Fandoms led by girls and women are often made out as jokes because of sexist and misogynistic standards in society. Men and boys freak out over Star Wars or Doctor Who, but when women and girls do the same thing, it’s deemed as immature and childish. A fantastic example of this was the hundreds of tweets from men criticizing Greta Gerwig’s 2019 adaptation of Little Women. Many of these tweets were along the lines of “Why do they need another Little Women?” Well, why are there nine Fast & Furious movies?
When the Twilight series became mainstream in 2008, tweens and teens ate the novels up. Some adults did, too. Unlike Hogwarts or Hobbiton, Forks is a real place that people can visit. Although still a fantasy novel, much of Twilight was tangible to its young audience who were finding themselves through their formative years. The four initial Twilight books set consecutive records for being the best-selling novels of 2008. Twelve years later, Stephanie Meyer released the belated and long-anticipated Midnight Sun (Twilight from Edward’s perspective), which sold one million copies during its first week of publication. Never underestimate the power of girls and women because when they love something, they will love it wholeheartedly.
That being said, as popular as Twilight is, the fandom knows that it is not a masterpiece. As far as I know (and I was thirteen in 2008, so I literally grew up with the books), no one ever claimed that Twilight is a revolutionary piece of literature. We know it’s not. Did it have a major cultural impact? Yes: we all saw Twilight-mania happen. Everyone was either Team Edward or Team Jacob. There were shirts and blankets and stickers and jewelry. You just had to be in a movie theater in 2012 when Breaking Dawn Part 2 premiered. It was intense. But for everything Twilight is, there is a lot that it isn’t. Growing from tweenhood to adulthood, we see the faults that the series has, but we take the criticisms in stride and have learned to make fun of the series. Below are some great examples of this:
Robert Pattinson Openly Hating Twilight
The fact that a lead actor in one of the biggest film franchises of the 2010s hated the story he was a part of is probably one of the funniest things to happen in the fandom. Pattinson became a household name in 2008 after he took the role of brooding, but beautiful vampire, Edward Cullen. But what makes his opinion on the films so great is that he doesn’t take it seriously. Many of his interviews show him criticizing Edward as a character and the stories’ overall plot. We’re not even sure if he understands why people love Twilight, and that’s okay! For many, the stories make them very nostalgic about their teen years. As adults, the stories may not resonate anymore, but the feelings are still there when we hear Paramore’s ‘Decode’ or Lykke Li’s ‘Possibility.’ That same reason is why Midnight Sun succeeded even twelve years after its initial announcement.
The idea of a newborn growing up to become a 10-year-old over the course of just a few months was never going to pan out well in the films. It just wasn’t. But that didn’t make people any less curious about how Breaking Dawn Part 2 would depict Renesmee, Edward and Bella’s half-vampire, half-human daughter. At one point in production, prop designers created a doll to portray Renesmee at a toddler’s size. However, the doll is terrifying and did not fare well on film. Production decided to create a full CGI baby until Renesmee would grow to be the same size as the actress who played her, Mackenzie Foy. But Twilight fans have a soft spot for the frightening doll that never got to see the light of day. In fact, it is displayed in a case at the Forever Twilight Museum in Forks for fans and haters alike to visit. However, many people claim that the doll is haunted (which seems to be why it is kept in a case). Fans have gone so far as to crown Renesemee with various names of their choosing, too. “Chuckesmee” is the doll, but even “Resume,” “ReNameMe,” and “Rheumatoidarthritis” have become fantastic alternatives that fans have created for the creepy child. Meyer has even stepped in to tell people not to name their babies Renesmee.
As an adult, I can still love Twilight for what it once meant to me, yet also recognize its imperfections. I can see now that there is a huge problem in Meyer depicting such a dependent relationship between Bella and Edward. She also stole and profited off of Quileute culture without any kind of reimbursement to them. Rereading the books last year, I can also see the religious influence Meyer’s own religion of Mormonism has on the books (something of which I read past when I was thirteen). However, the books and films are just….fun. I don’t have to think about them to participate. They are familiar storylines with quotable dialogue. The music in the film is absolutely unmatched. I love to hate Twilight because I am an adult who grew up past her lust for a vampire boyfriend, but who still feels nostalgic over something she once loved. Our love-turned-ridicule towards the series is what keeps the fandom alive. It’s what got the Twilight Saga back onto Netflix, Twilight sounds and songs trending on TikTok, and most importantly, a whole ass book that—even though it was twelve years late—was welcomed with open arms. Never underestimate the power of a female-dominated fandom.
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