Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series of novels is not only the first young adult story to focus entirely on a romantic plot, but also the first story in the paranormal romance genre, in which the love line between a human and a supernatural being becomes a central theme.
Dramatically, Twilight is a traditional story. In its plot outline there are paths familiar to everyone: a love triangle, forbidden love, the “chosen” main character. Stephenie Meyer’s novels follow the conventional story format – the character is faced with a conflict that is completely different from his usual state of affairs, as a result of which his life changes. Most of the world’s popular works follow this pattern – J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, Frank Herbert’s Dune.
Why is Twilight, despite having dozens of novels written on exactly the same model, gaining such popularity?
It seems to us that part of the role in this is played by the fact that Twilight is a series of books. It is easy to see that it is serial works that have particular success with the audience of the young adult genre – Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, etc. So, in the formula for the success of serial book franchises, several factors can be distinguished:
- anticipation: the gaps between the release of parts of the book franchise fuel interest, give the work time to gain popularity. New readers have time to join the fan community;
- satisfaction guaranteed: when buying a book that is a continuation of the series, the reader is immediately immersed in a beloved world filled with recognizable characters and written in a familiar author’s language;
- something similar to parasocial relationships is formed – “relationships” with characters based on empathy for them. Often the hero grows up with the reader: for example, the Harry Potter books cover each year of his studies at Hogwarts.
An interesting factor in the specific case of the Stephenie Meyer saga was the fact that it began publishing in the same year as Harry Potter 6, just a few months later (October 5, 2005). It can be assumed that after a two-year gap between “Order of the Phoenix” (June 21, 2003) and “Half-Blood Prince” (July 16, 2005), the waiting factor worked. Harry Potter fans have been waiting for a new book for two years, many of them read it very quickly (9 million copies were sold in the first 24 hours after the books arrived in stores), and the continuation of their favorite story would most likely have to wait a few more years. At this point, Twilight hits the shelves, a story that grabs the attention of young readers with its familiar plot outline and enigmatic, colorful cover. It is also interesting to take into account that it is the Half-Blood Prince that is part of the Harry Potter franchise, where the characters enter their late teens: the tone of the novel as a whole is more serious, the love lines between the characters clearly appear and become more complex. It can be assumed that it was on this wave that Twilight, which is completely based on a love conflict, just satisfied the desires of readers.
Curiously, “Twilight” has the greatest popularity among the female audience. How exactly is this effect achieved?
Firstly, the series of books focuses mainly on the love line – traditionally, such works in different types of media are always targeted at a female audience.
Secondly, Twilight attracts several female age groups. This is achieved in several ways:
- The novel is written entirely in the first person. So, Mayer makes the main character a kind of vessel for the reader, with whom one can simultaneously associate oneself and through which one can live the story;
- Bella’s life and interests are completely out of proportion to her age. She does not feel the strong influence of her parents (for example, she can easily go abroad and not face great consequences), her school life is almost not reflected in the plot (the school seems to be more of a location for some episodes than a system in which they exist and obey heroes);
- the main love interest of the heroine, although he looks like a high school student, is actually much older and more experienced than her (in the first book of the series, Edward is already over 100 years old). This allows Stephenie Meyer to prescribe it in such a way that it is of interest to women of different age groups;
- “moral hygiene” of the novel. In “Twilight” there is undoubtedly an element of teenage rebellion (forbidden both by the laws of nature and the laws of society, the love of a person and a vampire), but there is practically nothing frank or provocative in the plot (and often corresponding to a real teenage rebellion) – the characters do not drink alcohol, do not smoke. For most of the saga, the main characters do not have sex – this only happens in the last novel after their marriage and immediately entails pregnancy and the birth of a child. At the same time, it cannot be said that Twilight is completely devoid of a sexual aspect – a series of books “50 Shades of Gray” by E.L. James, “grown up” from a fanfiction based on the work of Stephenie Meyer. We assume that this is how Twilight adjusts to the age groups of both young girls and adult women:
Thirdly, the Twilight saga is about love that will never end. Both main male characters symbolize not only forbidden, but also endless love. Edward is an immortal vampire who can be with his beloved forever; Jacob, being half-wolf, not only symbolizes “wolf” loyalty and support, but also by nature tends to remain in one relationship all his life. So, Stephenie Meyer satisfies the dream of eternal love and the fear of parting, especially among young girls who are just beginning to experience themselves in the field of romantic relationships. “Twilight” gives them an example of partnership and unconditional love “for life”, where the characters are literally ready to die for each other, where Bella relies on her partner in everything and is not afraid of betrayal.
