In the world of Twilight, there are two kinds of competing clans. No, we aren’t talking about the bats and the big dogs, Team Edward or Team Jacob. Heck, we’re not even addressing Native Americans vs. treaty-busting European interlopers. No, if you are in tune with the stunted Stephenie Meyer and her primer on plaintive teen angst and pale complexions, you are known as a “Twilighter” (or on some circles, a “Twi-liker”, “Twi-lover”, or clinically insane). You swoon as lead adolescent Bella burns silently for her vampire hunk, get all hot and twisted as the couple considers intimacy, and gnash your various underthings as the equally studly were-wow with the washboard abs constantly confuses the issue. You probably could care less about the vampire council, the various old vendettas, and the birth of bizarro half-breed babies. Instead, for you, Twilight is all about a girl, an otherworldly dreamboat guy, and the wish fulfillment fallacy of finding never-ending love in someone who can never die.
Of course, for those who aren’t suffering from crushes on creatures from the underworld, we have the “Twi-haters” (or “Twi-WANTSTOWIPETHESHITTYFRANCISEOFFTHEFACEOFTHEEARTH”, or the normal). For them, vampires are blood sucking ghouls, not sparkly diamond draped hotties. For them, romance doesn’t begin or end with the draining of vital fluids. For them, the scholastic experience was not a time to get your supernatural Sadie Hawkins on. For the “Twi-hater”, Meyer has made a mockery of the macabre, turned horror into a Harlequin romance (without Barbara Carlton’s mandatory bodice ripping), and excused introspective pubescent self-loathing as a means of meeting Mr. Paranormal Right. Aside from how utterly crappy the books and movies have been, the “Twi-hater” has to deal with the mindless shrieks of the clearly hard-up, defend their position against the irrational logic of the terminally lovelorn (“Bella loves Edward because he is unobtainable. Their love can kill each other!” Brother), and watch as yet another crotch-oriented fad takes the place of boy bands and bulimia.
Still, Twi-haters have to be aware of a few things, precautionary measures if you will, if you are to survive the coming onslaught. On 30 June, the latest installment of the motion picture version of the series - Eclipse - will be hitting theaters, and with it, a wealth of meaningless media summoned hyperbole. There will be cast and crew interviews, last known photo ops for people who are actually waiting in line for the film to premiere, a trillion tasteless tie-ins (“Tonight on Action News at 11 - Real Life Vampires in Our Area: What do THEY think about Twilight...”), and at least one major reference to Rob Pattinson’s hair and/or Taylor Lautner’s physique per news cycle. Sad, really, especially when you consider that, on its own, there are at least ten significant reasons why the franchise is the most frightening thing to happen to our society since Lady GaGa soiled Jerry Seinfeld’s Mets luxury box. Tapping into these truths may help you deal with what will surely be a lot of name calling, finger pointing, and fey himbo hurtfulness.
So without further ado, here are ten reasons why you should be afraid of Twilight, Twi-hater…very afraid indeed.
#1 - It’s Tapped Into a Totally Different Kind of Geek
It used to be, when you heard the term “nerd” or “geek” you thought of pocket protectors, horn rimmed glasses, and high IQs. Extrapolate that out into the new ‘Net world and you can add gamer, obsessive, basement-dwelling, and never knowing the touch of a woman to the description. But thanks to the nuclear reaction to Twilight, a new dweeb has arrived - part Goth, part grocery store cashier, all desperate and dateless. You can usually recognize them by their Renaissance fair meets Hot Topic attire, and the vague scent of something by Prince Matchabelli.
#2 - It’s Made Rob Pattinson and Taylor Lautner Into Stars
If the concept of being blank as a fart was truly a measure of big screen talent, anyone with irritable bowel syndrome would be a superstar. Yet that’s exactly what the two main “actors” in the series have to offer. Kristen Stewart gets a pass, at least until the performance goodwill of Adventureland and The Runaways wears off. But Pattinson is like the illegitimate love child of Jake LaMotta and Robert Smith, while Lautner is an amateur art classes rendition of what a man is - and thanks to these films, both will be employed longer than their celebrity shelf life would normally allow.
