I promised in my earlier blog that I would discuss the themes of Twilight and expand on the previous defense I gave. Not to say that this expansion is to cover and defend this aspect of the property. That would be pretty silly of me, who counts himself as a feminist.
There are a lot of claims made about the books and how Stephanie Meyer has included her religious bullshit in a thinly veiled attempt to preach suspect values in the guise of a rollicking vampire romance. Or something like that. From what I’ve heard, the undertone of the books, particularly in the way they deal with sex and Bella’s relationships to men, is pretty insidious from a feminist perspective. The fear, it seems, is that the breakaway popularity of this series will severely undermine feminist progress in favor of backward fantasies brought on by a culture which has so successfully managed women that many are unaware that their predilection toward these sorts of stories is a product of nurture and most probably not some aspect of their feminine nature. But then, I’ve never read the books and I can only really comment on the films with any authority.
And claims made by the esteemed Devin Faraci and others ring true for me. These movies do define Bella based on her relationships with men. Since these stories are about her life, the plot always revolves around how this monsterboy or that monsterboy seek to possess her. And she laps it up. While this is foolish and certainly backward as fuck, I do think it’s the kind of bland thoughtlessness that permeates many unsophisticated expressions of morality, values, etc via genre material. Some have referenced other “geek properties” like Transformers in trying to draw a parallel. The idea seems to be that we’re giving Twilight a bunch of shit for what is basically a transgression made by a lot of shit generated for and directed at kids.
New Moon, perhaps more so than the previous film even, shoots itself in the foot as far as an adult audience. I mean sure, there are adults who will take this shit seriously. They will wish they were Bella and that some man-thing would care about them enough to… well, whatever the vampire or werewolf alternative would do. But this isn’t a comment on the Twilight series so much as on a certain type of fan that just takes shit way too seriously. And most properties have these sorts of people, from Browncoats to Trekkies. We all know the type. But these movies are supposed to be for “young adults”, read: late stage teens. People who are supposed to be just on the edge of figuring out that 90% of the values espoused by the entertainment they’ve enjoyed, that which is directed at them as a demographic at least, is total bullshit.
This doesn’t forgive Meyer for being so backward, but that’s between her and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I mean, people have gone so far as to claim that the ideas generated in these books/movies are dangerous and really this is giving the woman too much credit. These ideas are harmless, backward, and not taken seriously by anyone who’s on the level in the first place. Just like any other “geek property”. Some girls think vampires are sexy and awesome even though they’re supposed to be murderous predators, some guys think Rorschach is the moral center of Watchmen and the ultimate badass. Or that Batman is the only motherfucker who yada yada yada. You see how this can go on.
So at the end of the day, I agree that Twilight is troubling in its misogyny especially considering the way its been embraced. But this, to me, is no more sinister than the legions of dullards who don’t have a problem with Skids and Mudflap. Or take your pick. I would tend to the belief that many women who indulge themselves and read these books likely dismiss the bullshit in favor of the stuff they really enjoy. Whatever that is doesn’t matter. I’ve already demonstrated, I think quite reasonably, that there are enjoyable elements in the movies (particularly New Moon) so it doesn’t seem such a stretch to say that there enjoyable elements in the books that are not derived from the value system being suggested to readers. Essentially, the value system is harmless in and of itself though it may be used as an excuse to make shitty decisions or exercise bad judgment maybe in terms of parenting or some such.
I would say I’d write a third blog about the weird reaction many male geeks have to the female geeks of Twilight but I’m already sick of talking about this shit. I guess it’s sort of topical else I’d never have bothered even this much. Let’s hope I can find as much to say about something worth the words.
Oh well, next time.