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What's with the name?

Allow us to explain.

And Now For Something Completely Different

In Defense of (Being a Fan Of) Twilight


Between The Hunger Games, Twilight, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, etc. etc., it seems that of late the publishing industry has more sway in Hollywood than ever before. (I could go on about the perception that the film industry is “creatively bankrupt,” but that, dear readers, is another story and shall be told another time.) This recent glut of book adaptations has led The Hollywood Reporter to create its first list of Hollywood’s 25 Most Powerful Authors. Included on the list are eight female authors: EL James (#4), Suzanne Collins (#5), Stephenie Meyer (#10), J.K. Rowling (#11), Charlaine Harris (#14), Laura Hillenbrand (#19), Candace Bushnell (#21), and Gillian Flynn (#22).

Yeah, I can see you gritting your teeth at Stephenie Meyer being included above J.K. Rowling. Stop it.

We need to talk about Twilight hate.

First: I haven’t seen the Twilight movies, but I’ve read the books, and I think they’re bad. They’re poorly written and, as has been mentioned many times before by people who have put more thought into it than I, pretty damn morally squicky.

But time and time again I see people handwaving away the series’ immense popularity because of its poor quality. And that bugs me. Not because of anything to do with the books’ quality. Not because they present a positive message about healthy relationships to their audience, because they sure as hell don’t.

Rather, Twilight hate gets on my nerves because all too often it takes on more than a slight tinge of “Twilight fans are stupid.” For “Twilight fans,” read “teenage girls.”

And that’s not cool.

Can we seriously stop giving people flack for liking things we don’t like?

I don’t care how old you are or what gender you are, I’m guessing that when you were a teenager you were really into something, even for a very short period of time, that you’re embarrassed about looking back on. I, myself, liked the Twilight series while I was reading it. There. I said it. For two weeks or so in my early 20s (yeah, yeah, shut up), I was a Twilight fan. And I don’t think that makes me some know-nothing idiot who can’t recognize and appreciate good literature, too.

Twilight screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg had an interesting interview with Women and Hollywood where she criticized the hypocrisy of the intense vitriol that gets aimed at the series:

We’ve seen more than our fair share of bad action movies, bad movies geared toward men or 13-year old boys. And you know, the reviews are like okay that was crappy, but a fun ride. But no one says “Oh my god. If you go to see this movie you’re a complete f**king idiot.” And that’s the tone, that is the tone with which people attack Twilight.

Twilight is hugely influential, and the movies have proven that a female-led movie can clean up at the box office. If you don’t like those movies, that’s fine. No one’s asking you to. But teenage girls face enough pressure in their life without being told—in general and by the geek community specifically, at least with Twilight—that their interests are irrelevant and that they themselves should be discounted for liking them.

In closing: I may not agree with what you fangirl, but I’ll defend (not to the death, that’s a bit much) your right to fangirl it.

(via: The Hollywood Reporter)

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  • Anonymous

    I think the thing about the Twilight fandom that most concerns me is the near obsessive quality of some of it. I don’t think there’s necessarily anything wrong with giving the opinion, “this piece of pop culture is stupid and retrograde, and you should have higher standards for your entertainment.” I say that every time someone claims that a Michael Bay movie is good. I think it’s possible to criticize other people’s taste without being mean, however. I think the “twitard” thing needs to stop.

  • Anonymous

    “But no one says “Oh my god. If you go to see this movie you’re a complete f**king idiot.”” –I do, with the Transformer movies. And I think that is equally justified.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    …no. If you like Twilight, there’s something diminishing in your character. Maybe you’re vapid. It’s no different then judging people that enjoy NASCAR or football.

  • http://twitter.com/Super_Widget Joanna

    I find it strange that the worse something is the more obnoxious the fans are about it.

  • Anonymous

    I was thinking Transformers too, However I think that is besides the point. Chances are that you like something (anything) that is by any reasonable measure ‘bad’. Possibly even awful and offensive, but also FUN. I know I do. Well, then Twilight should be no exception. It’s possible to like it in spite of it’s flaws.

    Hate the book, don’t hate the reader.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Meyer seems to have hit on a particular writing style which, if you’re in the habit of reading analytically, is objectively terrible. But if you’re not in that habit — and most teenagers aren’t, yet — it slides through your brain, leaving pleasant impressions but almost no specifics.

    On a forum I used to frequent, there was a discussion of the problems in Twilight, and a number of young fans popped up to say, “Oh no, Bella is brave and smart and compassionate, she’s an excellent feminist heroine”. So I, and a few others, asked them, “Okay, where is that in the text? Can you show us some examples of those characteristics?” And they couldn’t.

    One thing that does encourage me, though, is that these girls clearly thought that bravery, smarts, and compassion were all good characteristics for a heroine. They were reading something into the Twilight text that simply wasn’t there, but they seemed to have a good idea of what traits one should strive for.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know: it’s the obsessiveness of the fans, and the squickiness of the content and the fact that the fans are either 15-year-old girls or 50-year-old women. There’s an inherent weirdness there that you don’t see with hardly any other genre/obsessive fandom.

  • Anonymous

    Agreed. Though my husband likes Nascar (something that didn’t really come to light until after the “I do”). Maybe people have a separate part of their brain made for bad taste, and otherwise OK people sometimes have this bad part of their brain fire at awkward times…

  • http://twitter.com/bizarrogeek Sean Hodges

    Ooooor they just enjoy a bad thing despite the fact that it’s bad. I mean, it’s more or less the same thing as being a fan of the second Conan the Barbarian film (or any Schwarzenegger film ever), just in the category of romance fiction rather than sword-and-sorcery (or generic action).
    I mean, admittedly, Conan the Conqueror isn’t as jaw-droppingly idiotic, but there’s something to be said for it’s goof factor.

  • Anonymous

    What concerns me the most is the obsessive fans AND their complete insistence that Edward is the perfect boyfriend. I’m scared that the next generation of women is going to be totally ok with being mentally abused and controlled by men who happen to be “hot”….as long as he says he loves her.

  • http://twitter.com/bizarrogeek Sean Hodges

    I see you’ve never met any hardcore trekkies, then. Think yourself lucky.

  • Anonymous

    That article should have been titled “Stop being a jerk!”. That’s what the problem is, right? People being jerks for no reason.
    I don’t like Twilight. My younger sister likes Twilight. People who say nasty things about fans of Twilight also say nasty things about my sister. That’s a problem for me. Not everyone has a younger sister but everyone has a parent, or a cousin, or somebody who he/she loves that likes stuff they consider terrible. I don’t get have so much fun being jerks when they should know better.

  • Anonymous

    Isn’t that the same as calling all Star Wars fans sad 40 year old virgins? Which even today is still the ‘easy joke’ that comedians go for. Also, you said that the fans are either 15 or 50 in response to an article where the author herself states that she was in her early 20s when reading them.

    And you’re using the as an example the most dedicated Twilight fans who, again, aren’t any more or less weird than the guys who waited outside cinemas for days before the Star Wars prequel premieres. Were they not obsessive fans of an objectively bad film franchise?

  • http://twitter.com/bizarrogeek Sean Hodges

    I dunno, I mean, the franchise is terrible but some of the comments that are made about the fans are extreme, and more than a little puzzling in their hatred. I mean, the amount of “Twihards getting killed” jokes that circulate and don’t get challenged says something about the nature of the hate against it. It’s bad, yes; awful is not too strong a word. But I hardly think the fans, however obsessive, deserve the sheer level of vitriol they get.

  • Carmen Sandiego

    “One thing that does encourage me, though, is that these girls clearly
    thought that bravery, smarts, and compassion were all good
    characteristics for a heroine. They were reading something into the
    Twilight text that simply wasn’t there, but they seemed to have a good
    idea of what traits one should strive for.”

    Interesting. It gives me hope. :)

  • http://twitter.com/yeah_its_me Bri Lance

    A bit off-topic, but I think that “assuming good things” bit applies, at least somewhat, to Disney Princesses too. Like, I think that the particular qualities that little girls might be projecting/assuming in princesses are not necessarily the qualities that adults think about.

  • http://profiles.google.com/lowsee Heidi Mason

    Hm, perhaps so, but that level of obsessiveness can be seen in any geek franchise. I’ve seen as “bad” or “worse” Trekkies, Whovians, Star Wars fans, or even Phans (Phantom of the Opera fans)… obsessiveness can happen no matter what franchise. Yes… my embarrassing one was being a Phan. And let’s think about that… a bunch of people, women mainly, being obsessed with a deformed murder who has to basically hypnotize the woman of his dreams into spending any time with him at all. Yeah. Healthy.

    Sure, there may be “healthier” things out there to get obsessed with, but the nature of obsession in and of itself is rather of an exclusive nature, and doesn’t have to be attached to a “stupid and retrograde” piece of pop culture to be unhealthy. Usually, though, obsessiveness is unhealthy only to the person doing it, not to others… so if they WANT to be obsessive about their piece, why not let them? I think that’s the point of this piece.

  • Anonymous

    This, which is why I have a hard time taking people who try to defend Twilight as being something viable and respectable seriously. It’s cool, like what you like, but Twilight feeds into an unhealthy mentality that women, especially young women, should no longer view as appealing because it glorified a relationship and a dynamic that’s incredibly, you know, unhealthy.

