CAMPUS LIFE EDITOR
Between 2005 – 08, the Twilight Saga was released by Stephenie Meyer. These books, inspired by a dream Meyer had of a sparkling vampire boy and a plain human girl talking in a meadow, became one of the biggest pop culture franchises of the mid-2000s and early 2010s.
The five movies based on the novels were released between 2008 – 12 and took the fandom to a whole new level. It seemed as if most conversations during this time period revolved around the Twilight Saga. The most prominent arguments seemed to be “Team Edward” or “Team Jacob,” Harry Potter versus Twilight, how many other stories were “still a better love story than Twilight,” and more.
But, when the series came to an end without promises of any spin-offs or sequels, the fandom died. Fans grew older and moved on to new fandoms or more “practical” interests. However, seemingly out of nowhere and over a decade after the last book and the first movie came out, the fandom was revived.
This revival, deemed “the Twilight renaissance” by fans, may come as a shock to most. Why on earth would people be into Twilight again? What do they get from it? The fandom seems to be primarily comprised of people between the ages of 18 and 30, who were big fans when the saga was still relevant. The general consensus amongst the members of the renaissance seems to be, ‘everything in the world is terrible so I might as well just have fun and like Twilight again.’
The passion in them had grown dormant, stuffed deep inside their souls for years, and it awoke with a fervor that nobody, maybe not even the members themselves, could have expected.
The recent resurgence seems to have started around 2018 due to of the ten-year anniversary of the first film. However, it gained even more popularity in May of 2019 after YouTuber “Strange Aeons” added a video called “Twilight Is Woke Now” to her “Tumblr Deep Dive” series, where she explores different, odd subsets of Tumblr. This video seemed to have taken a small revival community to an almost mainstream level. The Twilight fandom can be found scattered around Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and various other social media platforms, but it seems to be thriving the most on Tumblr. Many of the posts on Tumblr range from hundreds to hundreds of thousands of notes (the Tumblr equivalent of Twitter’s likes and retweets) showing that the fandom is alive and well.
The Twilight fandom renaissance seems to be all too aware of how ridiculous some of the aspects of the franchise are. The posts are primarily memes pointing out the absurdity of plot points, character personality traits, lines of dialogue, and anything else people can think of as a problem within Twilight. The Twilight Saga memes are reminiscent of the countless Twilight parodies that have filled YouTube between 2008 – 12, but they tend to be much funnier.
The fandom loves the series, but definitely sees just as many — if not more — problems with it than the biggest critics of the franchise. However, in true Millennial and Generation Z fashion, they realize how much fun it is to roast the things they love. Almost every aspect of the franchise has been memed in one sense or another. One of the most consistent feelings of those involved with the renaissance is in regards to Stephenie Meyer, unaffectionately dubbed smeyer, having bad ideas and that those ideas should be mocked and corrected.
Rejecting the author isn’t just all memes and jokes; the fandom truly tries to correct some of the problematic aspects of the series. Countless posts tackle the lack of racial and sexual diversity, the child grooming involved with imprinting, the racism in the series, the underlying sexist themes of how certain female characters behave, and so on. The fandom has essentially rewritten the series. Many members headcanon characters as gay, bisexual, asexual, etc, or as a different race because the majority of the characters were written as straight and white by Meyer.
However, some of it does miss the mark, especially when it comes to rewriting a character’s race. The people deciding that certain characters should be a different race tend to have great intentions. But sometimes they might have internalized stereotypes and, in their quest to add diversity, they end up making mistakes. It is reminiscent of the way J.K. Rowling messes up when she tries to add diversity to Harry Potter after the fact.
Adding diversity after the fact can potentially be good, but sometimes it falls flat and reinforces stereotypes. For instance: some members view Emmett Cullen as Black, Alice Cullen as Asian, Esme Cullen as Jewish, among other variations. This seems great on the surface because all of the main characters, with the exception of Jacob Black, are white and this adds diversity, but there are some problems.
Emmett Cullen is Edward Cullen’s adoptive brother who is known for being stronger than even most other vampires. He provides some comic relief, but his personality boils down to being strong, athletic, and kind of stupid. In the series, he even takes the place of a newborn vampire while they train to fight newborns because he is strong, reckless, and not very rational when it comes to fighting. Headcanoning him as Black reinforces stereotypes about Black men being strong and stupid.
Alice Cullen is Edward’s adoptive sister. The only reason people seem to have for her being Asian is because she’s extremely petite, pale, and has black hair. Asia is a very diverse continent and there has been push within the Asian community for a more diverse portrayal of Asian characters in the media.
Esme Cullen is Edward’s adoptive mother. Her personality, as written by Stephenie Meyer, is pretty much just a mom. The biggest stereotype for Jewish women tends to be the “Jewish mother.” This is just a brief summary of the stereotypes associated with the added racial diversity of these characters. It would be amazing to see more diversity within the Twilight Saga, but going off of stereotypes just adds to the problem.
2008 pop culture is suddenly all around us, whether you’re blasting the latest Jonas Brothers new album, wearing wide-leg jeans, waiting for a respected actor to play a gritty take on the Joker, or watching Chad Michael Murray on TV. Our generation seems to be obsessed with nostalgia, so it only makes sense that so many things are making a comeback. It’s a way of sinking back to a simpler time while dealing with the stress of adult life, climate change, politics, and more. The Twilight fandom is just trying to hold onto something that gave them fond memories of a simpler time in their life, while simultaneously changing the problematic aspects that would not fly today. Maybe take a bite and decide for yourself if Twilight truly still sucks.