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Occupy Twilight: Thoughts on Breaking Dawn’s Tent City

November 12, 2011

It’s well known that Twilight fans are a dedicated bunch, that they have spurred the creation of many vibrant fan communities and blogs, that they are creative (as evidenced most recently in art pics from Breaking Dawn Part 1 Tent City) – but are they also a privileged bunch? Do they hail from the 1%? Should there be an “Occupy Twilight” for those fans that can’t afford to travel to LA and camp out, let alone afford midnight premiere tickets in their home towns? What about, for example, the people of Forks and La Push, the areas that the saga depicts – which don’t have any local movie theatres?

While researching for my book Seduced by Twilight, I spoke with fans who claimed to have spent over $10,000 on Twilight merchandise, who had travelled from Australia, Germany, Sweden and so on for Twi-cons, who spent thousands of dollars on plane tickets, convention registration, and hotel accommodation. What percentage of fans can afford this? Certainly not the majority.

Of course, there are many “lottery” type events where those not privileged enough to join in pricey fan pursuits can win things such as a shiny Volvo – as with Yahoo’s “Say I Do” sweepstakes giveaway.

The irony of all this is that the heroine of the saga – Bella Swan – couldn’t have afforded to be a Twilight fan pre-Edward – she hails from a working class family, drives an old red truck, and had to make do with an ancient modem – no fancy cars or baubles for her – not until, that is, uber-rich Edward sauntered into the picture.

This is undoubtedly part of the saga’s appeal –  it’s rags to riches romance echoing so many tales that have come before, offering the message that not only can “true love conquer all,” it can also bring the likes of a limited edition Mercedes. This appealing aspect of the saga is heightened during these rough economic times – heck, who in the 99% wouldn’t welcome some sharing of Cullen-type wealth? Unfortunately though, an equitable sharing of wealth is not a message of the saga – instead, the message is that females should endeavor to find their very own Edward as their “ticket” out of working class existence.

As for fans, those that don’t have Cullen-type wealth and privilege might just be lucky enough to win a Sweepstakes giveaway – of course, in order to do so, they also have to say “I do” to the fairy tale ideology wherein there can only be 1 “princess” and the other 99% of fans will have to make do without assistance from the bigwigs at Summit, Yahoo, and the like. Thankfully for these mega rich institutions, plenty of fans seem more than willing to spend a hefty chunk of change (and time) in their Breaking Dawn pursuits – what percentage of them can actually afford to do so is up for debate.

Perhaps fans could do double-duty while they wait for the likes of Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart and start an “Occupy Twilight” movement. Some Twi-characters might be quite supportive – Jasper Hale is a war vet after all, and would fit in well with the many vets taking part in the Occupy movement. Emmett comes from a working class-background. Alice might be interested in raising awareness about inequity for those deemed mentally ill. Heck, Rosalie might even be willing to share how she was forced to try and sell her beauty to the evil Royce the 3rd to better her financial situation. As for the wolves, they could speak to tragic levels of poverty “on the res.” Golden-eyed Edward, ever the caring type, might donate a diamond or two towards the cause. The Volturi, as part of the 1%, would no doubt try to squash the movement, but I can’t see Charlie enacting any of the police violence real life cops have been partaking in.

Alas, the Breaking Dawn tent-city is a far-cry from any Occupy-type sentiment. Too bad, as an Occupy Twilight could make for some really interesting slogans and signs.





4 Comments leave one →
  1. cate permalink
    November 12, 2011 7:45 pm

    So true Nat! I definitely cannot participate in half the Twi-inspired events that happen around this time annually. I do find it quite unfair that while Stephanie Meyer used the entire community of Forks and La Push to invent her fairy taled world, that there isnt some type of movie event happening locally there. I mean, she still has some pull on the franchise silver screen right?

    • Natalie Wilson permalink*
      November 15, 2011 12:42 am

      I am sure she has some pull, and she supposedly bought a house in the area… Wouldn’t she want a local theatre nearby to view her own books turned into films??!?!?

  2. kerry permalink
    November 14, 2011 4:07 pm

    The fact that you would even suggest that wanting overpriced merch and movie tickets has ANYTHING in common with the purpose of the #occupy movement is an affront to anti-poverty/pro-peace activists globally. It is just these lapses of perspective, and the attendant sense of entitlement that cause the problems people interested in social justice get stuck trying to fix.

    These books and movies are works of fiction. #Occupy is about real life. Please try not to confuse the two further.

    • Natalie Wilson permalink*
      November 15, 2011 12:54 am

      I think you miss the point, and the tongue-in-cheekedness, of my post. Of course Twilight fandom – or any fandom for that matter – cannot be compared to the Occupy movement – but, as one of my favorite theorists and activists Andrea Smith, regularly points out, we need to make revolution and activism relevant and fun if we want everyone to join in — only speaking to the converted, which so many activist movements do, does not a successful revolution make. That you claim this an affront to activists globally is disheartening – should not humor and parody be part of raising awareness too? Must we always be DEAD SERIOUS about our social justice work? I am dedicated to social justice – my work as a professor, blogger and activist is all aimed at bringing about social justice — I am sorry you are too “entitled” of an activist to see that it takes all kinds of work, directed at all kinds of audiences, to bring about the world we wish to inhabit. And the all too thin line between fact and fiction is certainly a great concern of social justice – that you try to claim that some types of concerns are “real” while others are lapses of perspective demonstrates the type of “my way or the highway” thinking that doesn’t help social justice movements but instead ensures the movements don’t grow. Is Twilight the key to social justice or spreading awareness about class privilege — of course not, but it is ONE way to talk about such issues. Excuse me for affronting YOUR definition of activism.

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