  • Carmen Sandiego

    It’s because they have more reason to be defensive, I suppose. They get more attacks, so, they band together and amp up their devotion. I get that to some extent. I don’t understand the appeal of Twilight, but then, my generation’s vampire influences were from the works of Anne Rice and Joss Whedon, a lot more sophisticated, to say the least. And I am by no means a sophisticated person, or at least not to the extent that I don’t enjoy lowbrow pursuits as well, but my standard was set a lot higher for female-led literature (see Tamora Pierce). :)

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    Destroyer? Yeah, it’s funny. It’s fun to goof on. Twilight, too, with a band of like-minded people (or Rifftrax) is hilarious…but you’re not enjoying it the way that the hordes of fans are enjoying. Laughing because no character in any of those films has the ability to finish a sentence without a long, inappropriate pause or a pained, I might just ralph look on their face is not the same as buying the underwear, giving a shit whether Bella chooses the man-boy or the old dead man-boy, ect. …for that matter, being ironic is sort of becoming passée, too, isn’t it?

  • http://profiles.google.com/lowsee Heidi Mason

    My cousin’s husband does a very excellent Edward cosplay, to the point that he’s been hired by local theatres to appear at the midnight showing as such for pictures. (Come to that, he also has an excellent Jack Sparrow cosplay and has been paid for that as well.) I personally don’t like Twilight and am vocal about it, but I went out to support him (I didn’t see the show *lol*) and praised him on his cosplay. I often share good-natured banter about the deficits of Twilight with my friends (well… plusses for them). My Twilight hate has always stemmed at the books themselves, which I HAVE read, and never the fans. I do take offense to the term “Twi-hards”… not nice at all.

  • Anonymous

    I have, and I think they’re just as ripe for the mockery. Where’s the “don’t be a jerk to Trekkies” articles, though? What makes Twilight deserve defense over and above general fandom defense? It seems like it has a lot more negative qualities to distinguish it; I mean, you can mock a Trekkie, but Trek pushes forward concepts of peace, intelligence, exploration — vs. Twilight, which endorses a backsliding treatment of women, borderline abuse/stalking, and bad writing. Hm…

  • http://twitter.com/bizarrogeek Sean Hodges

    Yeah, but is it really worth the attitude that the Twifans get? I mean, not to pull the overdramatic card, but it gets to the point where it’s almost bullying in some cases. I mean, sure, most times it’s not that dramatic, but announcing you like Twilight in general public is kind of like announcing that you have some kind of infectious disease in some cases.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    Yep, I think most of us have that part of the brain fire at some point…but the same way you judge anything else about a person, I see no reason not to include Twilight.

  • http://twitter.com/LJo83 Lindsay Beaton

    I am mostly in the “like what you like and good on ya for telling everyone else to suck it” camp when it comes to this sort of thing. I’ve never met a single person who didn’t have at least one pop culture thing they were into that everyone else loved to hate on. I only had to scroll down a few comments before I knew mine would show up–the Transformers movies. I dig ‘em, and I DON’T CARE that people love to hate them. They’re action movies, guys. About toys. That’s all I ask of them, and that’s what they deliver.

    Twilight is a series of YA novels about sparkly vamps. They’re part of a wildly popular literary trend at the moment. Hit up your own bookshelves and ignore the squeeing fangirls if they offend you so. This too shall pass.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe it’s just me but stuff like Twilight is the exact kind of stuff it breaks my heart to see younger women getting obsessed with. Namely because it’s a story that gets people to think that something that is intensely unhealthy (read as every relationship in that book) is something that should be glorified. It hits a little close to home because I used to be a girl who thought that’s the kind of treatment I deserved, and then I built on my self-esteem and realized how horribly horribly bad it is to think you deserve and should WANT that kind of treatment. It’s emotional abuse covered in sparkles.

    Sure, people shouldn’t be dicks to fans of it but people are aloud to criticize something that’s so … so terrible.

  • http://twitter.com/bizarrogeek Sean Hodges

    Presumably it’s because most people believe it to be acceptable to target Twilight fans in general and act in a particularly negative way towards them, whereas Trekkies, for the most part, don’t get flak from the geek community. At most, hardcore Trekkie jokes are like Aquaman jokes – they’ll always be there but they’re never vicious, at least not in my experience.

  • Carmen Sandiego

    At least we know that The Hunger Games is something young women are obsessed with too, and while it’s not without its problems, it’s a lot better written and has characters who, while flawed, sometimes horribly so, are more well rounded.

  • Anonymous

    Sure but that doesn’t remove the grasp that Twilight has on so many women.

  • Anonymous

    I disagree in that if we don’t offer any criticism of obsessiveness, isn’t that like saying that there’s nothing unhealthy about it? It think we agree that it is. And the obsession with Edward (or Jacob for that matter) is disturbing in that he’s such a very bad model for what young women should be looking for in a relationship. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with pointing out what a twisted relationship model Twilight presents, and that telling your women that thinking that Edward and Bella’s relationship is ideal is bad. Also, yes there are obsessives in other fandoms, but I don’t see relationship models in those other fandoms that are nearly as bad (except for uh, Luke and Leia’s early relationship, and apparently, PotO.)

  • http://profiles.google.com/lowsee Heidi Mason

    Breaks my heart, too… I also used to think I deserved such treatment. However, attacking the GIRLS won’t help. It solidifies them into their comfort, their obsession.

    Of course people should be allowed to criticize something so terrible. Or even good things. My siblings don’t like what I like, and they call some of that stuff “terrible.” People are allowed to have opinions, but those opinions should never be phrased or directed in such a way that it makes it sound as though the person who DOES like something (or even dislikes something) is stupid for thinking that way.

  • Carmen Sandiego

    “Twihard” is a term the fans gave themselves, a play on the term “die-hard”.

  • Anonymous

    Geez, that kind of response is unquestionably over the line! No one deserves death threats (real or fake) because of what they like.

  • Anonymous

    “Oh, Edward! It’s totally o.k. that you almost killed me during sex, because I loooooove you!” Christ.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    You’re arguing with the wrong person, buddy. I don’t have any problem with anyone that likes Twilight. After all, most of the people I know are smarter than grapefruit. All that harassment is done elsewhere.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    And shitty, shitty acting. Or direction. I cannot really tell.

  • Anonymous

    She might be thinking of “Twitard”.

  • http://profiles.google.com/lowsee Heidi Mason

    “I disagree in that if we don’t offer any criticism of obsessiveness, isn’t that like saying that there’s nothing unhealthy about it? It think we agree that it is.”

    Good point! It still comes down to phrasing, though. “Have you considered that Edward might be a terrible role model?” is very different from saying, “You’re so stupid for liking Edward.”

  • Anonymous

    I’m talking pretty strictly about the books. The movies are a beast of their own that I’m sure my commentary on would not at all be appreciated.

  • Anonymous

    Well, yes. This is why I said people shouldn’t be dicks to the fans…?

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    THAT’S why Twilight is bad, really. Because it lowers the bar. Really, anything that does that is bad to some degree…but rarely does one thing blanket a medium so entirely.

  • http://profiles.google.com/lowsee Heidi Mason

    Is it really? wow… I had only heard it used derogatorily, so I assumed others had coined the phrase. :(

  • http://twitter.com/bizarrogeek Sean Hodges

    Ah, well, in that case I’ll cease and desist. Still, glad we agree there.

  • http://profiles.google.com/lowsee Heidi Mason

    I’ve not heard that term actually.

  • http://twitter.com/bizarrogeek Sean Hodges

    Probably a mixture of both, given that the cast clearly didn’t want to be there for this but were more or less roped in via the evil of a contract.

  • Anonymous

    It’s the insult that Twilight haters throw at the fans. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=twitard

  • Carmen Sandiego

    All we can do is recommend books we think are a healthier alternative. Who knows, if “Twilight” is someone’s gateway drug to better literature, I’m all for it. This is purely anecdotal, but a lot of people who I know who enjoyed “Twilight” had never or almost never read for pleasure before. So they are opening up a new world. It’s not the best portal, but it doesn’t mean it’s all they’ll ever read and be fannish about. I do share your concerns, but I have hope for the future. :D

  • http://twitter.com/bizarrogeek Sean Hodges

    What I don’t get is, why can’t Edward control his own strength? Superman can when he’s spending “quality time” with Lois, and Supes’ strength level is beyond silly.

  • Carmen Sandiego

    That’s what I thought too. “Twitard” is something I’d never think to call someone, partially because it’s a dick move against the fans, but it’s also a dick move use of using the “R” word.

  • http://profiles.google.com/lowsee Heidi Mason

    wow… that’s even more cruel :(

  • Anonymous

    A lot of the women I know ho didn’t read for pleasure previously who do now have not moved onto better material and have set Twilight as their standard. There are people who are receptive, yes, but not all. This is why things like 50 Shades of Grey are so popular now. They’re reading, yes, but reading -what- is still a problem.

  • Carmen Sandiego

    As bad as the movies were (I saw the first one with Rifftrax on my iPod), I would say the direction actually improved upon the book.

