Maybe you’re sick of Twilight by now; maybe you’re not.
Or maybe you’re just indifferent.
Whatever the case, I don’t think Stephenie Meyer’s going away any time soon; and with the highly anticipated release of Summit Entertainment’s Film—coming tomorrow to a theater near you!—it’s increasingly difficult to escape the hype.
In mid-September, Ellen Degeneres had Meyer on her show to talk Twilight (though they didn’t discuss anything that hadn’t already been said and that’s not readily available on Meyer’s website). Last week, Entertainment Weekly dubbed Meyer “Entertainer of the Year” and roughly two weeks before that, they headlined an in-depth interview with the writer “about the Rob Pattinson casting controversy, Breaking Dawn‘s mixed reception, the deal with Edward and Bella’s big [onscreen] kiss, and what she’s working on next.” And this past weekend, USA Weekend’s featured story was “Twilight: The Story Behind this Season’s Biggest Page-to-Screen Sensation” in which Brian Truitt calls Meyer “publishing’s newest literary superstar.”
As a student of (Mormon) literature and culture, as a cultural/literary critic, and in my capacity as creator and editor (with Laura) of Reading Until Dawn, an online literary journal devoted to discussing Meyer and her work (still soliciting submissions, by the way!), this cultural excitement/investment/passion (however you choose to see it) intrigues—and baffles—me. Hence, when Truitt asks, “What […] is the appeal of [Meyer’s] […] dark vampire tales?”, I can’t be completely content with the answer he gives us (right from Meyer’s mouth): “We love to be scared,” she says. “But most of the monsters that you see are disgusting. They are usually oozing something. Vampires are the only ones who are dangerous and scary, and, at the same time, they’re hot.”
Aside from vampires being, in Meyer’s eyes, non-disgusting, non-oozing monsters that are, at the same time, dangerous, scary, and hot, what rests beneath our cultural fascination with Twilight? In my introduction to the first edition of Reading Until Dawn, I point to the realism of the novels’ world and to their “narcotic effect” on readers—on the “physiological response” they seem to evoke. And in a short article that’s docketed for the Summer ’09 issue of Dialogue, I intimate the story’s ties to the always popular Gothic tradition, briefly reading Meyer’s vampires against Freud’s notion of the uncanny, a psychological concept that ties deeply to our experiences with the literarily sublime and the emotion of terror. In addition, William points to the erotic attraction of the books.
In honor (as it were) of Twilight’s birth into cinematic reality, what do you AMV readers think? What rests beneath the incessant appeal of Meyer’s world?