For millions around the world, November was eclipsed by a single night — the premiere of “Breaking Dawn — Part 1.” At midnight on November 18th, theaters throughout the country were filled with loyal fans as the global phenomenon that has seized popular culture slowly drew to an end.
But what did this scene look like in the Ann Arbor area?
When I arrived at Rave 20 in Ypsilanti, I wanted a quirky story. I wanted angry middle-aged book club members wielding a battering ram to knock down the doors. Hell, with the media’s coverage of girlish mobs swarming Robert Pattinson, I expected it. I expected there to be two different lines for Team Edward and Team Jacob to prevent a riot. I expected to see tweenage hearts melting at the mere sight of Pattinson’s cardboard cutout.
I’m not a fan of “Twilight.” As I rode to Rave 20, I was expecting airhead responses — “Umm, like, I’m Team Edward, but only when Jacob keeps his shirt on,” a friend of mine joked.
Instead, I walked into this: fans being welcomed in from the cold; quiet, orderly lines and the room’s small talk punctuated by the sound of chattering teeth.
Even more bewildering — there were men present. As a “Twilight” outsider, I had always assumed that these premieres were an XY-prohibited event. I would think these men were forced to go by a significant other.
But that was not always the case. In one of the lines stood a young man named Chris Manning, a Target employee, waiting patiently with his arms crossed.
“I’m here for the film,” he explained simply. “I’m a fan.”
Well, that’s understandable enough. But now for the real test of fanhood, the great existential question of our time: Was this unabashed fan on Team Edward or Team Jacob?
“It’s just a movie to me,” he said with a shrug. “I enjoy it. It’s entertaining. That’s what it’s supposed to be.”
After walking around a bit more, I ran into another unlikely fan: Garrett Davis, a sophomore at Washtenaw College. Davis towered over the others in his line, so naturally, I assumed (again) he hated “Twilight” and was only here because he was coerced into going.
“Well, I didn’t like it at first, but there’s action in it,” Davis said. “There’s also romance and stuff, so it’s a movie for everyone, really.”
And that’s how it was for most of the night. While the gender ratio overwhelmingly leaned toward females, not even they appeared to be devoutly attached to the films. For even the hardcore fans, it’s another night, another movie, another $10 spent on a ticket.
As Manning so aptly put it, “It’s entertaining.”
There are overzealous “Twilight” followers, but as my experience taught me, this is just another Hollywood trend.
And there have been worse fanbases. Take “The Birth of a Nation,” a Southern antebellum film that idealized the Ku Klux Klan and even romanticized slavery. And people are worried about a little crush?
I do concede there have been disturbing incidents taking place because of celebrity obsession, and that’s an issue not to be taken lightly. But the amount of hatred this series garners seems hardly proportional. While “Twilight” does lack considerable literary merit, how much can really be accomplished by websites like twilight-sucks.livejournal.com? Or by hurtling weightless insults at the actors and writers or calling fans stupid?
It actually seems counterproductive. Calling someone else ignorant only reveals your own ignorance. And regardless of what we might think, they’ll continue watching these films and reading the books. I could think of worse things happening.