Pop Culture Digression: The Twilight Phenomenon Explained.

I love the cover design of this series, but K.Stewart needs to get her grubby paws off my boyfriend.
Warning: This lowbrow post may horrify some of you.

After making yet another Twilight reference in my Facebook status update yesterday (yep, I’m turning 30, not 13, this summer) one of my brothers wrote me and said “Can you please explain to me what everyone’s fascination is with Twilight, and more specifically this Edward guy?” I thought for a minute about all the Twilight commentary I’ve heard simply in passing this week alone: the woman in Border’s telling her friend that she took the series on her honeymoon and got legitimately pissed off that her new hubby was not Edward (followed by strangers telling her they “totally understood”). Or the fact that one of my fave design bloggers showed off her “Twilight” section of her bookshelf. Or the Facebook updates I see about skipping dates, work and the gym to stay in and read these books. So what is it about Twilight that drives us women to such craziness?

Jaime’s “library”

Let me start off by sharing that I was a total doubter when Twilight first came out. My friend Zoe told me about it a long time ago and I said “Wait, it’s about vampires? I don’t read vampire books. Eww”. “Trust me”, she said, “you’ll thank me later”. Time passed and one day I saw a copy on sale at the checkout counter at TJ Maxx for $5-so I picked it up. The 50-something year old checkout lady looked at me with longing eyes and sighed “Oh my God, have you not read this yet??” Seriously, even the mature checkout lady was hip to Twilight??? 48 hours later, cut to me driving frantically to Borders at 9 a.m. to buy the rest of the series and then rush back home. I read them in a month and I couldn’t tell you anything I did or said in that time, I’m not sure I even took a break to shower. What had become of me? It’s not like the writing is even good, but there is something about this story that just renders even the most mature woman a thumping-hearted, lovesick tween. And his name is Edward Cullen.

So here’s the deal with Edward, for those not in the know like my brother. He causes such a stir because his character is the perfect man. He’s handsome, wealthy, romantic and devoted. The mysterious, brooding bad boy who writes lullabies on the piano for his girlfriend and then rips out the throats of bad guys in defense of her honor. He says things like “Your my own personal brand of heroin” and “I don’t think I have the strength to stay away from you any longer” (cue knee buckling). He is the perfectly impossible combination of poet, athlete, intellectual and bad ass- the human(ish) equivalent of a unicorn. And having Rob Pattinson to use as an image of Edward, well, that’s just icing on the cake according to yours truly. Now to give my brother credit, he made a good point of saying that if a normal guy ever said such lines to a girl, they’d be laughed at and/or slapped with a restraining order. Good point, and probably true. But this is make believe, so I’m gonna stick to my guns and swoon anyways. Every woman wants to feel coveted, craved, defended and protected and well, that’s just what we get from reading about this fictitious character who was crafted specifically to feed that desire (because let’s face it, we don’t always get that from our real life men.) So thank you, Stephanie Meyer. Thank you so very much.

Frankly, to women over the age of 18, these books are a bit like what internet porn is to guys (you all look at it. We know.) It’s an escapist fantasy that allows you forget all the bullshit going on in your life and just enjoy the pleasure of a hot, undead teenager who would kill people for you and then buy you a brand new Audi for your birthday. Maybe it’s because of the times we’re in, where watching the news is just so depressing that we cling breathlessly to a complete fantasy such as this.  Laugh at me all you want, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! I sang that tune and now I not only dragged my husband to opening weekend of the film (he would have happily traded his ticket for a prostate exam and even I agree it was pretty bad) but I am literally counting the days until New Moon comes out. I’ll be the one camped out in line on the sidewalk with a flask of Pinot Noir.

Now to end on a somewhat redeeming design related note, here are some shots of the house used as the Cullen family stomping grounds from the film. A very cool space indeed, and although I don’t show it here, one of the other reasons I loved Edward is because in the movie he has a Barcelona chaise and Sapien bookshelves in his room. Of course, I was the only person in the theater who noted such design elements.  But a vampire with good taste? Could a girl ask for more? ;)

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  1. I started this series on my honeymoon to see what all the hype was about and I am now obsessed. We have 5 of us now at work reading, all at different parts in different books and multiple times throughout the day we discuss what we love, what we can't wait for, etc. Iam about to start the last book and am holding off for a few hours so that it doesn't end too soon! I have not seen the movie for fear that it wil ruin my reading but I plan to go check it out as soon as I finish the last one!

  2. I didn't run out to buy the rest of the books, but half way in to Twilight I was on Amazon. My grandchild told me to read them. Your fantasies don't die at 60 either.

  3. ok…I'm terribly conflicted…I couldn't get through the movie…I actually found myself thinking about my next blog post repeatedly throughout the first half. Then I fell asleep. However, I did want to marry Angel in high school after being obsessed with all things Buffy. Is this one of those cases of book being dramatically better than the movie? Judging from the comments I guess I answered my own question. I pray I'm not too old for this whole craze…that would be so so sad…one more question- why is bella/k Stewart so awkward? Why couldn't they have casted someone a tad bit cooler and perhaps better at acting? Just frustrating to me!!

