Friday, November 18, 2011

When Is It OK for You to Hate Twilight? Here's a Guide.

by Sara N.

Oh, Twilight backlash. You've been lashing and lashing along for years now, and today's premiere of Break Dawn Part I has increased the volume of the haters.

Sometimes, people have a good reason for the hate. Other times, not so much. Please join me in examining situations in which it's OK for you to hate Twilight, and situations when it's really, really not.

Situations when it's 100% OK for you to hate Twilight:

1. You read one of the books and didn't like it.

2. You saw one of the movies and didn't like it.

Listen, you paid your dues. You picked up the book and slogged through it, or you plunked down your money at the theater or video store. (Although you should acknowledge that movies are generally inferior to books, no matter the quality of the original source material.) Through your consumption of the material, you learned that the series wasn't your thing.

Verdict: Go ahead and hate away.

Situations when it might be OK for you to hate Twilight:
1. You've never read one of the books or seen one of the movies, but you're familiar with the plot line and think it sounds dumb or downright offensive.

2. You think vampires that sparkle are kind of silly.

So you read a blog post somewhere that summarized the first book, and you now feel like you can scoff and dismiss Twilight as Mormon abstinence propaganda. Kudos for doing a bit of research, I guess. If you're going to praise or vilify a piece of work, it's generally better to have consumed enough of it to have an informed opinion, but a little bit of knowledge is better than nothing.

Verdict: You're allowed to say, "I haven't read it, but I'm familiar with the plot, and it sounds really stupid to me. No thanks."

As for the sparkly vampires ... well, yes. That's pretty silly. But one of the fun parts of reading genre fiction is seeing how new authors turn old tropes on their ear. Bram Stoker's vampires can change into a bat or a wolf. Anne Rice's vampires can fly and pretty much turn to stone when they get old enough. Jim Butcher's White Court vampires feed off of emotion rather than blood. Justin Cronin's vampires are mindless, zombie-like psychic beasts. J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood vampires all wear leather pants and combat boots and speak in the most embarrassing street slang I have ever read. Oh, and their vampirism is genetic, not passed by bite.

In short, different authors play with the vampire clichés. Stephanie Meyer came up with a reason that vampires avoid the sun that doesn't involve immediate conflagration. Sure, that explanation might seem a bit too "ponies and rainbows and unicorns la la la" to you, but it is nevertheless a new take on a vampire trope.

Verdict: It's a bit shallow to reject a book series based on the sparkly plot point alone, especially when you haven't actually read it to see how many other things there are to object to. But life is short; you should choose the entertainment that speaks to you.

Situations when it's not OK for you to hate Twilight:

1. If you haven't read the books or seen the movies and don't know anything about it other than that lots of girls are rabid fans.

Don't be that guy. Don't give in to the knee-jerk reaction that entertainment created for tween and teen girls is automatically worthless. Don't fall victim to the mindset that entertainment created by women, for women is somehow inferior. Romance novels are reflexively mocked, often by people who've never picked one up, and chick flicks are universally scorned even though every single film genre has lousy entries sitting alongside the good ones.

Most observers don't look at Twilight and Justin Bieber and Zac Efron and declare, "Nope, that's not up my alley." Instead, they look at Twilight and Justin Bieber and Zac Efron and declare, "This is garbage, and the people who like that are idiots." ("The people," of course, are primarily women.) The derision directed at Twilight fans often crosses the line into vitriol. The simple fact is that other people's entertainment choices do not affect you personally; quit acting like they do. Follow Wheaton's Law and don't be a dick.

Look, it's one thing if you've read the books or seen the movies and have an informed opinion. It's another thing if you look at a phenomenon that's whipped young girls (and plenty of adult women) into a frenzy and, without knowing anything about it, declare it stupid. Dumb. Garbage. Worthless.

Verdict: If you know nothing about the books or movies beyond their popularity with women, you don't get to have an opinion. Period.
Pin It


  1. Yes, this!

    I despise geek on geek hate and this is a prime example.

