interest in dinosaur fossils with a show called "Neck-Biters Don't Float: Twilight and the True Story of Early Northwest Settlement."• There are no black or Asian vampires. The Cullens are as white as an Abercrombie & Fitch catalog. Here's where the Wing Luke or Northwest African American Museum could set the record straight on diversity among vampires. Perhaps they could do a joint show—"We All Bite: Tales Excluded From Twilight." (Plus bonus screening of Blacula.)• Quileutes practice polyandry. Jacob (Lautner) proclaims: "You can love more than one person at the same time." But animal behaviorists at the UW will tell you different. There can be only one alpha male and one alpha female; the other wolves just pick up the scraps. It's the perfect chance for the Woodland Park Zoo to showcase its stars in "The Real Wolves of the Pacific Northwest: Cuter Than Taylor, but Just as Loyal."• Vampires live in deluxe modernist houses, while werewolves live in humble shacks. There's absolutely no socioeconomic data to back up this supposed class divide. All the more reason for the Frye and the Henry to mount a pair of design and home-furnishings shows. To highlight the Cullens' sense of style, the Henry could launch "Transylvanities: Contemporary Vampiric Art & Design." The Frye could rebut with "Rustic Sophistication: The Twilight Werewolf Aesthetic Revealed."But the movie gets at least one thing right about cautious, overprotective Northwest vampires: Edward drives a Volvo. And since the Chinese just bought that car brand, there's the angle for SAAM...bmiller@seattleweekly.com

 
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