Five years ago today, the final movie in a franchise that reframed the national conversation around sex and romance was released.
“Twilight: Breaking Dawn 2” represented the end of the general public’s formal relationship with the pedophilia, incest, bestiality, and necrophilia-flexible world of the “Twilight” saga.
Stephanie Meyers wrote four “Twilight” series books, and those books spawned five blockbuster movies. The saga became the 15th highest grossing franchise of all time, with a worldwide gross of over three billion dollars. The series also inspired the immensely popular “50 Shades Of Grey” books and films, which were originally intended as “Twilight” fan-fiction.
And who wrote those high-grossing movies? A Jewish woman named Melissa Rosenberg.
The “Twilight” saga tells the story of a lonely teenage girl who is seduced by a pancake makeup-wearing 100 year-old who wants to eat her. Erotic scenes consist of them lying side-by-side in bed, him thinking about slurping her blood until her heartbeat dribbles away into nothing, her thinking about how she is ugly and boring and lucky to be with him. After consummating their relationship precisely one time, she becomes pregnant with a fetus who also wants to eat her. After the baby is born, our protagonist’s adult ex-boyfriend becomes enamored with the baby and pledges to marry her. Then the series ends.
Nine years ago on November 21st, the first Twilight film was released. Five years ago today, “Twilight: Breaking Dawn 2” premiered. Rosenberg, who wrote the screenplay for all four “Twilight” films, joking called the “Twilight” vampires “kosher” for their choice to eschew human blood in favor of animal innards. More seriously, Rosenberg pointed out that a facet of the series that may resonate with Jewish teens is “That sense of wanting to be a part of something but being unable to be, that sense of being the other, the outsider”.
And therein, the rub. “Twilight” taught millions of girls (and some boys) to dream of one day exchanging gawky anonymity for a controlling, adoring, violent older man. It certainly played some role in setting the stage for our culture’s fraught perspective on underage relationships. And yet, if a movie is going to be made, we’re glad a woman named Melissa Rosenberg got some creative say and a cut of the profits.
Happy 5th yartzeit, “Twilight”. May your memory be, if not for a blessing, then for a lesson.
Edward Cullen, heading to the mikveh
Jenny Singer is a writer for the Forward. You can reach her at Singer@forward.com or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny
This story "‘Twilight: Breaking Dawn’ by Melissa Rosenberg turns 5" was written by Jenny Singer.