  • http://re-becca.org/ Rebecca Turner

    I think there are a few things going on:

    First, there’s the fannish “popular things are unworthy” trope.

    Second, there’s definitely a “things girls like are unworthy” trope in almost any male dominated fannish community.

    Third, there’s the “this didn’t meet my personal standards of quality therefore you’re dumb” trope. Which shows up in this very thread.

    I spent some time in anime fandom, and very nearly everything there (there are exceptions, but that’s what they are) is as problematic and/or poorly written as Twilight, but you don’t see the same hate going in those directions.

    Part of that, I think, is because some fandoms buy into the fandom-as-identity thing more then others (I’m looking at you, Star Trek). Those that do, tend to be both obnoxiously defensive, and also always ready to talk down anyone else. Their fandom becomes their “team” and soon they’re acting like sports fans. (And again, it seems like there’s quite a bit of that in this thread “My fandom is better then your fandom” type reactions.)

  • Anonymous

    Maybe it’s because Edward hasn’t had sex in a hundred years? Extreme vampire blue balls? Seriously though, the fact that Meyer even unnecessarily included Edward beating the shit out of Bella on their wedding night makes me hate her that much more. I doubt I’ll ever hate her as much as she seemly hates herself, though.

  • Anonymous

    It can’t be shitty acting, Robert Pattinson had no shits to give.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t want to dismiss your concern, or argue that Twilight doesn’t
    have problematic elements. But I feel like the implication here is
    that Twilight is some sort of gateway drug to abusive relationships.

    I think we need to give girls a little more credit here. Do we really
    think girls are so…brainwashable? If you were to express a concern
    that boys playing violent video games will lead them to commit violent
    acts in real life, or that, say, boys reading Captain America will lead to
    steriod abuse, you’d be laughed off your average geek site. No?

    I feel like there’s a double standard here: boys can handle escapist fantasy, but girls can’t.

  • Anonymous

    There’s also the “Women are offended that abusive relationships are being glorified and therefor do not support it” trope as well. Some who are offended by it are just more aggressive about their height.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    That’s a good point. A lot of adult women grew up with Disney, and those aren’t exactly positive in terms of gender relations for the most part. But now, when we’re adults, we see that. We’re not all going around married by 16 and having our lives controlled by husbands and fathers and whatnot.

  • Anonymous

    In “boy-targeted” escapist fantasy, they’re empowered. In this case of “girl-targeted” escaped fantasy, they are the victims. I don’t think anyone would have the same concerns about “The Hunger Games,” where she is the powerful one (even when she is the victim).

  • malkavian

    Don’t even get me started on Phantom fans. I’ve known a number of people who are totally obsessed with the Phantom, despite the fact he’s a terrible person and Raul is clearly better for Christine. And me, sitting there going: “How can you NOT see this?”

  • Carmen Sandiego

    I agree. Though it could be a slippery slope (for some Twilight detractors) to just bashing women and their interests, I don’t think Captain America, who stands for justice, integrity, and grit is the best example against Bella who stands for… having no interests independent from her romances.

  • Carmen Sandiego

    He’s an abusive, controlling serial killer, yep. Edited to add, I’m not a huge fan of Raul, though. He’s pleasant enough as a friend, but my ideal ending would be Christine leaving both of them behind to seek out her own path. :D

  • Anonymous

    I hear this interpretation of the Twibooks a lot — often from people who haven’t read them, not to make any assumptions here — and I strongly disagree. Bella’s not a victim. She’s a character with strong desires, and through determination she fulfills them. She comes into her own in the 4th book (which I admit is otherwise a total mess) and in the end her power saves them all. Everybody may not approve of her desires or the nature of her “happy ending”, but that doesn’t make her a victim.

  • Anonymous

    At least the Phantom has a tragic/horrifying past. I can see where that lends it a romantic tinge. But AFAIK, Edward lacks that.

  • Anonymous

    So can you give some examples of how she is empowered? Actions she takes?

  • http://profiles.google.com/lowsee Heidi Mason

    Yup. Raoul’s a whiny twit *lol*

  • Anonymous

    “having no interests independent from her romances.” — But Carmen, it’s a romance novel. What do you expect?

    I think another problem here is that a lot of folks are encountering romance novel tropes for the first time and it’s blowing their minds a little.

  • http://profiles.google.com/lowsee Heidi Mason

    Actually, I think the Phantom’s “romance” is more in his seductive voice and hypnotic qualities, not so much his tragic past. Christine feels for him that way, and you can see that especially in ALW’s demasking scene, but… yeah. The romance is much more his voice and seductive quality.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    “I don’t have any problem with anyone that likes Twilight. After all, most of the people I know are smarter than grapefruit.”

    You don’t have any problem with them… you just think they’re stupid. Right?

  • Carmen Sandiego

    I’ve read all the books. (Those are a few hours I’ll never get back). I did not see Bella as a strong character, and her final major action in the books was to submit all her inner life, the ONE thing Edward didn’t have control over or complete insight into, to him. It was just so obviously a metaphor for submitting to your husband. I dropped the book in disgust. If the rest of the books hadn’t almost exclusively shown Bella as being manipulated by Edward and disregarded and in some cases being physically coerced to do things by Jacob, this could have looked like a compassionate act of intimacy, but because the relationship was so frakked up, and considering the mindset of the author, and all the ways in which Bella gave up her identity leading up to that point, it was this atrocious act.

  • http://re-becca.org/ Rebecca Turner

    (?) I’m not sure how this is relavant?

    There are plenty of critiques of the text you can make. This is not unusual of targets of fannish appreciation. How does that address the widespread hate pushed at its fandom? They don’t look any different to me then say, Game of Thrones fans, which glorifies far more appalling behavior than anything in Twilight.

    (To me, Game of Thrones also has the unforgivable sin of being as boring as watching paint dry, but I don’t think less of people who do like it.)

  • http://re-becca.org/ Rebecca Turner

    According to my partner, 50 Shades is just a standard romance novel, with a tiny bit of BDSM sprinkled on top. Of course, fans of romance novels get dumped on by sci-fi/fantasy fans too. (And I think, for the same reasons for all of the Twilight hate.)

  • Anonymous

    First of all, yes, I think teenagers are pretty easy to influence. I think the difference is that there is a complete and universally agreed upon and understood standard in our culture that says that running down a rival drug dealer in your car is bad and wrong, and you would be a terrible, terrible person if you did it. There are still people who think that tolerating abuse from an obsessive pyscho is totally o.k., as long as he says that he loves you.

  • Carmen Sandiego

    Even though Romance as a genre, is one of my least favorites, most of the characters have some interests/pursuits/inner life outside their love interest. And there are PLENTY of romances that feature healthy relationships. I think it does a disservice to the genre to imply that “Twilight” is an example of a standard romantic novel.

  • Anonymous

    There are many people out there (me included) who have a lot of issues with Twilight because it sets an incredibly low standard for what women should actually be shooting for in life and in love. There are lot of people who get really angry and pissed off over it because it’s an entire franchise that has managed to glorify something so horrible as emotional and mental abuse. A lot of people, however, get so angry that they also target the fans because they see them as being too dumb and too foolish to realize how terrible the material that they’re falling for is.

    People (as far as I know) do not use Game of Thrones as a back drop and a goal for what they should achieve in life. There are women out there, especially young women, however, that think that they should be pursuing these kinds of relationships in their life.

    I’m not saying you SHOULD think less of anyone for their interests, or that they SHOULD be attacking the fans, I’m simply stating that not every bit of hate pointed at Twilight is about the quality of the writing or because it’s something that’s heavily targeted and popular among women.

  • Anonymous

    Carmen, you have a different interpretation of these books than I do. And that’s totally fine. I see where you’re coming from. But when I read Twilight I see a story of “Girl meets boy. Girl wants to fuck boy’s brains out, and won’t take no for an answer.” (And, incidentally, no ones gives her any shit or calls her a ‘trampire’ for her desires.) I think that’s hilarious and awesome and balances out the negatives.

    You don’t have to agree. All I want is for more of the folks who are down on Twilight to acknowledge the possibility of a legitimate opinion different from their own. Too much to ask?

  • Anonymous

    I actually read it not knowing that it was originally a Twilight fanfic and I actually stopped because I was so increasingly uncomfortable with the relationship dynamic that I just had to. I haven’t read any other romance novels though, so I can’t really critique on it. But there were things about the BDSM lifestyle that the book was making implcations of that did not sit well with me.

    The funny thing is what made me realize that it was, at least to some degree, Twilight influenced was because the relationship dynamic between the two main characters so similar.

  • Carmen Sandiego

    I’m all for encouraging civility. Wheaton’s Law all the way. But that doesn’t mean Twilight is going to be immune from ridicule. You’re right, we should focus the critique on the work, not the fan.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    Right.

  • Anonymous

    “Girl wants to fuck boy’s brains out, but can’t, so persists in an emotionally abusive relationship for years until she marries him, and then she gets what she wants, which turns out to be terrible and violent and aggressive. And then when she has his baby, it literally rips her in half.” Not seeing how that’s empowering.

