The year is 2008. Around 3,000 people storm a mall in San Francisco, vying for the opportunity to meet Robert Pattinson, the romantic lead in the new indie film, “Twilight.”
This is just one example of “Twihards,” fans of the saga, going crazy over their vampire media of choice. It’s one of the most memorable examples of teenage girls going berserk over fictional characters. While these girls and women freely showed the passion for what they loved, they were rarely legitimized and frequently mocked.
Journalist Alex Pappademas explored the history of “Twilight,” its fans and the road to Forever “Twilight” in Forks, Washington, through “The Big Hit Show.” The podcast is produced by Higher Ground Productions, Barack and Michelle Obama’s media company.
When I saw that a podcast was being produced about the history of “Twilight,” I couldn’t help but listen to it. As a newer fan, I was interested in learning about the history of the series beyond what I had seen on TikTok. I was shocked. A recurring theme throughout the history of “Twilight” is rampant misogyny. Girls and women were mocked for liking the series, including a comedian staging a fake premiere of “New Moon” for the sole purpose of yelling at the crowd of teenagers for liking a love story between a human and a vampire.
In fact, “Twilight” almost looked completely different to what it ended up being, as MTV and Paramount attempted to use the film to pander to teenage boys who were never the intended audience. The original script for the first movie included a jet ski chase, shotguns and more — none of which was in the source material.
The production studios tried to do this because they didn’t believe a film suited to a female audience would make any money. Clearly, they were proven wrong.
These are just some of the topics Pappademas covered throughout the five- episode chapter of the podcast.
What I loved most about “The Big Hit Show” so far is that it focuses on the community that Stephenie Meyer created with her infamous book series. Despite all of the misogyny and bullying “Twilight” fans faced, they created a community that is still around to this day.
Interviews with Catherine Hardwicke, the director of the first “Twilight” film, and others integral to the production of the saga created a full picture of just how intricate the history of a piece of media many continue to ridicule today could be.
The podcast also explored the problematic history of the series, including the exploitation of the Quileute tribe and the media frenzy that harassed Kristen Stewart and Pattinson for years, which is important. We often ignore the bad things about our favorite media, but that’s not the case with “Twilight.”
A fair number of fans interviewed throughout the series discuss Meyer’s problematic writing in particular, citing the need to be more aware about the media we consume and love.
Pappademas does a masterful job of balancing the tales of production and fandom, but also isn’t afraid to point out issues with people’s actions. He pointedly asked the comedian who openly mocked “Twilight” fans whether or not he sees his actions in 2009 as misogynistic.
While Pappademas used “Twilight” as the introduction into “The Big Hit Show,” the story is far from over. The podcast will also be used to explore other culturally impactful moments in media. The next topic they will cover is Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 album “To Pimp a Butterfly.”
Even if you don’t care about “Twilight” or Kendrick Lamar, I highly encourage you to listen to “The Big Hit Show” as it gives a window into the culture mainstream media can create. It goes beyond the mediums it is actively observing and can be reflective on media companies as a whole.