It seems like yesterday that we were all still in love with the Twilight saga. For decades, the vampire romance novels and feature-length films have kept the spark alive, and now, they’re once again taking the pop culture world by storm.
One of the biggest highlights of this year’s Comic-Con was the premiere of the final film in the Twilight series, Twilight Saga: The Farewell.
The movie serves as a bittersweet finale for the saga, as it focuses on the strained relationships between the film’s key characters: Bella (Bella), Edward (Edward), and Jacob (Jake). The film also marks the departure of its main stars: Stephenie Meyer’s vampire series, which first brought the blended clans of Cullen and Volturi fame, has ended.
Despite its sad tone, Twilight Saga: The Farewell is a critical and commercial success. The film scored the highest opening weekend of all time, racking up $170 million worth of box office sales.
The film also inspired a meme, which gained popularity overnight.
The meme in question is a scene from the movie in which a tearful Bella breaks down in her father’s arms. She’s overcome with grief after finding out that Edward, her romantic partner for the past nine years, has cheated on her with another woman, Alice (Alice).
In the meme, users highlight the absurdity of Bella’s reaction to her lover’s betrayal. Many have noted that while the character may be passionate and devoted, she can be a little over-the-top. In some cases, fans have even gone as far as to say that Bella’s passion makes her relatable, and even lovable.
Because of its unprecedented popularity, it’s no surprise that the meme has spawned other, similar iterations. And it appears that the meme’s impact may be more widespread than we think. Not only has it spread to Twitter, where users are now calling Bella “Bonerilla,” but it’s also inspired a spinoff novel and an animated show.
The Rise In Popularity
The meme-mania surrounding Bella arose quickly after the film’s August 2018 premiere. Within 24 hours of the film’s debut, Twitter users were already calling Bella “Bonerilla” and sharing their own renditions of the scene.
Within a few days, the hashtag #Bonerilla became the top trending topic on the platform. According to HootSuite Analytics, the hashtag reached its climax on September 12, 2018, when it became the top trend in the United States and Canada.
Prior to the film’s premiere, the closest competition for the hashtag was between #PennyPinchingPro and #KraftyKevi, two popular memes about the snack-sized boxes of Kraft Mac & Cheese and KEVIN SMITH, respectively.
The Viral Effect
What is it about a well-made meme that can go viral? Perhaps it’s the simplicity of repetition. Or the fact that anyone can understand the humour in the first place. Or the cathartic relief that comes from watching all those funny videos.
According to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), the popularity of the #Bonerilla hashtag on Twitter peaked in October 2018 and has since gradually decreased, currently ranking at #37,408 as of April 23, 2019.
Similarly, the popularity of the #BonerillaTTS, or “Text to Speech,” version of the meme peaked in October 2018 and gradually decreased until it fell off the radar in March 2019. This is likely due to the fact that people are slowly realizing that what they’re reading is actually text, and not a voice output.
Novel Inspired By Popular Film
Soon after the film’s premiere, fans began tweeting about a possible novel adaptation. And, in a rare move, Stephenie Meyer, the author of the Twilight series, actually responded to this call for an adaptation.
“I’d love to write a few scenes from the finale…if there’s enough interest, of course,” she said in a statement released by HarperCollins on August 16, 2018.
Since then, the publishing house has kept mum about whether or not they’ll officially publish a Twilight saga novel. But, in the meantime, other fans have taken matters into their own hands and written, or are in the process of writing, their own take on the iconic couple’s story.
Animated Show In The Making
YouTube user D_Meester uploaded a video to the platform on October 16, 2018, detailing his planned animated adaptation of Twilight.
The video went viral, accumulating over 300 million views and sparking hundreds, if not thousands, of fan-made videos. In the process, D_Meester has amassed a formidable collection of ‘grams that he’s put to good use:
- Animated GIFs: The video’s impressive array of animated GIFs have proven to be quite the hit. There are currently over 80 iterations of the ‘gram alone, featuring everything from a thoughtful portrayal of Bella and Edward’s relationship to a funny imagining of what would happen if the characters were real people.
- Character Animations: Many fans have gone the extra mile, drawing various character animations, ranging from humorous to heartbreaking. In some cases, these fan-made animations have even been incorporated into the viral video’s narrative, adding an extra element of fun.
- Musical Numbers: The video also features a lively soundtrack, which is perfectly synched to the animation. It’s safe to say the music is as important to the fun of this project as the animation itself.
- The Funniest Scene-Repetition: The funniest part of the viral video is likely its scene-repetition. While some may find the humour of the clips to be somewhat forced, others have found it to be highly effective. The video’s creator, D_Meester, has admitted that he deliberately used a low-quality recording of Bella’s voice to replicate the feeling of watching a poor recording.
- Instagram Stories: Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms, and one of the reasons behind its massive user base may be its innovative ‘gram stories feature. ‘Grams allow for a more intimate, individualized sharing experience when compared to most other platforms. This has helped make Instagram the go-to source for people seeking community on the internet, and the home of many famous meme pages, like #boomerangs, #dadvice, #kimjongatv and #nofilter.
Since its premiere, “Bonerilla” has been a viral sensation, inspiring memes, a spinoff novel, and even an animated show. But, what does all this mean for the future of the meme?
The Meaning Of ‘Bonerilla’
In the wake of the “Bonerilla” meme’s phenomenal ascent to internet stardom, many have rushed to define it. And what is revealed in these attempts to define the term is a remarkable amount of insight into our rapidly changing culture.
According to Urban Dictionary, a “boner” is “a male erection, or the feeling of desire or lust, that some people experience when viewing or thinking about something or someone that arouses their sexual instincts.”
While this definition may seem fairly representative of the term’s modern origins, it’s important to remember that Urban Dictionary also claims that the word is “etymologically Czech, and thus originally meaning ‘penis in a frog.’”
For those seeking sexual pleasure, the “Bonerilla” meme may act as a gateway drug to more exotic delights. Similarly, for those seeking an outlet for their sexual frustrations, the meme may provide a quick and easy way to achieve catharsis.
Why Are Fans Adopting Bella?
Although the term “Bonerilla” has been around for some time, the viral video’s popularity has undoubtedly provided a platform for people to express their love for Bella and Edward.
On TikTok, users have created dozens of funny videos poking fun at Bella and Edward’s relationship. Many creators have noted that making these videos has been a cathartic creative outlet, providing them with a sense of relief and allowing them to laugh at something that brings back painful memories. For instance, in “Bonerilla,” the creators highlight how the scene reminds them of their own, similar arguments. One of the video’s stars, Matt Mudry, even cites his own experience drawing inspiration for the meme.