Monday, November 23, 2020
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15 Years of ‘Twilight’

There is a magnet that sits on my refrigerator that reads “Yes I am a ‘Twilight’ Mom! (What? Edward is older that I am!).” My dad picked it up in Forks, Washington while on business and gifted it to my mom at the height of her “Twilight” phase. Being six years old when this book fandom began, I was far too young to indulge in the pages of this mysterious saga. I watched my mom and her sister tear through these books like Jacob tears through his clothes when turning into a wolf and gossip about being either #TeamEdward or #TeamJacob. It was a world I grew up knowing and eventually grew into.

Stephenie Meyer released the first book of the “Twilight Saga” in October 2005. The “Twilight Saga,” for those of you who have somehow missed out on this world of vampires and werewolves, is the telling of the iconic love story between Bella Swan, a teenage girl who has newly moved from Phoenix, Arizona to Forks, Washington, and Edward Cullen, a 108-year-old vampire who looks like a hot, 17-year-old. Through the four-book saga, Meyer tells an enchanting story that keeps teens and adults page-turning until the end. 

The books have captivated teens and adults because of their suspensefulness and extraordinary elements of forbidden love, which all  takes place in a mysterious world of supernatural elements. The “Twilight Saga” fan base gave new definition to internet fandoms. With the “Twilight Saga” growing alongside popular social media platforms such as Twitter (2006) and Facebook (2004), fans could display and share their obsession with the franchise with other fans. Though this wasn’t the first franchise to have a wildly obsessed fan base, this was the one to be more visible in an online presence.

Before there was #TeamPeeta and #TeamGale or #TeamPeter and #TeamJohnAmbrose, there was #TeamEdward and #TeamJacob; it was “Twilight” that began the boys’ team hashtags. Before the cute ship names, there were hashtagged teams and created merchandise. Hashtags of #TeamEdward and #TeamJacob, referencing who they were rooting for Bella to end up with, were splashed all over social media along with matching stickers, t-shirts and anything else you could imagine. Fans would passionately sport their support for their chosen team. This is a debate that still divides passionate fans. 

In addition to a growing social media presence, fans also became intrigued with writing fanfiction on newly developed sites such as Wattpad (2006). Fans could creatively imagine new stories in Meyer’s world of “Twilight” that could be shared and read by other fans worldwide. 

The “Twilight Saga” not only created a new form of fandom, but also a new form for how supernatural creatures, such as vampires and werewolves, are portrayed in film. The Cullen clan and Quileute tribe in the Twilight Saga are written to be complex, emotional characters who are more misunderstood than scary, vicious beings. They are written in a way that explores the idea that monsters aren’t born, but created. The Cullen clan teaches their adopted vampires to be civilized and not use their abilities for evil, rather than out of control, blood-sucking monsters. 

Personally, before “Twilight,” the only reference to a vampire I had was the Halloween depiction of Dracula, which was a very one-dimensional facade of a blood-sucking creature. Meyer gave depth to her vampires and had the readers sympathizing and understanding them, which gave a new image to the word vampire. Meyer develops her characters emotionally and mentally, providing complexity and more dimension, allowing readers to feel more connected to the story. This new image of vampires and werewolves living and looking more human-like.  

Shows like “Vampire Diaries (2009)” and “Teen Wolf (2011)” depicted these supernatural creatures in the form of hot teenagers as well. These franchises came about in the mid-”Twilight Saga” franchise. It became very popular in the mid-2010s to create and feed off of the “Twilight” fanbase. The worlds of teens and middle-aged moms were obsessed with supernatural creatures in good-looking teen bodies. 

Interestingly enough, “Twilight” has not only attracted a strong teen fan base but also a strong middle-aged mom fan base as well. Complete with Facebook and Twitter pages and merchandise of their own that read “Twilight Mom,” these moms share a virtual community and bond over their shared obsession for “Twilight.” My mom included. My mother, a #TeamEdward “Twilight” mom, never fails to occasionally bring out her deluxe “Twilight Saga” movie box set and a bottle of wine to indulge in a guilty pleasure that most of the world shares. 

“Twilight” has truly given the world 15 years of extraordinary fantasy. Even 15 years after the initial release of the first book, “Twilight” is still sucking in new generations of fans into the world of forbidden romance and mystical suspense.

Claire Desenberg is an Entertainment Intern for the fall 2020 quarter. She can be reached at cdesenbe@uci.edu.