The fundamental theme for “Twilight” – being different from one group and belonging to another, we think especially captures the target audience of young adult literature. It is interesting to note that the conflict in the saga is indeed divided into groups: during the story, Bella first joins the vampires, then the werewolves, and in the last books of the series, both groups oppose the greater evil – the elite of the vampire society. Both vampires and werewolves protect Bella, give her a sense of family and security that she doesn’t feel in the human world. In many ways, the attraction of the novel is the opportunity to be “different” but not alone.
Without a doubt, a story about love and finding one’s place in a group is a traditional plot for teen literature, but Stephenie Meyer brings a new look to it: supernatural beings – frightening outsiders who are dangerous, but at the same time emotionally vulnerable and channeling their powers to protect the main character.
How did the Twilight film adaptations become global blockbusters?
It’s easy to imagine why work on a film adaptation began shortly after the release of the first book: Stephenie Meyer’s characters gained immense popularity and attracted more and more fans, and the example of Harry Potter gave hope that the films would bring even more publicity to the saga. At its core, a film adaptation of the Twilight saga is the dream of any film studio. While the average film for a mainstream audience can cost $100-200 million to produce and not do well at the box office, Summit Entertainment launched a top-tier blockbuster franchise with an indie budget of $37 million. An estimate of the total cost and box office receipts of all the films in the saga speaks of their undoubted success: 2.5 billion dollars worldwide against a budget of 264 million. By comparison, Disney’s 2012 John Carter alone cost $250 million.
Thus, Twilight became a strong argument against the belief that for a truly resounding success of the film at the box office, huge expenses are necessary. The film adaptations of the Mayer saga became global blockbusters because they were initially set on the basis of books that attracted a lot of people and therefore a lot of money: the audience already liked the main characters and they wanted to continue to experience their story. This reflects the trend that almost all major franchises are based on recognizable popular characters, sometimes to the point that action and story in films fade into the background. It’s the same with Twilight: the films don’t stand out for their outstanding acting or elaborate action sequences, their appeal lies in the lead characters who, like in the case of Harry Potter, serve as the foundation for the mythology and plot.
With the success of the books, it is not surprising that the directors and screenwriters of each of the films have changed almost nothing in the original story – “reducing” changes in dialogue and some scenes were difficult to avoid, but the main plot remained the same as in the books.
However, it is worth noting that the films have added visual reflection to many of the main themes of the novels. We have highlighted some interesting examples:
- the film’s color palette gets warmer and lighter with each film as Bella gets closer to the Cullen family and gets closer to her dream of being with Edward forever (see screenshots);
- in the film adaptation, the Cullens have a coat of arms. The lion on the coat of arms denotes courage and strength (perhaps literally the strength of a vampire), the right hand – honesty and nobility, three clovers – eternal life. Each of the family members wears a coat of arms in some form (Carlisle’s ring, Alice’s choker, etc.). This detail is not in the books, it is a visual reflection of the theme of belonging to a group. The coat of arms serves as a visual confirmation of belonging to the family, even when its members are not together. In the future, Bella also bears the coat of arms. It is interesting to note that in the episode “New Moon”, where the clairvoyant Alice sees Bella already turned into a vampire, the main character wears a ring with the Cullen crest;
- apple – the image from the cover of the first book in the series, appears in the films. Mayer herself explains that this image is rich in its symbolism: it is the apple of discord, the apple that Snow White ate, and the biblical apple that gives knowledge of good and evil. In the first scene where the Cullens appear, Rosalie is holding it in her arms. Later, it appears in the hands of Edward, which draws a parallel with the cover, and also directly connects the Cullen family with the symbol of the forbidden fruit.
Why is Twilight criticized and why is it important to pop culture?
Now, seven years after the release of the last part of Twilight, most people associate them with a rather large-scale discourse around the franchise, which began from its very inception and has not subsided until now. Seven years later, Twilight continues to be written about, discussed and revisited even by those who think the franchise is stupid and Bella and Edward’s relationship is unhealthy. What’s particularly interesting about this discourse is that with so many ideologically contentious aspects of Twilight, it’s still hard to characterize the franchise as categorically good or bad.
