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Twilight at the NWSA Conference and Twilight: The Texts and the Fandom week 12 re-cap

November 20, 2010

NWSA 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!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Headfullofsteam permalink
    November 21, 2010 3:35 am

    It does suck that you were sched to present 8am Sat. but it does not suck that the ASA committee (or whatever – the “deciders”) thought the subject worthy of such endorsement- wether or not they did so knowing that it would cause the elitist /not worthy of academic examination/ chatter it garnered or not. Mocking pop culture research such as yours, gentle professor, sadly sheds a fluorescent light on the squinty-eyes of your jealous and “profoundly open-minded” colleagues who-with all of their knowledge and
    advanced crit analysis skills- have fallen back into the shallow numbness they teach we students to shake-off and never look back. But high school clique mentality is alive and well, even in the one place I thought I would have been free of this mean girl and boy environment. Don’t let the turkeys get you down, Doc. Even your fellow scholars are a’scared of change, of difference. You have my vote, for what it’s worth. (oops, SD).

  2. Headfullofsteam permalink
    November 21, 2010 3:37 am

    Correction: NWSA

  3. November 21, 2010 4:27 am

    I disagree with the concept that fandom is predominantly female. As a movie buff, I come into contact with a lot of different folks, particularly if a movie has gone viral on the net. “Cloverfield” is one example; I’d say that the fandom for this movie was more male than female, but there were some females who loved the movie and I’m one of them. I think of comic book heroes with their own movies and sequel: “Predator(s),” “Spawn,” “300,” “Batman,” “Superman,” and”Spiderman,” to name a few. Also, let’s look at the fans of the “Kill Bill” movies; some fans will follow a director and take into consideration the latter’s entire catalog.

    Another side to fandom is the collecting of action figures from movies. Right now, on my desk, I have a werewolf figure from “Dog Soldiers,” another werewolf from “Wolfman,” and a Frank the Bunny from “Donnie Darko.” Most merchandising is predictable on the average movie, but with the Twilight Saga? Meyer signed a release that enabled everyone to put a Twi-image of everything imaginable, from toilet tissue to over priced candy. There really isn’t any way to collect all of the Twi-merchandise; there’s like a gazillion different pieces to buy and unless you are wealthy, you will fail. And so far, nothing has come forward to be considered a highly prized collection piece.

    Most collectors, myself included, like to have a decent chance at getting some of the really neat items, and that is where I think the Twi-stuff is all about shopping. As I said, the Twilight/Quileute logo is on every thing under the sun, except maybe the kitchen sink. 🙂

  4. November 21, 2010 6:37 am

    I’m sorry that you still need to validate your research. I really think you are brave, professional and that you are actually breaking grounds, even if we disagree on some issues I think your work on the text is not only worth it is necessary. Without discussion of popular culture specially one that is female driven we are missing the chance to learn a lot about the different ways women express and how can we help improve our chances to have a more participation on mainstream something that is akin to power, given how many males dominate the field. After all popular media has been filled with less than ideal male heroes and no one criticizes their fans the way Twilight is, isn’t that worth of study? Pop culture is whether a reflection of society or influence society so delegating it to something feminism should ignore or not study its making a huge mistake. Regarding their personal opinion no one can deny how powerful twilight is how is female driven, they are being naive if they think that ignoring it and dismiss it as suck is the way to approach such a phenomenon. I mean when was the last time we had a female writer with a female protagonists and a female fanbase reached this level of worldwide popularity? How long will it take for another female driven book be on this position again?

    Again, I take my hat of to you and I really think you are doing a great work with this. Hopefully some of the people that dismissed your work will read this blog and realize all the things you had done. Keep fighting the good fight.


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