Is Twilight-Fandom a Problem?

we’ve been blogging about abortion, politics, religion and boobs. turns out, people want to read about Twilight and guys wearing headsets

Elyse

I honestly don’t care about Twilight anymore. I never really continued after chapter 14. The best way to describe the book’s plot is the Douglas Adams quote “For a moment, nothing happened. Then, after a second or so, nothing continued to happen,” except nothing continued to happen for 300 pages.

Given the commenters on my post I wrote on Teen Skepchick, and MasalaSkeptic’s post on Old Skepchick I’ve since given up on doing what I had originally set out to do: Get people to think critically about a popular cultural phenomenon.

The key thing is I never advocated banning the book, nor did I truly ever say that there was a problem.
To quote myself in my post…

The way a girl reacts to a fictional novel is most likely not the same way she would react in real life. To be perfectly honest, I don’t actually think there’s much to worry about, but I do think that it can only be healthy to point out more often that the level of stalkerishness in Twilight might be on par with the level of stalkerishness in Lolita.

All I ever really sought to promote was not to get teenagers all across America to drop Twilight and begin reading Demon Haunted World (although I would like to promote reading Demon Haunted World), but to just use that as a way to stimulate some discussion of the book.

What do I get? A bunch of angry comments with poor grammatical skills and a lot of ad hom.

Special commendation is to be given to this commenter for what I found to be a rather polite, well-reasoned dissenting comment, although I do disagree with her. The issue about Edward’s stalkerishness that I find potentially worrisome is not that he’s unaware of his stalkerishness but that Bella, and the droves of readers are. Also, even if Edward is hormonally a teenage boy, he still has quite a lot of experience which should have given him a fair amount more wisdom.

Truly, I’d like to say it’s just a minor annoyance, but it’s not. It would seem to me that these people follow Twilight more religiously than religious people follow their religions. I’ve seen civilized conversations between religious people and people critical of religion. I’ve yet to see civilized conversations between Twilight fans and those critical of Twilight.

Perhaps it is far too extreme to say that Twilight fans follow Twilight religiously, but they get offended in the same way as religious people do to the point of saying…

You have no right to say that and u ought to keep ur opinions to yourself!

One blogger suggested that Maria would have angry mobs go after her if she didn’t take down her post. I really doubt that anybody would really kill for Twilight, and I really doubt that they are offended enough to do any sort of violent action. Let me make this clear: There is no evidence to suggest that Twilighters are offended to the point of forming violent mobs.

But they certainly get offended enough that they seem to want to leave behind all civilized, reasoned discussion.

Forget the stalkerishness, the creationism, the Mormonism. The readers are obviously not going to face any problems because that sort of thing is idealized as long as they’re thinking. The real reason why Twilight is  a problem is because people are so fervent about it that they stop all rational discourse.

On the other hand, I’m going to say that in the real world the vast majority of the Twilight fans are perfectly reasonable. They know that the things being idealized in Twilight are silly, but they just read it for entertainment and that is wholely, perfectly fine. But we may want to keep an eye on the rabid Internet fangirls.

I want to say that there isn’t much of a problem, but I think there does seem to be some encouragement of not using intelligence going on here in the phenomenon of Twilight fandom. It would be idiocy to suggest that there is a causal relationship between reading Twilight and having YouTube-quality comments. I don’t think that Twilight makes people stupid. But there seems to be something going on here.

I’d like to open this up to the readers:

Is Twilight-fandom a problem or is it just an extension of the general Internet discourse expected from the masses? Should we do anything about it?

Personally, I just want them to go away, for my posts to sink into oblivion, but then, maybe I will do what I set out to do and get just one or two of those Twilight fans to think about what they’re doing for a little while.

Cue the angry Internet Twilightites.

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14 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Me on January 25, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    Somewhat off topic, but… The most amusing thing about Twilight (to me) is that it is *extremely* similar to a film released straight to video in 2001 called “The Brotherhood” in the US and “I’ve Been Watching You” in Europe. It is an absolutely terrible film with crap acting, crap writing, boring special effects and several plot holes.

    At first I thought that I’ve Been Watching You was based on the Twilight novel and it was just the first attempt to make it into a film, but the novel came out three years later. I’m not saying the novel copied the original film, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it influenced the author. Which would be hilarious because it really is a terrible, terrible film.