  • Carmen Sandiego

    It’s not true BDSM, which is based on consent.

  • Carmen Sandiego

    The BDSM community is actually generally way pissed at the portrayal in “50 Shades” because “50 Shades” is not consent-based.

  • Anonymous

    It’s fine if you don’t agree with me, honey. But like I told Carmen:

    “All I want is for more of the folks who are down on Twilight to
    acknowledge the possibility of a legitimate opinion different from their
    own. Too much to ask?”

  • Anonymous

    My point exactly. The entire sexual relationship was based on a lot of manipulation (whoa, sounds familiar??) and hand forcing. What made it more appalling was that it played into the idea that if you’re into BDSM, then you must be terribly mentally unstable.

  • Anonymous

    Huh? We must have read different books. Her obsession with Edward has to do with a lot more than just lust. Also, he insists on waiting until their wedding night, when he almost kills her, but it’s totally cool because he says he’s sorry after beating the shit out of her. Explain to me again how this is typical of the romance genre?

  • Carmen Sandiego

    Yeah, I felt Edward was slut-shaming her through almost all of the books. :s

  • Anonymous

    Not only that but how is it “awesome” to have a girl who apparently wants to sleep with someone so badly that they completely withdraw themselves from everyone in their life after receiving rejection/being left behind? That’s… that’s not okay.

  • Anonymous

    No, I asked you for evidence–and I think most people here have been really polite–but you didn’t provide any. You are entitled to your opinion “honey,” but I’m also entitled to my opinion that your opinion isn’t super.

  • Anonymous

    Wow…so it IS too much to ask. Good to know.

  • Carmen Sandiego

    That bothered me too. He was all, “I can’t help it”, “My instinct is uncontrollable” even though he’s had two centuries to discipline himself. It sounded like a rapist’s defense.

  • Anonymous

    Do you think it’s possible that it’s because there has been plenty of criticism against Disney characters in the past and we’ve become more aware as educated people of how unhealthy there are? Just because we made it out o.k. (with the help of our feminist elders) doesn’t mean that as a culture we should continue making sexist self-hating material for the younger generations to consume. I don’t get the “it’s just entertainment!” argument. The stuff we choose to consume as entertainment says a lot about who we are as people, and as a culture. Why shouldn’t we have higher standards?

  • Anonymous

    This this this this this this this

  • Anonymous

    Not just consent but Trust, something that is severely lacking in their relationship.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=793134777 Donna Raphael

    Emotionally unhealthy relationships are prominent in a LOT of books men and women obsess over. I’ll take a classic example from my teen years (way back in the early 90′s).

    A lot of my friends loved loved loved “Wuthering Heights”. (YA wasn’t so great then and female role models were few and far between, so we read the classics.) They obsessed over how perfect the romance of Heathcliff and Cathy, and how they wished they’d have that sort of romance in their life. I, personally, thought both of those people were horrible and cruel to each other and how Heathcliff was just *awful*. I hated the book. I was more a Jane Austin type – which also presents it’s own set of bad relationship examples (Marianne Dashwood anyone?).

    I never thought any of those girls actually wanted to be in an abusive relationship. I don’t think any of them were. Most of them were strong, smart and independent.

    Just because a girl, in her teens, is obsessed over something that is very squicky to adults, doesn’t mean that’s their standard to a relationship FOREVER. My ideals in relationships have changed dramatically over time and honestly, very quickly once I actually started dating real boys with real lives and emotions (or lack of, harrumph!) and interests.

  • http://twitter.com/Super_Widget Joanna

    I suppose from here it’d be easy enough to out-do Twilight in that respect.

  • http://twitter.com/yeah_its_me Bri Lance

    Absolutely, and I’m in no way trying to say that we don’t need better role models.

    I think what I’m trying to say is that when women grow up in a more feminist context than the stories that they’re exposed to, we may end up reinterpreting those stories in a more feminist fashion than the text strictly indicates. I actually think that’s a sign of progress, personally.

    Which is in no way meant to imply that we shouldn’t continue making further progress.

  • Anonymous

    That doesn’t make it OKAY. Nor does that mean we should accept it and make it a social norm or even SEE it as a social norm. What does it say about us as a collective if we glorify things like this?

    A lot of the reason why Twilight bugs the shit out of me is because it hits incredibly close to home. I had a very similar mentality that a lot of young girls had today and I didn’t really shake myself out of it until a couple of years ago and I’m in my late twenties.

    No one’s saying that these effects will last forever. What people ARE saying, myself included, is why aren’t we doing our best to make sure that these girls live the best life that they can? That they don’t sell themselves short. That they don’t allow themselves to end up in unhealthy relationships that could turn worse. We’re banking on them growing out of it when what’s glorified and rallied around is something so life changing as an abusive relationship? Are we really this dismissive over something so serious?

    Intelligence has nothing to do with it. When it comes to your emotions, your hopes, your dreams, it’s easy to end up in a very ‘foolish’ situation before you even realize it. No one WANTS to be in an abusive relationship because they can -see it for what it is. The worst kinds, however, are the ones masked as potential Happy Endings.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    I agree with you. I think the reason we recognize Disney for being as problematic as it is now is that people call it out. Which people are doing with Twilight, too. That’s no reason to disparage younger generations for liking stupid—even harmful!—things.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=793134777 Donna Raphael

    Oh, I agree. Completely. What should we do to make sure girls don’t wind up in crappy relationships? Well, telling them they are stupid for liking Twilight isn’t one of them. Nor is making sure they never read or see anything like this.

    What would help is a) making sure all girls are treated with respect, love, and a sense of self-esteem and importance. That usually comes from the parents and unfortunately, there’s not a lot we can do about people’s shitty parenting styles.

    So, if you aren’t a girl’s parent (or maybe you are) you do b) sit down with the girl and ask her questions about the books. Why does she like it? Why does she think Edward/Jacob is “the perfect boyfriend”? Why does she think Bella is awesome? Talk to her about unhealthy relationships and get her to think about it for a while. Even if she resists, there is a seed planted in there. Maybe have her write/make up stories about Edward and Bella that are far more positive a spin on their relationship.

    Also, keep encouraging positive female role models, in general. There will always be trashy novels like Twilight (and I like the books, really. I hate it, but I do.), but try to say “Oh hey, you like Twilight? I think you may like “Hunger Games”, too. Or the “Divergent” series. Or “the Chaos Walking” series.” Also, read these books yourself! The more popular a series is, the more likely it will become a movie adaptation, and well, there you go.

    Girls being raised by shitty people and having shitty role models in their own lives are very unlikely to go away. That has a far bigger impact on how girls treat themselves or hat relationships they get into than any book will.

  • http://twitter.com/rockinlibrarian Amy W

    I can’t tell if anyone’s said this in the “50 new comments!” that Disqus says are popping up, but have you read author Shannon Hale’s posts on this topic? (which have the same name, so I really DID think you were going to mention them): http://oinks.squeetus.com/2012/11/in-defense-of-twilight.html and the followup: http://oinks.squeetus.com/2012/11/does-twilight-damage-young-readers.html

  • Anonymous

    That bothers me too. I think that’s ultimately what many people worry about – that Twilight will spawn even more sexist crap. I don’t think that’s happened so far, and I also think the relentless, aggressive criticisms of Twilight from women is not a bad thing.

  • Anonymous

    We still can criticize the 40+ women who get Twilight tattoos though, right?

  • http://www.facebook.com/laura.truxillo Laura Truxillo

    I keep thinking if anyone I know tells me about how romantic Twilight it, I’m putting “Thor: The Mighty Avenger” in their hands so they can read about a relationship between a magical dude and an “average woman” they’ve also got the option of one that’s really sweet and well-written.

  • http://www.facebook.com/laura.truxillo Laura Truxillo

    I dunno, my coworker reads a boatload of romance novels, and he viciously hates 50 shades. Standard romance novels–not so much my thing, but at a library, I see a lot of them and talk to a lot of people who read them–tend to be a bit more romantic, but with a lot of porny bits. But 50 Shades just…it’s kinda creepy, and does a lot of rationalizing abuse.

    Plus–and this is a big one for me–the writing is absolute crap. First person, present tense. What. It takes a really skilled writer to pull that off, especially in a sex scene, and James is…she is not a skilled writer at all.

    That’s always been the thing that gave me the head-tilts. There’s what you like, and that’s subjective. But there’s objectively BAD writing, and that…gives me a headache.

  • http://www.facebook.com/laura.truxillo Laura Truxillo

    On the 50 Shades side of things, there’s a shirt at Books a Million that says: “I’m looking for Mr. Right” with “Mr. Right” crossed out and replaced with “Mr. Grey.”

    Which is…just creepy.

    I mean, at least Edward acknowledged that he was bad for Bella and repeatedly tried to push himself away from her. Not that I like him much, but Christian Grey just gives me the heebie-freaking-jeebies. He’s like an episode of SVU gone worse.

  • http://www.facebook.com/laura.truxillo Laura Truxillo

    Stories are how we as a culture communicate our social mores and explain how things work. That includes how relationships work.

