Katherine takes a trip down memory lane, examines the Cullens with a more critical lens but contends they are still camp fun!
Most of us older Gen-Z kids will remember the iron tight grip Stephanie Meyer and Summit Entertainment somehow had over thousands of us in the late 2000s. Many of us moved on as we got older, although that may have simply been to other forms of vampire-based fiction if you are anything like me. But now, 10 years after the final film, it appears we have simply transitioned from Team Edward v Team Jacob to Team Carlisle v Team Charlie online, rather than letting go of the franchise altogether. Or maybe that’s just me. But it is objectively true that Twilight is experiencing a renaissance of sorts, and we even have new books telling us the same Twilight story but from different perspectives. Now, having sat on the sofa for 10 hours to watch all of the films, I wonder what was so magical, to our impressionable minds, about this Mormon-coded love triangle between the controlling vampire, delusional werewolf, and the awkward Bella Swan?
Did we see ourselves in Bella? Now watching and reading Twilight in my 20s, I find Bella almost painful, and certainly not relatable. But as a lanky, dyspraxic 12-year-old? Oh man, she dresses weird, never knows what to say, falls all the time and scored Robert Pattinson? There is hope for us all. Admittedly, her character has some qualities that helped strike that balance between relatable and enviable that make for the perfect protagonist. She is smart, and she is sure as hell determined. Stubborn? Yes. But she knows what she wants, she does her research (though why she didn’t get that book online instead of a seedy part of a nearby town I don’t know, the mysterious vibes maybe?) and she gets it. Does she jump off a cliff for a boy in the second book? Yes. But we all go a little loca sometimes, and where the hell had Edward been? But to give him his due, experiencing near death in the name of love, he’s just a modern Romeo with crystal abs.
Rewatching it, many aspects are uncomfortable. Edward controlling and gaslighting Bella, and Jacob falling in love with a literal baby is certainly questionable. It needs to be addressed, but so does Charlie’s bright green kitchen! Walls, cabinets, everything. These films are so green, even when the tint was abandoned. And so Mormon. Edward is a good ol’ fashioned guy, waiting till marriage and micromanaging his partner’s life, and in modest khaki, oh so sexy. Meyer’s voice really shines through to an oddly strong degree in the films as well, as she seemed to think she was Bella more than anyone. Sometimes such a love of your characters passes on to the audience, but often the audience sees through the cliches and flaws of a character more than the author, and here is one instance.
So why is it back? I mean, vampires have been cool for literal centuries, but why aren’t we all obsessed with Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula again in the 2020s? The Lost Boys, anyone? Well, I don’t think it is because of the vampires or the romance, I guess we all just need a little nostalgia. I’ll spare you the speech about how awful the last couple of years have been, but even if they weren’t, being an adolescent woman isn’t exactly the easiest. So, why not fall back on what we loved in our tween years for some comfort and entertainment? And why not do it together?
Although us “adult” Twilight fans certainly have a tongue-in-cheek adoration of the series, I think that Twilight’s renaissance reflects the death of cringe culture. Like all that is popular amongst tween and teen girls, Twilight quickly became synonymous with low-brow and cringe entertainment. We are often taught to look back on what we loved at this age and bash it, laugh at how silly we were to enjoy such trash. I am not saying Twilight is the pinnacle of cinema, certainly not after Catherine Hardwicke left, but it was fun, and it is great that we are unashamedly, simply, enjoying things again. Maybe this is a normal part of growing up, maybe it is internet culture, or maybe a change in attitude, but I love it. People everywhere still love Harry Styles and Justin Bieber, and it is nice to see women happily enjoying what we were taught to mock. Twilight isn’t perfect, but neither are the 2020’s, so we just gotta have fun where we can.