Squeals of pleasure erupt from every corner of the darkened theater, giggles overpower the dialogue bandied about by the on-screen lovers, and gasps of devotion escape the over excited lips of the besotted masses.
‘Edward!’ the crowd cries in unison as the object of their affection appears on-screen. Apparently the director knew just what the crowd wanted, the main character’s beauty-shot-style introduction lasts a good 45 seconds.
I turn around expecting to be greeted by a gaggle of prepubescent girls wearing eye glitter, Uggs, and miniskirts. Instead I’m greeted by a pack of 40-something women- minus their teenage daughters. Decked out in movie-themed gear from teenage-mecca Hot Topic, their eyes are glassy, their faces hopeful, they utter another scream of excitement, their voices are shrill, but just can’t seem reach the ear-splitting tones seemingly produced only by 13-year-old girls.
‘Twilight,’ the cultural phenomenon currently reigning at a cineplex and bookstore near you is hardly new news. Yes, the film pulled in $70.6 million this weekend and its ink and paper counterparts have sold millions of copies, but in almost every instance, the vampire love story is thought of as nearly synonymous with ‘teenage girl.’ While it’s true that the under 14 set make up more than a majority of ‘Twilight”s audience, the Romeo and Juliet story has a huge appeal to those that aren’t also obsessed with the Jonas Brothers.
This troop of twi-hards may not be underground per se, but anyone on ‘team Edward’ that is over voting age is oft ignored by the media circus surrounding the spectacle. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have a presence in the ‘Twilight’ fandom.
Lisa Hansen, creator of TwilightMoms.com, a website that touts the phrase ‘the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world,’ describes her site as a place to obsess and talk with other women, specifically moms, as insane for the series as herself.
‘Is your house a disaster with piles of piles of laundry in every corner and stacks of dirty dishes at record breaking heights?’ Hansen asks readers in the website’s profile. ‘Have you imagined your husband is a vampire (or werewolf) and suddenly have the libido of newlywed again? You still can’t tear yourself away from the book and damned be the consequences! The good new is, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!’
Hansen is right. She is not alone. The record breaking opening weekend of the first flick in the franchise, making $25 million more than expected, proved ‘Twilight’ appeals to more than its core audience of teenage girls.
‘I read the first book in two days!’ said Jennifer Kuzbel, a 24-year-old self-proclaimed ‘Twilight’ addict. ‘I’m totally obsessed!’
‘I love it! It’s such a sexy vampire-love story,’ agrees 22-year-old Aimee Dupuis. ‘My fianc’eacute; calls it my dark side.’
In fact, when looking for Twilighters that also carry driver’s licenses and college degrees, it’s impossibly easy to find women who are dying to talk about Edward and Jacob, the series’ two main heartthrobs.
‘Oh my God! They’re my favorite books in the world,’ proclaim Elizabeth Garner, a 26-year-old Barnes and Noble employee. ‘I’m obsessed with Edward!’
Obsession seems to be a common theme among fans whether they be 15 or 35. It seems that the complete consumption of their time with thoughts of immortal models running through their heads takes the place of harsher realities. Worries about debt, school, jobs, and relationships in which your significant other won’t do the laundry let alone die for you are replaced by visions of sparkling six-packs and ultimate devotion by a mythical being.
What ‘Gone with the Wind’ did for audiences in the depression era, ‘Twilight’ does for today’s audiences. Escapist entertainment, at its best, will always be appealing to a broad audience, no matter their age. Surely squeals of delight were uttered when the dashing Rhett Butler entered the scene and later told Scarlet he didn’t give a damn. After all, swooning knows no age limits and escapism is a surefire cure, if only for a few hours.’