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Stop With the Twi-Hate Already (Thoughts on Comic-Con and Twilight Boycotting)

July 19, 2011

As those of you following stories about Comic-Con and the Twilight fandom no doubt already have heard, the line for the Breaking Dawn panel has already started. The dedication of Twi-fans never ceases to amaze me. Yet, when I attended some Twilight Comic-Con events a few years back, I, book-lover that I am, was dismayed that most fans only discussed the actors, rarely even mentioning characters from the book by name.

Not being all that interested in celebrities, I am not the type to camp in line for days to see a glimpse of Taylor Lautner or Kristin Stewart. Nevertheless, I am fascinated by those that are willing to sleep street-side in a form of fan pilgrimage I myself have never been prompted to make. Sure, I have been to Forks. Sure, I visited Twilight-sites on my recent trip to Portland and Seattle. But am I going to camp outside for three nights to earn a space in a huge, crowded hall that will be, upon the star’s entrance, filled with ear-piercing shrieking? Nope. No way.

But, while many mock Twi-fans (and there is a particular history of this at Comic-Con), I have a certain reverence for their dedication, even a jealousy. How exciting to care about something so much one is willing to set one’s life aside and rough it on the pavement.

On the other hand though, I do wish the saga fans are so enamored with had more positive messages regarding gender, race, class, and sexuality, but, then again, I have been consistently surprised with the nuanced fan reactions and interpretations of the saga.

As I feel an affinity with them given all my work on the series, I take it a bit personally when they are attacked.

I was reminded of this derision for Twi-fans at the midnight Harry Potter premiere I attended last week (see my review here). I wore one of the t-shirts I made for Comic-Con, with my book cover printed on the front. Walking into the theatre, I heard snarky comments such as “Twilight is such schlock.”

When they showed the trailer for Breaking Dawn: Part 1, there was notable silence. No mocking, which was nice, but no excitement or oohs and ahs either.

There has of course been a bit of a battle between the Potter series and Twilight, with many feeling they need to take sides. This battle is now going on between The Hunger Games and Twilight. I see such allegiance forming as pointless – each saga is very different and who says people can only be fans of one? Why must there be name calling in the fandom world? As uber-fans are already outsiders (as evidenced by the many years when Comic-Con and Star Trek conventions and so on were seen as decidedly NOT cool, as nerdville) why must we now, when fandoms are finally achieving notoriety and recognition, turn into a scrambling mass of competitors?

This competition is apparent – and particularly mean-spirited – in authors Steve Niles and Joe Hills “boycotting” of the saga. As reported at Comic Book Movie, Niles will hold a “Sparkles for Blood” promotion at Comic-Con, where attendees can turn in copies of Twilight in exchange for copies of his 30 Days of Night. Ah, yes, as if we can only have one book – or one type of vampire – we like at a time!

Meanwhile, Joe Hill, son of Stephen King, who infamously insulted Meyer’s work, claims he is working on a “sideways” vampire narrative, noting “Nothing is more tired than the whole idea of the vampire, and I hate sexy vampires. How did that happen? Sexy vampires are like sexy leeches Really? Really?!”

Hmmm, perhaps this sideways writer does not realize that early vampires oozed with dark sex appeal. Does he not know of the links between vampire tales and sex-god of the time, Lord Byron? Is he not aware of all the latent sexuality pumping throughout the daddy of vampire texts, Dracula?

The Comic Book Movie site seems unaware  of this vampire history as well, writing “There are a number of horror fans who yearn for the days when vampires were the monsters that they were originally intended to be.” That’s a woeful simplification of vampire lore and narrative if I have ever heard one.

Steve Niles, displaying a similar lack of knowledge of vampire lore and literature laments that “Real horror fans have watched vampires systematically turned into wimpy fodder for years now. It’s time to fight back…Hopefully, working together we can put an end t this nightmare.” Hmmm, who are these “real” horror fans? Do they not realize that the vampire has historically not been the hard, unsexy, utterly horrific creature they claim, but rather, has been a vulnerable (hello, sunlight!), sexy and sexually ambiguous figure on many levels.

