Jenny Turner · New Moon

'Twilight'-inspired vinyl lettering for your bedroom, only $9.99

They’re always at it, the entertainment-industry minebots, sinking down their boreholes, and sometimes, out it gushes, unbelievably thick and fast. A week ago, I had just finished reading in one newspaper about how teenage girls are asking for cosmetic surgery on their genitals (‘The ideal these women want is not to be able to see their labia minora at all. That is the image from pornography and magazines’) and in another about Kate Moss and her life-motto (‘Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’) when I turned on the television to find an interview with Robert Pattinson, the 23-year-old actor who plays Edward Cullen, the vampire hero of The Twilight Saga: New Moon. Is it disturbing, Pattinson was asked, when fans identify him with his character? Only sometimes, he replied, when they cut themselves and ask him if he’d like to drink their blood.

The thought of cutting never crossed my mind when I wrote about Stephenie Meyers’s Twilight books in the LRB in March. I was too busy thinking about the anti-sex angle, and the anorexia and the Mormonism, and the disdain for anything to do with real live human bodies – vampires don’t eat, don’t breathe and never get a day older, like supermodels and celebrities, like corpses tidied up at the embalmers, which when you think about the mythological background is exactly what they are. Meyers’s vampires are also so brilliant they actually sparkle, so cool they actually feel cold when you touch them; though Kristen Stewart, the 19-year-old actor who plays Bella, the teenage heroine, had to remind the TV interviewer of the implications when it came round to her turn.

‘So which do you prefer, hunky or smouldering?’ was the question – the plot of New Moon, such as it is, involves Bella choosing between two love-rivals, the wan, patrician Edward and Jacob, a baby-faced but hideously pumped son of the Native American underclass who turns into a werewolf under threat. ‘Sorry, but what do you mean?’ says Kristen, a touch sarcastic – she’s subtle about it, but generally manages to let you know she finds the whole Twilight thing idiotic and demeaning. ‘Well, I mean Jacob’s hunky, and Edward’s so hot, he smoulders...’ ‘How can Edward smoulder when he’s cold?’ The last time I remember watching such an explosively confusing confection, it was Britney Spears, back in the olden days, when she was still 17 and a Baptist and supposedly a virgin, dressed up in her filthy Catholic schoolgirl’s uniform to sing a song about being hit.

Stop reading now if you don’t like spoilers, but if you don’t mind knowing what happens later on in the Twilight saga, there’s better news coming in off the more homespun of the blogs. LDS Sparkledammerung analyses the Latter-Day Saints input to the Meyer oeuvre – the so-racist-you’d-almost-not-notice-it Native American stuff, for example, comes straight from the Lamanites in the Book of Mormon. Regretsy, the anti-crafting blog, lists a glittery paperweight entitled ‘Bella in anguish’, handmade from polymer clay (‘This reminds me of the time my dog ate a packet of crayons’). And of the many instances of nasty New Moon merch – sparkly dildoes, branded drugs bags, salt-and-vampire-flavour Pringles – catalogued recently on io9, the stand-out item is surely the hand-crafted felt model of what you may not want to know is going to happen to Bella’s uterus in Breaking Dawn, the libidinously organ-spattered, spectacularly autodestructive fourth and final instalment of the series – like a mushroom calzone smeared with tomato puree, a vampire foetus nestling in the middle like a blob of mozzarella cheese.


  • 2 December 2009 at 5:50am
    Wellreadnat says:
    Very well said indeed! I have been doing all I can to avoid Twilight in all its manifestations yet still it seeps through the mental cracks. I had not made the connection to the aspects of contemporary popular culture you have but upon reading them I find them wholly justified.

  • 3 December 2009 at 2:16am
    Brian - Kafkacotton says:
    Personally, I don't like Twilight for a lot of reasons but it has, like Harry Potter, put books in kids' hands. 14% of America and just under 20% of the world is illiterate so getting millions of kids reading is a big deal. Looking at Twilight artistically, I side with Mr. Shaw:

    "If more than ten percent of the population likes a painting it should be burned, for it must be bad."--Bernard Shaw

    The shirts my design shop makes (inspired by great books) would hopefully stand up to the 10% test..