Twilight at the NWSA Conference and Twilight: The Texts and the Fandom week 12 re-cap
Our panel was scheduled at 8 am on Saturday. Certainly not the WORST time slot, but close to it. Friday is probably the biggest night for socializing for those in attendance, and an early morning time slot on Saturday thus has to compete with the lure of a comfy hotel bed. Despite this, we had a decent turn out. I thought we might have all students, but it was nearly half faculty.
Though our papers focused on indigenous feminist theory and perspectives on the saga, most questions focused on WHY we as feminist scholars are studying scholars and what the fan events we have attended were like. Discussing the validity and importance of studying Twilight from academic perspectives seems to always come up, and I must admit I am getting a bit weary of having to defend my research. That being said, at least the NWSA organizers saw enough merit in the panel to include it in the program– if only they would have not relegated it to 8 am on a Saturday!
Two colleagues in attendance shared that professors they knew were of the opinion that the only valid way to discuss Twilight from a feminist perspective is “how much it sucks.” Sadly, many feminists seem to agree with this line of thought. This disgruntles me – condemning such a popular phenomenon as ONLY “sucking” on the one hand frames the female fan base as stupid for liking it and on the other suggests that things that are presumed to “suck” don’t merit scholarly attention.
I agree that in ways Twilight “sucks” but I also believe it is not the anti-feminist death trap for gender empowerment so many see it as. The texts and fans reactions to them are complex and warrant scholarly attention. What really “sucks” is that scholars such as myself still have to defend popular culture as worthy of feminist and/or academic attention.
Twilight: The Texts and the Fandom week 12 re-cap:
This week in class we focused on “vampire teen idols” and the franchising of the saga. Monday a guest speaker (a graduate student) presented on the concept of a media virus (which comes from Douglas Rushkoff) and examined how the fandom has been targeted particularly due to the fact it is predominantly female. She also pointed out that the franchising of other fan items is often seen as “collecting” (i.e. Star Trek collections) while with Twilight products it is usually framed merely as “shopping.”
(As an aside, I sat on the master’s thesis committee of this same student on Wednesday. She brought “Happily Ever After” paper plates for the cookies and “Eclipse Gum”!)
On Wednesday, students worked in groups to create the next Twilight transmedia products and came up with some great ideas. Details to follow soon!