Twilight, like Hannah Montana before it, is one of those sensations that just sort of appeared. No one had ever heard of it, then literally all of the sudden there were three books, armies of crazed twelve year olds and t-shirts saying things like “Edward Cullen is real.” This sudden uber popularity frightens and confuses me. Please, join me on my journey of healing.
I am not someone who gets swept up into worldwide fads. I’ve only read (skimmed) the first two Harry Potters, I believe Crocs are footwear designed by Satan to rule the world by making us all look like idiots and I think the South Beach Diet was designed completely as a front cocaine abuse the nation over. Additionally, I am now part of the age demographic that is too old for teen idols and too young to have kids through whom to vicariously enjoy said teen idols, so I am still uncertain as to what a “Jonas Brother” or a “High School Musical” are. But not so long ago, I was joyously forcing my mother to buy me baby-blue piped Backstreet Boys t-shirts (dear Christ I wish I still had that) and weeping when Kelly dumped Zack for her older manager at The Max (harlot). So I’ve been there. I understand the youthful obsession and infatuation with the unattainable.
But sparkly vampires are another goddamn story.
According to my Cliff’s Notes on this voyage (Wikipedia), Twilight is the story of a young girl named Bella. And you’ve already lost me, Meyer, but I’ll go on. Bella is new in town and used to be an outcast but now people want to be her friend and boys find her super-dreamy-the-most. She meets Edward Cullen and he’s all “ew, bitch” and she’s all “I’m intrigued” and then she finds out he’s a vegetarian vampire. Some non-veggie vamps come into town and one’s like “I shall hunt her” and the Cullen family are like “oh hell naw” and they try to save her, but dude bites Bella. Edward cures her with his sparkle-suck and saves the day. She wants to become a vampire too and he bitch slaps her or something and then the book ends.
Okay, just saying, no one in real life is ever named Bella. EVER. Only female heroines of bad semi-goth dark prose written by fourteen year olds are named Bella, and I should know because I wrote several of them.
On a kinder note, this totally would have been the best book I’d ever read when I was nine (I was very advanced when it came to reading. Cower at my childhood brainyness.) But now, years later, art school jadedness has set in and I see right through it all. It’s every sad tween’s dream. No one likes her at school, so she switches schools to a place where somehow everyone loves her. And of course the boy seemingly repulsed by her is the one she desperately wants, and sure enough, he was repulsed because he wanted her so much. JUST LIKE EVERY BOY WHO’S EVER BEEN MEAN TO YOU, chunky girl with the Muse t-shirt and thick eyeliner, JUST. LIKE. THEM. And when the two of you accept and embrace the sweet kiss of love (which as terribly written as that phrase was, it genuinely isn’t all that different from the lines of the book I’m seeing on Wikiquote), something terrible happens and he must step up and risk his life for you BECAUSE YOU ARE SO SPECIAL, gawky girl with the stringy hair who knows that Paramore’s music is totally speaking to her.
I understand this because these are the things I would tell myself in 7th grade when Joe Shenk (not his real name, but completely transparent if you went to grade school with me, because I’m still in a post-turkey daze and too tired to be creative) found out I liked him and was grossed out and everyone at the party found out and I had to nurse my broken heart with Doritos and Surge. “He thinks you’re beautiful,” my mind told me. “So beautiful that he can’t even deal with it and that’s why he has to go out with the generically pretty girls with straight teeth and two separate eyebrows. You’re unique and amazing.”
But, friends, I was lying to myself. I was in denial, which is fine and good, because it got me through junior high to the further male rejection in high school, and I continued lying to myself merrily for years to come. And that’s okay, because I didn’t write an entire series of books detailing the lies I told myself, inflicting these lies upon millions of other pre-teen girls who will now spend the rest of their lives convinced that their Edward Cullen is out there. I only lied to me. Stephanie Meyer, your emotional body count shall be high and plentiful.
These girls, these impressionable “rebels” with their Hot Topic and Spencers Gifts (those still exist right?), these are people I understand because I was there. I was that girl going to the Hot Topic at White Oaks Mall, purchasing Lloyd Dobbler pins and Strawberry Shortcake stickers, because fiction was easier to believe in than reality and childhood was just easier than the present. But I was fourteen. Stephanie Meyer is thirty-four, and frankly, it’s reckless. We had it bad enough with “I gave her my heart and she gave me a pen.” How are today’s tweens supposed to cope with “For almost ninety years I’ve walked among my kind, and yours … all the time thinking I was complete in myself, not realizing what I was seeking. And not finding anything, because you weren’t alive yet” (assuming she survives the uncontrollable gagging)?
And yet, my words are meaningless. Twilight opened at $70mil to crying girls wearing white pancake and fake blood on their necks (and real blood too from what I’ve read, fucking wackos). An entire generation is now spoiled by Edward Cullen and his “you are the most important thing to me ever” after two weeks of broody awkwardness.
Ugh. Angel and Spike at their cheesiest never made me gaggy.
Anyway, to sum up my completely unsubstantiated review: Twilight is probably really dumb. That said, I’m totally seeing it. Robert Pattinson and his hair of fury deserve it. 6/10.
Courtney Enlow is a writer living in Chicago and working as a corporate shill to pay the bills. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.