On the one hand, the modern consumer of mass culture is becoming more and more inclined to critically analyze the tropes and archetypes of characters in even the most beloved franchises by the audience. The main characters of Mayer’s story were subjected to such an analysis, and the result turned out to be disappointing: thinking about how the characters communicate and act with each other, it is really difficult to deny that they are far from ideal, both dramatic and moral. Bella and Edward manipulate each other (which is the scene where Bella throws herself off a cliff to force her lover to return to her) and behave extremely obsessively (Edward watches Bella sleep; forbids her to see Jacob). Their relationship is built on a strong imbalance of power and is an example, according to many, not suitable for describing a happy relationship and a stable partnership.
Bella is often described as a very weak female character and a poor role model for a young female audience. It is easy to understand why this point of view dominates among the audience – the main character trait and the meaning of life for the heroine is falling in love with Edward. She is completely passive, and although Stephenie Meyer claims that her saga is about decision making, it’s hard to get over the feeling that Bella never chooses her own path, but simply goes with the flow. Even in the main love conflict of the saga – the “choice” between Jacob and Edward, the main character in fact never considers Jacob as a potential partner and openly talks about it in the second part of the franchise.
“Twilight” has also been criticized for what we previously described as “moral hygiene.” There is definitely ground for criticism here – the relationship of the main characters is really built on rather strict and outdated patriarchal values: the first sexual contact between Bella and Edward occurs after the wedding and immediately leads to pregnancy. The fetus greatly worsens the health of the main character, but despite this, she refuses to have an abortion and eventually dies during childbirth (this is the reason for her turning into a vampire). And while the very image of martyred femininity has its place and could very well be part of a great story, this storyline, coupled with the relationship dynamics of the main characters and Bella’s general weak autonomy, really does not seem like the best example for young girls.
On the other hand, however, Twilight was also the first franchise to really tap into the cultural power of a teenage female audience. It was the sensation that the first film in the franchise made in 2008 that made Hollywood studios pay attention to the fact that blockbusters can be targeted not only at the male audience. Think of the biggest films of the 2000s: they all target the demographic of teenage boys or young men interested in pop culture – Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Spider-Man Sam Raimi, etc. Before Twilight, no one could have imagined that a film with traditionally “female” conflict and a plot based on romantic relationships could be such a success at the box office. Stephenie Meyer’s novel and its film adaptation sparked a boom in female-targeted fiction, with a niche niche of female-targeted franchises emerging in the young adult genre (The Hunger Games, Veronica Roth’s Divergent, Rachel Mead’s Vampire Academy). etc). Twilight, despite being problematic and controversy, gave girls a chance to claim their place in pop culture.
In a modern context, it is also interesting how the Twilight saga fits into the phenomenon of cultural “guilty pleasure” – enjoying “low-quality” media. At one time, modernism competed with mass culture, moving away from it more and more and becoming more and more elitist. Thus continued the division between “high” and “low” genres and media that cultural consumers reproduce to this day. For example, despite the rise of the horror genre in recent years and the appearance of many complex plot and thematic films (Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria remake, Ari Aster’s Reincarnation, etc.), they continue to be ignored at the Oscars.
Under postmodernism, the line between “high” and “low” media, genres and tropes is blurred and often ridiculed for being pretentious. In the last decade, this has been especially felt – definitions like “so bad it’s good” have appeared, Tommy Wiseau’s “Room” is gaining huge popularity and the fan community, which is considered by many to be one of the worst films in history. In this dynamic, Twilight exists and transforms over the years in a very interesting way: while five years ago the trend was criticism and “dislike” for the saga and its fans, now many people are revising and re-reading Twilight, considering the films and history in in general, absolutely tasteless or even comical, but at the same time not hiding his love for her. This, in our opinion, is also the positive aspect of the influence of the saga on culture – the normalization of enjoyment from a work that contains openly kitsch and problematic elements. Huge popularity and fan community is gaining “The Room” by Tommy Wiseau, considered by many to be one of the worst films in history.
In this dynamic, Twilight exists and transforms over the years in a very interesting way: while five years ago the trend was criticism and “dislike” for the saga and its fans, now many people are revising and re-reading Twilight, considering the films and history in in general, absolutely tasteless or even comical, but at the same time not hiding his love for her. This, in our opinion, is also the positive aspect of the influence of the saga on culture – the normalization of enjoyment from a work that contains openly kitsch and problematic elements. Huge popularity and fan community is gaining “The Room” by Tommy Wiseau, considered by many to be one of the worst films in history. In this dynamic, Twilight exists and transforms over the years in a very interesting way: while five years ago the trend was criticism and “dislike” for the saga and its fans, now many people are revising and re-reading Twilight, considering the films and history in in general, absolutely tasteless or even comical, but at the same time not hiding his love for her.
