I know some of you just don’t get it, and some of you downright hate it. And that’s fine, really. I respect our right to have different opinions. As for me, I’m not afraid to admit it. I am a Twi-hard. And I love The Twilight Saga.
It started with my students. Everywhere I looked, I kept seeing this black book with a red apple on the front. No matter what grade they were in or what grades they were making, they were all reading Twilight. So I wanted to know what on Earth held their interest so much and how I could use it to to teach them.
And use it I did. I incorporated Edward and Bella into sentences on tests. I used wolves and vampires to explore elements of conflict. We discussed symbolism, foreshadowing, plot–and they were engaged. Even the boys got pulled in!
I hosted a Twilight Sunrise breakfast before school the morning the first movie opened, and kids were waiting in the parking lot before 7am, invitations in hand, to eat red velvet cake and discuss a book. I stood up for my students and that book when administation deemed vampires inappropriate for a field-day theme for our class. (Twilight was the ONLY award-winning piece of literature being used for a theme that year!)
But it wasn’t just for my students. I was hooked. I am a sucker for a love story. Say what you want about the cheese of Twilight, but it’s definitely a love story.
I think many of us could relate to the crazy obsession and complete surrender that is first love. As we read Twilight, most of us could understand that feeling of not fitting in, not being “normal”, struggling with insecurities and determining where we belonged. And above all, wanting to be loved.
For me, maybe moving to 16 schools in 12 years was part of it, but I
really connected with that new girl in school, figuring out who she was in relation to those unknown surroundings in Twilight’s Forks. New Moon definitely took me back
to dark days and painful places when my first love left me at 19. The blank pages of that book spoke volumes to me, of emotional pain that becomes physical and incapicitating in its rawness. I honestly thought back then I would never smile or love again. (Drama Queen to the core!)
And unfortunately, those of you who knew me from ages 19-21 can attest to a few similarities I may have with Eclipse, choosing between two completely different relationships but holding onto both just in case. And then finally, always and ever looking for the happy ending and having found my “Edward” with My Knight, I was filled with hope for overcoming adversity and embracing new beginnings with Breaking Dawn. I connected with all those stories.
I really think some concepts in Twilight strike a chord with us all. Who doesn’t wish there was someone (a person–not just God) who would see you for who you are (warts and all) and accept you completely with unconditional love? Who wouldn’t like to have someone who would unequivocally lay down their life for you and protect you at all costs? Who wouldn’t want a family that immediately welcomes you just because one of theirs loves you, and they are willing to fight to the death to protect you because you are now one of them?
Yeah, I know it’s not real. I know that doesn’t happen in real life. Human beings can’t live up to that. But IT’S FICTION, PEOPLE!!! It’s fantasy. It’s make-believe, how we wish things could be. Do you really think Tony Stark could live with that battery-heart? Can spider bites make you look great in spandex and be able to swing from tall buildings with web strung from your hand? Could Jason Bourne really outsmart and outrun every other highly-trained agent alive? We love stories because we can live out lives that we don’t really get to have.
Come on! What chick would turn down an incredibly rich, smart, handsome, invincible dude telling her she is his “everything”, he’s waited his whole existence for
her, and his life is now just to be with her? (Truth be told, in real life, he’d either be lying or married already, or she’d be bored to tears and feel suffocated. It’s fiction, people! But it’s exciting!) Oh, and don’t forget–no job to go to, no bills to pay, taking trips at the drop of the hat, friends and homes in exotic locales, never needing sleep or being tired. We escape into fiction like Twilight because it gives us a life we can’t live.
The written word is a magical thing. It can inspire the heart and light hope in the soul. It can transport us to other places, other lives and existences. It can allow us to work out conflicts and discover ourselves. We get to relive experiences and feel lost or buried emotions. The written word can change lives and change people, and it can move them and touch them deep in their souls. It can bond people together.
Twi-hards are a fan base like no other. Some may suggest that Trekkies come close in their devotion, loyalty, and (I’ll admit it–bizarre!) allegiance to a franchise. But The Twilight Saga reached age groups from pre-teen to senior. It captivated across socio-economic and cultural barriers, appealing to people in countries across the world and sparking spoofs, knock-offs and coattail-riders more popular than most original works.
