Originally published in THE BRAG – 2010
In hindsight, every pop culture phenomenon seems like a no brainer. Enter Stephenie Meyer, an Arizona based writer, who prior to penning the Twilight series, had never even written a short story. Indeed, she claims the story for the idea for the first novel came to her in a dream, was bashed out in three months and was written without any intention or hope of being published.
Luckily for her, the groundwork had been done earlier with the surprise success of the Harry Potter series, and the obvious marketability of the lovestruck Bella Swan and her vampire lover led Summit Entertainment to option the books and turn Meyer’s dream into a global reality.
Since then, every aspect of Twilight has been under impossible scrutiny; the two stars’ love-lives, Meyer’s perceived inability as a writer, the anti-feminist overtones and even the inconsistencies regarding vampiric abilities. And to be fair, of all the recent pop culture phenomena, Twilight is by far the easiest target.
However, this is missing the point. Twilight was not created to be studied, nor does it purport to be high art. It triggers an emotional response in its audience, the likes of which cannot be easily distilled or replicated. Central to the overwhelming audience connection is the love story between Bella and Edward.
The unconsummated rush of danger, romance, desperation, and alienation taps into a core emotion present in all, but magnified in teenage years. Millions of teenagers and young adults relate to this feeling, and Kristen Stewart’s Bella is the conduit for this untapped emotion.
Robert Pattinson’s Edward is both dangerous, and deeply in love with Bella, willing to give everything to protect her – in short the ideal pinup for millions of teenage girls, and an impossibly high watermark for disgruntled mortal males everywhere.
It’s no surprise that Meyer was influenced deeply by Wuthering Heights and Jane Austen, and while literary comparisons are quite foolish, the same romantic intent is evident – stripped of Victorian wordplay and distilled to the core elements. Twilight is a polarising phenomenon. However, for millions, it is their first love.