The word “renaissance,” which is, I believe, French, means a profound rebirth. So it’s only fitting that the rebirth of Lit Lit should start with a discussion of the recently renewed interest in Stephanie Meyers’s young-adult Vampire romance novels and worldwide literary phenomenon: Twilight.
Lit Lit involves an interviewer getting an interviewee ~lit~ and asking them about books. Basically drunk English comps. No one has done it in a while. Honestly it’s never been an entirely coherent feature. Until now. We’re bringing Lit Lit out of the dark ages, people, and Edward Cullen’s sparkly skin is gonna light the way.
For this installment, two intellectual chillers, whose legal names are Raging Werewolf and Enchanting Murderer, got together for a good time and a good discussion.
Enchanting Murderer (EM) identifies as a former twi-hard, so Raging Werewolf (RW) interviewed her about the Twilight Renaissance, what it is, why it’s important, and what it means for the future of humanity.
RW: This is [Enchanting] and she’s going to be explaining the, quote, Twilight Renaissance to me. So first, what is the Twilight Renaissance?
EM: 2018 was the 10 year anniversary of the first Twilight movie coming out––
RW: When did the first book come out?
EM: I believe was 2004. Perhaps 2005, I need to check my sources. But anyways this past year, because it was the 10 year anniversary, there was a revisiting of Twilight and the discourse surrounding Twilight. Especially because many of the core Twi-hards who were, like, tweens or teens back in 2008 they’re now adults. Perhaps they’re English majors, perhaps at small liberal arts colleges, perhaps even this very one. And with that, being able to look at the literature of Twilight with a more analytical and also culturally aware eye. We find that, honestly? The hate towards Twilight not entirely deserved. People really shat on it especially because the fan base was so young and female. People were like, “Oh, like, what is this? Trash culture? This is stupid, vampires, that’s dumb.” But if you look at the novels, like, there’s a reason why they were so popular. But they’re not perfect.
RW: You read every one of them?
EM: I have. I did. I read them when I was in 4th grade. Perhaps too young. Breaking Dawn gets pretty freaky.
RW: No, it really does.
EM: Yeah, and I was shown a tweet that was like, “Girls who were into twilight or into vampire books are into BDSM…..but, um, yeah I think 4th grade was too young. But, reading them really––I think many young girls see themselves in Bella. Also I mean it’s such a bond in it as well. They’re gothic novels, really. I mean, you have a young impressionable protagonist who falls for a mysterious brooding man who lives, like, in an isolated mansion in the woods. That’s basically Jane Eyre. He’s a vampire. What? Forks, Washington it’s a very airy
RW: It’s Gothic.
EM: It is Gothic, it’s fully Gothic
RW: Would you say Neo-gothic?
EM: I would say yes.
RW: It’s just like theory I’m creating.
EM: Yes. I mean I could teach a class.
RW: So give me the plot quick, give me fast and dirty.
EM: So a teenage girl moves from sunny Arizona to cloudy Forks, Washington. There’s sort of like an outcast type family, of very pale, but very beautiful, but very pale people. One of them is this hot young man named Edward and the two have a passionate love affair. Actually, they don’t until Breaking Dawn. He’s a vampire.
RW: Yeah that’s true. It’s like Troy and Gabriella, they have the musical but they don’t kiss until the second movie.
EM: Just like that. Then over the course of four books basically he’s like “You can’t be with me, I’m a vampire, I’ll hurt you.” She’s like, “You’re not responsible for my feelings, I am, I want to be with you, Deal with it.” He’s like, “I’m a vampire.” She’s like, “Okay, I want to be a vampire.” He’s like “No.” and then finally by Breaking Dawn he’s like, “Okay.” Also, there are werewolves.
RW: Bites the shit out of her.
EM: Yeah he does. There are werewolves, like Jacob. I was never team Jacob, first of all.
RW: Please go into that also
EM: It’s Jacob, a childhood friend of Bella. He’s a werewolf.
RW: But she only lived there as a teenager, so it can’t be a childhood friend?
EM: Like way back in the day when her parents were still together or something.
RW: Did she live in Forks as a child?
EM: I think so. She had been to Forks. Her dad had been in her life when she was younger and she met Jacob and became friends. They were, whatever. But that’s the thing, Twilight is not perfect. Stephanie Meyer did some really gross appropriation with, especially with the werewolves and like, Native American tribes..
RW: That’s tricky.
EM: Yeah, that’s bad, that’s bad. That hasn’t aged well…But yeah Jacob was in love with Bella. New Moon was bad. Putting that out there, because Edward was gone and so it was all about Jacob and also Bella was just, like, really depressed? New Moon was bad. I guess the werewolf love triangle became less important as the books went on. By Breaking Dawn Jacob wasn’t really in the picture, which was fine with me. But by then also Bella and Edward get married and she becomes a vampire.
RW: And she’s pregnant then.