Argue as you wish whether or not Stephenie Meyer is a good writer, but none of you can feasibly argue that her words have not touched lives. The Twilight Saga has been an incredible phenomena, accomplishing far beyond what was expected in both book sales and box office success. (Lord knows if they knew how many people would come, they would have poured more money into the first Twilight film and spent well for good make-up artists and plausible special effects!)
Critics have panned the books and annihilated the movies, and yet their popularity soared. I will not even begin to defend Twilight as a good movie, nor will I pretend that Kristen Stewart can act. But for Twi-hards, it doesn’t really matter. The movies aren’t made to be great movies, and we’re almost willing to just overlook that. For the readers, the characters are alive, the soundtrack is playing, there are faces to go with names, and voices to be heard. Lighting, backdrops, scenery–all the magic that movies bring has breathed life into our beloved tale. And we love it!
What passion and energy the Twi-hards give!! Being at a Twilight premiere is an energizing experience. Sighs, screams, cheers, applause! You know what everyone around you is feeling, because they share it with you and you connect!
I remember arriving at the Twilight midnight premiere over an hour before the movie was to start, and the theater was already packed. The merchandise machine had not yet realized what money was to be made, so Twilight t-shirts and key chains only came out a few days before the movie. But fans filled the theater in hand-made, hand-decorated shirts for these characters and this story. They cheered as each beloved character came to life on the screen. The audience recited favorite lines along with the actors. They connected to the movie as they had the book.
Being a Twi-hard means belonging. When you meet others passionate about Twilight, it’s like finding someone in a foreign country that speaks your language, knows your people, and understands you. You are immediately connected. You have something in common. And whether you are Team Edward or Team Jacob (TEAM EDWARD ALL THE WAY!), you are still united in your love of the characters, the story, and a need for the ending to be love. (Too bad our political divisions couldn’t unite the same way!)
It may sound pathetic, but I’m really sad to see it all end. I loved looking forward to the next movie. I loved re-reading the books before the release, and watching the previous movies to get ready. (I’m still hoping Stephenie will finish Midnight Sun so they can remake Twilight with a budget!) But mostly, I will miss the bond that Twi-hards have.
On premiere night for New Moon, there were twenty auditoriums sold out for the midnight show at the theater I attended. To have that many people in one place at one time for a common interest, completely, totally, passionately devoted to the same thing as you, is powerful. It’s intoxicating and unifying, and it makes you feel connected.
Yesterday was The Twilight Saga Marathon. All five movies in one day, with the premiere of Breaking Dawn, Part Two for the finale. I loved seeing the progression of the films’ budgets, make-up, contacts, special effects, and acting. I loved the fellowship of being in a crowded theater of people who shared my passion. Together we laughed, we cheered, we cried, and at the end of Breaking Dawn, Part Two, we all nearly fainted! (OMG and WOW are all I will say about that . . . no spoiler alert needed here!)
Walking around during a break between films, we saw people already camped out as early as 10am to be in line for the 10pm show. Late in the afternoon, I struck up a Twilight conversation with two ladies sitting on folding stools in one of the other lines. Turns out they loved the books and had seen all four movies.
We talked Twilight, we talked other authors and series, we made recommendations, and we said goodbyes. Later in the evening, a former student especially close to my heart called to say she had just arrived to see the premiere. I walked toward her auditorium to see her, and in one of those weird little twists in life, she happened to be there with those two ladies I had met earlier, one of whom worked with her mom.
That student was in my class when I found Twilight. That student was at my Twilight Sunrise brunch. That student told her mom’s co-worker about the books. And the co-worker read them all, shared them with her friend, and they attended all the movies, which led them to me that day. Small world, hunh? (My friends said that was like a freaky version of the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon; more like the Six Degrees of The Goddess Howe, I guess). But I say it shows that stories can truly connect us all.
I was proud to be a Twi-hard. I will miss it. I will miss what we all shared. But the most wonderful thing about stories is that they can be revisited over and over again. I can experience Twilight any time I want by turning the pages.