  • http://www.facebook.com/laura.truxillo Laura Truxillo

    It’s not a done-in-one romance novel. It’s a four-book set. Most of the time, if you’ve got a romance series, the characters actually get developed (see: Sherilyn Kenyon, or the Soulless series).

  • http://www.facebook.com/laura.truxillo Laura Truxillo

    An opinion can be wrong. See: politics.

  • http://www.facebook.com/laura.truxillo Laura Truxillo

    I’m sorry, I’m going to be over here cracking up over the idea of people using Game of Thrones as a life model.

    Because that would be epic and tragic.

  • http://www.facebook.com/laura.truxillo Laura Truxillo

    This.
    And honestly, when I talk to a Twilight fan who says the series has a lot of problems, but they still like it because it’s fun…hey, cool. Because I’ve seen the Transformers movie, and I will totally go see the new GI Joe movie, and boy howdy I can’t wait for Hansel and Gretel…but I know they are stupid. I know they are all mind-blowingly stupid and problematic as hell. I just wanna watch Bruce Willis blow stuff up and Jeremy Renner shoot a double crossbow and…okay, Transformers was just crap, I just kept hoping, maybe…

    And that’s no different than, “Yeah, this is kinda stupid/problematic, but right now, I just wanna read so gooey romance, dangit!” (Which is usually what I say when I read fanfic, so there’s that.)

    It’s the fans who get outraged at the criticism of their book, who refuse to admit that there are some problems…that’s where I get kinda…iffy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/laura.truxillo Laura Truxillo

    I thought Twilight fans didn’t get such heavy backlash from the geek comm until there was that SDCC where a bunch of Twilight fans piled into panels they didn’t want to see, blocking out the people who DID want to see those panels, because after those panels there was going to be a Twilight panel.

    I mean, they’ve gotten flack since forever, but I swear that kicked it up a notch.

  • Anonymous

    I’ll wager that when you were a teen you liked plenty of stupid crap. Teenagers have infamously bad judgement and taste. That’s why we don’t let them vote on anything more critical than the Teen Choice Awards. I’ll grant you that those adults obsessed with Edward deserve some mockery, but it wouldn’t cost you anything to give the teenagers a break. Their minds are a boiling muddle of hormones.

  • Anonymous

    Or hilarious?

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for this article. I don’t like/read/watch Twilight and only know about it from my sister, but a large portion of the hate for it is steeped in misogyny and that makes me hulk smash. Critiquing it legitimately about its themes or style of writing is fair game, but us ganging up on it and its fans to the tune of “girls ruined vampires”, I’m going to join Twilight’s side.

  • Anonymous

    Super_Sarah, I was excited to see this comment because it’s one of the reasons I love Twilight. I mean, I do love to hate Twilight. It’s hilariously badly written, abusive and retrograde, and in general makes for great MST3ks. I couldn’t enjoy it on any serious level in the way in which it was intended.

    But, as much as I love to make fun of it for being a backwards and badly written piece of literature, I love it *just as much* because of how precious it is to so many young girls and women. I recognize in it things I adored when I was 14 years old and only found in novels.

    Twilight *is* a book about female lust, and I think that is incredibly important. I don’t know if lust is something that happens naturally to most girls, but it didn’t to me. With no friends, an abusive family, and only the Male Gaze in the media to teach me about sexuality, up until I read Black Sun Rising and The Vampire Lestat, it did not occur to me that men could be viewed as sexually attractive. Then I read these books where men were portrayed as lust objects and were described (excessively) as beautiful, alluring, even intoxicating. It blew my mind wide open. Suddenly I became aware that sexuality was something women possessed, and beauty was something men could have. I was hypnotized by the *intensity* of these lovely men, who were so desirable a woman would consider it a fair trade to give her life so she could be close to such beauty. It wasn’t just about sex, it was about death. And, of course, death wasn’t really just about death – it was about the thrill of surrender, the risk of obliteration, not necessarily to a man, but to beauty and lust.

    Yes, it’s true that these kinds of fantasies are problematic in a patriarchal society where women are actually expected to surrender themselves, piece by piece and in whole, so that the men in their lives can live comfortably off the fat of their misery and annihilation.

    But I believe there is also something there that is primal, essentially human, and not related to patriarchy at all. Male poets have wrote about their obsessions with lust, beauty, and death for thousands of years. Keats wrote the lovely La Belle Dame Sans Merci, but men have so many other romance myths that no one takes it seriously as a formative experience. No one says, “Oh, that’s garbage, don’t read that. No woman is worth that.”

    It’s very important to talk about how influential and potentially harmful Twilight is, and how disturbing the characters and their relationships are. But I think it’s also just as important to talk about what it is that is getting these girls excited, because I don’t believe it’s purely a love affair with patriarchy and their own martyrdom, as some people seem to assume.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    I don’t think that’s true at all. I don’t think the things we grew up with are comparable. I’m not cracking a whip here, though. I’m not even mocking them. I’m just saying they’re a few bricks shy of a finished house.

  • Anonymous

    First of all, Never once did I say that they were stupid for liking Twilight so I’d greatly appreciate it if you didn’t put words into my mouth.

    You’re assuming that I already don’t do this. That I already don’t try to reach out to girls I come across who, for some reason, feel like this is the kind of love they should be achieving, that this is the kind of love that they should be searching for.

    But hey, yeah, no. That last paragraph is exactly what my point is. The Twilight series isn’t just a book. It’s a movie. It’s an entire franchise. It’s an intense fandom that is filled with so many impassioned people. What you’re doing is belittling the kind of influence that pop culture can have on the young today when in reality, it’s what we see all the time. Teenagers are always looking for some point of guidance and due to the movies, especially, having been released, they now have actual live, living breathing entities to look at for what they could become. There’s a reason why Kirsten Stewart received death threats from Twilight fans when the whole fiasco of her cheating on Pattinson happened. There’s a reason why at any Twilight premiere, you’re likely to see a teen crying in the background. It’s why if you ever decide to see a Twilight movie in theatres, the intense fandom that makes this franchise will be blatantly obvious by the overly theatrical responses to scenes. Which, if you think I’m joking, I’ve actually witnessed girls outright going into hysterics while watching those movies in the theatre.

    You’re belittling the kind of influence that this can have on someone, by no means am I, or did I say anywhere that the only thing we should do is hate on the entire thing. But just because we reach out doesn’t mean that we should all be expected to accept it or praise it. There are girls out there that view this series as their holy grail, there are girls out there that build pedestals to the kind of romantic images this series creates, and no matter how silly and foolish you think it is to even imagine this, it’s true.

    Teenaged girls are big market, there’s a reason why these movies make as much money as they do. And even if those of us who hate this series so much reach out to as many girls as we can, it doesn’t mean that A.) They’ll be receptive or B.) That we’ll even be able to reach a sliver of them.

    At the end of the day, we should care about what’s actually popular and what’s making money and we should be asking ourselves WHY. Why is it that a franchise based entirely on emotional, mental and even at points, physical abuse so popular? Why is it that so many people are so willing to disregard it even though it’s very clear that it has a very solid place in our culture? And why are people so afraid to actually look at it and see that it could create potential problems in the long run?

  • Anonymous

    Which is the exact reason why I failed to understand the comparison between Twilight and Game of Thrones in the first place.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think lumping every teen who enjoys Twilight together as inherently stupid is very fair or logical. There are plenty of teens who are plenty intelligent but young and insecure enough to wish an ultra-smoking-hot guy would moon over them. Just because they’re buying a part doesn’t mean that they buy the whole pile.

  • Anonymous
  • Adam R. Charpentier

    I don’t have to be fair. That’s what’s great about having an opinion and not being a supreme court judge.

  • Anonymous

    The reason I dislike Twilight isn’t the fandom. It’s the misogyny inherent in the work itself, and its portrayal of its main character as being without agency. I don’t think that, in itself, is misogynist, right?

  • Anonymous

    That is a big problem for a lot of young readers. We’ve been helping some prep for the SATs, and we’re always reminding them to pay attention to what the author actually says, not to the impression the passage yields. It takes them a while, but they eventually get the hang of it. More seriously, they realize that paying attention to the actual text is an important skill to develop for life, not just for getting a good SAT score.

  • Anonymous

    Look, lonely nerdy girl comes to town and suddenly the hottest boy ever thinks she’s the best thing since sliced bread.

    It’s kinda that simple. Well, then the other hot boy wants her too. So more gravy for that kind of fantasy.

    Twilight is not a book I enjoy but it’s basically a fantasy setup for a teenage girl who has felt alone all her life. My daughter loved it back in the day as only a 13-year-old girl can love something. I had a photo of Sean Cassidy on my door. We both got over it.

    Mostly, I dislike the criticism that veers toward “well, it’s girly, ew…cooties.”

    Btw, remember that 200-year-old vamp who sneaked around to follow the teenage girl who was special and wouldn’t tell her why and then hide so much of his life from her but watched over her and then they slept together and he went evil?

    Yeah, that’s Buffy & Angel. Similar plot setup, much better execution. But Angel definitely had stalkery tendencies in season 1. The main difference is that Buffy ended up staking him.

