Though it's easy to poke fun at the obsessive nature of Twilight fans, Christine Spines of the LA Times notes that for some Twihards, an addiction to sparkly vampires is actually destroying their lives.
Spines' piece focuses mainly on older Twilight fans; women over 30 who have been "sucked in" to Stephenie Meyer's world, and are having a difficult time getting out, like 31-year-old Chrystal Johnson, who became so obsessed with Twilight that it actually threatened her marriage: "I ended up moving out of the house and fought for my marriage for six weeks," she tells Spines, "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. Now I meet women every single day where 'Twilight' has become a major issue in their marriage."
In order to understand a Twilight addiction, it is probably best to consider what the books are giving these women that they can't find in "the real world." One fan, 50-year-old Joyce Swiokla, tells Spines that she became obsessed with the books because "if there is a chemical that's released when you're falling in love, your brain has it when you're reading or watching 'Twilight.' You get that utopic feeling of first love and you want to experience it over and over again." Looking for romance, and, in particular, the long-lost romances of one's youth, may be a driving force behind the obsessive devotion many of these women have toward the books: they see themselves as Bella, and want desperately to feel the kind of love and excitement she has with her two suitors.
One of the best aspects of pop culture is it's ability to bring people together; even those with completely different viewpoints on most issues can find a common ground while bonding over a shared love of a band, or a television show, or a series of books. Though I haven't had a pop-culture obsession that has threatened to ruin my relationship or take over my life, I have fallen for a few recent crazes, like Harry Potter and Lost, and found myself obsessively reading theory boards as both phenomenons came to an end. I was deeply invested in both; I had spent hours reading the Potter series and even more hours watching every confusing moments of Lost, and I was desperate to finally come to the end of both stories, in order to get closure on something that had become a large part of my life for several years.
I had the same reaction to the finale of Lost that I had when turning the final pages of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: a sense of relief, loss, grief, and confusion, as a good deal of my brain was screaming, "Well, what do I do now?!" All of the energy I'd put forth attempting to guess where the story would go next was suddenly flushed from my systems. I had the answers, but I found myself really missing the questions. Harry Potter and friends continue to linger, only because the films are still being released, which extends the magic a little bit, and I suspect for many Twilight fans, who already know how Bella and Edward's story ends, the giant push the films (and their stars) are getting feeds the same kind of addiction; it's over, but it's not really over, not until the credits run on Breaking Dawn 2.
There is something very tragic about Spines' piece, in that the women she speaks to seem both genuinely obsessed with the Twilight books and genuinely embarrassed or upset about it. There is a real sense of addiction about it: they are aware that they have a problem, but they just can't seem to stop. The trick, I suppose, is to find a healthy balance between enjoying the emotions a book or a film or a television series elicits and being able to experience those emotions without the aid of a work of fiction. Whenever we fall in love with something, we are falling in love with how that thing makes us feel, though finding a way to experience these feelings outside of our obsession is perhaps the best way to remember that life goes on, even after the story ends.
So what say you, commenters? Have you ever had a pop-culture obsession take over your life?
When 'Twilight' Fandom Becomes Addiction [LA Times]