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Was ‘Twilight’ Always This Cringe?

If you’re at all tuned into social media, you already know that the Twilight Renaissance on TikTok is back in full resurgence over there. And if you didn’t know, where the hell have you been, loca? Fans of the Twilight Saga are rewatching all five movies of the franchise now that it’s all available on Netflix, and reminiscing on their past obsession. The difference this time is that they’re doing so now with a more mature perspective. On TikTok, people are doing everything from reenacting scenes to talking about how problematic some of the characters were to realizing just how intrinsically cringe it all was

After watching one too many videos on my FYP, I knew I had to join in on the trend – everyone seems to be obsessed with Twilight (even Olivia Rodrigo jumped on the Twihard train!). I was only 10 years old when the first movie came out, but I quickly became obsessed with the series and read all of the books. Back then, I thought Bella and Edward had a wholesome relationship, that Jacob and Renesmee’s “friendship” was cute, and that Carlisle was the ideal father figure… but things have certainly changed. Watching the Twilight Saga from an adult perspective is a completely different story.

First of all, when we’re introduced to the Cullens and Hales, Jessica Stanley — one of Bella’s high school friends — explains that they’re Carlisle and Esme Cullen’s foster children. However, some of them are together – as in actual romantic relationships. I didn’t think much of it the first time I watched the movie, but isn’t that so weird? We eventually find out that Alice Cullen is married to Jasper Hale, and Rosalie Hale is married to Emmet Cullen. Sure, they’re actually great together – but couldn’t they’ve kept their relationships private in high school? I’d love a scene where they’re explaining their relationships to their peers; since they’re high school students, they can’t tell the truth and say that they’re married. Instead, they just tell everyone that they’re all “foster siblings,” and I can’t blame those high school kids for thinking their relationships sound a little too much like incest.

But it really only gets worse from there. When Bella figures out that Edward is a vampire, he explains to her that he’s the world’s most dangerous predator, and that she should be scared of him. “I’ve killed people before,” he says, to which she responds, “It doesn’t matter.” Uh, Bella?! That’s not the romantic notion you meant it to be! It definitely matters: Can’t you see the ginormous red flags here? This is not the man for you!

Jacob was another surprise I had while rewatching the movies. I loved him back in the day, but his character is actually extremely problematic. Kissing Bella against her will? Being incapable of understanding that it’s Bella’s choice who she wants to be with? Imprinting on Renesmee, aka Bella and Edward’s infant daughter? Yikes! Ryleigh, 22, believes that Jacob and Renesmee’s relationship is by far the most problematic plot of the entire series. “I know he’s supposed to be a caretaker, but it’s literally grooming of an infant,” she tells Her Campus.

The franchise is also very sexist in so many ways, and Ella, 22, explains one of the plots that bothered her the most, which was Carlisle turning Rosalie into a vampire. “She was in the position of near death because of something she had no choice in. This is bad enough, but Midnight Sun reveals that Rosalie was changed for the sole purpose of being Edward’s mate,” she tells Her Campus. “This is wildly, wildly messed up. I think it says a lot about consent and the value female characters hold in the stories.” This is what I was learning at 10 years old? *sigh*

Something else we all seem to be realizing this go around is how problematic Bella and Edward’s relationship was, and how controlling he was (because she just didn’t listen above). “Younger me didn’t catch all the toxicity and manipulation between many of the relationship dynamics and characters,” Ariel says. “Bella should’ve found someone way better than both of those crazy boys.” 

Ella, however, disagrees, reminding us that even things that feel a bit cringey on the outside can be more than they appear. “I think that people tend to forget that according to Stephenie Meyer, vampires are frozen in terms of maturity at the age they were turned. Edward was 17. Yeah, he does some mildly disconcerting things, but he’s a teenage vampire who’s never had a girlfriend. I think he deserves more credit than he gets.” According to Ella, even though he’s frozen in time, Edward’s character development is visible. “I’m especially a fan of how he handled Bella’s complicated relationship with Jacob; for example, after Bella punches Jacob for kissing her, Edward’s focus is on the fact that Bella didn’t consent [to the kiss].”

After rewatching The Twilight Saga, we can all come to the conclusion that the movies have a lot of problematic aspects, and things that, hopefully, we won’t tolerate in future successful franchises (and TBH in our real, actual relationships). However, rewatching the series is a great way to reminisce on the nostalgia of those movies. Whether you’re hate-watching the entire series or actually enjoying yourself, we have to agree that The Twilight Saga brought us some great times: from the crazy experience of midnight premieres to scrolling through your FYP and laughing at Edward and Bella’s unconventional, cringey love story.

Carolina Grassmann is an Editorial Intern at HerCampus.com, and the Editor-In-Chief and Events Director of Her Campus Cásper Líbero. She's majoring in journalism, and has been involved with HC since her first year of college, as a writer and reporter. When she's not writing, she's most likely listening to Taylor Swift's songs over and over again.
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