Reflecting on the ‘Twilight’ BacklashWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
With this writing, I make a plea to all my fellow geeks. Let’s relax a bit on the “Twilight” hate, okay?
There seem to be two distinct classes of people in the world right now: Those who love and live for the world created in Stephenie Meyer’s fiction, and those who detest it with the fiery passion of a thousand bursting suns.
Rarely has a fictional world caused such passionate division between defenders and detractors. Every sci-fi/fantasy canon from “Star Trek” to “Lord of the Rings” has had those on either end of the spectrum, but have rarely inspired this level of venom. “Harry Potter” created quite a stir among Christian groups, but those folks were “defending their faith” against vicious attacks by imaginary forces.
This is different. “Twilight” haters speak with a negative fervor little seen outside of a wrestling interview or a political convention. And the passion is not inspired by the righteous indignation of the faithful or the commitment of a social rebel. Geeks are rallying against a series of young adult vampire books.
Why? What inspires the vitriol? (And how many synonyms for “hatred” can I come up with in one column?) First, the obvious: They don’t like the books and/or movies. Well, okay. I didn’t like the “Fantastic Four” movies, either, and I wouldn’t have gone to the effort of making a big “FANTASTIC FOUR RUINED COMIC-CON!!!” sign. You can dislike an entertainment entity without wanting to burn it in effigy. (Besides, Jessica Alba in spandex? Kind of worth it by itself, wasn’t it? But I digress.)
Then there are those who feel as though they are defending their turf by taking up arms against an unwanted interloper. How can people like that garbage, they ask? There are so many good vampire stories! “Buffy,” “True Blood,” “Let the Right One In,” even (for old fogies like me) “Nosferatu” and “Dracula.” These folks’ hearts are in the right place, at least, but their anger still seems entirely out of proportion to the issue.
Then there are those who have a more analytical approach to the series, and bring up some valid points about its somewhat dated messages about sexual politics and a woman being totally subservient to a man, even though that man is an undead blood-sucker who tends to treat her poorly. These critics bring up good issues for discussion, but “Twilight” is far from the first popular entertainment to suffer from latent sexism, though this is surprising seeing as how it is written by (and the first film was directed by) a woman. And there’s another big issue — the sexual divide. The majority of “Twilight”‘s fans, it seems, are younger women, while the majority of its hatred comes from men. But it isn’t just a simple difference of opinion, as male critics react to the books and films like a personal affront to their entertainment sensibilities. These things dare to take “cool” stuff like vampires and werewolves, and mix them up with yucky stuff like…shudder…teen angst and romance! Despite the aforementioned charges of sexism in the books themselves, there is a healthy dose of the same in much of the condescending attitude displayed by Bella-bashers.
All these factors roll up into an avalanche of repulsion that can lead to “Twilight” fans feeling like they are constantly on the defensive. Like they have to excuse themselves for something they love and are passionate about.
As a geek, I can’t help but think this is not only wrong, but counter-productive. I am not innocent in this. Until I started working on this column, I too felt a major pull to denigrate Meyers’s series, and had ranted about it at length. Ranted about something I had never even read or seen. Why? Maybe I was just following the crowd, maybe it was rebellion against something popular (another geek tendency), I dunno. But now, for the sake of everyone involved, I think it’s time we geeks agreed on a few simple guidelines:
1. Acknowledge that “Twilight” isn’t going anywhere. When a life-size Edward is staring at you from the window at Burger King, it’s probably a cultural phenomenon, not a flash in the pan.
2. Accept that just because you hate it, everyone else doesn’t have to. You can express your displeasure with a piece of art without degrading those who enjoy it._
3. Realize that the franchise may very well be spawning a new generation of geeks. For a slew of kids, these books might be the key to seeing how awesome fantasy can be.
4. On that note, make an effort to recommend other titles, as well. Instead of just offering the knee-jerk negativity mentioned above, point out the awesomeness of Anne Rice, the original graphic novel of “30 Days of Night” and more as things they would also enjoy. Not yelling about what they should like, instead.
