In Which I Try To Explain Twilight
I know that you will probably stab me in the heart with a wooden stake for doing this, but I'm going to write another post about Twilight. You there, under the rock? Twilight is: spectacularly shitty book series by Stephanie Meyer and now a movie (out today! it's bad!) about a dimensionless girl named Bella and the suave sex vampire that she loves, named Edward. It's swoony moony goony shit, and, again, is terribly, monstrously, embarrassing-for-the-whole-of-the-craftly bad. So why on earth is it so popular, and what is Twilight, I mean really what is it? I will attempt to answer those IMPORTANT questions after the jump. Then you can elucidate (please! please!) in the comments.
Theory 1: Twilight Is Chocolate Let's get the obvious, probably-the-cold-bare-truth one out of the way. There's nothing new about young people, young women especially, going apeshit bananas over something that brings a fierce yet chaste smolder to their loins—be it the cherubic young matinee idols like Romeo + Juliet-era Leonardo DiCaprio, the crotch-twirling "baby come back" antics of a boy band (from Beatles to Backstreet), or, you know, the dark brooding eternal prick tease of sexless vampire love (Buffy! And now, sigh, Twilight!). While most boys just hairy palm their way past longings for love and post-in/out/in/out intimacy, many girls get snared and tangled in that brambly bush of idol worship, and any conduit through which they can explore and advance these tinglings is, usually, seized upon with great fervor. And Meyer wrote the perfect conduit for a certain set of young ladies—one about Changes (she moves!), School (she's awkward!), Bodies (she's clumsy!), and Boys (he's alabastery beautiful and dangerous!) Certain little women throw this shit to the curb as the fantasy garbage that it is, but others (whether consciously or not) see some great unspoken wish-fulfillment in it—that you can snare the boy by doing next to nothing, that you can fix a troubled man, that somewhere out there is a place where you and only you are special and it's up to all those other bitches to just look on in awe. Pretty powerful magicks.
Theory 2: Twilight Is Barack Obama Yes it's true! Published in 2005, just one short year after Obama gave his ground-rumbling speech at the DNC in Boston, Twilight and the president-elect share many qualities. Both had rabid cult followings until they bled and blossomed into mainstream phenomena. Both are about love with utter abandon—to overlook or dismiss the fangs or Rev. Wrights. And both are about potential danger lurking in the periphery—Edward might eat Bella! Obama might pull off his Mission: Impossible mask and reveal himself to be Jimmy Carter, thus hurling the nation into a socialism-flecked doom of poverty and lawlessness. But in the end, both are less than what they seem. Twilight is just pat aspirational shit to please the ladies (see above) and Obama is just part inspirational grit and part just a fairly moderate Democrat who will do fine, if not well, as a two term president (we Hope). The implication here, I guess, is that Barack Obama is a vampire. It would make sense. After all, his daddy was a cannibal.
Theory 3: Twilight Is The Last Gasp Of Chic Religious Conservatism Remember when John McCain's daughter Meghan said that being a Republican was the last way to be punk and it was really dumb and also a few years too late because the whole thing had been death rattling for a while at that point? Well Twilight is sort of the other side of that. It was timely and it was apt and it was cool, for the subset of Christian America it directly appealed to. In 2005, it was pretty righteous for a Mormon housewife from Arizona to write a long, turgid book about two hot-as-hell young people (well, "young" here is relative, I guess) falling madly in love and kissing and then screwing their brains out... after they get married (and even then they only do it twice)! There's a nice anti-abortion trope thrown into the last book, I'm told (should she carry Edward's demon baby that will probably kill her to term? Yes! Yes she should!) and a comfortable hat tip to the old Mormon idea that women can't get into Heaven without the help of a man. Bella is made vampyr by Edward in the end, and they amble off together into fuckfest eternity. What a sly devil Meyer was to try and couch all this in supposedly lush mod-period melodrama (you know what we would call Twilight in the theatre? Agitprop), trouble is, she's such a spectacularly shitty writer that the light starts to poke through, a few years later. But she got away with it for a while! Don't think she would now. So which is it? Twilight as female soul-tickler? Twilight as political Daemon? Or Twilight as the last bit of tricky mainstream Christo-conservatism to sneak its way past the lefty sensors? Or, you know, none of the above?