It’s been a tough year for Twilighters. Not only did they have to watch their favourite franchise evolve and transform, but the constant media presence of Bella and her friends also attracted the scorn of countless internet trolls. Most notably, the publication of The Twilight Saga: New Moon in July 2013 drew criticism from across the internet. One of the most notorious tweets from the phenomenon drew inspiration from the book New Moon and lambasted its readers for being “stupid and shallow”:
“If you’ve never read New Moon, you should probably stop now. Because this is the part where Bella gets really angry, and she’s probably going to crush your fantasies.”
The tweet was an indirect allusion to one of the most pivotal scenes in New Moon. When Bella’s friend Renee approaches her with a proposition regarding her “monster” teeth, Bella responds by flinging open her wardrobe and letting loose a torrent of invective:
“I don’t know why you’re so obsessed with my teeth. I’ve got nice teeth, they’re just a part of me. I’m not saying I want to change them or anything, but why do you get so worked up about it? They’re not that great, actually. I mean, I have great teeth, but what are you talking about? I don’t know why you get so obsessed with my teeth, I have a really nice smile. It’s one of the things I like about myself. I’ve always had really good teeth, even as a kid. It’s weird – it’s like a sickness or something.”
After peaking at number three on the New York Times Best Seller list, Twilight made a significant pop culture impact in its day. While the craze was arguably fuelled by a combination of factors – the success of Harry Potter, the growing popularity of social media, and the Twilight Saga itself – its impact cannot be denied. The novel turned movie franchise inspired numerous memes and trend pieces, was discussed in popular culture, and even drew inspired artwork from some of the most prominent artists in contemporary art.
As a result of its cultural impact, Twilight was one of the most controversial books of the early 21st century. Its popularity, however, did not last, and it eventually fell victim to hype, over-analysis, and the ravages of time. It continues to be popular on ebook platforms, but its presence in popular culture is now largely limited to footnotes – albeit pleasant ones.
The most recent Twilight installment, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2, was released in November 2013 to mixed reviews. While enjoying the majority of its elements, ranging from the screenplay to director (and co-writer of the original novel) Todd McFarlane’s visual style, many have criticised the film for lacking the emotional resonance of its predecessors. Its premiere was also overshadowed by a bomb scare that forced the evacuation of several cinemas across the US.
The year since Twilight’s release has been a period of transition and reinvention for the franchise. The success of Breaking Dawn – Part 2 may have served as a shot in the arm for the Twilight films, but it came at a cost. Not only did it draw significant budgetary commitments that likely strained the franchise’ already limited finances, but it also came with an acknowledgement that the series’ popularity had peaked. After a brief hiatus, the Twilight films returned in 2015 with an underwhelming response from fans and critics alike, and since then, there has been an increasing move towards self-reflection and artistic evolution within the franchise.
The first indication we have of this transition comes in the form of a somewhat enigmatic project dubbed FKA twigs. Little is known about the British-born, Los Angeles-based artist, other than she has chosen to keep a low profile, and that she has had an extensive career as an actress and singer. In 2010 she received widespread praise for her portrayal of the character Renée in the film The Kids Are Alright, a celebration of the rebellious spirit of the 1960s.
The most recent incarnation of the Twilight Saga is arguably one of the most interesting and creative revivals in recent film history. Amidst the ongoing critical and financial disappointment that is the Twilight Saga, fans of the films may find solace in FKA twigs’ work, and it is an exciting prospect that she may become the architect of a new generation of Twilighters.