This, in our opinion, is also the positive aspect of the influence of the saga on culture – the normalization of enjoyment from a work that contains openly kitsch and problematic elements. In this dynamic, Twilight exists and transforms over the years in a very interesting way: while five years ago the trend was criticism and “dislike” for the saga and its fans, now many people are revising and re-reading Twilight, considering the films and history in in general, absolutely tasteless or even comical, but at the same time not hiding his love for her. This, in our opinion, is also the positive aspect of the influence of the saga on culture – the normalization of enjoyment from a work that contains openly kitsch and problematic elements.
In this dynamic, Twilight exists and transforms over the years in a very interesting way: while five years ago the trend was criticism and “dislike” for the saga and its fans, now many people are revising and re-reading Twilight, considering the films and history in in general, absolutely tasteless or even comical, but at the same time not hiding his love for her. This, in our opinion, is also the positive aspect of the influence of the saga on culture – the normalization of enjoyment from a work that contains openly kitsch and problematic elements.
So Twilight is a completely unique franchise. Belonging to a niche genre and having almost record low budgets for blockbusters, it gained resounding popularity and served as a precedent for the emergence of a separate niche in the young adult media genre. Despite its controversial quality, “Twilight” is of great importance for modern culture and is surprising in its ambiguity, and also in the way that ambiguity grows stronger in the process of discourse.
Analysis of the work “Twilight”
In principle, anyone who has read at least one work of the twilight saga should immediately take back all the bad words they ever said about Harry Potter.
The fact is that Harry, no matter how you treat him, is still a traditional story that fits into the shores of a normal human myth. At first, Harry is a Cinderella, sweeping and spying after everyone – but with honor she endured and was taken to the palace. Then he is a hero, honestly and consciously making self-sacrifice to save the world. And finally, he is the winner of evil, which is also quite normal.
In contrast to Potter, the Twilight saga is a saga of boundless freebies falling on an extremely average bored girl. She has neither a clearly defined appearance, nor a clearly defined character, and I also could not deduct anything about the profession. I don’t think she worked in any of her works. I have already mentioned her only advantage: she is mysterious. Well, that is, no one, no one can understand and read her, even she herself. Because of this superpower, two superhumans compete with each other for a bored girl: a black werewolf, terribly wild and unbridled – and a blond vampire downshifter, who, for the sake of ecology and ethical attitude towards people even turned into vegetarians.
It is clear that the werewolf has no chance: firstly, he is an ordinary hard worker from a sawmill, and secondly, he is not immortal. In turn, the vampire loves classical music, travels a lot and, most importantly, can provide the heroine with all this plus immortality and eternal cosmetic suitability. Actually, the heroine chooses a vampire from the very beginning, so there is only one way to explain why the werewolf continues to follow her: for complete happiness, average girls need devoted fans.
Actually, all five or how many of them will be filmed there – tell how the average girl is idolized. In the end, worshiping in the literal sense of the word – turning into a sparkling evil from the lowest link of the pagan pantheon.
What is striking about this myth: compared to the girl Bella from Twilight, even the good old French Angelica is a Stakhanovite. Not to mention other archetypal characters: Cinderella had to work hard to achieve success (it is curious, by the way, that in the domestic film the fairy praises her precisely because she is pure in heart – “and I see through everyone, even those whom I love you very much”. See the only superpower of the heroine of “Twilight”). Snow White had to feed and wash seven. Elise – to make shirts from nettles.
In Twilight, in order to get all the boundless freebie, the main character needs one thing: to stubbornly believe in her, stick to her choice and wait until everything happens.
So, dear readers. I have a version as to why this film is successful. The fact is that in the civilized world in general, and in the United States in particular, a curious trend has been going on for 10 years: the labor force and the level of employment are stubbornly falling. If in 1998 in the United States almost 70% of the population was considered “labor force”, then in the past, in 2010, it was only 64.7%. And in November of this year, according to the American Bureau of Employment – even less: 63.9%. (Actually, this is the whole secret of the “post-crisis reduction in unemployment”: more and more Americans, and both sexes, simply stop looking for work and receiving benefits, thus turning into “households” living off their spouses, parents or children). For them, there is simply no more adequate work or social programs. They are of little interest to the market even as consumers – they have no money.
