Rachel del Valle | The twilight of childhood franchises
Duly Noted | Now that most of our franchises have grown up, does that mean we have to?
November 21, 2011, 1:15 am·
Rachel del Valle
So, the penultimate Twilight saga movie came out this weekend. It’s almost over.
This is weird for me because I don’t care. And it’s possible you don’t either. I suppose I’m a little too old for it anyway, but age restrictions on cultural phenomena have never stopped me before. Star Wars? The force is with me. Star Trek? Resistance is futile. The Lord of the Rings? I dressed up as Arwen, elf princess, for Halloween in the fifth grade. Harry Potter? I’m only human.
But Twilight? I never got into it. I’m really not even that annoyed by it. But that apathy is what bothers me. I just don’t care. And that makes me feel old. And feeling old is uncomfortable.
There’s something about being so infatuated with a fictional world that pulls at our nostalgia, our childhood, our whittled sense of imagination. I love midnight showings and discussing differences between the book and the film. I love knowing the names and backstories of dozens of characters and agonizing over casting choices. Movie premieres draw many a fan out of their shadowy basements. That energy is uniquely hyper, tinged with a devotion different from that of a concert or sporting event.
I like to be in on that anticipation. But try as they might, glittery vampires just don’t hold the same intrigue as lightsaber-toting Jedi. I just can’t seem to form an opinion about Team Edward or Team Jacob. I feel like an old-timer who longs for the days when Harrison Ford was the leading man instead of some guy’s six pack.
And yes, I have actually seen the Twilight films. I have a bookish 15-year-old cousin who lists Stephenie Meyer on her long list of favorite authors. When her eyes get all excited and she starts talking about Volturi and vampire rules and how the Civil War figures into the story, I’m lost. It’s after moments like these that I realize how foreign a term like Klingon or Tatooine or Horcrux is to the general population. When it comes to Twilight, or pretty much any franchise produced after the turn of the century, I just don’t get it.
Being one of those ignorant people in the audience who has to whisper things like “Wait, who’s that again?” or “I thought he was dead!” or “Why is his shirt still off?” to the sage next to me is a strange role reversal. Seeing fandom from the outside makes me feel somehow smug, but also slightly sad. I now realize how incomplete films alone can be in their representation of a franchise. You get some entertainment value, to be sure, but all the intricacies are smoothed out into a plot that’s somewhat clear, but mostly hollow to the casual viewer.
Movies that build on existing franchises, whether they are books or previous films or television shows, allow for another level of immersion. They also add years, stretching the nerdiness well into young adulthood. The “Harry Potter generation” that we as college students are a part of, has been kept alive not only by the success of J.K. Rowling’s seven-book series, but also by the global reach of her eight film adaptations. It’s remarkable that something that entered my life around the age of 9 stayed in it, with a fairly consistent level of interest, until I was 19 years old.
I really don’t think that prolonged interest is such a bad thing, but it begs the question: Now that most of our preteen infatuations have grown up, does that mean we have to as well?
I like to think not. Or, at least, not yet anyway.
Once the new Batman comes out this summer, I’ll pull out my sense of excitement again, and possibly a Catwoman costume. I have an affection for the caped crusader that broods in the little boy part of my heart along with LEGOs. I’ll compare Anne Hathaway’s sleek, brunette Selina Kyle to Michelle Pfeiffer’s corkscrew blonde from Tim Burton’s Batman Returns. I’ll look for influences from the film-noir style of Batman: The Animated Series from the ’90s in the production design. I’ll geek out.
But that’s a while from now, and The Dark Knight Rises will be the last film in director Christopher Nolan’s series. What will I do after that? Graduate college, get a job and wait patiently for the next remake, which will likely be shot in 3-D with laser-beams in 2025? Probably.
Rachel del Valle is a College sophomore from Newark, N.J. Her email address is email@example.com. Duly Noted appears every Monday.