Because I cover Twilight so much for work, I often have the awkward conversation with friends where they start to slam the series and then sheepishly back off, saying, “Oh sorry, Natalie, I know you like it.” To which I respond, “Not at all. I wouldn’t rate these among my favorite books or movies on any list.” They inevitably look confused and stammer, “But you know so much about it! And you go to all the midnight screenings!”
The truth is, I’m fascinated by Twilight. Its fame and reach is an utter phenomenon. Even though it’s not the first YA series to do so — let’s tip our Sorting Hats to Harry Potter – Stephenie Meyer‘s books became part of the zeitgeist faster and more intensely than J.K. Rowling‘s. While I don’t hold the actual material in high esteem in terms of quality, I can completely appreciate how it’s cultivated its own fandom unprecedented in their passion for it.
That’s why I’m a little sad to see the series take its final bow, with Breaking Dawn, Part 2 coming out this Friday. How can I make jokes about Bella Swan biting her lip when there’s no new footage of Kristen Stewart doing so? What will all the Twihards do with their tents and New Moon blankets once there’s no longer occasion for them to camp outside of a movie theater? How will my quality of life diminish if the only midnight screenings I’m attending are for The Room?
Anyone who’s interacted with me knows that I often value the experience of something over its quality. Like my list of favorite movies every year—the movie could’ve been crap, but if it had me laughing or still talking about it weeks later, then it’s sometimes preferable to sitting in silence through a piece of Oscar-bait. Without a doubt, Twilight is an experience. By reading Breaking Dawn and going to the midnight screenings, I’m seeing a fandom at work: The reactions ranging from shocked gasps to lusty catcalls; the disturbing way that Bella becomes a role model, from her helplessness to even a thinspiration figure; the last few months’ Robsten drama.
Merriam-Webster defines entertainment as “amusement or diversion provided especially by performers.” Meyer’s books and the unintentionally hilarious movies are a welcome distraction from actually important matters. They’ve also made it OK to admit to liking something that isn’t highbrow or intellectual nourishing. As much as I have my fears about my generation valuing the written word less than our ancestors, I don’t believe you can blame Twilight for that. It’s still the exception rather than the rule. There’s nothing wrong with putting your brain on autopilot and snickering at Robert Pattinson‘s sparkly white chest for two hours.
Twilight is a much-needed outlet for our snark and (let’s be honest) sexual frustrations. It’s only as influential as we make it. I don’t think that we’ll be passing it on to our kids in the same way as Harry Potter or The Hunger Games, but from 2005-2012 it served its purpose as completely balls-crazy, mindless entertainment. If nothing else, it’s given us the greatest gift of a quasi-sequel: Now we can pour all of that energy into Fifty Shades of Grey!
Photos: Comic Book Movie, someecards, Rolfrazzi