  2. Posted by Personal failure on January 25, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    I feel the same way about twilight fandom as i do about religious fundamentalism: if it makes you incapable of rational thought and coherent speech, that is not a good thing.

  3. I never said anything about VIOLENT MOBS! I said ANGRY MOBS! And don’t you EVER use me on one of your blog posts EVER again, OK?!?! I also never said ANYTHING about people KILLING for Twilight!! You’re so stupid, chick. Get your facts straight and use YOUR brain!

  4. Fail.

    I really doubt that anybody would really kill for Twilight, and I really doubt that they are offended enough to do any sort of violent action. Let me make this clear: There is no evidence to suggest that Twilighters are offended to the point of forming violent mobs.

    Learn to read.

  5. Well, I’d say that the Internet usually brings out the “extremes” (so to speak) of any given issue (ie. there are a lot of atheists and creationists on the Internet, but not a lot of moderate evolution-accepting Christians (in my experience only: please don’t hurt me, moderate Christians!)), so I’d say that the only Twilight fans you will find on the Internet will be the hardcore ones.

    My sister is a fan of the series, but she doesn’t shout at people who disagree with her about whether it is a good series or not.

    So, you’re right, Elles: most fans are not that way. But don’t look for any rationality when you’re on the Internet. :p

  6. Well, maybe it has something to do with the internet, since it seems to bring about the lunatic fringe in the deepest corner of this godforsaken internet-underworld. Or maybe Twilight fans are that crazy. ^_^ (I know, I know, most people aren’t) Anyways, as for the book, that was so boring, I gave up in page 215 or something.

  7. LoL! You used Abby for the quotes. ^_^

  8. It should go without saying that if you perform an online search for something you like (Twilight in this case) you WILL find people who have read that same book and yet had completely the opposite reaction to it. It can be hard to believe that there are people who hate everything you like about a book, but it’s not worth getting upset about. Every individual is going to react differently to the same story, that’s why book stores have so many books, so the people who don’t like Twilight can find a different book that they will like. But those same people who don’t like Twilight are still allowed to say why they don’t like it. Criticism isn’t a bad thing. I’ve read negative critiques that have forced me to reevaluate my opinion about a book or even turned me on to far better ones. Granted, most of the time my opinion remains unswayed by negative criticism, but knowing that some people hate rock music doesn’t in any way lessen my enjoyment when I listen to it. The same goes for the books I read.

    Angry Twilight fans will just have to live with the knowledge that there exist people who hate this book and the characters inside. You can try to change Elles and Masala’s minds on this issue, but “don’t make me angry” is not likely to do that, unless your name is Bruce Banner. Instead, you might want to try rational, well-thought-out discussion. Also, try to keep in mind that people can disagree on things and not take it personally. Some people seem to have trouble with that last one.

    As for me, I have no plans to read the series… Vampires do nothing for me, and there aren’t nearly enough horses or demonic runeswords for my liking.

  9. Posted by Alex, FCD on January 26, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    I’m not saying the novel copied the original film, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it influenced the author.

    Stephanie Myer claims that, as of 2007, she had never seen a vampire film all the way through. See the Entertainment Weekly interview linked below (although it may cause your head to explode). Relevant quote:

    EW: Is it true you’ve never seen a vampire movie?
    SM: I’ve seen little pieces of Interview with a Vampire when it was on TV, but I kind of always go YUCK! I don’t watch R-rated movies, so that really cuts down on a lot of the horror. And I think I’ve seen a couple of pieces of The Lost Boys, which my husband liked, and he wanted me to watch it once, but I was like, It’s creepy!

    http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20049578,00.html

  10. At the MIT Science Fiction Marathon last Saturday night, they played a trailer for Twilight in between Jurassic Park and Brazil. The volume of snickering amidst the audience increased continually until the trailer concluded, at which point a woman’s voice rang out: “[EXPLETIVE DELETED] that [EXPLETIVE DELETED]!”

    (Or words to that effect.)

    Whereupon people applauded. It was, dare I say, a little heartwarming.

