Let’s get one thing out of the way: the Twilight franchise is bad. Extremely, objectively bad.
Assuming many have repressed their sixth grade love affair with the series (and at the risk of ruining precious pre-teen memories for those who never forgot theirs) we should recap: painted in simplistic prose that could have been pulled from the diary of any naive teenager, Twilight is a romanticized story of the abusive relationship between a 17-year-old self-insertable every woman and a man roughly 100 years her senior (also a vampire). When he’s gone, she boomerangs between states of self-destruction and depression nearing catatonia. He’s no good for her when he’s present either, but if he’s not around, who else is going to punch cars speeding towards her out of the way and watch her while she sleeps? Exactly.
And so, with that, we have to accept the fact that Twilight is the greatest love story ever told and leave it be.
Around the time the series blew up, I was quick to reject it — if I wasn’t re-reading Harry Potter, I was dipping into recommendations made by the good people of the Neopets forums, but not once was I ever struck with a desire to read Twilight. Quite frankly, I thought I was too good for the series. Now, as an adult who has been exposed to it through a course on girlhood in fiction, I have learned that I am not.
Twilight is an accidental masterpiece of the Wiseau-ian variety. As the creator of certain cliches, in a 2019 watch it’s as though its folly is calculated. For instance, my favourite moment of the first film: Bella walks right before a fan and time slows down as her cascade of hair beautifully drifts in the breeze, eliciting from Edward what every young girl dreams of — the most unsettling stare ever recorded on film.
It’s visual poetry: the awkward camera zooms characteristic of Vine compilations rather than feature-length films, character interactions unintended to be as uncomfortable as they are, forced dialogue that would sound unnatural even coming from Hollywood’s finest. In 2019, Twilight reads like a parody of everything your younger self once loved and aspired to — a parody of itself. I dare any writer to come up with better satire than “you’re like my own personal brand of heroin”.
While I can’t comment on how watching Twilight in 2008 felt, the absurdity of the film now makes it feel like a fever dream, blurred and sparkling with the magic of bad CGI. I cannot recall the last time I’ve seen a comedy that has given me as enjoyable a watch as Twilight has. Plus, it sticks with you — truly, I can’t get my mind off of Jacob’s noble sacrifice of his own shirt to clean up Bella’s horrifically bloody head wound, a brilliantly innovative alternative to taking her to a hospital.
Even if it’s fun to watch, the faults of Twilight’s intended love story have been in debate for 10 years now. It’s unfortunate that such a franchise ever had enough pull to become popular, that anyone would allow impressionable young girls to engage with it in the first place and grant them the opportunity to see Edward and Bella as a simulacrum of true love. The creation and subsequent spread of this franchise was wildly irresponsible to its’ target audience — I can’t help but be doubly thankful it turned out to be such a punchline of a series.
As much as we may want to, we can’t pretend Twilight never happened. It’s a landmark in popular culture: a phenomenon that, while over, still lingers. Twilight introduced us to many now-revered celebrities and forged sisterhoods of young girls. On the downside, it’s responsible for warped perceptions of romantic relationships (and, arguably, the amount of fanfiction with film adaptations). Worth a reread or not, vestiges of Twilight’s former relevancy still cling tightly to western society and refuse to let go.
So, don’t be embarrassed by your middle school Twilight phase. These films are absolutely worth a rewatch, if not for the intended reasons. Regardless, there’s no reason to forget your ice cold, glittery roots.