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
The Rolling Stones at the Roundhouse in London in 1971: from the left, Keys, Charlie Watts, Mick Taylor and Mick Jagger

Music ...featuring Eric Clapton no less
Arts and Entertainment
In the dock: Dot Branning (June Brown); Union boss claims EastEnders writers are paid less than minimum wage

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Roger Christian wrote and directed the 1980 Black Angel original, which was lost until 2011

film
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Green (Hand out press photograph provided by Camilla Gould)

TV
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones reviewWarning: Spoilers aplenty
Arts and Entertainment
Matthew Healy of The 1975 performing on the Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Festival, at Worthy Farm in Somerset

music
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe Withnail and I creator, has a new theory about killer's identity
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
tvDick Clement and Ian La Frenais are back for the first time in a decade
Arts and Entertainment
The Clangers: 1969-1974
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Rocky road: Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino play an estranged husband and wife in 'San Andreas'
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Nicole Kidman plays Grace Kelly in the film, which was criticised by Monaco’s royal family

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emilia Clarke could have been Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey but passed it up because of the nude scenes

film
Arts and Entertainment
A$AP Rocky and Rita Ora pictured together in 2012

music
Arts and Entertainment
A case for Mulder and Scully? David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in ‘The X-Files’

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Impressions of the Creative Community Courtyard within d3. The development is designed to 'inspire emerging designers and artists, and attract visitors'

architecture
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010

GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on stage

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

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

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at long last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
    Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

    Wiggins worried

    Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific