Wipe away those tears, pack away the vampire masks, the Twilight series has finally come to an end and now it’s time for some quiet reflection.
This week Melissa Rosenberg, who wrote the scripts, was asked why the story had been so heavily criticised. She argued that a lot of the hate was based on the fact the films were aimed at girls. “It’s also because it’s female it’s worthy of contempt,” she said, “Because it feels female that it is less than. And that is simply a reflection of our society. That’s not relegated to just movies. That’s just a reflection of why we have so few senators and why we haven’t had a female president yet.”
It has been five years since the first Twilight film was unleashed upon us and overall, the series has been a force for good. For one thing, it introduced the world to Robert Pattinson, for which the world will be eternally grateful. But the films also proved that tweenage girls were a demographic worth targeting. Before the Twilight Saga, Hollywood catered to this age-group by producing action and adventure films for 13-year old boys, presumably assuming that girls of the same age were too busy playing with their My Little Ponies to want to see films.
Twilight, with its angsty teenage relationships and hot vampires, proved how wrong they were. The legions of Twihards sleeping in Leicester square (some a little older than 13… ahem) when the last film opened last week were a testament to this.
The problem with Rosenburg’s theory is that so much of the criticism aimed at the film has come from women themselves. And it isn’t the fact that the films are female that they don’t like, it’s the kind of female the films portray. Bella Swan is a character whose very being centres around her love for Edward. As we watch the story unfold, we see Bella making one sacrifice after another (losing friends, sacrificing sex and cutting off her family) because she is defined by that one relationship. Worthy it may be, but inspiring it ain’t.
Yes, she can fight but with her moping and sighing, she’s a world away from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Tank Girl or the other dynamic female stars of TV and comics. She may have dressed like a hot cheerleader, but you didn’t mess with Buffy.
What Twilight has done is pave the way for some feistier female role-models on the big screen. Just like Twilight, the Hunger Games is sending girls of this demographic into a frenzy of fake blood of warrior costumes. But while Bella swoons, Katniss Everdeen kicks ass. Here is a character who can hold her own in a tough world and who isn’t defined by a man. Finally, a worthy contender to Buffy’s crown.