The Happiness Project

Twilight, Team Jacob, and “Real Good”

I’m a huge fan of Twilight (books and movie)—a fact about myself that continues to fascinate and puzzle me. Because of my fandom, I spend a little more time reading Twilight -related Internet stuff than is strictly efficient.

So one Friday afternoon when I should’ve been working, I was reading about the Twilight panel at Comic-Con , and to my surprise, I found myself hit by a moment of elevation —the exhilarating happy pleasure roused by the spectacle of virtue.

This feeling was inspired by a remark made by Taylor Lautner. For those who don’t follow the Twilight saga, the story features two male characters: Edward (a vampire played by Robert Pattinson) and Jacob (a werewolf played by Taylor Lautner). Fans of Twilight —an infamously passionate group—often describe themselves as members of “Team Edward” or “Team Jacob,” depending on which character appeals to them more.

According the transcript of the panel, when asked about “Dealing with the whole Team Jacob and Team Edward phenomenon,” Lautner answered: ” Sometimes it’s hard for me to try and live up to Team Jacob in the right way .”

When I read this, I felt a rush of elevation.

Simone Weil observed, “Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating.”

When I read Taylor Lautner’s statement, I thought—zoikes, this is “real good.” Here’s a 17-year-old guy, at the center of the biggest fan frenzy in the last several decades, who has reached a crazy level of fame in the last year, who is surrounded by untold numbers of female fans who identify themselves as Team Jacob, and who is a key actor in what will certainly be one of the most lucrative film franchises in history. What temptations, at every level, would present themselves to such a person?

But he wants to “live up to Team Jacob in the right way.” The more you think about this statement, the more admirable it is. To quote Shakespeare (or Willy Wonka, take your pick), “So shines a good deed in a weary world.”

Now, I follow Twilight , but not enough to know how Taylor Lautner actually acts; maybe he isn’t as well-behaved as this statement suggests. But he’s thinking about it.

* The New York Times Magazine ’s cover story by Clive Thompson, Is Happiness Catching? , is absolutely fascinating. All about how we influence each other—in matters such as smoking, obesity, happiness—in social networks.

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