The Trouble with Twilight

The Twilight Saga - (I know the book covers get blasted, but I actually like the first three. the fourth one not so much.)

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?

Leave a comment


  1. I agree. Even today as I went through the preschool section of Wal-mart, the Twilight dolls were there. They should have been with the other Barbies but they weren’t. That made no sense to me. I could have avoided the dolls if they had been in the Barbie aisle because I have boys and don’t go down anything pink.

    Oh, on the opposite side of this Twilight section were the bikes for adults. The kiddie bikes were further down. I don’t get what Wal-mart was doing.

    But yeah, I’m sick of going on myspace and facebook and being asked what I smell like to Edward.

    Did you hear in Europe the teens are starting to bite each other to claim each other as if they’re vampires? Do you think the teen boys are going along with this to get laid? Otherwise, I can’t imagine why a teen boy would play the role of Edward.

    • Our wal-mart has them on an end cap by themselves, too. I can’t lie, I’m still tempted towards the Jacob barbie because he is so different (aka, he’s not white and he has a tat!) but then I also want the Harley Davidson Ken. (Yes, I am a geek 😉 )

      That’s weird about the bikes.

      yes! That “what do you smell like to Edward?” quiz is one of the most annoying advertisements they have. Okay, that and the one with the scary “make a baby” that looks like a half gargoyle thing.

      Really?! how hard are they biting them? I’m going to have to look this up!

      Recently, i had a conversation with a friend whose teenage son had read the Twilight books. I asked him why a boy wanted to read them and he said, “To impress the girls.”

      so, of course, I asked, “Did it work?”

      The answer was, “Yes.”


      • I have no idea how hard they’re biting each other. I just heard on a blog talk radio show that they want to leave marks. This was a show, by the way, that was warning all mothers to lock up their daughters in fear of reading the books or seeing those movies, so guess why I listened? LOL

        That just might be the smartest boy that ever lived. Can you imagine the crap he’ll get away with when he’s married because he’ll read a romance and look “sensitive” and “caring”? Women on the romance forums just love hearing a guy reads a romance.

  2. Bonnie

     /  August 28, 2010

    Lord of the Rings by Tolkien

  3. I was smitten with the Twilight books but when I saw the movies… I was let down. I guess that is what the problem is with most books. However, I read Jaws and then saw the movie afterwards and I loved the movie! Same way with Pride and Prejudice, I saw the BBC version series and I loved it! So… why all the craze over Twilight? I don’t know! Lots of love to ya all! Emily

    • That happens so often, doesn’t it? the books and movies are rarely both good – Lord of the Rings is one of the few exceptions (but then I am a total geek, so……)

  4. One thing that made the Twilight movies a bit more acceptable to males is that you weren’t stuck in Bella’s point of view. 😈 Book Two: Jacob in Breaking Dawn was such a relief… 😉

    The Bella P.O.V. limitation, more than anything else, is why my own novel has limited-multi P.O.V., even though many wanted me to write in only in the P.O.V. of my main character.

    Twilight hype has reached levels where it would be annoying even if it was as deep and timeless as Shakespeare.

    • Ha ha! I liked Jacob’s portion better myself. Bella was such a…. whiny air-head might be a good start. I know she was supposed t be a teenage girl, and SM got that across, but then I didn’t like most teenage girls even when I was one, LOL! However, the side characters were interesting enough to keep me reading 🙂

      “Twilight hype has reached levels where it would be annoying even if it was as deep and timeless as Shakespeare.”

      So true! Especially if one happens to write vampires, too!

  5. Great site, Jo. I’m still trying to figure out how to do all the do-dads on the sidebar! LOL How did you get your background…especially at full size?


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