Every time a new Twilight film comes out, my brother and I brave the madding crowds and ridiculously overpriced tickets to see it in theaters. The overblown romance and cheesy dialogue of the saga is singularly entertaining and best captured on the big screen, where each one of Taylor Lautner’s constantly displayed abdominal muscles can be larger than the human head. From the melodramatic opening sequence, we’re laughing. But we’re far from the only ones. In fact, amidst the endless discussion of Twilight‘s serious diehard fans, the ones who wish they could date Edward or Jacob themselves, it seems that a sizeable chunk of the films’ viewership is being ignored: the amused.
Matt and I went to a nighttime showing of Eclipse on the second day of its release. We arrived a few minutes before the previews began and barely found seats. The next showing, due to begin over an hour later, already had a long line of people waiting to get in. These were not casual Twilight viewers, the kind of people who wander into a cineplex and pick any old movie to see. These were people who made specific plans to see Eclipse as soon as possible. And yet, the crowd was far from the reverent, Robert Pattinson-worshiping, squealing and fainting Twihards the media is so fond of writing about.
When Jacob, he of the impressively if slightly disturbingly toned midsection, whipped off his shirt approximately thirty seconds into a scene, the entire audience dissolved into laughter, not lustful shrieks. When Edward’s slow-motion appearance was heralded by an extra-intense music cue, he was greeted by giggles, not declarations of love. The two boys’ long, significant discussion of their deep feelings for Bella was a humorous highlight, not an emotional one. Taking only the audience reactions into account, Eclipse is more of a comedy than a romantic drama.
While certainly there are the Twilight fans who would be horribly offended by anyone daring to laugh at their beloved series, the vast majority of Twilight enthusiasts welcome and enjoy the humor of the films. Countless articles have been written by major media outlets about whether or not Twilight sets a bad example for girls and women or is a step backwards for feminism or is creating unrealistic expectations of romance, as if most people who pay to see the movies do so because they buy completely into the contrived plots and grandiose statements about love. Perhaps the truth is that Eclipse is just like other big-budget summer blockbusters: a movie that people watch and are entertained by, and then exit and return to normal life.
The makers of Eclipse certainly don’t seem to think that their movie needs to be taken seriously. There’s a knowing glee to Jacob’s relentless shirtlessness, and lines like hot blooded-werewolf Jacob’s retort to cold-blooded vampire Edward “after all, I am hotter than you” are obvious winks at the Team Jacob/Team Edward pandemonium. Eclipse is a fun and mediocre movie like countless hit films before it. Maybe the main reason it draws so much scrutiny and criticism is that this time it’s mostly girls who are enjoying.