Friday, November 18, 2011
When Is It OK for You to Hate Twilight? Here's a Guide.
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.
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.