Why the ‘Twilight’ Obsession Rages On (and On)
Posted Monday, July 09, 2012 6:25 PM
It’s not just a legend; these mysteriously mortiferous creatures really do exist, albeit in our book stores and movie theaters, but that is enough to spawn a billion-dollar-based industry. From Count Dracula to Edward Cullen, vampires have remained a mysterious source of intrigue amongst audiences. But the real question on everyone’s mind is why exactly the Twilight franchise is so popular?
Scholars of the vampire myths have dated it back thousands of years ago, even before biblical times, where people believed they actually existed. Cultures such as Mesopotamians, Romans, and Ancient Greeks had folk tales of such creatures. Although the physical descriptions have changed over time, the same creatures have remained the utmost celebrity. Scholars also attribute the longevity of the myth, partly to the dual nature of fear and fascination. We are repulsed, yet attracted to them all at once. They are dead, so our minds are wired to stay away, but because of their special powers and their ability to appear and act human makes them fascinating. In addition, what brought the vampire into the tortured romantic hero was Anne Rice’s Interview With a Vampire, which proved to be pivotal in this transition. In Tom Alderman’s Huffington Post article, “Vampires: Why Here, Why Now?” he elucidates on how it has transformed:
“Before Rice, the vampire story was a costume drama with limited literary scope. Rice, followed up by Stephanie Meyer modernized and domesticated the vampire, ripping away the traditional narrative from the black-caped, thickly European-accented, terror guy you run from, to the handsome, seductive bad-boy next door you want to sleep with.
The targeted audiences for fictions like Twilight are teenage girls as well as an unknown audience that has been tapped into as well: mothers. “Twi-moms” across the nation are declaring Team Jacob or Team Edward, all the while making everyone else seem bewildered as to why.
Welsh psychoanalyst Ernest Jones wrote a treatise in 1931, On the Nightmare, in which he relayed that “vampires are symbolic of several unconscious drives and defense mechanisms. . Emotions such as love, guilt, and hate fuel the idea of the return of the dead to the grave.” Jones presumed in this case that the original wish of a sexual reunion might be drastically changed: desire is then replaced by fear; love is replaced by sadism, and the object or loved one is replaced by an unknown entity. Finally, Jones notes “when more normal aspects of sexuality are repressed, regressed forms may be expressed...."
In essence, Jones alludes to the fact that the enticing element of vampires is really just repressed sexual desire. So one could surmise that teenage girls, who are dealing with all new and different emotions, and living within a society where women’s sexuality is supposed to be more demure than their male counterparts, somehow connect with the raw sensuality of these stories. The Twilight series showed that a “normal”-looking girl can get any guy obsessed with her. This new trend of the immortal being obsessed and willing to devote their whole existence to that one girl that everyone happens to want, is perhaps appealing to teenage girls who might fantasize about having a love affair with the boy of their dreams. Some Twi-mothers also may find warmth in Edward’s possessive nature and find the story refreshingly sweet and nostalgic for the pure and untainted puppy love of their youth.
The mass hysteria that the myth has brought upon in the past has metamorphosized into something unimaginably cruel: screaming teenage girls waiting in line for days to see the opening of the new Twilight films, all the while silently accompanied by their just as eager mothers. So yes, this “phenomenon” as it’s agonizingly referred to is just a poorly written series that caters to teenage girls who need to fill that void when Justin Bieber is on a break, and to their mothers who need a little extra dangerous excitement in their lives. The Twilight series have sold more than 70 million copies and spawned a new slew of authors to continue in Stephenie Meyer’s fashion of writing.
Rimpa Khangura is a contributing writer at Highbrow Magazine.