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