5. Remember the words of the great philosophers on Mystery Science Theater 3000: “It’s just a show, I should really just relax.” Chill out, everyone. They’re just books and/or movies. Take a breath, think about it, and maybe even its most fervent detractors may find things in the “Twilight” series to love.
Not me, though. I still hate those freaking things. Only kidding.
E-mail Jeff at PopGoesJeff@gmail.com.
Pattinson, Stewart and Lautner talk `Twilight’
By SANDY COHEN (AP)
LOS ANGELES — The “Twilight” series may have changed the lives of fans worldwide, but perhaps no one has been more affected by its success than the three stars of the film: Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner.
All became overnight sensations when they were introduced to the novel’s millions of fans as the faces of Edward, Bella and Jacob — the three high-school students with mystical secrets at the center of the story. Edward is a vampire, Jacob is a werewolf and Bella is the ordinary teenage girl loved by both of them.
Pattinson, 23, Stewart, 19, and Lautner, 17, went from bit parts to big stars with the first “Twilight” film. As they prepare for the release Friday of the anticipated sequel, “New Moon,” the young cast reflected on the ups and downs of newfound fame.
AP: What is the best thing to come out of the “Twilight” mania for you?
Stewart: It’s the same satisfaction that I get from any other movie, it’s just that so many more people are paying attention. I always say I make movies for the life experience — literally, you steal from the characters you play — and to know that that’s actually affecting 100 million not only little girls, but really spans the ages of people, it just feels good. It’s so different from anything I’ve ever experienced, so that’s definitely the best thing.
Pattinson: Presenting at the Oscars and stuff, it’s just kind of so surreal. But there’s little things, like recently I’ve been working on the “Remember Me” trailer and I had very little time to organize it, but the control you’re given because of “Twilight’s” success is kind of incredible. It is an amazing feeling.
Lautner: It’s traveling the world in general and seeing this kind of fan support worldwide. We go to Sao Paolo, Brazil, and then we go to Mexico City, we go all over the world and we have fans there with the same amount of passion everywhere we go. It’s just amazing to know we have that kind of fan support behind us.
AP: What’s one thing you miss from your pre-”Twilight” life?
Stewart: I like being outside. I like to take walks and I could totally take walks — it’s not the fans, the fans are great, they would let me walk. It’s the other people, you know what I mean. It’s the other people.
Pattinson: I loved driving around L.A. I know not a lot of people say that, but if you don’t have to get anywhere, L.A. is the best place to drive ’round in. I used to have this little car, a convertible … and I really do miss doing that, as the sun is going down, driving over the mountains. It’s a great thing and I kind of do miss that a little bit. It’s not really the same thing when you’ve got 10 cars following you.
Lautner: Malls and movie theaters, or me at them. You have to make adjustments but you can’t let it get to you.
AP: What has been your most memorable fan encounter?
Stewart: There were two girls that wound up in Italy as extras. I had met them previously in Vancouver but they were from Minnesota, so lots of traveling and strange coincidence that they happen to have been placed right next to my mark.
Lautner: There are so many. The Brazilian fans were very passionate. We were greeted by them at the airport. Apparently there were barricades but I didn’t see them. It was an interesting walk from the airport doors to our car.
AP: How is “New Moon” different from “Twilight”?
Stewart: It’s very much rooted in the story. The reason “Twilight” felt sort of kinetic, like the energy was sort of hard to grasp … was because the whole story was about not being able to grasp that energy but going after it with full force and not caring about the consequences. That sort of infiltrates “New Moon” because she’s been told that she was absolutely wrong, so now it’s a more mature, considerate approach to the same ideas. Tonally, “New Moon” is different in that it also becomes more dangerous, it becomes more real. She finally opens her eyes and she’s like, “Oh, I’ve woken up in Wonderland. It’s really scary. It’s actually scarier than I thought it was going to be” because there are werewolves and all the bad vampires want to kill her and all of that, so tonally it could not be more different.
Lautner: It takes everything Bella and Edward created in “Twilight” and destroys it at the beginning when he leaves, and it has to rebuild it, or Jacob has to rebuild Bella and then it’s kind of destroyed at the end again. It’s an emotional roller coaster.
Associated Press Writer Michael Cidoni contributed to this report.