Back in July, when the last few weeks of summer stretched out in dullness as people started to leave and night outs started to repeat, I was looking for something to give me purpose, or, at the very least, something to distract me from gauging my eyes out of boredom. I wasn’t in the mood to pretend like I actually wanted to read. I wasn’t writing. I kept leaving my friends by late afternoon, so I could have lunch at home instead of circling malls for hours trying to agree on where to eat. My WiFi was rubbish, so I couldn’t scroll through Netflix only to go back to scrolling through Instagram because the movies were either too serious or too slow. I knew that I wanted something mind-numbing. A movie or a show that wouldn’t make me think any deeper beyond its dialogue, which is why I usually resort to movies I’ve already watched (given that I’ve watched 13 Going on 30 twelve times already, it didn’t make the cut). When I went through my stacks of DVDs – curtesy of not having Netflix in Lebanon until 2015–I found every movie from the Twilight Saga organised neatly and chronologically in the pile. Stephanie Mayer was calling my name.
At first, I hesitated. But then I dived right in…
The name Bella Swan and Edward Cullen haven’t popped into my mind since I was 13, but they were the names that filled in the noise of my pre-pubescent life. I remembered being conflicted between Team Jacob or Team Edward: Jacob was so warm and friendly, Edward was so cold and edgy. I usually chose Edward because I thought it was so hot and romantic how he would watch Bella sleeping. I had read the books and watched the movies, completely leaving rice cake Harry and Ron behind, so at the time of their release, the saga was cinematic excellence to me: Jacob’s wig in the first movie had looked so real; Edward’s paleness was so enticing; Bella was so stunning.
When I played the first movie, I couldn’t stop laughing. Every five minutes I made a sound that was a cross between disbelief and a squeal. It wasn’t just the horrific acting that go to me, or Bella’s facial expressions, which constantly looked like Kristen Stewart had to remember why she signed onto the movie, but it was also the fact that Twilight was given a $37m budget, only to come out with what it did–and we let them get away with it. I couldn’t stop staring at my screen, but for all the best reasons. Firstly, I didn’t have to think much about the dialogue because the short stories I wrote back in elementary had more substance. I willingly paid attention, though. I didn’t want to miss a single exchange. From when Edward first meets Bella and has to cover his nose before gagging to when he carries her on his back and whispers, “hold on tight, spider-monkey,” I was entranced by the strangeness of it all, and how I didn’t catch it before. I also felt nostalgic, like I’d walked into my old bedroom and forgotten everything that I once hung up; loving it, but also cringing.
I spent the next three days hiding away just to finish the series. Nothing could peel my eyes away from the screen as I watched Jacob turn into an awful CGI werewolf, Bella flinging herself off a cliff just to feel Edward with her, and, worst of all, when Edwella decided to name their child Renesmee. I could keep going on. The movies are filled with memorable one-liners and scenes that you want to replay over and over again just to make sure they actually happened (my personal favourite to repeat is Bella’s parents acting totally normal, and actually very encouraging, about their 18-year-old getting married). Don’t get me started on the sex scenes. This was Mean Girls, but better because the world of vampires, the Volturi, and Forks, Seattle was not meant to be so funny.
I really thought I struck gold with these movies: finally, something I could watch over and over again, and each time would feel like I’d missed all the best parts. I begged all my friends to give it a try, but, understandably so, they all made fun of me. Until one day, I managed to convince some friends to watch the first movie – I don’t think anybody in the room that night had ever laughed so hard. We watched it until the end (which doesn’t happen often) because every scene had felt like we’d forgotten that we’ve all watched it before. I didn’t think spider-monkey could be any funnier, but I was wrong. My greatest feat, however, was getting my best friend to watch New Moon. We were both on the floor by the time that Jacob’s wig made its first appearance. By halftime, I begged her to let me sleep, but she refused; she spent the next week finishing the Saga on her own.
At first, I thought I was alone in my epiphany. I was trying so hard to recruit others into this obsession: I was like a missionary, going around convincing university students that we were witnessing the same phenomenon as Wiseau’s The Room–it was so bad, you couldn’t look away. Nonetheless, I was not the first (or the last) to discover the Saga all over again. While Netflix US already had the Saga in its movie selection, it had only arrived in Netflix UK in October, as tribute for its ten-year anniversary, and according to the spike in Tumblr and Twitter posts, this didn’t go unnoticed. It what is now dubbed as the Twilight Renaissance, from memes to viral tweets to the think pieces that didn’t make it through the first round, the movie is at the tip of everybody’s tongue (to the disappointment of Robert Pattinson). Muse’s Supermassive Black Hole, from what is only the most iconic baseball scene to ever be produced, is back on our Spotify playlists. I’m one Amazon gift voucher away from buying a poster. Everybody wants to know which team you’re on now, your favorite character (Rosalie, duh), how we should go about the movie’s revival through a feminist perspective (we shouldn’t), and why we’re so enchanted by it.
My take is that it’s exactly what we’re looking for when we’re in bed, too numb to read and too lazy to be productive. It’s also something you can easily watch with a friend while talking over every scene about what you were like when the movie first came out. It’s digestible, it gets funnier every time that you watch it, and you never fully believe that it was actually directed and produced for an audience beyond the kind of people that enjoy Hallmark straight-to-DVD films. It also falls perfectly into the grey area of your 20s: you’re reminded that so much about you has changed, but at the same time, nothing actually has changed. The acting has always been this awful, the storyline has always been this cheap, but we’re watching it again with brains that are fully developed.
What was initially my first sexual awakening (#honeymoon #scene) is now my favorite enigma. I couldn’t recommend it enough.