Further, as covered by Amanda Bell of Twilight Examiner in her post on the topic and as noted by Pel from Twilight Lexicon, Twilight fans are also fans of 30 Days of Night, True Blood, Interview With The Vampire, Dracula, and so on. They are not exclusive, monogamous fans (in spite the saga’s obsession with monogamy!). And, if my interactions are any indication, they are a very nice, thoughtful bunch. In all my experiences at Twilight events, I have never heard similar derision of other vampire narratives. So, how about it Niles and Hill (and King), stop with the hate. There is enough love for diverse types of vampires and vampire tales to go around…

I will be the first to admit I have a lot of issues with Twilight, and I understand the haters, but there is no point in turning this into a battle. Instead, why not use the love of Twilight to inspire deeper analysis of why it’s so appealing and earn more respect for academic cultural studies and pop-culture critique?

When I venture down to Comic-Con on Thursday wearing my Seduced by Twilight t-shirt, I hope to encounter attendees not bent on proving their series (or vampire) is best, but ones ready to take part in the fun, frivolity, and, yes, analysis, that colors the fandom world. Comic-con here I come!

 

 

 

 

9 Comments leave one →
  1. william@yahoo.com permalink
    July 19, 2011 11:40 pm

    I must say you have much more patience than i do, i love the movies and the books, but mostly the books, and have even ventured to a twilight saga convention or two and being a 47 year old male heterosexual i take crap from several people i know because of my love for the saga and the fact that I am team Cullen and Bella and a total Twihard,Twifan,Twilighter,or just an idiot with a peter pan pan complex who yes secretly would love to be a glittery vampire and sleeping with Bella or hell Kristen Stewart for that matter. Growing up I always love vampire and all sorts of science fiction, but i am sick of the haters and the people trying to have battles between Harry Potter Characters and Twilight Characters why cant people let people enjoy what they enjoy and not find negativity in it..

  2. July 22, 2011 9:21 am

    I am highly irritated by the books (the moves are OK) because of the terrible, terrible ideas about sexuality, relationships, gender and race. They are entertaining though.
    But you are correct, some of the hate is simply ridicolous.
    I have read the books and watched the movies. But the whole ‘vampires were so nothing like the newer sissy version” sound to me like “they suck because they are now feminised and femininity is a bad thing”. Also “Interview with a Vamptire” anyone? Or how about Dracula (which is simply hilarious in order to see the reaction of the society towards female emancipation and femlae sexuality).
    Seriously critics? You issue with Edward is not that he is abusive prick but that he sparkles? Wow…

    In regards to Stepehen King, I recently bought Hunger Games in my country in my language and on the back there were lines from both King and Mayers that the series are awesome. ;)

    • Natalie Wilson permalink*
      July 28, 2011 11:14 pm

      Eneya,
      You make a really interesting point regarding the ‘feminization’ of vampires – that now “they suck because they are now feminised and femininity is a bad thing.” And I do not understand why people get so angry with the sparkling. Like you note, it’s discouraging the sparkling gets much more attention than some of the more problematic messages about sex, race, class, etc.
      Thanks for reading!

  3. July 29, 2011 11:57 am

    Thanks. :)
    But it is fairly obvious that most of the negativity towards Edward and the whole series are that it’s stupid, chick, all baout emotions and stuff.
    Which amases me quite a lot and makes me sad.
    Actually, the lovely Anita Sarkeesian made and even better point in regards to Twiligh and the hate towards it. http://www.feministfrequency.com/2009/11/the-real-reason-guys-should-hate-twilight/

    However, I have something of a query, do you think that if Bella and the characters had missed the whole “romantic”/bedazzled moment, it would have been treated differently by the public?
    I mean, we have other examples of vampire stories (True Blood, The Vampire Diaries) and though in most of them there are relationships, emotions and so further, Twilight is mostly hated for “sparkling vamps” and boring relationship between Edward/Bellea/Jakob/creepy baby part.

    I find it utterly embaracing that pop culure continues treating women and all feminine as something extremely negative and horrible and emotionless pricks are praised.
    One very successful series is Harry Potter… still, they have asked the author, J.K.R. to use initialls. Because she has a lady-name, and obviously, that’s cryptonite for male readers… except not, as it seems.