  • Anonymous

    I’m no fan of the Twilight books. Bella, let’s face it, is a bit of a lump. On the other hand, I live in Port Angeles and often pass through Forks and other areas mentioned in the books, and I was very amused, while the Twilight tourism held out, by the fans. Forks is a dying logging town, but Meyer managed to romanticize it. It’s far from wealthy and far from glamorous. Suddenly there were all these semi-goth tourists, mainly women, often mother-daughter groups, wandering around in black, looking for Twilight landmarks. The big local attractions are the Hoh Rain Forest and the rather amazing West End beaches with their sea stacks and tide pools. That and the fishing. Twilight landmarks were a bit thin on the ground. After all, Stephanie Meyer had never visited Forks, and worse, a number of the places she did mention, like the old high school, were condemned and torn down as hazards.

    So, here were these fans, dressed for Halloween wandering around the rain forest looking at the ferns and salal or wandering down the main street of Forks checking out the, rather limited, local commerce. Even better, they were having a great time of it. The little convenience store and restaurant en route to La Push or Rialto Beach put up a sign about the werewolf – vampire treaty line, and that was the backdrop for countless photos. We even took a few photos of some of the fans when we stopped for an espresso on our way to our trailhead.

    Even Port Angeles was touched. A friend of ours owns Bella Italia where Bella ate mushroom ravioli on her first date with Edward. The restaurant was inundated with requests for mushroom ravioli, and our friend had no choice but to add it to the menu. Life imitates art.

    The fan thing has died down a bit. The Canadian couple who ran the Twilight memorabilia store closed shop and absconded to Canada leaving a big unpaid sales tax bill in their wake. We don’t see as many mothers and daughters out in Twilight regalia, sometimes with an embarrassed looking dad in tow. Bella Italia still serves mushroom ravioli and, in season, the best brussels sprouts you have ever tasted. If you do come out, on the Twilight trail or not, don’t be surprised if what you find does quite line up with Meyer’s imagination of the area.

  • http://www.facebook.com/laura.truxillo Laura Truxillo

    Yeah, it’s such a weird thing to write in a book that’s supposed to be about a romantic relationship, as opposed to a book that’s deliberately about a messed up relationship. Isn’t it way more romantic if the guy, who does have crazy super-strength, still keeps himself in check and doesn’t hurt you?

    Superman’s a pretty good example. Dangit, Supes and Lois romance for the win.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robothobbitafisher Abby Fisher

    If it’s any encouragement at all back in the day, I was a huge teenage Phan and had a total thing for Eric. Even bought jewelry. But as I grew up, I learned that he was nothing like boyfriend material. The thing about being a teenager is you are pretty stupid, and then you grow up and learn about why it’s not smart to go with obsessive, controlling guy.

    I still have the jewelry though. The mask with the rose toggle clasp is pretty slick.

  • http://www.facebook.com/laura.truxillo Laura Truxillo

    I don’t recall Bella being very nerdy. And the book is a blur, but I thought in the movie, it was clear that she was isolating herself. All the kids wanted to be her friend right away, her father wanted to be a part of her life, and all she wanted to do was shut herself off from them. (Frankly, I may be a bit of a Daddy’s Girl, but Bella’s treatment of her father really got under my skin. That’s more of a personal dislike of a character than an actual criticism, though.) I mean, heck, there’s Vivian Velde and Robin McKinley and Patricia C Wrede in terms of fantasy set-ups for girls who feel lonely and want to feel empowered.

    I do remember the Buffy/Angel thing. I also remember their relationship being portrayed as Not Healthy. It was fluffy and romantic, in a dark and sexy way, but ultimately not something that either of them could live with. Buffy didn’t get to sugarcoat over Angel’s faults, her life didn’t revolve around him, and when it did, her friends would pull her back. And, to be fair, Angel had a slightly better reason for keeping an eye on Buffy–she was the Slayer, after all. Not that it’s much better than good ol’ fashion Romance Stalkin’.

    (I never get into the whole age complaint. That one seems stupid. Sorry, paranormal romance has been around for awhile, and it can be a very fun genre, and when something’s immortal, it becomes a lot harder for me to get squicked by a May/December romance. But the sneaking into her room thing–that one’s always creepy.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/laura.truxillo Laura Truxillo

    Tragiepilarious.

  • http://www.facebook.com/anatasia.beaverhousen.7 Anatasia Beaverhousen

    Twilight sucks and Stephenie Meyers writing is terrible, just deal with it. You can still like it, but deal with it. I’ve read absolutely appallingly bad books that I’ve enjoyed, I don’t know why the Twilight books are any different.

  • Anonymous

    >What should we do to make sure girls don’t wind up in crappy
    relationships? Well, telling them they are stupid for liking Twilight
    isn’t one of them. Nor is making sure they never read or see anything
    like this.<

    Donna I think this goes back to the earlier lines of reading the text rather than the impression and understanding what is being said by the author. When I read Wuthering Heights (and still reread it today) I have never seen it as "Twue Wuv." but as "Romance novel with creepy players and necrophilia."

    I think what people are having a problem with isn't the classic "I don't like what you like therefore I will pick on you." but something a little more sinister like "Edward is the perfect boyfriend" or "Bella is so strong I want to be like her" when that isn't how the characters are to be perceived. This is why the haters don't just shit all over Twilight but ask critical thinking questions like why do you think Edward is perfect and why do you think Bella is strong?
    Even in other young adult series, where an unhealthy relationship is portrayed there is at least a sense that this is not acceptable. For Wuthering Heights most teens would agree that it is not OK to dig up the corpse of your lover. Even people who read Hunger Games are put off by the way that Katniss uses Peta to gain a footholds in the arena.
    For my own experience, my 9 year old niece is a Twilight fan and at least holds the belief that the Belward relationship is a lovely thing that she would like to have someday. I think that's a little much for a 9 year old, but because Twilight is so popular with an older age group that's what she wants to watch (and I could smack her mom for giving it to her). For my part at this time, I just interact with her, answer her questions and allow her to observe how a healthy relationship works by setting a good example with my own. I've also gotten her the first season of MLP:FiM for Christmas and plan on getting her the Secret World of Arietty for her birthday…

  • http://twitter.com/GeekFurious GeekFurious

    Saying nothing is tacit encouragement. Therefor one must speak ones mind about the horrific nature of the writing style of those books, and the even more horrific acting, writing, and directing of the movies. Does that mean we have to attack the individuals who enjoy them?

    Let’s pretend the answer is no… even though it is yes.

  • Anonymous
  • http://twitter.com/septembergrrl Elisabeth

    But Bella gets superpowers, she gets the guy of her dreams, she gets to be young and beautiful forever, she gets adopted into a loving if eccentric family, and she gets a kid who skips past the boring diapers stuff in, like, 15 minutes. In no way is she the victim in the end.

    I understand there are major problems with the road she takes there. But I can totally see the wish fulfillment/empowerment aspect as being at least as real as that for a guy watching or reading Captain America.

  • Anonymous

    “told [...] that their interests are irrelevant and that they themselves should be discounted for liking them”

    No, but they deserve to be told their interest is a poorly written piece of shit that’s giving a generation of young girls disgusting, misogynistic, unhealthy ideas about relationships.

    You are workin’ my last nerve, Mary Sue. I don’t think I’m coming back after this one.

  • Anonymous

    “Can we seriously stop giving people flack for liking things we don’t like?”

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…

    Damn, I pulled something…lemme sit down…

    I do not want to live in a world where I have to unreservedly accept and respect everyone’s likes and opinions. I demand the right to convince with evidence, gently chide, and if necessary, actively mock and deride people who diagree with me.

    Whimsically, of course.

    Anyone who takes ANY difference of opinion seriously enough to resort to legitimate emotion, raised voices or Ford help us, violence, has a problem, one far more serious than preferring Betty over Veronica..

    But debate is how things get done. It’s how we learn about new things. If you can make your point well enough, you stand a chance of getting someone to try something new. I did it just yesterday when a guy at the comic shop said he “just didn’t get” the Bronies. At the end of the conversation, he planned to get the comic, and seek out the opening two-parter of the series.

    “…that you’re embarrassed about looking back on”
    Nope.
    Don’t read anymore, yes. Wouldn’t re-read, yes. Embarrassed and ashamed? Nope. Every book I read was a stepping stone to what I read now. Reading the Doctor Who novelizations got me into Sci-Fi fandom, which opened my eyes to the other stuff out there. My love of Neil Gaiman comics got me to read Good Omens, and what do you know, the guy he co-wrote it with has written a bunch of things, and off a trotted into Sator Square.
    Some people seem to like seeing themselves as victims, the put-upon underdogs. Indeed, I think that’s one of the reasons a lot of fen don’t like how being a geek has become mainstream. They don’t WANT to be mainstream. The LIKE being seen as the scrappy little fighter with no chance. And this insistence that one must “defend” their fandom is just a mystery to me.
    Enjoy your books, enjoy the friends you make, have witty banter with the people who jibe you for it, ignore the ones that are serious, and sue the ones who lay their hands on you.
    Don’t DEFEND your fandom, EXPLAIN your fandom.

