Part of growing up as someone who loves books and pop culture was learning to be constructive about my dislike for things, and the biggest one I had to deal with was Twilight. My feels for the young adult vampire romance series are complicated and I have come to accept Twilight for what it is and what it is not.
It still sucks, but there this is component of sexism that surrounds it that even I myself played into as a teen which is why, even with my ire against the franchise, when I see things like Twilight being named “The Worst Movie of All Time” I have to ask: who is making these decisions?
The answer is the site Ranker, which has some really suspect opinions, but it does mean that it was chosen by “the people” in this case; the votes are still being tallied (at this moment the much worst movie Gigli has briefly taken over the top space with Twilight right below, perhaps an effort from Twilight fans to correct this wrong after Twilight’s ranking was publicized).
As many people have pointed out on Twitter already, the first Twilight movie isn’t even the worst Twilight movie. That goes to Eclipse and the Breaking Dawns if you ask me. New Moon is so much better than the book that I’m like … it’s fine.
Now is Twilight a good movie? Not at all, but it’s based on a not-great book so it’s unsurprising that the movie isn’t spectacular. However, having been given the opportunity to speak with Catherine Hardwicke and some members of the cast, what I do see below the surface of my own tastes is a film made for a female audience that was being set up to be a failure or at best a moderate success, instead what it was—a very successful template for a film franchise that made Summit a ton of money.
During the lead-up to NYCC, Hardwicke had spoken openly about how the powers that be didn’t think the movie would do well since it was appealing to young women: “There were very low expectations for Twilight, because every other studio had turned it down. They said, OK, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants was a very popular book for girls, and it made $39 million. That’s it. We don’t know if this could ever make us any more than that, so we don’t really want to spend more than that. The expectations were low literally up to opening weekend.”
And once it was made and did well, Hardwicke was quickly replaced with male directors who didn’t push for more diversity in the cast the way Hardwicke did, nor did they really look to channel the sort of female sexual longing/frustration that Hardwicke saw as the appeal of Twilight as a product.
Hardwicke cared about making a movie for teen girls and infused a bit of humor into the movie. And although I may not personally like it there is something about it that was trying to be more than just a blockbuster. Same with the first Fifty Shades of Grey movie which did something none of the other movies could do: it gave Anna some semblance of a personality and that came from putting women as the director and the screenwriter, Sam Taylor-Johnson and Kelly Marcel respectively. Something that changed, once again, with the sequels.
Even though it has only been ten years, Twilight will always be part of impactful vampire canon, like it or not. I took a vampire literature course in college around 2013 and we ended on Twilight because after Interview with a Vampire, it is the next step in the literary timeline of impactful vampire books outside of the niche of horror/paranormal book lovers.
There are much worse movies than Twilight, including worse vampire movies, but in the end what makes Twilight extra annoying to people wasn’t just that it was poorly written and popular, but that it took something that was “cool” and made it something that girls and women were really into in a way that made people uncomfortable.
That element will always be linked with Twilight criticism, even if that isn’t the reason you may personally dislike it. I haven’t seen the newest Robin Hood, but I could tell you that movie is worse than Twilight, but it is allowed to fail while trying to appeal to a male audience in a way that say, the Divergent series was not allowed to fail gracefully.
Also did we just collectively forget the era of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer movie “parodies” like Meet the Spartans and Date Movie? If any movies are winning worst of anything from the 2000s, it’s those things.
(via LadBible, image: Summit)
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