  4. Ok, so the movie was pretty horrible, and I *almost* I fell asleep during the first time I watched it. . . BUT I can't seem to stop watching it. I even bought it (hanging head).

  5. Lindsay- while I was SO disappointed in i the film, I still bought it AND watch it all the time. I don't know why- oh wait, yes I do- Rob!

  6. I took my girls to the midnight debut of the movie(huge mom points for that) and I loved it. Maybe because I haven't read the books yet. I do think that Robert's attention towards Bella is also dreamy because she feels the same for him. It's not some creepy one sided infatuation.

  7. If you loved Twilight, you would probably love "Roswell" – the first season of the tv show, that is. I think Roswell was probably Stephanie's inspiration, though she's denied it – but that Dido song (Here with me) was apparently on her playlist. So many elements are exactly the same, except Max is an alien. Liz was shot and Max risked exposure to save her and of course they fell madly in love. If you look at Max, Isabel (Max's sister) and Michael, they are the same as Edward and his sister and friend. Exactly the same. If it isn't a blatant ripoff, it's definitely inspired.

    Even crucial scenes happening in the biolab at school in Twilight happen in the bio lab in Roswell, and there it actually makes sense, since Liz is a science geek and that's how she figures out Max isn't human (she proves it in the lab by taking skin cells of his and examining them under a microscope).

    Anyway, the feeling is the same. I felt the same about Max/Liz from Roswell that you feel about Twilight. To tell you the truth, I'm still pissed that Twilight was such a hit and Roswell (even though Seasons 2 and 3 sucked) was canceled. Do a search of Roswell and Twilight on google and you'll see that many fans notice the connection too.

  8. Wow. 57 comments -I think that is a new record. And I am #58. The books are better but Edward – yum! When I saw the movie, I thought he was intoxicating. His eyes freaked me out but he was supposed to look like a vampire. My heart lurked when I saw him on the cover of a magazine and saw he actually had the most beautiful green eyes. I love green eyes. My friend Vikki, who is completely obsessed with him, made me watch the movie I'm glad she did.

  9. I'm am going to buy these right now. You must read the Diana Gabaldon Outlander series. Amazing, in a totally escapist way. A 16th century Scottish poet warrior…seriously you must read it.

  10. I really enjoyed this post. I loved the movie. I love the books and am re-reading the series again. (I had a little trouble with the forth book at first but think it was brilliant in retrospect. My sisters and I enjoy discussing how the books make us feel, why we like them so much and realize it has so much to do with how much of our lives we project into the story. We all have very different perspectives. Lots of interesting discussions.) Of course, I am very easy to please and at a good place in my life for a little mental escape.

    I think Kristen is perfect for Bella. I like that she is different and can see why Rob/Edward find her unique. I can't wait for the next movie. Even if it is terrible. Which it won't be, of course.

  11. so so true… in fact. I think I am going to start reading Twilight (again) tonight. (sigh)

  12. Hahahahaha ok. This is SO true. I did the exact same thing! Scoffed at the thought of reading the books or seeing the movie then I watched the movie one night, and was at the bookstore 20mins later picking up all the books… I'm loving it! So romantic…. sigh… hahahaha. Great post!

  13. Guilty as charged – but your post just made me feel a lot less crazy. I even wrote about it and quoted you on my blog (www.writingroads.com/blog). RP doesn't really do much for me – but the pic you have of him on this post – is actually quite fetching…I'm holding off on Eclipse and Breaking Dawn until this weekend – I have to get some work done! Thanks so much for writing this post.

  14. So, at the risk of getting my throat ripped out, are you trying to tell us this isn't just a teeny-bopper, soft-core version of Laurell K. Hamilton's books? :)

  15. I love this post! Your comment about waiting in line at the movie premier with a flask of Pinot made me laugh my ass off.

    I don't understand why I love these books so much, myself. It's crazy. I was happy to read your post and see all the comments – so I know – I am not the only one who's been bit – BAD! I devoured it the first round too, and reading it again for the 3rd time!

    As for design, the Cullen house is our inspiration when we remodel. Gonna plug this post on my blog (www.penpretty.com) – thanks so much, and I am glad to have found your blog!

  16. OK, so I'm just now seeing this post!! You are AWESOME! That was a perfectly written explanation. It was almost as if I'd written it myself-so accurate! My friends and I are all 28-32 and ridiculously obsessed…as is, went to the theatre and paid to see it 5 times (just to look at the RTP, natch.)I can't even tell you how annoyed I am by Kristen. Everytime the hubs sees her he comments on how unappealing she is, (which makes me feel both better & worse- since Rob's hittin' that, now!)
    I'm glad to see so many other women can get just as caught up in it…Set your DVRs for September 13, ladies!!!

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