#3 - It’s Compelled Stephenie Meyer to Write More
Listen, when Stephen King calls you crap, you’re pretty much the literary equivalent of a stopped up septic tank. Yet thanks to the millions of brain-dead devotees who have made her novels bestsellers, Ms. Meyer continues to hack and slash at her laptop like a rabid ferret in a YouTube viral video. Instead of burying her subpar scribblings in the bottom drawer of a career hope chest like most untalented wannabes, her next effort will be anticipated and - more than likely, wrongly - celebrated. Somewhere, Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley are weeping.
#4 - It’s Made Anne Rice Look Like a Genius
Talk about crying one’s mangled macabre eyes out! Almost four decades ago, the original Queen of the Damned dreamt up the idea of vampires as doomed romantic icons (arguably with a little help from item number Nine on the list), and while a small percentage of the populace responded kindly, most intellectuals laughed Rice right out of the writer’s guild. Now, in comparison to Ms. Meyer’s fifth-grade level approach to the subject, she’s Salman - friggin’ - Rushdie. Barton Fink would blow his brains out if this turned out to be the “life of the mind” he was fighting for.
#5 - It’s Infiltrated All Facets of Popular Culture
It says something really cynical about current commercial trends when you can’t buy an artery clogging piece of greasy processed fast food meat by-product guaranteed to cut your already precious life down by a couple of dozen days without having to pledge your allegiance to Team Edward or Team Jacob. Even worse, your grandmother shouldn’t be commenting on how “hot” various members of the Twilight cast really are. At least Rome had its own internal decadence to blame for the eventual fall. Post-modern society gets the Glamour Magazine version of the Groovie Ghoulies.
#6 - It Continues to Fuel Unresolved Vampire/Werewolf Tensions
Who knew? Who knew that two similarly affected supernatural subspecies - the bloodsucking undead creature of the night and the lumbering lupine drawn to the sticky gooey marrow of its many victims were actually pissed at each other - and who knew so much of it revolved around repressed sexual tensions (either hetereo or inferred homo)? Yes, the entire Underworld series centers on such a corrupt corpuscle feud, but wouldn’t it be better for both sides to simply gang up on the common enemy - man - and do away with his non-monster memory? Guess they’re leaving that to the zombies to do.
#7 - It’s Turned ‘Prince Charming’ Into the Prince of Darkness
Girls have always wanted guys who looked like gals, from the tepid teen idols of the ‘50s to the Farrah Fawcett fem-boys of the ‘70s. So it’s not surprising that Edward, Jacob, and almost every other member of the male fraternity in the Twilight films is a Tiger Beat away from Christine Jorgensen. Even worse, the narrative makes it very clear that normal men are mindless goons. Members of the undead brotherhood, however, are brooding, emotional simps. Who knew you could defeat an evil creature by simply undermining his self-esteem? Shocking.
#8 - It Fails to Accurately Portray High School
When Bella walks into Forks High School as a mid-semester Junior transfer student (after all, he stepdad is heading out to spring training, which usually occurs in the…spring), she is not the immediate pariah the real world would deem her as. She is not picked on, bullied, or ostracized. Instead, she is instantly embraced as someone “cool”, falls in with a crowd that, while perhaps not the most popular on campus, at least seems fairly secure about their place in the pecking order, and then becomes part of the envied Cullen clan. Right - that’s just how such situations play out for every 11th grade new kid.
#9 - It’s Really Nothing New - Right, Dark Shadows?
Dan Curtis made a name for himself in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s by turning his unsuccessful Gothic soap opera into a clever monster mash when he added ghosts, ghouls, and a visiting cousin named Barnabas to the already overwrought Collins crew. Caught in a surreal love quadrangle between dead fiancé Josette, spurned witch Angelique, unrequited physician Dr. Julia Hoffman, and family nanny Maggie Evans, he was the first naughty Nosferatu. Everything since then has merely been a juvenile reconfiguration of the same thing. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then what exactly is really crappy copying?
#10 - It Proves That Bela Lugosi Had a Right to Be a Drug Addict
At the end of his tenure as a Hollywood punchline, former A-list actor Bela Lugosi was a dope-addled joke of a man, trading on what was left of his good name to “star” in a couple of Ed Wood calamities before finally shuffling off this mortal coil. Apparently, being typecast as Dracula his entire life was enough to get the Hungarian thespian entrenched in opiates. Fast forward several decades and maybe Rob Pattinson and Taylor Lautner are hanging out on Sunset Boulevard, waiting for some insane schlock meister to bring them some meth before heading out to their next audition.
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work as independent cultural critics and historians. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times. Thanks everyone.