But with all this, the unemployed millions – primarily women – remain Western people, sharpened from school for personal success. Therefore, in this “jobless era,” these hopelessly sitting at home people also need a positive myth about how to achieve success. The only problem is that in the reality of today’s civilized world there is no such path to success for them.
So Twilight is a great way to answer that question: you don’t have to be successful. You have to get to him.
And as much as possible without twitching.
As for the logical question – why, in fact, success comes to modern “anti-Cinderellas” in the form of a cold bloodsucker who maintains his luxurious existence at the expense of other people’s lives? – then to answer it you just need to carefully study the annual Forbes 500 list.
The Meaning of “Twilight”
Everyone knows that every person, having been born, wants to live his life not just like that, but to be loved. Mother’s love is important, father’s love is important, but even as children, we understand that there are other kinds of love in the world. The love of a partner is available to everyone, especially if parents have invested their warmth in a person!
And when you watch the episodes of the Twilight saga, an urgent need for love wakes up inside and responds! Moreover, it has been noticed that it doesn’t matter whether a person has love in life at the time of viewing or not, the need is still aggravated. Because the film shows the ideal: a beautiful, honest, polite, caring….vampire. Or sincere, reliable as an ax, the owner of a beautiful torso, a bearer of a sense of protection, an amazing … werewolf.
The director and creator of the saga has thought of everything. First, a wave of need for love arises in a person, probably in a woman, and then consent appears in response: “well, he’s so amazing, incredible, sexy, reliable, faithful, let there be a vampire … or a werewolf, he’s people does not eat, but only rabbits, and drinks donor blood … “
And regiments of females of different ages come out of the cinemas, agreeing to alcoholics, to drug addicts who beat them, to married men who leave their children, to simply aggressive men or to gigolos. The subconscious mind eats up the attitude: there are no ideal men in nature, the lack will be all the same, find one. That is, through the film there is even a direct order: go look! Go look for a relationship with pain, in which you will not agree, in which you will erase the vomit of your husband – a drug addict, because this is for the sake of that very true love! The film sharpens a woman or look for a man with a serious handicap or create it in an already existing spouse. By the way, the saga has a direct channel, guess who? Of course, to Lucifer.
Second. A power supply channel to the vampire worlds of the astral is being formed. They exist, they are powered and so on many people (hello to the legends about vampires and other horror stories). Somehow, in my regression in my youth, I wandered into such worlds, taking my own from them, closing the drinking channels. In that session, I also saw myself as one legendary historical figure, by the way, capable of changing the world.
After the session and the closing of the intake into the world of vampires, my strength, purely physical, seemed to have increased threefold! There was only one regression session.
So yes, vampires exist. Previously, it seems that they penetrated into our world physically, now the passages are closed to them, but there are astral worlds, and their inhabitants really want to eat …
Third. Through viewing all the episodes of the saga, that is, the switching mechanism goes multi-stage, the following is switched on in a woman:
- willingness to suffer
- consent to suffer physically, mutilate your body, go under the knife, give birth through a caesarean – and the idea is introduced that then it will be at least the same as it was, but most likely a hundred times better.
- loyalty to family control organizations, readiness to be responsible for what kind of mother you are, and how dare you give birth and raise your children like that. Programs are introduced into the minds that this is all normal. They can come to you and ask a question, they can come and stick their nose into your kitchen, they can come and take the child away.
The filmmakers, as we can see, knowingly spent a lot of money on the book and on shooting the film, as well as on its advertising and making it hugely popular. It was worth it for them, right?
The meaning of the title of the book “Twilight”
The name “Twilight” has a double meaning. So, it means the period between day and night. At this time, there is no sun, which is dangerous for vampires, so they are free to go outside. At the same time it is not too late, and people are awake.
Also, all events take place in the city of Forks. It is a cold and rainy place that is almost always twilight. It was thanks to this environment that Edward was able to get to know Bella. There is almost no sun in the city, and he could be in public places.
In addition, twilight symbolizes the decline of human youth. According to film critics to Screenart , Bella is going through puberty, and Edward is stuck at the turn of childhood and adulthood.