Monday, July 12, 2010

The Twilight Generation

Most cultural crazes captivate popular culture for only a short period of time, and then gradually fade away. Think of the movie Avatar, for example. In early 2010, it was all the rage. People were raving about the brilliance of the fantasy world, Pandora. There were even reports of PAD (Post-Avatar Depression), a condition where upon leaving the theater and becoming conscious of the fact that Pandora was not reality, people became depressed. Many still worship the movie, of course, but in mainstream society, it has now been placed on the back burner.

If this is the normal pattern, then what is it about the Twilight saga that continues to enthrall so many people? Otherwise normal (or mostly normal) people have turned into obsessive and fanatical vampire lovers. In a society that idolizes the glamorous life of rich, tan people on whom the sun never stops shining, who would have predicted that the next big thing would be a movie about pasty-white, middle class, superhumans from the rainiest place in America?

In part, I think the appeal of Twilight lies in the Team Edward v. Team Jacob rivalry. It plays into the desire of the human psyche to be part of a group, or on a team. It seems clear who is winning that battle though—according to the Social Security Association, the top baby names for 2009 were Jacob and Isabella (two of the three main Twilight characters). Edward was not in the top ten.

This baby name phenomenon demonstrates that the Twilight saga is not a temporary fad like Tamagotchis or High School Musical…it is revolutionizing a generation. Granted, it could be worse. If, say, Transformers hit it as big, we could have a bunch of baby Optimus Primes and Megatrons running around.

Advice from Ariel
Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

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