October 25, 2014

Opinion column: Twi-hards one example of pop culture phenomena

Corbin H. Crable

chcrable@gardnernews.com

I wasn’t looking forward to this week.

The third installment of ‘Twilight’ opened, and with the movie a barrage of squealing 12-year-old girls and giggling soccer moms descended on the movie theater at which I work.

We’ve seen it all before – when the first two films opened, consumers were greeted with a flood of merchandise in stores, from posters to t-shirts to books to – yes, even pairs of Edward Cullen panties. Teens camped out at movie theaters decked out in full vampire regalia. Fierce debates about the merits of Team Jacob vs. Team Edward raged. It died down a bit. Now it’s coming back.

As dull as I find the books – riddled with clichés and packed full of one-dimensional characters with all of the charm and insight of department store mannequins – let’s not kid ourselves here: As much as the rest of us want to make fun of ‘Twilight,’ those of us who do so must admit we’re huge hypocrites.

Pop culture craziness has been around for as long as pop culture itself. We had young women swooning to Elvis Presley’s gyrating hips in the 1950s. We had the younger sisters of those women screaming for the Beatles in the 1960s.

And more recently? Take your pick from Harry Potter, Miley Cyrus, High School Musical and more.

I’m just as guilty as anyone else to falling under pop culture’s spell. When I found out Paul McCartney was coming to the Sprint Center next month, I made sure I was sitting in front of my computer the moment tickets went on sale last week.

Within moments of logging on to the Ticketmaster Web site, there were only single seats available in the nosebleed section. I bought my tickets but couldn’t contain my unbridled glee at finally knowing I’ll be able to see the man who penned my all-time favorite song, “Eleanor Rigby,” in person. And I know, like the good, brainwashed consumer that I am, I’ll be buying the grossly overpriced souvenirs just to prove I was there.

And yes, of course I’m ashamed of that. And for that and other reasons, I’m not going to malign die-hard ‘Twilight’ fans who are counting down the hours to the next movie’s opening day.

I will say, however, that aside from the fact that I like my vampires evil and bloodthirsty instead of brooding and sparkly, all of us have those pop culture phenomena that we go nuts over. No matter how ridiculous they may be, using the phrase ‘pop culture’ to describe them is quite accurate: in this case, a book has created its own ‘culture’ that brings people from different backgrounds together to enjoy it.

We should simply see the ‘Twilight’ craze for what it is – yet another popular book and film series that has etched its corny visage into our collective consciousness but which will burn out when the next big thing comes along. ‘Twilight: Eclipse’ won’t have the staying power of a Dickens novel, so why are we so concerned with it?

At best, the craze is a bit annoying. But the concept of pop culture fads has been around forever, and those of us who say we don’t follow at least one of them are liars.

So, while you probably won’t see me in line ready to buy my ticket for the new ‘Twilight’ film, it’s much more likely that you’ll see me at the Paul McCartney concert, holding a cigarette lighter aloft. And you know what? That’s perfectly OK.

Comments

  1. Corbin, I feel your pain. And isn’t it odd these movies are about vampires? I think it should be banned. What type of values are these Twi-hards showing our children? First Harry Potter, now this. Whatever happened to shows like “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “Leave it To Beaver.” Good, wholesome shows with a moral message. Not a bunch of half-naked teenage vampires prancing around.

  2. I am taking bets the next Twi film will be showing the kids having sex. How much do you want to bet???? I wonder what the film will have as a rating and how many parents will take their kids to see the film to get around the restrictions. I sometimes think the day of parents setting the proper example has left the country.

    We have nobody to blame but ourselves for the immigration problem and we have no one but ourselves to blame for the sex-crazed world our kids are facing now and everything that goes along with it. One thing is for sure – sex sells in America and many worthless politicians have increased the sales of many a company due to their own actions.

    City got a budget problem, families have money problems, families having problems with their kids, we are paying for bigger and bigger jails, etc., etc. – I wonder why????? I would say a lot of it is due to no accountability and the screwed up moral values that people live by now. Clara in Edgerton complains about damage she receives to her property each year around the 4th of July and people says it is her own fault because she complains – talk about screwed up moral values. Reap what you sow.

  3. Ben Smith says:

    The author of his article argues for the idea that anyone who makes fun of Twilight is a hypocrite. In doing so, he assumes that people who make fun of Twilight do so merely because it is a “pop culture” craze that won’t have hte “staying power” of something of more literary or historical merit. He does not, however, take into account the fact that there could be many other legitimate reasons for criticizing Twilight, and (to the convenience of one such as myself who aims to criticize his argument) even lists some of such reasons before making his main claim. One might make fun of Twilight because it is “riddled with cliches and packed full of one-dimensional characters,” and as long as that person is not a fan of other books or movies that are “riddled with cliches and packed full of one-dimensional characters,” he is not a hypocrite for doing so, and the author’s argument is therefore a bad one.

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