As Twilight fever ravages San Diego, PCR’s Stefanie reflects on its latest symptoms – from a safe distance.
By the time the New Moon panel began this afternoon, more than five hundred diehard Twilight fans had waited in line for over forty hours to be there.
Take a moment. Think about this. The panel began at 1:45 pm this afternoon (PCR won’t be covering it; we value our lives too much to have attended). Fans had been sitting in line since 9 pm Tuesday, camped out on their Edward-emblazoned blankets. That’s a nearly two day wait just to know you’re in the same hall as Robert Pattinson’s hair.
I have waited in some crazy lines to see the panel for a show I just love. This one time, I waited a whole, like, five hours to see the Heroes panel. (In my defense, this was the summer between seasons one and two. I didn’t know any better.) And last year, I sat through maybe four other panels so I could see the people from Pushing Daisies (but that included The Office and Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles. Sitting within twenty feet of Summer Glau hardly constitutes torture). Two days? Honey, there better be a date with Lee Pace at the end of that wait or you can count this girl out.
Yet, as absurd as that wait strikes me as being, what’s alarming is how far it is from being the height of the madness Twilight seems to induce.
Now I know there are plenty of Twilight fans who, despite the books’ dubious quality, are far from being batshit insane – ordinary citizens who go about their lives like normal people, but who just happen to really, really like the idea of ice cold, marble hard dudes who sparkle in the sunlight, and they don’t mind wading through a thesaurus’ worth of overwrought, bodice-ripping adjectives to get to them. Hey, man, that’s cool. I’m mad about Nate Archibald, I don’t judge. I mean, I do, but I shouldn’t.
The trouble is, as with so many fandoms, those lovely ordinary folk with their vampire loving ways go along peacefully, leaving their psychotic brethren to represent them. And represent they do: by getting tattoos proclaiming that the lion fell in love with the lamb, by hooking up with dudes named Edward and bearing children they then name Renesmee (this story makes me weep for the next generation, I swear I am not making it up), by stalking their leading man into oncoming traffic. In short, by making all Twihards look like lunatics.
When I said in my previous Comic Con article that RPattz wouldn’t be making it out of the convention center alive, I wasn’t entirely joking. I legitimately fear for the man’s life. (His life, by the way, which has been pasted all over every other cover of Entertainment Weekly for more than a year now. EW, please try to cover something other than Twilight and Ausiello’s obsession with Grey’s.)
Rather than fear the fact that riots are now a legitimate possibility at Twilight-related events, everyone’s just doing their best to cash in. The latest example? Now, in addition to the scads of Twilight merchandise to be found at Hot Topic (Body glitter so you, too, can sparkle like a vampire! Lip balm, so you can taste like Edward! I haven’t checked, but if there isn’t some kind of lilac/freesia-scented perfume so you can smell luscious like Bella, I’ll be shocked), even a classy department store like Nordstrom is caving to peer pressure. That’s right, by the time you read this article, an entire line of Twilight-inspired clothing will have debuted at Comic Con.
They’re debuting a clothing line at Comic Con.
This means everything from Team Edward and Team Jacob shirts to Cullen crest jewelry to dresses. I don’t yet know what these dresses will look like, but I think we can all imagine. And then wish we hadn’t tried.
I confess: I read the first two books of the series and, despite being less than brilliant literature, they were bizarrely compelling. I was lured on, intrigued and disgusted at once. I found I liked New Moon a lot more than Twilight; once Edward disappears from the scene, Bella seems far less invested in that thesaurus she bought just to describe him (that angelic Adonis with his chiseled chest as cold as marble, glittering like an ice floe on an Antarctic afternoon yet twice as deadly, his glowing amber eyes overflowing with chagrin!) which makes the writing far more bearable. And I say bully for the people of Forks, WA, whose once-struggling town has made quite the comeback of late – so much so that they’ve declared September 13 Stephenie Mayer Day.
But I confess, too, this whole phenomenon terrifies me. It’s not just that the Comic Con presence of thousands of pre-pubescent would-be fangbangers and their gushing moms lends some measure of false credibility to the wholly insulting belief that women are only attending the convention for the miles of hot man flesh.
It’s the leading man chased in front of a cab, the people injured by the crush of the crowd in an attempt to see the film’s stars, the teenage girl knocked up in the name of fandom. It’s the fans who’ve been known to call Pattinson Edward during panels. The eleven year olds who ask him to bite them. It’s the romanticization of stalking. Young girls (and their mothers, moreover) idolize fictional men who imprint on infants or watch their lady-loves sleep without their express permission (look, there is a massive difference between knowing he’s there and oiling a girl’s window so she won’t hear you sneak in in the night). The line between what is acceptable and what is not grows ever thinner as people flock together en masse and forget that what might be okay on their forums is far from alright to say to Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner.
I have long said that there should be no such thing as a guilty pleasure – that anything which gives you joy is worthwhile – and I do believe that. There’s a difference, though, between the innocent enjoyment of what basically amounts to a trashy romance novel without the sex and this kind of obsession. I’m not talking about the kind of fannish devotion that, twenty years from now, you look back on with some embarrassment. We all have a couple of those. But there’s a line crossed here – several lines, in fact. While I want to believe that the series’ readers have the sense to be able to enjoy these books without absorbing some of the troubling lessons they teach, so much of what can be seen online and in San Diego indicates otherwise.
Think I’m being too harsh on the Twihards? Not harsh enough? Got any other tales of Twilight terror? Reports from San Diego’s Western front? Comment and share! And please don’t kill me when I get to San Diego.