EM: Yeah, well he kind of accidentally…
RW: They had weird sex in the ocean in the movie right.
EM: Right, but in the book it’s so graphic.
RW: Like what? Give me some examples.
EM: Well just very violent. She examines her bruises and bite marks the next morning. It’s like, fully kinky. Then she becomes beautiful because vampires are beautiful, of course. Then she also becomes pregnant with a half human/half vampire child.
RW: The first time she has sex?
EM: Yeah, I guess vampire sperm is like super strong. And she wasn’t on birth control.
RW: Is that in the book, that she wasn’t on birth control? Does birth control prevent vampire babies?
EM: Maybe. I’ll look into it, for my own for my own sake. I’ll look into that. Then the really weird stuff with the imprinting of her child.
RW: Doesn’t Jacob fall in love with the baby immediately?
EM: Yeah. That’s another like, weird, appropriative… like Stephanie Meyer, I don’t know what you were going for there but it didn’t work. The books themselves, also like especially in Twilight there are some weird, not even weird just like full on invasive things that Edward does to Bella that are big red flags. And not that that stuff isn’t important and we shouldn’t examine that with a very critical eye. But overall there’s a reason why so many people loved these books.
RW: Also we just shit on things that girls like. It’s like, nobody shits on football but everybody shits on the bachelor. Football’s stupid. Also football is actually bad for you. Twilight only did good things for me personally.
EM: Yeah and the movies were like, fun. Robert Pattinson is a dreamboat.
RW: So you were Team Edward always? Book and movie?
EM: Always, book and movie. No question. Jacob had, he had to be there I guess. But he’s one of those “nice guys,” he’s like, “I’ve been friend zoned,” and you’re like, just like be thankful that this pretty, smart young woman even wants you in her life because she doesn’t need you.
RW: Did she ever have sex with him?
EM: No, no. They kiss.
RW: I mean he like imprints on her child immediately.
EM: That was really bad.
RW: Tell me about the end.
EM: Well, Renesme–– That’s the other major issue, is that the name of their child is Renesme.
RW: That’s terrible, I remember that. You remember at the end of the second movie when she just gets bitten and she’s bleeding out…. She’s a vampire?
EM: Yeah. So she’s a vampire, so she’s never going to die. Edward’s still a vampire. The Cullens are all still vampires, how that works. The Volturi, basically these vampires–– So the Cullens are like vegetarians
RW: Can they eat like animal meat?
EM: They only eat animal meat, they don’t drink human blood, they only drink animal blood.
RW: Does it get them off in the same way, if they drink animal blood?
EM: No, it’s not as satisfying but they’re like, we can’t drink human blood.
RW: Could they go somewhere where they donate blood?
EM: I guess? But I think that’s like, dangerous because once you have that taste you just want more.
RW: It’s like nicotine.
EM: Yeah, Juuling, basically.
RW: This could be a really long form. Like somebody could use it like you don’t want to get addicted to nicotine like you don’t want to get addicted to blood
EM: Yeah. You don’t want to be like that fucking vampire Dakota Fanning played that can’t speak. Dakota Fanning was in it. So was Rami Malik, briefly but he was like an Egyptian vampire. He was hot. There’s this whole like Volturi subplot. They go to Rome. It’s crazy. But at the heart of the story it’s still about Edward and Bella and even more so about Bella. She’s a mom, which is kinda crazy. Also her child grows exponentially because I guess that’s how vampires are.
RW: So like this vampire baby is growing…
EM: Yeah. So she grows like, super fast
RW: That’s like an issue while she’s pregnant. Is that this baby rips out and she’s not a vampire yet so it’s going to kill her unless she is a vampire.
EM: Yeah. There’s some like tricky vampire physiology in there. Carlisle Cullen is a doctor so he takes care of it. But it’s a difficult period for the whole family. But it kind of all gets resolved. They kind of live happily ever after.
RW: Well sick. Do you have any, like what are your hot takes?
EM: Well. Jacob had a boyhood crush on this girl, he’s gotta get over that. Edward, if he were a real person, no, that man’s no good.
RW: Isn’t it the whole thing that he’s like, abusive. There’s another thing that I remember talking about when I was an intellectual in 8th grade and it was really an abusive relationship, it fits that.
EM: No, fully emotionally and psychologically abusive.
RW: Physically, wouldn’t he like sit outside of her window and wait for her.
EM: Like, not good behavior, don’t do that, ever.
RW: I don’t want to defend that explicitly. But also I think that there’s validity in things that girls…There’s validity in like, letting girls like things.
EM: I think in fourth grade I read those books and I was like…. Sexy. Like, fully.
RW: Oh yeah, a sexual awakening.
EM: I guess so. It explains a lot. Oh no. Danny Phantom was my sexual awakening.
RW: Danny Phantom was all of our sexual awakenings….And that needs to be end of the interview.