PAT NEAL: Twilight forever and ever

THERE’S A DISTURBING trend in modern journalism for reporters to use fleeting celebrity references as an excuse for responsible reporting. It was never that way with Stephanie Meyer and me.

Both of us have written extensively about the Olympic Peninsula. Meyer’s Twilight series of books and movies about Forks vampires have made billions of dollars worldwide. My own books have made under a billion dollars.

Fortunately, the financial vagaries of the publishing industry have no relevance in the pursuit of an art form.

As writers, Ms. Meyer and I share a kinship that is beyond words. I had dreamed that Ms. Meyer would endow us with her presence at this year’s Forever Twilight Festival in Forks. But she didn’t. She didn’t write or call.

No matter. Nothing can dampen the mood of a true Twi-hard despite what the critics say. Newsflash! We don’t care.

The Razzies, an Academy Awards spoof that honors the worst films of the year, has given the Twilight movies nominations for worst picture, worst actress, worst actor, worst director, worst screen couple or ensemble and worst remake, rip-off or sequel.

In addition, the Twilight movies have been savaged by critics who bleat like wounded werewolves over the “slow pace, excessive length, relentlessly downcast tone, uninspired dialogue and unintentional humor.”

As a Twi-hard journalist, all I can say is, sticks and stones may break my bones but those words just ripped out my still-beating heart and tossed it under the gilded jackboot of a self-appointed cultural elite that wouldn’t know real entertainment if it snagged them with a treble hook.

Who cares what the critics think?

Twilight is only the latest of a slew of movies that have been based or filmed on the Olympic Peninsula. Critics have badmouthed all of them.

There was “The Hunted” with Tommy Lee Jones, shot at the Lake Aldwell Dam in 2003. A critic said “The quality of ‘The Hunted’ may have been beaten down by the physical drubbing their cast and crew endured while filming in wet wilderness.”

The final scenes of “Wyatt Earp” with Kevin Costner was shot at Freshwater Bay in 1994. “Wyatt Earp” was nominated for several Razzies, including worst picture, remake, director, actor and screen couple.

“An Officer and a Gentleman” with Richard Gere and Debra Winger was filmed in Port Townsend in 1982. It was called “a movie about blue-collar, down-trodden people.”

Critics said the 1967 Disney Classic “Charlie the Lonesome Cougar,” filmed at the Olympic Game Farm, had a “cast of flat human performances.”

They said Herb Crisler used tame elk in his 1949 Disney film “The Olympic Elk.”

None of which measures up to the criticism that battered the greatest movie to ever call the Olympic Peninsula home. Based on a million-seller memoir by Betty McDonald about a pair of newlyweds taking over an abandoned chicken farm in the wilds of Chimacum, “The Egg and I” was released in 1947, starring Fred McMurry and Claudette Colbert. The “Egg and I” spawned eight more “Ma and Pa Kettle” movies. One of which got Marjorie Main an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress.

Predictably, the critics and the locals were not amused. Critics maintain that Betty’s writing was racist and sexist.

Unfortunately, these stereotypes were social norms at the end of WWII. She was sued by her neighbors who claimed they were ridiculed for being ignorant country bumpkins.

Betty settled out of court and moved to California, where she wrote about contracting tuberculosis in a book called “The Plague and I.”

All of which proves you can’t keep a good writer down. Twilight forever? Yes!


Pat Neal is a Hoh River fishing and rafting guide and “wilderness gossip columnist” whose column appears here every Wednesday.

He can be reached at 360-683-9867 or by email via

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