Will Twilight Out-Endure Harry Potter?

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 15.678% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

“Publishers can find books that are popular and resonate with a shit-ton of people, like Twilight, but do I think Twilight’s going to pass the generation test? Probably not.” – Spookykat

In the category of “things I don’t like to think too hard about,” I’m going to disagree with Spooky and say that I think Twilight will be more popular than Harry Potter… at least for the next couple of waves of kids.
Now, let me hedge by saying that it’s damn hard to predict which books/songs/movies will become immortal and which will fade away.  If you had asked me twenty years back to name the one contemporary song that every college student would be able to sing word-for-word two decades after it had been released, I would never in a million years have named “Baby Got Back.”  Yet there it is, popular as hell.  So what do I know?  Still, it’s fun to speculate.
And on the “Harry vs.  Twilight” front, I will go on record as saying Harry Potter is a far superior series of books.  It’s a complex kids’ tale about morality, and the need to do the right thing, and loyalty.  There are gray bits and good plotting and excellent characterization and real human heroism.
Twilight’s rooted straight to the groin.
For all of the discussions about women not having the same sexual urges as men, I think when you put “nobility” up against “your one and only true boyfriend who will love you forever,” that sexual urge is going to clobber Harry.
As I’ve said before, Twilight has a lot of flaws, but the one thing it gets perfectly, 100%, spot-on correct is that elated feeling of “We’re in love and it’s perfect and it’s going to be forever.”  And that’s the kind of thing that gets a lot of traction among young girls, in the same way they fall in love with Justin Bieber and go nuts because this is their way of figuring out what it’s like to be dating someone – a thing they endure a crush-ton of pressure over, since it’s hard-wired into almost every narrative that they will have to fall in love, and if so then what’s it going to be like?  And any book that tells them, “You can find an immortal vampire who’s been around for a hundred years and has never ever liked a girl before, yet when he sees you he’ll fall so madly in love with you that he’ll abandon everything he’s ever known to be your eternal protector and the most loyal boy ever and a great kisser, too,” then we’re dealing with fantasies that spike straight through the center of sexuality.
That shit gets handed around.  I’d bet dimes to dollars that for future generations, Harry Potter will be given to them by their parents.  Twilight will be handed to them by their girlfriends.  And which do you think they’re more likely to read? Especially now that there’s the even crazier 50 Shades of Gray to graduate to, which everyone knows is Twilight fanfiction plus?
I mean, it’s not like any teacher ever sat down with their thirteen-year-old student and said, “Here, read Flowers in this Attic.”  But man, somehow every teenaged girl I knew growing up had gotten their hands on that sucker.  Because it was hot and sexy and yet somehow safe – not like the writings of the Marquis de Sade or Lolita, which had weird overtones they found repellent.
(And don’t ask me what the dividing line is between Flowers, which sounds horrendous from the plot synopses, and De Sade – if I knew, I’d be writing bestsellers.  I just know from talking to women who read those books that one made them squirm in pleasant ways and the other didn’t.)
The good news is, I don’t think this will endure forever.  Like teen pop stars, the “sexy teenaged book” will eventually be replaced.  Like all teenagers, teenaged girls have little sense of loyalty and desire something unique to their own generation.  Eventually, another big sexy book will crop up, and they will see that as their generational anthem even as they’ll never really claim it as such, and then we’ll see how Harry Potter fares to eternity.
As for Twilight, I’m reasonably sure it’ll have a higher arc initially, and then plunge into an interesting footnote for the 2000s.   On the scrap heap of history.  So it goes.

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