Saturday, June 30, 2012

Defending Twilight

You're staring at the title in disbelief. How can anyone defend Twilight, you wonder? Well, I'm not going to defend the writing (not that I had a problem with it, but I don't always read to search out the bigger thesaurus, sometimes I just want to shut down and enjoy the story--and this is a young adult romance series... who the hell expects to have deep thoughts while reading a romance novel?). I'm not going to defend the main character (although seriously? Everyone has to be amazing and fantastical in their own heads? Romance novel heroines aren't there to be role models for anyone).

What I'm here to defend is largely misconceptions, unfair comparisons and outright geek affronts that I see on a very regular basis. Frankly, I'm not a Twihard, but the vitriol people have against this series and the energy they put into outright hating it really, really gets on my nerves. (As does my feeling the need to defend it)

I'm going to start with this: the vast majority of people who hate Twilight never should have picked it up (and if you're judging it based on the movie, just leave now, because you've already lost your case--and I'm sorry if you were dragged to those pieces of crap against your will) or have never even bothered to read it. However, just because you don't like something, doesn't automatically make it garbage.

I hate Stephen King's writer's voice viciously. He's also one of my greatest inspirations as a writer, because we write in the same linear, time-dependent fashion. Every minute I spent reading Dune was like torture. I choked the whole thing down and while I enjoyed the story, I couldn't force myself to read the second (though I tried). I decided I'd been punished enough. Anne Rice... well, I cannot get through Queen of the Damned no matter how I try. I have to skim her verbose, irrelevant, superfluous Nathaniel Hawthorne-esque voice to stay in the stories that I like (loved Interview, Lestat, Tale of the Body Thief and Vittorio, other than her writing).

These are three respected, good authors. They write very well. Their stories are not garbage, even if I absolutely despise reading them. I can't abide Harlequin Romance novels for the most part, but I like a nice, fat historical romance now and then. Most of those are about the heroine learning her place (I even read one where she was whipped with a crop until she stopped misbehaving for her later-to-be husband--yet Edward is a monster?) and doing as she's told (although the ones I enjoy tend to have stronger female leads, like Anne Bonnie: Pirate Queen).

It transfers into music, too. I'd rather be stabbed than listen to jazz (music of hell!), R&B, country (with a few exceptions), Kenny G (special kind of hell), most modern pop, hip hop (except Will Smith), reggae or anything with a floppy bass, bongos or brass or very staccato instruments. I can, however, still acknowledge the incredible talent in these musicians and their value in entertaining others--the people who do enjoy that sort of music. To say that someone should die because they entertain people, but you don't like their (non-hate-spreading) entertainment is disgusting and it shames me that so many people find it funny.

Now, onto my original theme. Let's start with this:

"Real vampires burn in the sun."

No, they don't. "Real vampires" don't exist, to start (unless you count the deluded masses who think they live on the life forces of others and drink clamato juice while disgusting goths with their bastardization of the original 'death walkers'). Second, the original vampires were shambling corpses who typically only woke during the night to feed on family members (causing illness, pregnancy, whatever needed a scapegoat). The sun didn't hurt them and, shockingly, they could be killed with a plain old bullet.
Dracula was the first really romanticized vampire and guess what? He walked around in the sun with nary an ill effect (unless you count him not being able to become mist, a wolf, a bat, et cetera). The first vampire to be killed by the sun was Nosferatu (who was originally supposed to be Dracula, but became his own vampire in the end... and it was the crowing of the cock that seemed to do him in). I'm not sure at what point they started burning, but if it wasn't a movie, then it was certainly a part of the Vampire Chronicles in the 70s.

"Sparkling is stupid."

Maybe, but that negates a lot of Hollywood through the years. I can't tell you how many bad guys sparkled on Star Trek (the original series). And most movies in the 80s employed some heavy glitter at some point. Quite frankly, us kids of the 80s grew up with a lot of sparkling going on and it's not a surprise to me at all that one of us had a dream about someone sparkling in the sunlight. A large chunk of MySpace was a glittering mess long before these books came out. I'm sure that gave plenty of people weird dreams.

The whole sparkling vampire is just one of many, many odd vampire mythos. Just because something wasn't written 200 years ago doesn't mean it can't be written now. I don't know why people are so obsessed with this--personally, it made me think of old Greek legends and gods. But it leads me into...

"The vampires in Twilight are gay."

Gay people love/have sex with people of their own gender. This is probably the first vampire series I've read where there wasn't any gay vampires. As someone who is not heterosexual, I find this incredibly offensive. You detest something, so you brand it gay? Yeah, Edward's a freaking prep. That doesn't make him gay. Having sex with Jacob would have made him gay, but that didn't happen (in the canon universe--calm down, slash fans). In fact, all the vampires were paired off in nice little heterosexual relationships. Being sparkly doesn't make them gay any more than a lisp makes a human guy gay. No H8.

This is gay:
...and one of my favorite screen captures
Jean-Claude & Asher
Asher and Jean-Claude, gay vampire couple supreme. Thanks to Spiffiness

This is not:
The less of Robert Pattinson's face, the better to me
Twilight, the Graphic Novel

And no, having a moral compass that matches the one he had when he was alive does not make Edward gay. His not wanting to have sex with her was partly because of, like Superman, what could happen if he lost control. Frankly, I'm still wondering why his sperm wasn't venomous when every other bodily fluid he had left was. Sheesh, condemn the guy for not wanting to look like a wife-beater.

"Buffy never would have put up with that."

