Film and the power of nostalgia

Serena Anagbe / Photo Editor

I’ll admit it. I was (and still am) a Twilight fan. I went to all the movie premieres. I collected all the holographic cups and magazines with the cast on them. Even now, I have a mug with Taylor Lautner’s face on it that says his infamous “Where the hell have you been Loca?” line. Now that I am far older, I can look back at how ridiculous and, at times, controversial the movies are, but I still regard them with a certain fondness.  

The book series written by Stephanie Meyer was adapted into a blockbuster movie franchise that attracted millions of fans around the world. Twilight featured the clumsy, compassionate human Bella Swan as she navigated high school while being involved in a love triangle with a brooding vampire, Edward Cullen, and her playful werewolf best friend, Jacob Black.   

Whenever The Twilight Saga is brought up, it is bound to be met with either complete contempt or loving adoration. No matter what your personal opinion of Twilight is, its cultural impact is undeniable. Even a decade after the movie franchise premiere, it seems that Twilight is all over the internet, whether it be a Twilight comfort playlist on Spotify, Team Edward or Team Jacob shirts in Hot Topic; or vlogs on TikTok of people spending the day in Forks, Washington, where Twilight was filmed in the Unites States. 

Out of all the masterpieces in cinematic history, Twilight is severely lacking in many areas. I still strongly believe Twilight should be watched as a comedy or else the borderline uncomfortable awkwardness of the films will become tedious.  

So why is Twilight still so relevant and popular?  

The real allure of The Twilight Saga is nostalgia.  

Nostalgia can hit us in unexpected waves. It can reappear through an old song or a familiar place. Nostalgia represents cherished feelings or memories that make up formative pieces of our identities. Nostalgia can manifest as a deep longing, sadness or joy. Personal nostalgia can be triggered by memories specific to individuals, while group nostalgia can arise from collective experiences of cultural phenomena that members of a certain group share. 

As researcher Ekaterina Kalinina, a researcher at Södertörn University in Sweden, wrote in her article titled “What Do We Talk About When We Talk About Media and Nostalgia?”Nostalgia, therefore, can be regarded as an essential tool that individuals use to adapt to unavoidable changes in life. Nostalgia can restore a sense of personal identity by ‘reweaving the broken threads of life history’ and can even enhance group identity by enabling connections with others.” 

For many of us who grew up with Twilight, it represents an escape to the past where everything was simpler. It was younger us who wore the cringy t-shirts that said “I <3 Edward”, who got driven to the movie theatre by our parents to meet our friends, who had our fill of movie theatre popcorn while fangirling over the cute actors, all the while staying out past our normal curfews.  

Even Bella as a main character was many of us in our teenage years. Bella wasn’t the most athletic, outgoing or beautiful. She wore baggy clothes and spent most of her time reading at home. She had intense human experiences and emotions, like unrequited love or depression. She didn’t always say the right thing; she hated attention, but she still wanted people to like her.  

The current appeal of Twilight is entirely based on the feelings it brings people while we face the hard challenges in life, especially now, when life feels the most uncertain and turbulent that it can be. The Twilight fandom could be toxic; the films and writing are arguably mediocre at best with problematic themes, but it gives us a sense of nostalgic comfort. 

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