    So? ;)

    • Natalie Wilson permalink*
      August 6, 2011 10:53 pm

      Eneya,
      I think the “romantic/bedazzled” relationships in Twilight are what inspire the love it or hate it reaction. In many ways, it’s a rather “black and white” saga, it’s a fairly simple story, and the lines between “good” and “evil” are clearly drawn. It doesn’t leave all too much room for complex or subversive readings. This makes some people love it as it offers a comforting narrative — fall in love, get married, have a baby, and voila! – happy ending. This is the same reason many hate it – it’s too simple, disregards changing landscapes in terms of gender, sexuality, race, class and so on, AND on top of that, it messes with traditional vampire lore – something that in and of itself pisses off fans of the genre. Many vampire tales are subversive and I think for many fans of the genre they like it that way. True Blood and V Diaires are far more “edgy” in their depictions of relationships and race, class, gender and so on – and this is why SOME of the more conservative/traditional Twi fans HATE these shows – they don’t speak to their “values.” It is also why there are not huge contingents of “True Blood Moms” or “Vampire Diaries Bible Groups” – these shows simply don’t promote the message that appeals to many – that of abstinence, bible-loving, women should be wives and mothers and so on type of messages.
      I too find it discouraging that popular culture continues to denigrate females and to only celebrate very narrow definitions of masculinity.
      And I like your point about JK – did you read my review of the final film? It’s here: http://msmagazine.com/blog/blog/2011/07/16/seven-feminist-take-aways-from-the-final-potter-movie/

  4. Marie permalink
    July 31, 2011 11:13 am

    Who exactly is boycotting Breaking Dawn? I would join that boycot with pleasure. Look all the actors of Twi think the movies are dumb and it shows. Nobody including Stephanie Meyer has maintained any integerity of the story and truthfully Meyer should of stopped at Eclipse. I read Breaking Dawn and afterwards I couldn’t believe I wasted my time or money on it. I personally don’t think anyone’s opinion counts unless they use their own money. Twi would of never made it if mommy and daddy hadnt paid for their little girls to see it 10 times. You could take the most unbiased person and if he/she saw the trailor’s for BD1 and 2 he/she would have to admit that the movie looks terrible. It looks like a 7 year old filmed it with a camcorder.

    • Natalie Wilson permalink*
      August 6, 2011 11:00 pm

      I don’t know of specific groups boycotting BD, but there are varous “Twi-Hate” blogs and groups. I am not sure that I would agree all the actors think the films are dumb – sure, they are under contract now and have to pretend to love the films – but some seem to genuinely be proud of the films and their work in them – I would put Taylor Lautner in this camp, for example.
      Many would agree with you that BD represents a big departure and should not have been written, but just as many would name it as their favorite book. In any case, from my perspective as an author, it offers some of the most meaty content for critique, and some of the most controversial.
      As for the making of the first movie, that was in the works before the book was even published. These big franchises don’t just happen, they are planned.
      Regarding the BD trailers, I find them the most cinematically sound. Bill Condon knows what he is doing. The content may not be what I would like, but visually and cinematically, Condon is no “7 year old with a camcorder.”

  5. August 9, 2011 7:55 pm

    I only read the first book of the saga, “Twilight” and don’t feel like reading further.

    I must say the main problem for me wasn’t the way vampires were portrayed (I also have nothing against sparkling), or even the gender/sexuality issues you mention, which somehow didn’t strike me that much in the first book. It was the narration. The way it seems like an awkward juxtaposition of two stories, 1) love story with Edward, 2) nasty vampires want to kill Bella. It would have made much more sense, been altogether more interesting and suspenseful, had Meyer been able to intertwine both plots correctly, and give us a real climactic scene with a proper conclusion.

    I was very bored by the time I reached the middle of the book (while I thought the beginning wasn’t half-bad), and the last developments were gratuitous to my mind. So he loves her… why are we still reading? All in all, although I can understand the appeal of the series to a certain extent, I am still surprised that so many people simply persevered enough to read it. I thought people didn’t read much? If they can read “Twilight”, I say they can read anything. Because almost anything is at least as exciting and thrilling.

    • Natalie Wilson permalink*
      August 10, 2011 1:00 am

      Asia,
      Interesting points about why people keep reading…
      Most fans I’ve talked to name the love story as what kept them reading — will they end up together? will she end up a vampire? or will she end up with Jacob?
      I agree that the saga mashes different plots, and genre styles, together – and not all that successfully. But, I wouldn’t argue that reading Twilight means one can read anything – I think part of the reason so many read it is for its very simplicity — something many books, and certainly Literary books, lack… It’s more like a movie in book form, or a story/tale rather than a novel…

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