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Twilight: the book, the fangirls, the legend
“Let me see! Let me see! I want it! Gimme!”
In one corner of my homeroom stands an enormous mass of shrieking girls, poking, pinching, and prodding each other, attempting to work their way into the center of the mob. After observing for several minutes from a safe distance, I cannot figure out what is so desirable in the center of the swarm. A driver’s license? A new magazine? Free shoes? Finally, the pack breaks, and I can see the object of intense affection:
Excuse me, an “action figure”.
At least, that’s what I was told from the mob when I inquired about their feeding frenzy.
“It’s the new Edward action figure!” One girl squeals, clutching the doll tightly to her chest, wary of anyone with a Twilight t-shirt on.
“Doll,” I correct. “It’s a plastic doll. It doesn’t even look like Robert Pattinson.”
I am greeted with such cold stares that I retreat to the safety of my desk immediately.
This is the strange world of Twilight, and its effects on middle school and high school students are mind boggling. In some ways, the series has had a positive effect on tween and teen girls and boys alike, turning passive students into rabid readers seemingly overnight. Although it may have a positive effect on some, the Twilight phenomenon is hurting us, transforming logical people into squealing super fans with the blink of an eye-- or, more accurately, the turn of a page.
I will admit- rather grudgingly, in some company- that I have read Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse, and thoroughly enjoyed all three. Stephanie Meyer is a fine storyteller, weaving romance and action together to create a good series-- not ground-breakingly, earth-shatteringly good, but still fine. Fortunately, I discovered the series just as New Moon came out, allowing me to experience the books as they were meant to be enjoyed—as books, not accessories. There was a point where I was so enthralled with the series that I was referring them to everyone I met.
Then I saw the superfans.
I had just taken out my copy of Twilight and sat it on my desk in school. I was almost immediately assaulted by a large gaggle of girls, wearing sparkly eye shadow and black, form-fitting tee shirts bearing original and witty phrases such as “I ? Edward” and “Vampires Sparkle”.
“Have you read the book?” They gushed in shrill tones, picking apart my copy for any signs that I could be recruited to the fictional-character-worshipping cause. “Isn’t it, like, so awesome? What part are you on? Chapter 6? Wow, that’s, like, the best part of the book, but there’s this one part that, like, is totally amazing, and I don’t want to ruin it for you, but I’ll tell it to you anyway…”
The incessant babble continued on for some time, until my teacher shooed them away from my desk. Hesitantly, I examined the inside of my book. No fewer than 10 Post-it notes had been slapped on various pages, all bearing nearly identical messages of “I love this part! Call me? We can go see the movie together! (vampire smiley face)”, written in variants of a perky font with hearts to dot the i’s.
I promptly shoved my copy of Twilight into the dredges of my backpack, which wouldn’t be unearthed until a month later.
Now, before you chase after me with pitchforks, allow me to make something clear. Not all Twilight fans are like this. These girls are just an extreme example of literacy gone wild. Don’t believe me? Look around almost any school in the United States, and you will see at least one girl wearing a Twilight tee shirt, nursing a well-worn and dog-eared paperback copy of Twilight, or writing “ I love Edward” on her notebook with a sparkly silver Sharpie. As much as classic literary fans dread it, it’s everywhere; from movies to lunchboxes to jewelry to calendars to dolls, the Twilight series has lost its status as a book series. It seems that the books are now no more than an accessory, something every stereotypical Twilight fan carries around and reads constantly, but never really understands. The beauty of the book is lost.
And you the Harry Potter thing was bad.