In the beginning, I was never really a Twilight fan. The books came out when I was about 6, the first movie when I was 9. At that stage I was still deeply obsessed with Jacqueline Wilson, Goosebumps and Aquamarine. However, despite my disinterest, the franchise became a cultural phenomenon. The fandom, affectionately called Twihards or Fanpires, was inescapable at its height.
By intermediate and high school, my friends were dragging me to the movies to see the newest flick. I would drag my feet and complain, laughing at their love for these lanky, pale people. The final scene of the final film, Breaking Dawn – Part 2, finally convinced me of the franchise’s merits. Just as the fandom was dying out, I joined the ranks of all those horny tween girls, wearing my Team Jacob merch like a badge of honour.
Since this age of ‘innocence’, I’ve re-watched the original Twilight movie many, many times. At the beginning of each screening, usually taking place during drunken sleepovers with fellow recovered Twihards, we all preface our enjoyment with very similar disclaimers. We have the urge to clarify that our adoration is enrobed in several layers of ironic appreciation. However, by the time the Cullen squad rolls into the cafeteria, our masks have been lifted. Our genuine love and appreciation for the film is clear, as we laugh and cheer along together. The flame of fandom reignites for 121 minutes, before we all shrug off our unbridled enthusiasm as the credits roll. Not only have I revisited Twilight for entertainment, but I’ve somehow managed to work it into both high school and university essays. The film is ripe and ready for critical analysis, as long as I leave my inappropriate feelings for Robert Pattinson in Ray Bans out of the discussion. Following the countless rewatches, I’ve come to believe that Twilight is, simultaneously, a masterpiece and piece of garbage. As an influential piece of media, the film needs to be respected and clowned at the same time. This article marks the opening of my campaign to have Twilight (extended cut)honoured in the Criterion Collection.
This film houses the three best scenes in the entire Twilight franchise. In third place, we have the steamy make-out sesh between Bella and Edward. There’s not much to explain here. The tension is high. The stakes are high. The blue colour correction mirrors the hue of Edward’s balls. Excellent. The second-best scene in the whole franchise is when Bella has to leave town, lying to her Dad so she can get away. After slowly building a bond with her father, who has dreamt of having her back since she was 4 years old, Bella has to break his heart so she can save both of their lives. Billy Burke’s shaky voice when he says “I just got you back…” brings me to tears. The most affecting movie dad ever. Forget Jacob, Team Charlie Swan until I die. Finally, number 1. The baseball scene. The creativity here is undeniable and must be appreciated. Vampires, who have to stay quiet and hide their incredible super speed and super strength, play family baseball, using thunder as cover, to hide the deafening crack of the ball against their bats! That’s incredible. Not to mention the whole sequence is set to a sick Muse track? Poetic cinema. There are scenes in superhero movies that use powers in less interesting ways. Get outta town Batman v Superman. This baseball scene is only rivalled by the heavy, homoerotic tension between Chad and Ryan in the High School Musical 2 hoedown. It might still come out on top.
Despite these golden moments, there are some more… problematic parts of Twilight. Like a lot of them. I mean… Bella’s whole characterisation isn’t progressive in the slightest. From my understanding, these issues are semi-prevalent in the books as well. She’s very awkward, quiet, rude to people who are nice to her and made to contort her face in truly bizarre ways. Her defining characteristic seems to be her constant insecurity. Bella finds out that Edward can READ MINDS, every single one except for hers, and then asks HIM if something is wrong with HER. Edward points this out, laughing at this young and dumb sweetheart, so insecure and so much more desirable because of it. Later, he invites her over to his place (oooooh), where she will be meeting his entire family. She will be the only human amongst 6 other bloodthirsty vampires. And she’s worried about impressing them. Then, following a traumatising event, where her life force was almost sucked from her body, she gets scared that this 108 year old, dusty ass vampire is going to leave her. Bella is so dull; the most notable quality about her is that she isn’t like most girls; Because other girls suck. In her own words, she’s “really more of the suffer-in-silence type.” Edward can’t read her mind, can’t figure her out, so he chooses her. Bella is special, but only because the special boy chose her over everyone else. This makes it clear that Bella’s character is merely a consequence of the fantasy of a magic love story, rather than an active protagonist making choices for herself.
It gets even more troubling than this. Twilight would also have you believe that a romantic fantasy could entail being saved from sexual assault by a brooding bad boy. This is the act that finally gets the leading couple together, the act that finally gets Bella close to Edward. This is not romantic! Bella is a damsel in distress, with a scary allusion to sexual assault, which just exists to raise the stakes. This, coupled with her weak characterisation, really fails the audience that the film is targeted towards. It promotes an unhealthy fantasy, with a lack of awareness for the young people that will be watching. With these issues, Twilight slips bad territory. No good intention to be found.
Thank god the film was added to Netflix. I can skip all that garbage and just watch the baseball scene on repeat. Vampire Baseball: The Movie is a pretty good pitch.