So often we receive letters from all the “educated types.” No, no- not people with plain old college educations. I mean people with LEGIT education. From like Harvard, Yale or any of the schools in England because they all seem so much better than the ones we have in the US. Or people finishing up their master thesis’ or better yet, in the final days of a doctoral program. And when I hear those people, obviously so much smarter than me, have been as entranced by the Twilight saga as I have been, I feel better about myself. Here is one such example:
Forgive me for beginning my letter harshly, but since I write you on a single, persistent theme, I feel I must introduce it immediately: Twilight, I resent you.
I met you for work. As a doctorate student, I am obligated to be a teacher’s assistant to the professors in the art department. If I have to be honest, I’ll admit to you that I only occasionally enjoy this work. There is a long list of reasons why, I suppose, but mostly I can classify the reason under tedium. It can be tedious to grade papers, make power-points, listen to the same lecture repeatedly, listen to the same lecture repeatedly, listen to the same lecture repeatedly. (Twilight, I’m guessing you know a bit about tedium, because some of your description are repetitive. We know Edward’s beautiful. We know. God help us, we know.)
Anyway, last semester I had to T.A. an introductory course called “Beauty in Art: Changing Standards and Cultural Mirroring.” This is an interesting topic, so big and interesting it almost can’t be taught well. The professor, who has a pony-tail and fancies himself kind of the bongo-playing, all questions are good questions, bring your weed to my office anytime archetype, organizes the course so that a great deal of class time is spent on contemporary standards of beauty. His most strenuous attempt to get bored freshmen to embrace him as their peer came when you, Twilight, were the focus of discussion for three classes.
I found myself in a forced Twilight immersion. I had to read all of you. I had to watch all of you. I had to photocopy and violate international copyright and licensing laws by distributing many passages of you. The thing is- I had to. It was my job. You discuss beauty so explicitly, so you were perfect. You describe the perfect man. How could the professor have ignored you?
Twilight, I’m an art historian, ok? I’m going to lay it on the line for you. I’m probably less snobby than many of the people I work for, or with, but in general, we’re a snobby group. We’re not as snobby as art critics, but we’re snobby. We’re all shut up in libraries (pale ourselves, but not in an attractive way), writing scholarly articles to each other on topics of obscurity, speaking a language all our own. We tend to get snobby, because the more discriminatory one’s area of specialty, the more likely one is to be the authority on it. So when I read you, and watched you, I said to you, “Why, Twilight, you just aren’t very good. Your Stephanie Meyer gives us what we want too easily. I’m not actually sure she’s a good writer. And if I’m working on that theory, then I’m going to go ahead and be a little offended that she brings Wuthering Heights into the mix, because that happens to be a really, really great book.”
The class ended. I graded the papers on how hot Edward was. Not many of them were good. He’s too hot- do you know what I mean, Twilight? Can you understand why a paper on beauty wouldn’t be good if it was just a description of something that is, by its very definition, beautiful? The class needed to push past this, into sort of a meta discussion of beauty, but it was an 8AM lecture. Most of the male students were lulled to sleep by the wash-out Forks’ colors and most of the women were just too…stimulated.
So here I am, Twilight: Still in a forced Twilight immersion, because we’re all in a forced cultural Twilight immersion. I can’t escape from you. And nothing I can do will change that. And if I somehow could- which I can’t- I would feel such a sense of loss. I like you, Twilight. I know I’m being manipulated by some not great writing, some not great movies, but oh, Twilight, you are so addictive. I’m really and truly stuck.
This is my plan. I’m not apologizing for it, either. I’m going to like you, and resent you. I’m going to admit I like you, and resent you, when asked. I’m not categorizing you under guilty pleasure- for me, for my own peace of mind, there’s only pleasure and non-pleasure. I started today. In my tiny cubby hole office, the center of my tiny cubby hole world, there is now a picture of Edward leaning down, his brow so perfectly, so painfully furrowed, to kiss Bella. (I cut Bella out.) You’re in it now, Twilight, stuck up on the wall with pictures of re-constructed Nineveh. You make me happy, Twilight, like Assyrian art makes me happy, so I’m sticking by you. I hate you. I love you.
Are you a smart person. No, I mean like a really smart person? Do you like Twilight?
Last image from a site called Smart People who happen to like Twilight