Interview with a Twi-Hard: A Writer Attempts to Understand His Sister's Obsession
By Zach Dionne Posted Jun 29th 2010 06:05PM
Yup. I've got a situation: My younger sister Jaclyn is a devout 'Twilight' fanatic. She saw 'New Moon' in theaters every day for a week. She had 'Twilight'-related relationship troubles. She has a friend (pictured, left, with Jaclyn) who she likes to dress up as Edward Cullen.
And the thing is, she's not insane! She's intelligent (better grades than I ever got), reasonable (a psych student at a college in Maine) and shares my proclivity for (ahem) finer horror like that of Sir Stephen King.
So how did Jaclyn get this way, embedded so deeply in the phenomenon of a vampire series she's never been able to convince her big bro to watch, read or understand? Hours away from the nationwide midnight premiere of 'Eclipse,' we talked it out and tried to get to the root of being a Twi-hard.
How'd you get into 'Twilight'?
My -- well, our -- mom gave me the book a couple Christmases ago. I thought the idea of a vampire love story sounded corny, so I tossed it aside. Then I got out of college that summer and needed something to read. I picked it up and 60 pages later I was a Twi-hard.
Seriously? Sixty pages?
Sixty pages was all I needed.
And now you're insane.
When did that dawn on you? (Get it? Dawn?)
It dawned on me when all I thought about -- all I wanted to talk about -- was 'Twilight.' Every free moment I got, I spent reading the books.
So you've called yourself a Twi-hard, out loud, to real human beings?
I started out as a really extroverted 'Twilight' fan, but now that its popularity has grown so much -- along with the negative criticism -- being a loud and proud fan sort of feels like walking around with an "A" sewn onto your shirt. You get a lot of crap for liking the series and you learn to tone it down and reserve your excitement for people who are just as into the books as you are.
Did you just make a 'Scarlet Letter' reference?
I did. Despite popular belief, not all Twi-hards' bookshelves consist solely of the works of Stephenie Meyer.
Shock! Okay, gimme your 'Twilight' numbers: Times you've read each book and seen each movie, times you estimate you'll see 'Eclipse.'
I've only read the books twice, except for 'Eclipse,' which I just read for the third time in order to compare to the movie. I've watched 'Twilight' probably around 80 times, 'New Moon' maybe 40. I saw 'New Moon' six times in the theaters, so I'll probably see 'Eclipse' the same -- maybe more, if it's that awesome.
What was the time frame on those 'New Moon' viewings? Your first five times were in like 12 hours, right?
I saw 'New Moon' six times in a week. I watched it every day.
Oh my god. That's why I can't even doubt your estimate of 80 times for the original. But why so many times?
I think what divides 'Twilight' fans from 'Harry Potter' fans or 'Star Wars' fans is the fact that we get such a high from the series. We have to reread and rewatch the movies to feel that high again. It's almost this kind of anxiety that can't be dealt with any other way than watching the movies or reading the books. You just want to keep reliving Edward and Bella's love story. It's like being in love -- it's all you can think about. And all you want to do is see that person, or read those books. Catch my drift?
I do catch it, and I'm uncomfortable because we're getting into serious territory that legitimizes this fanaticism. I can't just make fun of it now. So, um, I dunno ... what is it that makes that feeling so strong and real to you?
Bella and Edward have this gotta-have-it love. That's appealing to so many people because we want that same love, and reading the books gives us hope that it's out there. But the fantasy aspect is also a big draw. You really start feeling like vampires and werewolves are real. You feel like Bella's vampire family is your family and her werewolf best friend is your best friend. It becomes sort of depressing to remember vampires and werewolves don't actually exist.
I guess that's escapism at its finest. I'd be lying if I said I didn't get so wrapped up in 'Harry Potter' I felt like a kid at Hogwarts. But it can get extreme -- like messing with relationships extreme, right?
Well Bella and Edward need each other; they would actually die without each other. One of the most difficult things for Twi-hards to accept is the fact that although that type of love may exist, it's not really as accessible as we'd like to think. We raise this bar that's unrealistic for a partner to fulfill. Those expectations aren't logical.
Let's get back to more quantifiable Twi-hardiness. You've cried over trailers. Trailers.
I really bawled my eyes out a couple of times over the 'New Moon' trailer. It's surreal to see these characters I love and identify with being portrayed on the big screen. It makes me happy for people who haven't read 'Twilight' to be able to get a glimpse into Edward and Bella's world. I want other people to experience the way I, and so many others, feel when indulging in these books. It's like ecstasy. Even the idea that non-'Twilight' fans could be turned on to the series by these movies, which are good representations of the books, is emotionally overwhelming sometimes.
Alright, Jaclyn. I need you to watch this and immediately tell me your reaction:
You don't get that I've seen that trailer well over 80 times. Its effect has worn off. I am ecstatic for the movie -- that's all I'll say.
Its effect has worn off! So maybe that'll happen for the series as a whole someday?
I'm not saying my obsession is gone, but it isn't as intense as before. You learn to put perspective on your obsession and realize it's not 100 percent rational. But I'm pretty sure I'll love 'Twilight' for many years to come.
Are you frequently told you're obsessed? By people other than me.
My friends all know I'm obsessed. It's definitely one of my defining characteristics. But like I said before, I've gotta learn to tone it down.
What are these teams I'm always hearing about. There are teams, right?
Yes. There's Team Edward and Team Jacob, as in, some people want Bella to be with Edward and some people want her to be with Jacob. Twi-hards like Jacob and all, but no real Twi-hard can be Team Jacob.
Are you on a team? Did you have to try out?
I think the idea of teams is silly; the girl ends up with Edward. I'm on Team Bella.
Team Bella! Yeah, you're odd because your obsession isn't Robert Pattinson or Taylor Lautner -- it's Kristen Stewart. What gives?
I idolize her in a way. She's under the constant scrutiny and negative criticism, but she still goes out in public with hardly any makeup, wearing cheap clothes. She doesn't pose or act unnatural in front of the cameras because it's not who she is. She gets a lot of crap from the press, saying she's mean and depressed, but in reality, she's just staying true to her roots. She's a quiet, kind of awkward, low-maintenance girl, and she's not trying to portray anything but that. I think that's a really difficult thing to do in the eye of fame. I've always felt like a semi-awkward and strange person, and she makes me feel like my social idiocy is okay.
Who's better, K-Stew or Bella?
K-Stew, definitely. Bella can be whiny sometimes.
Alright. I'm your big brother; I've gotten you into a lot of things. Stephen King, Harry Potter. Do you lose sleep at night or feel yourself beginning to hate me because I won't read 'Twilight'?
Like I said before, 'Twilight' brings me happiness, and it does for a lot of other people. I only want to pass on that happiness to others, and most importantly to you, big broski.
Ha! Will it make me happy, though? Could it crack through my cynicism and skepticism?
Probably not. But I can hope!
Well, I hope 'Eclipse' fulfills your wildest dreams tonight, sis.
Thanks. See you this weekend.
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