On Twilight: An Explanation

[WARNING: Non-specific spoilers throughout.]

I have a confession to make: I get it.

You know.  The whole Twi-hard thing.  Sometimes I like to pretend I’m cool enough not to, but, in reality, I totally get it.  And I’m going to do my best to explain it to those of you who don’t.  Here goes.

If you have ever been in a very serious relationship between the ages of 17 and 20, then this might not require explanation.  There’s something about that age, on the cusp of adulthood, that makes people think that a certain type of love relationship will last forever.  Sometimes it does.  Often it doesn’t.  But my point here is that, at that age, love is an addiction stronger than heroin.

Not all teens are susceptible to this particular drug, and it is these people who cannot fathom what others see in all this TWILIGHT hysteria.  But for anyone who has ever considered themselves in a fated relationship, become so wrapped up in another person that the thought of losing them is like having their soul ripped away from their bodies, or for anyone who has ever hoped for that sort of thing, TWILIGHT is like a mirror that shows the best possible version of that sort of relationship.  It is the ideal.  Yes, there are problems, but nothing really bad ever actually happens.  Sure, lots of bad stuff almost happens, but the obstacles are always overcome (and most with relative ease).

It’s easy to make fun because, as adults, we know rationally that any sort of relationship that is that intense, that desperate, and at that young of an age, is probably not healthy.  When Bella fights off depression and struggles with self-harm in NEW MOON, we want to tell her to grow up, snap out of it, and go see a psychologist if necessary.  We want to tell her that life goes on, and she’ll survive and be all the better for it.  And we want to smack her for treating her friends like, well, shit.

But, at least for me, in the back of my mind, a little voice says, “Hey, remember when you felt that way, too?  Remember when you felt like death would be a more acceptable outcome than losing the one you loved?  Remember how physical pain was somehow easier to deal with than emotional pain?  Remember how you felt like no one else could possibly understand what you were going through?  Remember the absolute relief of escaping a break-up?  Don’t judge Bella (or Edward or Jacob) too harshly.”

And while now I realize that those thoughts were irrational and at times even harmful, I remember exactly how intense they were.  I get it.

I want to note that this is not a defense of TWILIGHT or NEW MOON.  I take major issue with a number of the themes in the books, most notably that this sort of co-dependent, irrational, unhealthy relationship is so heavily glorified.  If I had come across these books and movies nearly a decade ago (ouch, has it really been that long?), I would have held them up as something to aspire to.  Everything is magnified and amped up when you’re 18.

And it’s because these books are a direct reflection of that intensity that they are so popular.  For people who are going through it, and for people who have gone through it, and for people who desperately want to go through it, this story speaks to them.  So, while I may not agree with what I think the message of these books/movies is, and while my adult, rational, survivor-of-heartbreak self sees them as teen emotion porn, I have to admit that I do, in fact, understand the appeal.  I wish I didn’t, but I do.

6 thoughts on “On Twilight: An Explanation

  1. Pingback: Recap: 22 November 2009 « Elizabethan Theatre

  2. YES. THIS.

    I was one of those people who took that relationship during that time very, very seriously (I was 16, though, so I think even more susceptible to it), and the breakup was….oh dear God, I shudder to think of it. But reliving that intensity, despite all the problems with the books and movies, was sort of like a nice reminder that I survived it.

    The year after, when he dated my best friend, was even worse, though. Take THAT, Bella! 😀

  3. I totally get it, too. I am not a fan of the films, but only because they don’t do justice to the books. I like the books, and I even love book one, terrible messages and all. And as for Stephen King saying Stephanie Meyer is a bad writer, feh, he was a much, much worse writer when he started out.

    I agree that I definitely wouldn’t hold the books up as something for girls to aspire to, but as an adult looking back, yes, I totally get it. Thanks, Ditty, for this post!

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