Ah, Twilight. Whether we like it or not, the much-loved and much-memed franchise – the first film of which was released back in 2008 – is experiencing a fully fledged comeback.
The so-called Twilight Renaissance has actually been circling the Internet’s drain since 2018, when the saga celebrated its 10-year anniversary. But in 2021, TikTok tags, fan-made merch and tongue-in-cheek Instagram posts courtesy of our favourite celebs have all had a hand in bringing Twilight-mania firmly back into the virtual fold.
Now, it’s even bleeding into the world of fashion, with pop sensation Olivia Rodrigo at the forefront of the movement – after all, she’s been soft-launching her love for the movies by not-so-secretly burying it in photo-dumps posted to her Instagram account. In late June, Rodrigo shared a picture of herself holding a Bella and Edward-themed handbag by Praying, Alex Haddad and Skylar Newman’s viral fashion label. Her followers were enthralled and fellow musician Olivia Rose Keegan commented: “The Edward and Bella purse I screamed out loud”.
Five days ago, Rodrigo debuted a Twilight meme-shirt via Instagram too. Designed by Madison Sinclair, aka BUGGIRL200, it was emblazoned with the assertive quote: “I think the Twilight movies are AWESOME!!!!! If you don’t think that makes me SEXY and COOL, DON’T FREAKING TALK TO ME!!!!! I am not even kidding”, with a cut-out of R‑Patz’ face sitting neatly underneath it.
What appeared to be an inside joke with Rodrigo’s best friend, actress Iris Apatow (daughter of Judd Apatow, the director behind cult classic The 40-Year-Old Virgin), sent TikTok into a frenzy. “Talk ab ur merch liv,” said one user, while another pleaded: “girl address the merch😭😭”. Back in March, Apatow also posted a picture of herself posing in front of an Edward Cullen poster – the kind you might have found discounted at the back of your local HMV in 2009.
This trend isn’t one to be sneered at, though. The hashtag #twilightrenaissance currently boasts 323.1 million views on TikTok, featuring countless Bella Swan parodies and re-enactments of memorable scenes or characters.
Twilight’s resurgence comes drenched in irony, which is only made funnier by the disdain its main stars, Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, have for the franchise. Two years ago, W magazine published an exhaustive list of every bad thing Pattinson and Stewart had to say about Twilight since its release, while DIY compilations of R‑Patz’ various anti-Twilight comments have garnered millions of views. Who knows, maybe he secretly owns one of these subversive merch items himself.
The Twilight films marked a true moment and their influence has left an indelible mark on pop culture. Whether this current resurgence is all a big piss take or not is for you to decide. In the meantime, we’ve selected the five best Twi-hard merch items to get your hands on right now. Team Edward or Team Jacob, by the way?