Why teens are staying up until Twilight

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

He turned to look at me with a wistful expression. His golden eyes held mine and I lost my train of thought. I stared at him until he looked away.

This incredible line of prose belongs to one of the biggest pop culture phenomena of recent times. Where have you been? Dead? What do you mean you haven't read or seen Twilight?

Sales of the four books by Mormon housewife Stephenie Meyer have now reached 17 million, the CD and movie soundtrack both went to number one on Billboard's chart and the film netted $3.4 million at the New Zealand box office, not bad considering Oscar behemoth Slumdog Millionaire earned $4 million.

Tomorrow, New Moon, the second of the Twilight film adaptations that has girls (and women) swooning over a barely legal actor - who goes by the name of Robert Pattinson in daylight hours - premieres in Auckland.

Hundreds of excited movie-goers will head to Sylvia Park, proclaiming their allegiance to either Edward, a vampire, or Jacob, a werewolf. As fans pay homage in blood red costume, non-believers not prepared to sit through the film are filled with disturbed curiosity: what's the deal with Twilight? And why doesn't my hair look like that dead guy's?

To enter the Twilight zone, you don't have to be female. You don't even have to be going through puberty to get hot flushes at the thought of a skinny metrosexual with a vitamin D deficiency sinking his eye teeth into your neck. The person who first recommended I watch Twilight has teenagers of her own.

I thought I'd rather drink blood than watch Twilight. Nothing about it appealed. Not the vegetarian vampires. Not Pattinson, the pillow-haired British actor who is bigger than Jesus right now. Not the Chuck Taylor-addicted Kristen Stewart as the clumsy new kid, supposedly in a real-life romance with the lead actor. It all looked so brooding, so serious, so emo, it taunted me not to like it.

I liked it. Yes it's an absurd coming-of-age tale that looks like one long music video. But what holds it together is the love story, in the tradition of all great cinematic love stories, steeped in longing and danger, only more zeitgeisty in tone. Girl meets vampire. Girl falls in love with vampire. Vampire falls in love with girl. Girl's life is threatened by baddie vampires. That's about it.

Should we be worried that this drama seemingly bursting with big themes - identity, mortality, abstinence - is really just a chaste Mills and Boon in a gothic trench coat? What does it say about us that it's gone beyond the realms of guilty pleasure and off the charts?

Perhaps it's the less-is-more sensibility that made Jaws so popular - you don't need to see much of the shark to understand the fantasy. We're so desensitised to on-screen sex, it's become meaningless. There's no sex in Twilight until later in the saga but by then they're married. The film is way more charged with erotic tension than bonehead comedies like Superbad, and this time it's the guy saying no. The scenes in which the beautiful star runs a hand over Bella's arm or breathes on her neck are foreplay, just as gushing water symbolises you-know-what in Bollywood movies. The vampire looks like a teenager but unlike every other teenage boy, he's not gagging to take the protagonist's virginity. As much as Bella wants to get it on with him, he physically can't. He's James Dean without a penis.

It's fairly obvious what the attraction for women is. You always want what you can't have. A relatable girl whose man will do anything for her, probably even the housework if she asked nicely.

And despite being popular without really trying, Bella transcends her low self-esteem when she hooks up with a super-human creature. Who needs to be the cheerleader-type (it's set in the US after all) when you can fly home?

The second film is more male-skewed than the first if the books are anything to go by. Edward breaks up with Bella (for her own good of course). Yet most guys refuse to admit to joining the Twilight fan club.

A male friend recently said how awful it was, then begged to come with me to the sequel. Does he want some tips? Because as male heroes go, Edward is too good to have sprung from nature. Poor old Robert Pattinson will never live up to Edward because the character is perfect.

Even when he is drawn as poetically as this: "Edward stood in the halo of the porch light, looking like a male model in an advertisement for raincoats."

Source: The New Zealand Herald

Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy

tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special

tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas

Arts and Entertainment
Dapper Laughs found success through the video app Vine

comedy Erm...he seems to be back

Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)

tvReview: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Arts and Entertainment
Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly flanking 'Strictly' winners Flavia Cacace and Louis Smith

tv Gymnast Louis Smith triumphed in the Christmas special

Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Shenaz Treasurywala
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump


Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all