This bothers me even more if they reference Spike. Both Angelus and Spike stalked Buffy, watched her sleep at night and slept with her. Further, Spike beat her, repeatedly and their sex was this side of non-con right up until he went too far because they never bothered with a safety word and he almost fully raped her.
Buffy, being bitten by Angel to save his life,
knowing that he might not be able to stop and it could kill her

In her loving relationship with Angel, they made love and he became a monster that tortured her friends and family and murdered people she was protecting. She did eventually kill him, right after his soul was restored and she watched him get sucked into hell to be tortured for who knows how long.

Don't challenge me on Buffy, it remains my single favorite television show of all time. Comparing anything to it is useless, as it stands in a class of its own. And you certainly can't compare a book with a younger target audience to it. Nor that book to any adult horror novel, urban fantasy, etc. I love the show, but Buffy totally ended up screwing her abusive stalker. They were in the middle of beating the shit out of each other when they stopped to have sex as the building they'd beaten each other into collapsed around them.

(although Spike and Angel both died for Buffy--
it's okay for guys to die for girls, but not vice versa)
Again, both Spike and Angel watched Buffy sleep at night
and tried to eat her.
Edward never tried to eat Bella--the exact opposite, he fought not to want to
and the only time he did feed from her was to save
her life

No, Buffy didn't throw herself to her death over a guy. She killed herself for her imaginary sister:

Cliff jumping: not okay. Actual suicide, where it breaks everyone around you: just dandy.
This was designed by someone who never
read the books: you can't stake marble.

Let's face it, with Buffy's track record, she'd have been on Edward in a hot second. He wouldn't have lasted, though, because as dangerous as he is, he had no intention of harming anyone at any point. And you also can't bring age into it if you bring Buffy into it. Angel and Spike were both older than Edward (although at least Spike wasn't chasing a 15 year old Buffy).

First: As I understand it, Blade doesn't hunt anyone who's not hurting anyone (maybe I'm wrong, but it seems like an Avenger wouldn't go for that shit). Second, my husband assures me that his sword is made of adamantium or similar, but I couldn't find anything supporting that claim. I don't know if an "acid-etched" sword is going to cut through a Twilight vampire. Pretty sure they can snap titanium without much difficulty. They may annoy the shit out of him, but he's not going to actually kill someone in cold blood.

Okay, that's all for now. I will say one last thing, though: Liking Twilight vampires is not the same as liking vampires. Because I'm sure you aren't liking James, Victoria or the Vulturi (unless you like your vampires good and evil. aka: normal). You like the neutered ones. That's valid. But if you were confronted by what a vampire really is, you'd probably pitch a fit and drop them in a hot second.

Hate Twilight all you like, but stop judging people for enjoying it and stop being so mean about it. I don't care if there's a Mormon agenda (people can find an agenda for anything that they want to in anything if they look hard enough) or that Bella's personality isn't as bright as her husband's skin. And maybe I sympathize because I have been that 'in love' as a teenager and still remember it (and heck, maybe you hate it for the same reason I like it!). And, if you've never read it? Shut up. Everyone can just move on now and enjoy this video of cute animals.


  1. Yep - I've been that in love as a teen, and I think that's one of the reasons I like the series. Also? I've never seen Buffy. But I might have to go check it out if it's on Netflix instant ;)

    1. It was there the last time I checked :D It starts out in a more humorous vein and gets darker as the series progresses.

  2. I know this post is old, but I wanted to thank you for it. I am not a Twilight fan. Outside of seeing the first movie in theaters with friends and reading the books briefly in high school I didn't bother with it. I quickly forgot about the books and moved onto bigger and better things. I am now in my twenties, a horse trainer and I teach young girls (from ages 7-18) how to ride horses. My relationship with my students is almost like an older sister or a mentor. I love them, and I hear about their troubles, their days, the boys the like, the books they like, etc.

    Recently one of my most intelligent and mature students was crying because she had been shamed--rather brutally--by her peers for admitting to like Twilight. She was accused of being anti-feminist, of having a fetish for guys who watch her sleep, and many other cruel things. She's in AP courses with a perfect GPA and is one of my best riders. She was very upset over what had been said to her. The entire event bothered me so much that I decided to evaluate Twilight once again under a more scrutinizing eye. I bought the books, and the movies, and sat through all of them with the commentary and without, and reread the books twice while taking notes on it the second time around.

    The conclusion I have come to is much like yours--that there is not really anything in Twilight more offensive than other things that are out there. I too am a huge Buffy fan, and the comparisons between Buffy and Twilight make no sense to me. It's like comparing Lord of the Rings to Harry Potter. People talk about how objectively good the Harry Potter books are--how they're good literature--but those books are actually grammatically flawed, have multiple two dimensional characters and many out of character moments. I am the biggest HP fan I know and I can admit to this.

    Am I suddenly a Twilight fan? No. Do I think Bella always made the best decisions? No. Do I think it's great literature? No. But I don't think it's anti-feminist, nor do I think Edward is that creepy. Let's face it, it's a 109 year old man who never sleeps. Watching the woman he loves sleep (while always making sure he never watches her change, always respects her privacy, etc) is among one of the least creepy things he could possibly do.

    It's my opinion that a parent should be the role model for kids, not a book. If a teenage girl genuinely for some reason wants a 100 year old vampire to bite her and impregnate her, there's some serious parenting mistakes there. But most of them are just fantasizing and being silly. I've read plenty of teen books over the years and many of them encourage dating multiple boys, making out, sneaking out, spending lots of money on clothes, and gossiping. This is a fictional book series about fantasy characters that don't exist and will never exist in real life. It has not "set feminism back several decades" and from what I've seen it's not teaching our youth to let boys walk all over them.

    Some of the strongest, most independent female teens are Twilight fans. And I'm really sick of seeing these very cruel comparisons and trying to tell people who are Twilight fans that they should be ashamed.


Please keep it civil and remember that my blog is not for debate. I have friends in all walks of life, so don't assume anything from individual posts! I do enjoy hearing from you, though :)