The year was 2008. I was a junior in high school and I couldn't walk through the halls without seeing girls holding copies of a book that featured two hands holding an apple on the cover as they walked to class. Yes, I'm talking about Twilight and obviously, I was one of those girls too. It was in November of that year the movie adaptation of Stephenie Meyer's best-selling novel was hitting theaters and although the first book in the series dropped in 2005, I found myself as one of those people who was trying to cram it all in before I saw Bella, Edward, Jacob and all the Cullen crew come to life on the big screen.
Four books and five movies later, The Twilight Saga took over the world, or so it felt like it. The series was a legit phenomenon and I would be lying if I didn't say that yes, I read the entire series within a few months and saw every movie in theaters on opening night. But it's become pretty clear that fans of this series don't always get the best rep. Twihards were nothing but loyal to every aspect of the high-grossing franchise. But anything that tends to have a strong teenage girl fanbase often gets looked down on and thought of as not really quality content, so Twilight lovers I feel like aren't as open about well, being fans. And I'm here to let everyone know, yes, it's OK to love Twilight.
Now, I am fully aware of the criticisms of the overall storyline. Is it rather unrealistic that a teenage girl falls completely in love with and marries a man who is hundreds of years old and ends up turning immortal herself after giving birth to a half-human, half-vampire baby? Absolutely. But HELLO, this series is about vampires and werewolves set within a love story so, I mean, what do you expect here? It's just fun, pure entertainment. While I was a teenage girl reading these books and seeing these movies (by the time the last movie hit theaters I was in college so an ~adult~), I never understood why others who had never read a line of the books were rude to those who loved the series. I am able to completely distinguish between fantasy and reality and no, I was never expecting a sparkling vampire to fall in love with me at any moment. Was Edward too controlling and possessive at times and Bella not as strong of a heroine as we all wanted her to be? Sure. But hey, we can't knock the author for bringing her vision to life the way she wanted to and you know, I loved every minute of it.
Yes, I would get frustrated with the characters every now and then. And while I will catch myself sitting and watching the movies anytime I stumble upon one when they're airing on TV, I know these movies aren't the greatest thing ever created. I can fully acknowledge that. But that doesn't mean they're any less enjoyable. When Edward (cringingly) tells Bella to "say it, out loud" that he's a vampire in the first movie, to when Jacob first transforms into a wolf in New Moon after we were treated to two hours of a pack of shirtless boys, to the dare I say cheap-looking wigs, to a CGI baby, it's all part of the cheesy greatness that is Twilight.
Collectively, the five movies have made more than $3 billion. B as in Billion. And the four books have sold more than 100 million copies. So while it might not be the most thought-provoking or game-changing literature and films ever created, these stories still mean something to so many people. For me, whenever I think of The Twilight Saga, it takes me back to a time when my friends and I were all actually reading the same thing at the same time. That rarely ever happened. We went to the movies together and talked all about the book vs. the movie on the drive back home. It reminds me really of my last days of being a kid. These stories became massive right as I was getting ready to leave high school and move on to the next chapter of my life and suddenly had to be a grown-up. I remember dealing with the sheer terror that the role of Jacob was possibly going to be recast, before Taylor Lautner gained all that muscle and totally transformed himself into the wolfed-up version of Bella's BFF. That was a major concern for my 16-year-old self and now I just laugh thinking about how invested I was, but at least I felt passionate about something, right?
But even as I got older and was in college, my friends and I still went to the movies to see the final films together, reminding us of our former, younger selves for a few hours. It was an escape: nothing about what Bella experienced would ever happen to any of us but on some level, it was a tad bit relatable. Totally falling for your first love to the point where it consumes you for a minute? Dealing with friendships evolving as life gets more complicated? Making decisions that are going to impact the course of your life forever? We were all going through all that too, minus the whole 'should I let my boyfriend turn me into a vampire so we can really be together for eternity' choice. Twilight spoke to so many people, in its own unique way, and that's something not every author or filmmaker can say their book or movie did.
Twilight has a soft spot for me personally, which is why I'll never be embarrassed to say I was a fan. And still am. No matter how ridiculous the plot was or how poorly written the books were, as people like to claim. Twilight brought plenty of girls from all walks of life together who were all super attached to the same story. And there's nothing stronger or more loyal than a group of girls. Twilight will forever have a piece of my heart and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Neither should you.
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