    To quote Kevin Smith: "That's what I love about a comic book convention. People will come to a convention stand there in a Spock costume, look at someone in a Chewie costume and be like, 'Look at the fuckin' geek.'"

    Twilight is vampires-lite (1 calorie!) but at least it's vampires. Maybe it's a gateway drug to more and better vampires!

  2. If I've listen to a Justin Beiber song and hated it, then can I hate him?

    Honestly, I try not to be really judgemental towards Twi-Hards because I know I love Jane Eyre and people could give me a lot of flak about that. Still, Nerds can be mean.

  3. Twi hards are bat shit crazy. Go and have a look round the Twi section of and then tell me that isn't so, go on I dare you. Or better still go and look and read the fics on Twilighted, A Darker Twilight or the Twilight Coffee Shop, if you haven't lost your lunch by this point, I salute you.

    fluffy the vampire slayer

  4. Oh, come now. Read some of the Supernatural or Torchwood fan fic. What has been seen cannot be unseen, my friend. You single out the Twihards unfairly, imo.

  5. It's like you read my mind, Sara & Laurie!

  6. I would just like to add (as a Twilight fan who is also a feminist) that I am really tired of hearing people who haven't read the books trot out the "this is bad for young girls and shouldn't exist" stuff without considering that teenage boys' wish-fulfilment fantasies aren't usually great life plans, either.

    I'm tired of hearing people who don't bother to read the books say the books are anti-choice because Bella chooses something they wouldn't choose after nearly every beloved person in her life who knows about the pregnancy tells her she can do whatever she wants and they'll support her, and that maybe she should consider terminating the pregnancy when she is obviously growing ill.

    I'm tired of hearing them say that Bella is manipulated and bossed around when Edward always ends up giving her exactly what she wants, and that she has no agency when her actions and decisions drive the whole plot.

    I'm tired of hearing bruises caused by mutually-enjoyed enthusiastically consensual sex compared to bruises left by men who beat women. Obviously most of us haven't dated a vampire 20 times stronger than us *g* but who hasn't woke up with a bruise they didn't feel because they were otherwise engaged when it happened and having a blast?

    I wouldn't date Edward and I certainly wouldn't date Jacob (who is the one who really needs to learn the meaning of No Means No) but I loved these books and I'm tired of having men I like (and women I like) attack me and demand that I admit they're horrible when I don't think they are. I didn't expect to like them, but I did.

  7. @Geesejuggler, you can hate Bieber for being anti-choice. I sure do. But I don't hate his fans.

  8. @fluffy the vampire slayer--by this standard, Harry Potter is clearly the worst series of books ever written. As failtastic as some Twilight fic is, it doesn't beat "My Immortal" because honestly not much could.

  9. I haven't read the books or seen the movies, but I think I've learned enough about Twilight to know that I wouldn't care for it, and it has nothing to do with sparkly vampires; I just think it sounds like it's not sending the most positive message. Also, I was really creeped out hearing about how the werewolf character imprints himself on Bella's baby. Having said all that, though, I was really disgusted with this commercial I saw for "Immortals" recently where the announcer said in this sneering, dismissive voice something along the lines of, "While the girls are watching Twiglight, the real men will be at Immortals." Like, if girls like something, that automatically makes it the object of scorn. That's just offensive.

  10. I'm not a Twilight fan, but it is a source of irritation to me when speaking at schools or doing school oriented events that I'm so often asked by teachers to tell 'the girls' to please not be reading Twilight. Really? Ask 'the girls' to please not read Twilight? My knee jerk reaction to this request has invariably been to tell 'the girls' that they should never let anyone tell them 'you should not read this' That they should read whatever the hell they want, whenever the hell they want and WHY the hell ever they want. All I ask is that they read with eyes and minds wide open to what they are being told or asked to believe and that they use their own judgement as to what messages they absorb from the material they've chosen to ingest.

  11. Celine - I might have to quote you sometime. Well said.

  12. Preach it, Celine.

    And rocketdave, that "Immortals" trailer is exactly what I'm talking about. Thanks for the example!