Let’s agree to not judge ourselves for our joyful nostalgic interests.
by Bianca Smith
I was 10-years-old when the first Twilight book was published.
I became a fan quickly; By the time the second book was slated to hit shelves, I was dressed up like Alice Cullen at a library release party bobbing for apples and acing trivia. I was a frequent customer at Hot Topic—I curse the day I decided to part with my collection of Team Edward T-shirts.
Not to be dramatic, but sometime during the peak of it all, I was even MySpace friends with people roleplaying as the characters. It got that bad.
Before we go on, I’ll say this: The next four hundred words are not going to take the shape of an opinion piece on why Twilight is the best movie series ever made. (For the record, I don’t believe it is.) Rather, the more compelling conversation is, how does its resurgence—from memes and its main cast finding new success to new books and movie-inspired TikTok filters—surface feelings of comfort and joy?
And I’d hope that while I’m waxing about Twilight in particular, you may be able to view some of your past-obsessions-that-became-embarrassing-but-are-resurfacing-in-new-ways with a little more acceptance.
Peak Twilight, I was at my most impressionable. Junior high, hormonally haywire, and discovering all of the things I wanted to claim. What music did I listen to? What was my style? What were the cultural cornerstones I wanted to make connections to?
Twilight, in all its flaws, gave me plenty to work with. It captured that intoxicating feeling of falling for someone that you thought you deeply understood regardless of how well you actually knew them. It pushed up against the airy, sun-stained aesthetics that were so popular at the time. The music was a tad left of center. The protagonist exemplified the “pretty against all odds,” trope.
No matter its fidelity now, the grit and sense of all things unrequited had quite the impact. So I’m not sure when Twilight became the butt of a joke. Maybe it always was and I was just too engrossed to pay attention. But I quickly started to dismiss that I was ever interested in it at all.
Was I so upset that I threw New Moon across my room when Edward just disappeared and Bella fell into a deep depression? Nope, totally didn’t do that.
Did I own clothing and blankets and posters and soundtracks? That would be pretty lame if yes.
Did a vampire-human relationship actually feel real, relatable, and worth following to me? Of course not.
I wrote the whole thing off as a joke. And seemingly, so did everyone else.
In so many words, I’m wondering if my embarrassment was really worth it. Why am I so willing to strip the nuance out of my identity—one that I’ve spent years exploring and building and have found comfort in—just to be perceived as normal or cool or acceptable? Especially now that my former character obsessions are dressed as The Batman and Princess Diana, and “Where’ve you been, loca?!” is all over social media.
Twilight or otherwise, we shouldn’t hide the tasteless, campy, geeky, weird bits and bobs from ourselves if they bring us joy. No matter if “its moment” was 17 years ago, or if it’s having a resurgence now. And most importantly, no matter what others think.
Bianca is a writer and strategist from Chicago. She helps run a digital community called Distant, spends too much time cuddling her two cats Pearl & Norman, and refuses to acknowledge that pasta sauce can also be called gravy. You can find more of her work at www.biancapsmith.com and you can find her on Instagram at @biancapsmith and @distant.community.