Today will be a good day for male bonding in workplaces and schools across America, as hordes of diehard female Twilight fans sleep the day away in their plush, comfy coffins after having attended late night premieres of Breaking Dawn, Part 2.
(Hollywood often prides itself on ‘creative accounting’, although I’m not sure there’s anything too inspired about the no-brainer of splitting the adaptation of the final novel in the series in half and charging each viewer for two admissions. Also, there’s a unconfirmed medical report which suggests had they just done one four-plus hour epic, that much Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart in a single sitting has proved to be carcinogenic in small laboratory animals.)
I kid, I kid. Stop with the flushed, angry faces, girls: it’s not very becoming, and it definitely doesn’t go well with your Team Edward shirt.
Twilight falls firmly under the category of ‘not for me’, but I can respect its fandom. Male nerds in glass Wayne Manors and Echo Bases shouldn’t be tossing stones at someone else’s obsessions. (Except maybe for Bronies. That still seems to raise a questionable eyebrow in my book, but hey, even then, we’re all brothers-in-hooves: we’ve all been ostracized at one point or another for our passions.
Friendship tolerance IS magic.)
I actually did try out Twilight — the book — a couple of years ago after hearing several of my female co-workers gush on and on about it. I pretty much knew going in that I was lacking the estrogen to really appreciate it the same way they did, but I thought I’d at least see what everyone was talking about.
I made it about halfway through before I got annoyed enough to literally toss the book across the room. It wasn’t the romance, completely non-threatening emo-friendly vampires, or teen angst; it was the writing itself. I must admit that I tend to agree with Stephen King when he made the claim that Twilight scribe Stephenie Meyer “isn’t very good”, even though I’m not entirely sure it was appropriate for him to call her out so publicly quite like that.
“Harry Potter is about confronting fears, finding inner strength, and doing what is right in the face of adversity.
Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend. ”
— Stephen King
I know couldn’t take another page of the clumsy first-person journal-style narration myself, but I’m fully willing to concede that Meyer may indeed be a fantastic writer for being able to capture the stumbling, awkward voice of someone who was not a particularly skilled writer trying to tell a story via diary entries, and as such there might be some meta-level vibes going on there that is completely apropos.
Or it may just be an author with a tin ear for prose and dialogue, and an audience willing to overlook shortcomings in technique to focus on the emotional connection to the story, I don’t know. In any case, reading Twilight just gave me a headache and a slightly twitching left eyelid. Maybe I’ll give one of Meyer’s post-sparkly undead works a whirl somewhere down the road, but it probably won’t be high on my list of literary priorities. (And I’m sure she’d probably say the same of reading my upcoming work, so we’re even.) Maybe it’s ‘bad’, maybe it’s not — I’m just going to opt out of the argument. If you enjoy it, then I’m glad you do, and don’t think any less of you for it.
I do fervently believe that Twilight‘s existence and popularity is a good thing. ANY book that gets young people to read of their own volition is a good thing, literary ‘merit’ be totally and completely damned. Force feeding ‘classics’ down young girls’ (or boys’, for that matter) throats does NOT teach them appreciation for the written word. Under that context, it’s just another thing in the pile of homework they’ve got to deal with. It’s the books that they choose themselves to pick up that start them down the path of reading for pleasure.
Could they be reading something ‘better’ than Twilight and Stephenie Meyer? I’m sure they could.
They could also be sitting on the couch letting Teen Mom and Jersey Shore rot their brains and be their preferred method of entertainment.
My own appreciation for reading growing up came directly from comic books, which at the time, still had the strong stigma of being absolute, lurid trash only fit for children and near-illiterate adults. It took some time for the Sandmans, Watchmens, and Mauses to come down the pike and give the medium some ‘legitimacy’, but I cut my teeth on Detective Comics and Amazing Spider-Man, and loved every minute of it.
While I did read ‘real’ books as a child and early in my teenage years, the first author that I latched on to in an adult I-picked-this-myself context in high school (this would have been circa 1986) was Stephen King, who was often marginalized by critics, and in particular was taken to task because he wrote works that were (gasp) incredibly popular. No author who writes accessible material that large numbers of readers can relate to and understand can possibly have any merit. If it doesn’t require some heavy thought (and some academic expert to explain the nuances to you) it can’t possibly be ‘good’ for you, right? And tales of horror and the supernatural? Forget it.
Say what you want about Meyer’s talent and skill, but if some young girl is reading her work and it inspires said girl to keep reading, keep exploring new authors and works, maybe try her own hand at writing and storytelling, that’s fantastic.
Especially in light of the same young girl having these, rather than Meyer, as role models to emulate:
Anyway, guys, let’s keep it down a little today out of respect for our fellow members of female fandom who are trying to catch up on their sleep after their late girls’ night out.
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