With the release of the clumsily named “Twilight: Breaking Dawn — Part 2,” the sun is finally setting on a wildly successful, culturally problematic entertainment franchise. The vampire/werewolf/romance saga has dominated bestseller lists and the Hollywood box office, inspiring deep devotion, fan fiction (most notably, the bondage saga “Fifty Shades of Grey”), and a fair share of spoofs. It has aided and burdened advocacy groups that specialize in teen life, giving impressionable girls a model of true love that involves possessiveness, stalking, and sacrifice.
Sure, there’s something universal about the themes in Stephenie Meyer’s quartet of books — about the power of teenage love, the pull of family bonds, the need to belong (whether to a high school clique or to some dark international vampire sect). But in the course of publicizing this final “Twilight” film, the Arizona writer acknowledged the limits of her undead-in-the-wildflowers vision of romance. “You want to keep in sight that the characters aren’t real, and you need to go out and find a real person and not hope for Edward to show up,” Meyer said in a recent interview with the Salt Lake Tribune, referring to her vampire-hero. It’s a message the Twihards should take to heart: a brooding, tender-but-dangerous vampire might be the ultimate romantic catch in the “Twilight” world, but in actuality, he’s a fiction.