    When I linked to the Skepchick and Teen Skepchick posts on this subject, I got some angry e-mail, but not from Twilight fans, per se. The content was more like, “Why don’t you spread a constructive message?! Can’t you say something positive? This might be the first time some of these girls have read a book without their friends laughing at them. There are all these study guides to use as teaching aides. . .” Etc.

    Now, I’m all for spreading constructive messages, but I’ve gotta wonder: What is in those “Teaching Twilight” packages? Learning to read isn’t just about sounding out the words. If we’re trying to uplift students to the point of reading critically, with some kind of discerning sensibility, then the lesson plan might well have to include how not to act like a Twilight fangirl on the Internet.

    Criticism isn’t a bad thing. I’ve read negative critiques that have forced me to reevaluate my opinion about a book or even turned me on to far better ones.

    Exactly right — but it seems like appreciating that sort of thing is an acquired taste, or better, a learned skill.

  11. […] now that the craze has somewhat died down I won’t get quite the onslaught that Elles (1, 2, and 3) and Skepchick did. Right? [shifty […]

  12. Posted by buttfuck on July 17, 2009 at 4:38 am

    twilight is the gayest shit ever, i just watched the movie and it sucked my arse, just my opinion, but of course my opinion counts for more than the literary merits of the book and the cinematic merits of the film.

    utter shite

  13. Posted by Jessica on August 18, 2009 at 2:12 am

    I would like to say, as a young lady who will be starting to student teach with 8th grade English and reading, I think that all this excitment over Twilight can be used to my advantage. I can say that reading these books has been very enjoyable to me and I am one of those who has become a bit obbessed. My own myspace page is twilight right now, and I have been looking into ways to use the the first book Twilight to teach reading and the formative aspects of literautre to my students. I was doing observations about two semesters ago and every student, including several young men, were reading or have read the series. As a future English teacher it is impressive to me that a book as long as Twilight and as long as the other three books are, that teenagers in todays society are taking the time to read these books. I can say that this book was a nice book to read. It doesn’ t require all the loaded thinking and deep processing of “what is the author want me to gain from reading this?” I think that for the young adults reading it can enjoy reading along with learning the formative aspects of a novel. I would also like to say that I would love to see this novel taught in more classrooms, the younger students in 8th and 9th grade, because some of the classics that are taught can be difficult to understand and boaring. Twilight is the easiest of the series to read and the one that would cause the lest amount of problems amoung parents and the school board. The others in the series can be a bit more difficult and a little bit more controversal. I can also say the I loved the movie and the movie is what inspired me to read the book. If the movie was that good than the book is probably even better. I have not been able to put the books down since I started reading in July. I have two kids under the of three so reading takes place for small periods of time when they are sleeping and the house is clean, otherwise I could have easly finished the books in just a matter of two weeks. I do not defind those who are going completely wild over Twilight. But as with several other teenage fads this too will pass with time. But for those of who want our leaders of twomorrow to read and enjoy reading a book series like this has not come around in a long time. These books have taken students away from video games and who knows what other trouble to READ!!!! I believe that the be the most importnat aspect of the books. They are by no means poorly written. So let the kids read what they want to read and as a teacher I hope to use this fandom to my advantage as an English teacher.

    Thank you.

  14. Ironically, I just started a science fiction class at high school where the students vote on the literature that’s read in class. Last year they read Twilight, and this year the sci-fi teacher took the book off the list of choices because she had a really hard time coming up with something to talk about (not to mention essay questions), and I quote “because the books have no depth.” I have to agree with that assessment, and I think that with “It doesn’ t require all the loaded thinking and deep processing” you do too.

    Fine, some kids start reading because of Twilight, but as somebody with no authority on the matter whatsoever, I don’t see how you can incorporate it into teaching. The thing with obsessive Twilight fans is that they don’t move on to better things. You can help them by getting them to appreciate good literature.

    More than half the fun in reading is the depth, the thought provocation, and this is probably the exact reason why people hate reading so much, but when I read something like To Kill a Mockingbird I put the novel down I not only feel mildly entertained but I feel stimulated. To me this is a much better feeling than just being told how perfect somebody is for 400ish pages.

    Put in a more vulgar way (you may want to stop reading at this point) why would people bother seeking relationships to have sex when you can achieve orgasm by masturbation?

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