The Los Angeles Times’s feature today on “Twilight addicts” - women who have let their obsessions with the books and movies ruin their relationships, lives and marriages - is replete with all of the hallmarks of a buzzy trend piece: quotes asking to be pulled, a couple of perfect sources and, of course, an overarching metaphor (Twilight as a drug).
While Kelly Chavez, a 39-year-old mom and the first source explored in the piece, seems to be in a pretty bad way (she’s read each book at least eight or nine times and watched both movies “over 300 times apiece”), she seems like a casual Twilight dabbler compared to 31-year old Chrystal Johnson.
"My husband finally came to me and said, 'I think you love Twilight more than you love me,'" says Johnson, who had become especially attached to the community she'd found online. "I ended up moving out of the house and fought for my marriage for six weeks. I had to take a step back and detox myself from Twilight. I was really angry that I had allowed it to suck me in.”
Ultimately though, despite the clever construct and Chavez and Johnson’s stories, it’s hard to think of the women as anything other than anomalies. As the final paragraph in the Times piece puts it - quoting Nancy Baym, associate professor of communication studies at the University of Kansas - this probably isn't so different from men who spent their days obsessing over Tom Brady's broken ribs, quarterback passer ratings and the latest point spreads from Vegas.
"If you take away Twilight and put in a football team, this doesn't look so much different from what guys have been doing for decades," Baym said. "They stay up late at night looking at statistics and playing fantasy football. You could just as easily say they've lost touch with reality or that they're addicted. Twilight is just a story women are engaging with passionately, so people say it's dysfunctional. On the other hand, maybe men's relationship with football is dysfunctional as well."