Wednesday 26 October 2016

Reality finally bites for Twi-hards

Aisling O'Connor

Published 16/11/2012 | 05:00

'WHY does it have to end?" angrily wailed 'Twilight' number one fan, Nutty Madam, on her YouTube channel, in a real-time reaction to the The Twilight Saga: 'Breaking Dawn – Part II' trailer. This final instalment in the movie series marks the beginning of the end for the Twi-Hard community, and indeed for its media-ragged players.

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This last film in the series premiered in LA on Monday night, where fans had camped out for days to catch a glimpse of the film's stars, 'Robsten'. But when the film moves from theatre to DVD and digital platform, what happens to the creators of the super-successful franchise, and indeed its devotees?

For those not familiar with the jargon associated with this pop culture phenomenon, Robsten refers to the on-and-off screen coupling of the movies' lead actors Kristen Stewart (pictured) and Robert Pattinson – a Brangelina for the next generation.

Twi-Hard refers to hard-core aficionados of the 'Twilight' movies in particular. The Urban Dictionary considers the moniker to describe a new strain of super-fan created by the genre as "stupid obsessive people (mostly teenage girls) who are in love with fictional characters and wouldn't know a good book if it punched them in the face".

How drole, yet true.

The books and movies, though engaging, are no great works of art or genius. This is reflected in the comparative engagement by super-fans of the likes of the 'Star Wars', 'Harry Potter' and 'Lord of the Rings' series, who are devoted to the characters, plots, themes and fantasy worlds each story weaves.

Where production has halted, fans keep the dream alive with re-enactments, art, further fan-fiction in video and writing, and re-edits of the movies that more accurately reflect the books.

'Twilight' fans are dedicated to the onscreen chemistry between the main characters Bella Swan and her vampire suitor, Edward Cullen – and the ensuing love-triangle with werewolf Jacob Black.

The reel-to-real relationship between the lead characters off-screen, though downplayed by Stewart and Pattinson, drove their public wild. Where Harry Potter fans trawl the internet for content and discussion of the films and books, Twi-Hards scour the public sphere for any critical mention of their idols' relationship and whereabouts.

K-Stew and R-Patz (as they are affectionately known by lovers and haters alike) purposely kept their relationship under wraps, as a backlash to living under a microscope. It was only when details of Stewart's affair with Rupert Sanders, the married director of 'Snow White and the Huntsman', hit the press in July that she made a statement admitting that she and Pattinson were an item.

Speculation is rife that the couple have been temporarily taped back together for the final promotional push, so fan fears are mounting that they won't stay the course once the final red carpet is rolled out.

Where the producers of the franchise will be free to move on and enjoy the financial spoils (estimated $3bn in total box office receipts) of five years promoting the leafy and misty fantasy universe of an over-emoting teenage girl, the actors face a scary reality where they are rather overexposed.

Robert Pattinson is one of few cast-members with substantial movie projects in production beyond 2012. Kristen Stewart is currently promoting Jack Kerouac's 'On The Road', but her expected sequel to 'Snow White' is understandably on ice.

And it's not only the actors and Twi-Harders who stand to be disenfranchised by the curtain-call. As obsessed as these fans are, the anti-fans match them in intensity, rabidly criticising Robsten and the movies, in a global online war of words with their fan-rivals.

There may be light at the end of the tunnel for those heavily invested in the sensation. Hollywood is abuzz with talk of Stewart and Pattinson heading for the 'Fifty Shades of Grey' book-to-movie juggernaut. Given that the Fifty Shades series was developed from 'Twilight' fan-fiction, 'Master of the Universe', one might be excused for a moment to draw an irony thought-map.

So will the Twi-Hards just get over it? The bittersweet announcement that Disney has purchased the 'Star Wars' franchise and is planning a seventh movie has been met with mockery, rather than excitement. Perhaps enough time has passed for those mega fans to have moved out of their parents' basements, and hung up their light sabres.

Fans coped with The Beatles, Take That, and Charles and Diana breaking up. Granted the internet wasn't an extension of the public's opinion and personality back then. As 'The Twilight Saga' releases its grip on fantasy, whether or not the fans get a grip on reality still hinges on Robsten's next move – or the advent of maturity.

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Irish Independent

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