Twilight. That used to be a word that meant that meant the purply-hazy time while the sun sank into night, but now it conjures different images; a teen vampire with bad hair and too white skin, a heroine that even fans want to kick, and a love triangle that’s part Sweet Valley High and part Dracula vs the Wolfman.
When I think of the Twilight phenomenon, I’m reminded of a Marilyn Manson interview from the mid nineties. In it the front man, better known as “Marilyn”, said that his goal was to be so famous, that even a random housewife in the Midwest would recognize his name. He achieved that dream, and so has Stephenie Meyers multi-million dollar franchise. Case in point, even my father-in-law, who is only slightly more socially informed than the crypt keeper, knows what Twilight is.
And that’s the problem with it.
You may be thinking, “No, the problem is that the vampires sparkle!” or “The characters are whiny emo teens” or even “half of the plot points are so unrealistic that I want to pull my own teeth out!”, but you have to remember that this series was written for those same whiny teens with their similarly unrealistic daydreams. You know the kind; the ones where all adults are quibbling jellyfish and the kids know everything? Pop in any Disney movie from the 80’s and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about.
No, the biggest problem isn’t the plot, the writing, or even the bizarre “love triangle solution” in the final book. The problem is the marketing. Twilight is written for teen girls, but marketed to males and adults, who then get aggravated with various points of the story, never stopping to think that the story wasn’t written for them in the first place. This is an excellent example of what happens when you move beyond your target audience – or rather force your way beyond it.
Because, Twilight isn’t just marketed; it’s an all out blitzkrieg of advertising. You can’t log into a social network, go to the store, or even turn on your television without seeing an advertisement or reference to the franchise. Buy the t-shirt! Watch the movie! Read the books! Play the games! Get the key chain! Drink the soda! Sneeze in the kleenex – you get the idea. Everything that can have a Twilight logo slapped on it has and, if it hasn’t, it’s going to.
And this is what people are really sick of. After all, it can’t really be the story, which we all keep reading, or the movies, which we all keep watching. It’s all the blasted merchandise, and “how do you smell to Edward” quizzes. It’s that Edward and Bella and Jacob are shoved in our faces twenty four/seven, and the only way to escape is to hide in a cave, devoid of human contact. That’s the real problem with Twilight: it just isn’t deep or timeless enough to call for constant consumption.
Though, I can’t really think of any story that is. Can you?