Twilight chatter has been on the uptick this month. A release date for Midnight Sun—Twilight told from the perspective of sparkle vampire boi Edward Cullen—was announced; there has been ongoing, pandemic-related social media chatter about the fact that Edward was turned into a vampire during the Spanish Flu; and Robert Pattinson, who portrayed Edward in the Twilight film franchise, is the subject of ample attention now that he’s slated to be the next Batman. But neither the Twilight spinoff nor the GQ cover story documenting Pattinson’s inability to boil water has captured my attention of late; it’s that draft thing.
So, did Edward Cullen spend several decades as a draft-dodging vampire while he masqueraded as a typical American teen? I forgot most of the details of the Twilight series, so I decided to contact publisher Little, Brown and Company for insight from Twilight author Stephenie Meyer herself.
I didn’t get a response.
I also attempted to contact the famed Twilight superfan known as NuttyMadam for comment, hoping that she would come out of stan retirement to offer her take. I didn’t get a response from her either.
So I decided to just do a little research for myself, hopping on to the Twilight fan wiki and looking up legislation surrounding conscription laws from World War I through the Vietnam War.
First things first: Edward was born on June 20, 1901 in Chicago. World War I was raging through his teen years, and he was eager to fight on the front lines as soon as he became of age. Well, he never got there: His entire family contracted the Spanish Flu in 1918. Edward’s father died, and while in the hospital, his mother begged her doctor to do everything in his power to help her sick son. Her doctor happened to be a vampire! And after Edward’s mother died, he fulfilled her wish by turning Edward into a vampire too! So in September 1918, Edward Cullen became a vampire, and it was the beginning of a nice little vampire family, which eventually blossomed into the one Twilight readers are familiar with.
Anyway, back to the draft question: Edward was 17 years old when he was turned into a vampire. The Selective Service Act of 1917 required all men aged 18 to 30 to register to potentially be selected for mandatory military service. Edward, technically 17 years old forever, couldn’t have legally signed up, and World War I ended two months after he turned into a vampire anyway. So you’d figure that’s that, right?
Well! I don’t know. Check this out (courtesy of the incredibly informative Twilight Saga Fandom Wiki):
By 2005, [Edward] had attended several colleges and universities, earned two medical degrees and studied several subjects. With his natural parents both passed away, he inherited the Masen house in Chicago, and about every 50 years, he would inherit his family fortune from himself, pretending to be a new heir.
Okay, so from 1917 to the start of the Twilight series in 2005, Edward spent several decades fucking around and getting degrees whenever he pleased. Surely, when taking on new identities over the years, he wasn’t always some 17-year-old wunderkind with a medical degree in tow? Was he?
Either way, a few wars and a few drafts came and went during those years. As far as I know, Edward didn’t participate in any of them! Don’t get me wrong: I believe it is morally acceptable to be a draft dodger. I would absolutely respect a Vietnam War-era, bellbottom pants-wearing draft dodger Edward Cullen. But for someone who was oh-so-eager to join the army back in the day, you’d think the dude would take on the persona of someone of age at least once and get some military experience in while he was living his immortal-ass life and collecting degrees left and right. Like, what was his ass doing during WWII? Just watching people die?
So here’s my conclusion: Edward was technically a draft dodger only because he totally could have decided he was gonna live his life as someone who was 18 and decided not to, skirting a couple of opportunities to be shipped off to war. But also, I’m totally talking out of my butt here, so feel free to ignore this speculation entirely.