  • John Wao

    I remember when Harry Potter blew up into the worldwide phenomenon that it is there was some criticism of the quality of JK Rowling’s books, but there was an increase in book sales in general so I look at it this way anything that gets more people, especially young people, reading is a good thing. Who knows if the next great author is there waiting for inspiration.

  • spency

    Well, if you go with the classic Vampire trope, they simply can’t control themselves. Vampires are meant as creatures of violence, greed and hunger. Edward acts just like a classic antagonist, which sets the story into the also classic trope of beauty-taming-the-beast. This can be seen as a female power fantasy. One I actually love dearly since my early teenage years … when it’s done right. (see Integra – Alucard, Bulma – Vegeta, Alexia Tarabotti – Connall Maccon or Mercy Thompson – Adam Hauptmann)

    In the case of Twilight it plays into the discrepancy of what is seen in the story compared to what is really there, like it was mentioned above. I had long discussions about these books with my little sister, who is fortunately grown out of it by now, and it was obvious to me, that she assumed things about the characters that where simply not in the text.

    In general I wish there where books for my girly sister with a girly girl saving the day and getting the grumpy guy, a story that shows, that being soft and feminine does not equal being weak and certainly does not mean you have to surrender yourself to abuse. A tale that tells winning in a non-violent way is damn cool.

  • malkavian

    The thing is, Game of Thrones DOESN’T glorify it (and I would love it if you could give me an instance of when it does). There’s a difference between containing it and glorifying it. Game of Thrones is a crapsack world. Lots of bad things happen, often to good people. Plus, no one who likes GoT is aspiring to be in a relationship with Joffrey Baratheon.

  • MollyJ

    What I got from this little piece (I’m not even going to touch the opinion discussion here):

    “People need to stop being mean to Twilight fans, because Twilight fans are teenage girls, and don’t you want to be nice to teenage girls?”

    Really?

  • Rebecca Pahle

    Yes, really. No one deserves to be treated badly for liking something, even if that something is as awful as Twilight.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    Why is it a yes, though?

  • MollyJ

    Yes, we should be nice to them, but I was expecting to read something a little more substantial and thought-provoking. Not to mention the fact that teenage girls are only a portion of Twilight fans.

  • Vania

    Tattoos are very personal and ultimately anyone can do what they like with their own body – while you or I might not think much of it, they still are allowed to enjoy themselves if it doesn’t hurt anyone.

    Everyone, women especially, face so much unhealthy criticism, so no: we shouldn’t criticize anyone getting Twilight tattoos regardless of age, gender, or any other reason.

  • Anonymous

    It sounds like you’re attempting to justify it by calling it a trope? Which is strange? Yes, that Beauty and the Beast trope is a common female power fantasy, and it is far and away one of the most harmful tropes in female-aimed literature. You see it again and again and it’s led many young women to think that this is something other than a silly, dangerous and narcissistic fantasy. This is the trap this stupid trope leads to: “if I can just make him love me, he’ll change for me! He’ll stop being angry and violent! He’ll stop beating me, if only I can love him enough! He’s only violent becomes of his demons, but I can help him!” Ugh. It’s thinking like this that traps women (and sometimes men) in abusive relationships.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Eric-Bazilio/100000132443742 Eric Bazilio

    Hum. Talk about finding the light at the end of tunnel.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OD35QQZNBPZJXWTCBY7N4EE7VY Sarah

    That was me and Joss Whedon fans at SDCC this year. Thankfully I made it in, but there were a TON of disappointed Korra and/or Community fans who couldn’t get into Ballroom 20 because of them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alaina.granter Alaina Granter

    This, so much this.

    I have friends who like Twilight, and I can’t stand it. It happens. But they fully admit it’s not well written. One blog, a person summarizing the plot of twilight books chapter by chapter, compared them to twinkies. Clearly, they’re not good literature, but sometimes you just want fluff.

    My problem is with the people who yell and throw things and stop being friends or listening to other’s opinions because the book is PERFECT and CLEARLY you can’t know what you’re talking about to think otherwise. I’m talking people I went to college with, convinced that the relationship was a perfect one. That scared me, and still does.

  • http://twitter.com/AlanaBoltz Alana Boltz

    Personally, I feel like this is a skill that can be improved a lot by doing your own creative writing. Having to nit-pick about your own writing can help develop those skills in general. The only problem is that one can’t really turn that skill off when you want to enjoy something terrible.

  • http://twitter.com/AlanaBoltz Alana Boltz

    To be fair to Jane Austen, Marianne Dashwood isn’t really presented as being a role model.

  • http://twitter.com/AlanaBoltz Alana Boltz

    Good point. At least in male escapist fantasies, the protagonist gets to do something interesting or useful. I am troubled by how Bella seems to have no really goals or life outside of Edward.

  • spency

    I did not write my point out clearly enough.

    What you say, is exactly the case in Twilight and exactly the way this kind of story (women and beast in love) is handled wrong.

    Patricia Briggs and Gail Carriger have proven with their stories that it is possible to create unyielding heroines who can safe themselves and happen to fall in love with beasts (in these two cases werewolfs). And these relationships work not despite the strength of these women but because of it. (An alpha wolf falls for another alpha and not for a submissive)

    With Edward Ms Mayer has written a villain and labeled him a hero, this may have been an attempt on writing an antihero but it obviously failed, since the monster got no character development. You can contrast that to Vegeta from Dragonball, his behavior towards Bulma after they became a couple and later his kids too stands in sharp contrast to the time of his first appearance. He changed, Edward can’t because he is a Vampire.

    The unsolvable problem with Vampire-characters is, that Vampires are supposed to be evil and cursed for eternity. The underlying myth does not include any way of redemption and if you choose to use such a character the only way this guy gets a “happy ending” is by finding someone who willingly gives him everything he desires.

  • http://twitter.com/AlanaBoltz Alana Boltz

    Hey now, there’s actually quite a lot of good anime out there if you know where to look. Like any genre, there’s a lot that’s bad, but I wouldn’t say that nearly everything is. ;-)

  • http://twitter.com/AlanaBoltz Alana Boltz

    Yes, but as others have said, there is a huge difference between saying “There are a lot of things that are really unhealthy about Twilight” and “You’re an idiot for liking Twilight”.

  • Anonymous

    Relevant video is relevant: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0la5DBtOVNI

  • carlita_one_eyed

    You’re making a very interesting and relevant point. There are two very distinct things here, the fandom and the content of the material, and it’s important to keep them separate. And I totally agree that young girls have more than enough pressure on them as it is – a tragic situation that needs repairing (and is being repaired constantly by discussions such as this one).

    My own opinion is that many aspects of Twilight are dangerous, for a number of reasons that aren’t really important right now. But I know that, looking back on my past and seeing it echoed all around me in women of every age that I meet, that women growing up in our society need all the help they can get to feel that their opinions, desires, and personal tastes are relevant and worthy of respect. Which they are. Why do girls, especially young girls, like Twilight? What makes it accessible to them? Answering these questions can go a long way towards straining out the good from the bad, and focusing on that in the creation of new fiction.

  • Anonymous

    That’s abuse of Voltaire.

    I’ll defend to the death you right to fangirl Twilight if the government is trying to lock you up for fangirling it (the point of the original Voltaire quote). I won’t defend the wisdom or intelligence of anyone’s love for Twilight for a second. There’s no inherent right to not be laughed at for your preferences.

  • Anonymous

    That is a really interesting observation! Thank you, some good food for thought there.

  • Anonymous

    That’s more than just phrasing, anyway.

  • Anonymous

    which part? I’m asking as someone who has never read it.

  • Anonymous

    I think the media had more to do with making 50 Shades popular that Twilight fans did. The media knew that Twilight and the like were popular, they latched onto this because it was sensational – Twilight, fan-fic, BDSM – nice solid hot words. So the media went with it and now the women are following.

  • Anonymous

    It’s sad, really. I’m in the most egalitarian, respectful,. and fulfilling relationship I’ve ever been in, and we play around with a lot of that stuff. It’s really not that weird, I think of it as playing. To imply that there’s something wrong with someone or their relationship because they’re “into” things you’re not is…well…bad.

  • Anonymous

    Love Sherilyn Kenyon, although I don’t really go for those whiny Byronics in real life, and the latest I read (Retribution?) was rubbish. Made me sad, it was one of her weaker ones, and it’s been fun seeing how she develops as a writer through the years.
    Wait…what were we talking about?

  • Anonymous

    Huh, I hadn’t really thought of that. I think letting girls know that they’re supposed to lust is an important thing. I’ve never been able to find a man that could keep up with me, and I always felt a little freakish. Now I’m getting married (to a virgin, even), and the advice I get is SO stereotypical and sexist. I just want to tell them: Whatever advice you had for me, give it to him, and give me his advice. Anyway, it makes me feel like a bit of a freak and an outcast.
    Beyond that, women do need to take control of their sexual lives and not let society tell them what is or isn’t normal. What’s normal is probably where you’re at. The gender binary when it comes to sexual desire is outdated, offensive, and another element that controls women and their bodies. Yuk.

  • Anonymous

    Haha…what are you guys arguing about?

  • Anonymous

    Transformers had explosions and giant robot fights. It completely fulfilled my expectations. I own all 3.

