Recently I was talking about an upcoming enhancement to an excellent web game called Super Meat Boy. One half of the design team is a fellow called Edmund McMillen. He’s a game designer, legendary in the Indie community, who has helped create some of the most creative and memorable games of the last few years, so I mention him a lot. The problem is, I didn’t call him Edmund McMillen. I called him Edward Cullen. Repeatedly. It would be bad enough that I’d gotten his entire name wrong, but Edward Cullen is the sparkly vampire from Twilight. That’s not just a slip of the tongue. That’s a symptom.
I’ve never read Twilight, as I’ve expounded upon in the past. I’ve never seen any of the films, either. The only exposure I’ve had is via the media saturation the series has enjoyed. As a result, I didn’t know that the name I’d been using by mistake was from the series until someone told me. A normal person would have said, “Oh ho ho ho. What a silly mistake.” Or perhaps, “Golly Gee, that is a dilly of a coincidence.” (In this case, normal people are 1950’s sitcom parents.) My suspicions are more sinister. Realistically, I shouldn’t even know that name. Somehow it worked its way into my head. Sure, it could be osmosis from being constantly immersed in a Twilight crazed country for so long, but my instincts tell me that we are looking at an honest to goodness memetic disease here.
Now, ‘meme’ has come to be a term applied to any Internet sensation that you might see propagate across 4chan and the like. From lolcats to rick-rolling to struttin’ Leo, they are generally harmless. They can get annoying, sure, but by the time that happens they are on their way out and the next big thing is already flashing in the pan. Look at it from a bird’s eye view, though. A person is exposed to something, then in turn exposes others, spreading it to them, who spread it to others, and so on and so on. Sound familiar? That’s what we call a disease. Why do you think they call it a viral video? We don’t mind it, because usually these things are entertaining little tidbits that we pass on voluntarily, but that’s just how it starts. My unwilling knowledge of Twilight is the inevitable next step.
Twilight is a disease, plain and simple. Like most diseases, it spreads fastest in a tight community, and it has favorite hosts. In this case it preferentially targets teenaged girls specifically and lonely or bored women in general. It began as a series of books, and slowly mutated first into a series of movies and other merchandise, then into a spectrum of different strains like Vampire High and the half dozen other imitators that are littering the airwaves. Before long the disease made the jump from its natural host to new ones, like how the AIDS virus moved from apes to humans. In this case it has moved from text messaging, slumber party having, tween aged girls to a twenty seven year old, shut in engineer and Internet journalist. I think we can all agree AIDS had less of a leap to make. I’m not sure how I got it the Twilight Infection. Maybe it was a toilet seat in a unisex bathroom. Perhaps the young lady at the deli sneezed as she was making my sandwich. All I know is that a name from a work of fiction I’ve done all that I could to avoid is in my noggin, working its way into my daily speech. That’s terrifying.
I’ll be keeping a close eye on the infection. Early symptoms seem to be limited to occasional slips of the tongue. Hopefully I can keep it under control, but I’ll be on the look out for any evidence that my defenses are Breaking Dawn. You know, little things like New Moon symptoms, problems werewolf I didn’t have them before, swelling in Eclipse, things like that. I should be Bella to keep things under control. Until next time, remember, pale emo boytoy Mormon vampires with feelings!