Metaphors for a Happy Marriage

21 Oct

Twilight's sexy protagonist.

In Stephen Fry’s The Ode Less Travelled (which is an excellent book about the history and practice of poetry if you are that way inclined) he emphasizes the value of a common vernacular. Every hobby, from ship building to taxidermy has its own set of words, a private language to discuss the ins and outs of your chosen field. Part of the joy of having a hobby is sharing it with others, to be part of an exclusive group with its own secret jokes. Mech-builders are astonished at the decision to release a perfect 00-81 for the anniversary edition,  macolytes are going on about something round, white and expensive which really could be anything.

Pop culture obsessives function in much the same way, if you describe anything as ‘shiny’ you will be instantly adored by Firefly fans. Whedon fans are particularly good at this, I remember one afternoon I spent half-delirious on a riverbank playing ‘guess the Buffy quote’ for several hours. Having your own slice of fandom is increasingly valued in our fractured world, a love of The Shield, Achewood or Brian Posehn will endear you to strangers in a way ‘what do you do for a living?’ will never quite accomplish.

Twilight, at least on a surface level, should be one of those things- and it does have its fans. Yet there is more hatred towards it from nerdy types than anything I can remember. It has all the hallmarks of a good nerd property- romantic themes, silly costumes, supernatural whatsits. It certainly isn’t because it’s poorly written (there are plenty of those), has questionable morality (ditto) or a film adaption that’s obnoxiously bad (practically all of them). It is because Twilight is much too popular.

This isn’t some ‘I stop liking things when they become popular’ nonsense, but rather an observation that Twilight uses hoary old nerd trappings to appeal to a mass market audience – people who aren’t nerds. People who love their books or tv shows will probably tell you that most people ‘won’t get it’,  and there’s a certain joy to that. Patrick Stewart never appeared on the cover of New Weekly and Trekkies wouldn’t want him to- if that happened he’d stop being ‘theirs’ and become just another celebrity. That’s why Twilight is terrible, its nothing more than bollocks dressed as lamb.


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