  • Anonymous

    Game of Thrones doesn’t glorify the bad behavior. It never says, “violence is great,” “rape’s a good way to pass the time,” or “being good at life-and-death politics makes you a good person.” It says that war is hell, that people can do terrible, unconscionable things, that sometimes one must adapt to survive, and that all of this is very, very bad for everyone involved.

  • Anonymous

    Mostly, I get irked when WOMEN my age (ie 20s and 30s) are obsessed with Twilight. They are either single, and inevitably are the sort of woman who expects a knight in shining armor to come riding up, and have no realistic expectations on relationships and wont be real with the men they do date. Or, and I dont know if this is worse or not, they are actually married and and discount the small and realistically romantic things their husbands do for them because of their obsession with unrealistic romance. These. Aren’t. Teenagers.

    Also, lets not forget the alarmingly heteronormative relationship agenda that Twilight presents. Hmm. And as a social worker, I look at them and see a remarkably abusive relationship. I would never allow my daughter to read these books at an impressionable age, and we would have to have serious discussions as to the content if she did when she was older.

    Things may be remarkably influential, but that doesn’t mean we have to accept it. I dont harp on Twilight fans because, well, thats just not a nice thing to do. But allowing the standards which it presents is a whooooole other ball game.

  • http://twitter.com/Kartos Heather

    Wow, were you serious with that comment? I thought this was sarcasm, but now I’m not so sure.

  • http://re-becca.org/ Rebecca Turner

    No, that’s *exactly* why I made the comparison.

  • http://re-becca.org/ Rebecca Turner

    My point was that we accept that people can enjoy problematic material when that material is targeted to boys and men. Why don’t we do the same when it’s targeted at girls and women?

    I could go on and on about the icky things in the series, but I non-the-less enjoyed it. What isn’t clear to me is why it creates such a strong emotional reaction in people? Is it because we believe women should be perfect and never enjoy problematic material?

    I don’t know, I just can’t get past the feeling that this is the same old double standard thing, where men get a pass and women get demonized.

  • Anonymous

    Then I think both stories have gone completely over your head if you think you can compare the two. As stated, there’s nothing romanticized or glorified about the violence and actions that people do in Game of Thrones. People make shitty decisions? They are met with shitty fates. People make GOOd decisions? Still met with shitty fates. No glorifying what so ever.

    Twilight on the other hand… get obsessed with a boy to the point that you’re willing to risk your health as well as your family and friends? Totally get the guy! Shitty behavior? Completely glorified.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, No.

    Male “problematic” material that you’re talking about isn’t the same kind of “problematic”. You think that because it has violence it’s problematic? No. If you’ve read the series or seen the show, no one gets what they want. The entire basis of the story is to actually show how shitty people can be just to get exactly what it is that they’re looking for. As someone said previously, no one’s looking to hook up and be with Joffrey, and yet people are idolizing Edward, someone who’s in many ways no better (Stalking, emotional neglect/abuse, controlling behavior, etc. etc.). THAT is problematic. THAT is where the issue comes in.

    Go ahead, feel uncomfortable over violence, but violence does not inherently make something problematic just because you’re sensitive. Like I said already, no one’s looking around trying to mimic Game of Thrones. People might hoot and holler over all the different ways that people die but they’re not looking to live that life or even fantasize over it since everyone ends up in a shitty position.

    So yeah. If you also think this is about women being demonized then you might want to re-read everything that’s being said. This isn’t about demonizing women. This is about women getting pissed off that we’re being handed the lowest quality material and expected to gobble it up and see it as a vision of what we should achieve when in reality it’s, in turn, setting us back and placing us exactly where we started – as emotionally crippled beings who are dependent on their male counterparts to survive and thrive.

    Also, to say that Game of Thrones is “Man” material is also total bull. It has some of the most fiercest female characters I’ve seen in forever. Nothing about it is barricading women from enjoying it, even if it’s riddled with sex and nudity and if you’re talking about the show, it’s got it’s fair share of female fan service in there, too.

  • http://re-becca.org/ Rebecca Turner

    “gone completely over your head if you” Really? You’re saying that? You think that adds anything…

  • Anonymous

    Was that a reply?

  • http://www.facebook.com/laura.truxillo Laura Truxillo

    Seriously? I thought SDCC had taken measures to prevent those kind of shenanigans from happening again, like insisting that all panels clear out before the new one comes on.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OD35QQZNBPZJXWTCBY7N4EE7VY Sarah

    I believe that’s the policy at Dragoncon, but it’s never been at SDCC (at least for the 8 years I’ve been going).

  • malkavian

    Most of the people I know who are avid GoT fans are women. So it’s definitely NOT a man thing.

  • malkavian

    The thing is Rowling her books are actually decent. They don’t belong in a lit class, sure, but they aren’t objectively terrible and the stories are fun and interesting.

  • http://twitter.com/JaredMithrandir Jared Welch

    It’s a good thing that young people reading at all, Reading makes you smarter, no matter what you read.

  • http://twitter.com/JaredMithrandir Jared Welch

    I’m a writer, and I try to say as much as possible, but I also encourage my reading to draw their own conclusions.

  • http://twitter.com/vSUPERfreckles Sergeant Pancakes

    Neither does Twilight. I could say all those same things about Twilight, and that’s the problem.

    Look, stalking is subjective. Edward being abusive is subjective. We know from book one he would never hurt Bella, and he even tries to leave her so she’s better off in book two. Bella chooses him, despite his ick behavior, and the results are not as disastrous as people think. Speaking from personal experience I’ve seen women date men who were total creepers, and those women went on to live happy, empowering lives. The point is you cannot know or judge a relationship dynamic when someone isn’t actively suffering from it, and if a relationship is abusive the one being abused will ultimately have to learn that and make that decision on their own.

    Let’s look at it this way: Edward has spent over 30,000 days being conscious as a vampire. He can read minds and he is always curious of things. Suddenly he finds someone he can’t read. Being a vampire his actions are more instinctual than human and after 80+ years of always knowing, he couldn’t bear not knowing. He never peeped on her getting dressed. He never intended to hurt her. His behavior was misguided and awkward. She decided it didn’t matter.

    He’s protective of her because she is human and he is now hyper-aware of what that entails. This is why at times he acts ridiculous with control–a habit he consciously breaks in later books. His behavior is lampshaded and other people comment on his tendency towards extremes, but in the end he ends up being normal, healthy, and not controlling. Bella becomes her own person. And not just through him, through her own choices.

    The fact is that Bella and Edward’s relationship is not of this world and real world laws do not apply. People try and say they do, but they really don’t. You go ahead and live for hundreds of years and then try and claim you would never get curious about other people. This may be “creepy” to say but I sure as hell would watch someone sleep. You cannot look at it with bias.

    And you may say that no, that relationship would never fly with you, and that’s perfectly okay, but who are you to determine what fantasy relationship is and isn’t healthy? Who are you to determine the laws of what relationships should be allowed in “good” stories? I know a ton of healthy relationships that had unhealthy periods. No relationship is truly perfect or healthy. It’s honestly subjective.

    And if a Twilight fan legitimately believes a complete stranger sneaking into their room and watching them sleep is love IRL (which most Twilight fans don’t think), then maybe allow that phase of thinking to run its course.

  • http://twitter.com/vSUPERfreckles Sergeant Pancakes

    My cousin-in-law loved Twilight (she might still like it, but the series is kind of “over” so it’s not a huge topic of discussion anymore). She is now in college and on the dean’s list. She graduated high school top of her class (and this high school is in one of the top 100 school districts in America) with excellent grades. She’s smart, capable, loves the classics, has superb taste in literature appreciating finer works (many mentioned in these comment) and better teen alternatives, and yes, she likes Twilight.

    She’s not any bricks shy of a finished house. She’s a strong, independent woman.

    I read Twilight back in 2006. I didn’t think much of it. It was interesting, and a good way to kill time, but no better than your average waiting room magazine. I wrote it off and forgot about it. Years passed and then there were more books, and films, and a gigantic fandom. Then came the hatred. I’ve since read Twilight more objectively to see if there was something I’d missed, since I never remembered there being any reason to passionately hate it. All I could find were–at least what were to me–rational explanations in the text to counter most if not all of the hatred for it.

    Twilight is not that bad. I’ve strived to try to make sense of the “literary criticism” ones make of it, but I honesty can’t do it. Critiquing Twilight as a work of literature is like treating Teen Magazine as a note-worthy news outlet. Neither of those are even trying to pretend they’re masterpieces. Constantly going after the literary aspects of Twilight is like trying to criticize poptarts because they’re not fine cuisine. Well, no duh, very few people who buy pop-tarts think they’re fine cuisine. Twilight is not fine, beautiful literature. Doesn’t make it any less fun for some people to read.

    And I don’t deny that there are some rabid, idiotic fans out there. I’ve met them myself. But the hatred is making those rabid fans look tame right now, and quite frankly I’m fed up with it.

  • http://twitter.com/vSUPERfreckles Sergeant Pancakes

    Most teenage girls are expected to read more “thought provoking” stuff in high school anyway. They’re already reading it. Chill out. Maybe what they read is their parents job and not yours.