On Friday I took my four year old son, Harrison, to the Mall of America to spend some quality time on the Blue's Clues ride. On the way to the amusement park, we passed Hot Topic. Now, ordinarily at 11 am on a Friday, Hot Topic would be empty, but this particular day it was crawling with excited goth teenagers who had, evidently, skipped school. Since I consider black-clad teenage truants to be my reader demographic, I'm always interested in what they are doing. Turns out three stars of the new Twilight move (the actors playing Jacob, Laurant and Victoria) were coming that afternoon to sign autographs. To get an autograph, you had to buy a thirty dollar t-shirt which entitled you to a ticket which entitled you to stand in line at a particular time. When we passed Hot Topic at 11, they were still selling t-shirts, but when we passed again at noon all seven hundred t-shirts had sold out, and the kids who had bought them were joyfully taking over the mega-mall, decked out in Twilight merch (some of it hand made) and having loud, spirited debates about who was cooler, vampires or werewolves. Needless to say, I was thrilled. It was like wandering into a Twilight con! Watching them play, I felt three things:
1. Envious of them for their ability to just give themselves over joyously to someone else's fantasy and make it their own. I don't have much experience of fan culture and I usually find it kind of overwhelming, but I love the community and the no-holds-barred participation.
2. Envious of Stephenie Meyer. I don't care much about fame and fortune (they both have major drawbacks) but the ability to suck people into your fantasy world? That's priceless. That's a gift unto itself. Getting other people to play your game has got to be the ultimate rush.
3. Proud, in a weird way, that YA fantasy is such a force in pop culture. When I went to see Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist at the movies a few weeks ago, I passed movie posters for Inkheart and City of Ember and Twilight. Twilight alone has over 7000 t-shirt designs on cafe press. Things like that make me realize how hungry for fantasy the world really is.
So, sorry Heather, I didn't buy you a "Team Jacob" t-shirt (although there's always the holidays coming...;) I did, however, get something out of my trip to the mall. Now I'm going to go write.