By the Twilight’s Last Sparkling

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.)

brony hoodie really wtf

Dear Mom and Dad, Re: What I Want For Christmas: a kegerator for my dorm room. LOL just kidding. Call of Duty Black Ops II for the Xbox, the new Insane Clown Posse CD, and one of these bitchin’ hoodies. See you at Christmas break! Love, Josh.

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.

stephen king twilight harry potter

Uncle Stevie: not a Twilight fan.

“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.

Your teenage daughter / little sister is going to be obsessed with SOMETHING that annoys the
#$%! out of you. Pick your poison wisely.

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.

Verily, this is as close as thou could get thee to Shakespeare in high school. Have at thee, miscreant educators and haters of books comic!

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.

— mal

The Goon, copyright 2012 Eric Powell. Now that we’re all done with Twilight, Hollywood, how about some of this?

*****

Thanks for stopping by Public Domain, whether by design or by accident. (Don’t ask me how ‘scanned panties scrooged’ leads here, but apparently it does, thanks to the mysterious digital alchemy of search engines.)

Either way, there’s much more nerd-flavored goodness where this post came from.  We’ve got more humor, posts on writing-related topics, comics reviews, fun with old comics in Tales to Admonish! , and more memes than you can shake a lightsaber/sonic screwdriver/tricorder/batarang/web-shooter/pulse rifle/ insert-iconic-prop-from-your favorite-obsession at.

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7 Comments

  1. I had the privilege of working in a movie theater tonight. The massive lines of women waiting to be seated for one of our many sold out shows was incredible. I am with you: if it gets people reading other stuff, they are an excellent tool to help bridge the perceived gap between quality literature and today’s youth.

    But what does it do for all the middle aged women in the crowd?

    • First, my apologies to everyone for taking so long to respond. Busy and hectic week thus far.

      Good question. I guess maybe there’s not a whole lot of material, at least for the film, that has this ‘fantasy romance’ vibe.

      I’m kind of shocked, to be honest, that there hasn’t been a slew of copycats. I know on the publishing side there are, you can practically spot them by the cover design, but it seems odd that Hollywood’s not trying to directly replicate it. That restraint from them is kind of unusual.

  2. I completely agree, I’ve never really was interested in the whole “Twilight Saga” but my Mum really was and so out of pure love I went to film showings and listened to her relaying the book to me, hell I even read a few pages myself. Did I find the writing engaging and well written? No. However, between either watching trashy television programmes or reading a mediocre book, I’d much rather have the latter. What I did find possibly the most frustrating aspect though is the “extremely possessive man being portrayed as romantic” thing. It’s not the only book that does it though, 50 Shades of Grey has a similar if not the same theme running through it and that’s also not well written, I know my BDSM dammit but that’s a whole different story…

    Anyway, I suppose to summarise my feelings towards the entire Twilight phenomenon is, indifference. It’ll pass through like most things out there until a new fad comes along, until then I have to listen to all my boy mates out there whining about being dragged into watching it by their girlfriends/mum/sister etc.

    Great post.

    • Thanks!

      I’m not directly familiar with Fifty Shades, beyond seeing stacks of them at various retailers, but that’s weird to see it at a place like Wal-Mart, where they routinely only offer censored / edited versions of music albums. But ha, did a quick search and turns out it’s actually based on a Twilight fanfic that was then extensively rewritten. That’s bizarre . . . and yet somehow appropriate.

      I find myself getting less and less angry about things like these and more indifferent. There’s so many interesting and cool things to try to keep on my radar to spend much time bemoaning something that clearly isn’t even remotely intended for me. It’s a fanbase, like any other, and they deserve some respect.

  3. Thank you Michael for popping over and following my blog ^^

    This post was very interesting. I read at least 2 and a 1/2 of the books, with the first two before the first movie came out. This was when I was about 16/17. I was only introduced to it as it was a present given to me by a friend, and got me quite interested so I bought the next volumes. What got me into it I believe was due to it being different to my usual reads.

    The films however did make my views on the book, which I enjoyed at first, decline quite severely. Now I just hate it and I realised it was because of the portrayal of Bella and her never ending need for Edward. And the sparkling skin just annoyed me also.

    But if it gets teenagers to read or produce their own fan-based stories instead of doing impracticle activities, then I guess there is no worry. As long as there is always the classics around, these current titles are only a fad. No matter what schools will always focus on what is deemed to be good literature, both in general education and for exams.

    • You’re welcome. You have some interesting stuff there, hope to find time to look it over in more detail.

      I’m always wary of book / movie adaptions, and if I’m interested in them, I always try to read the book first. I skipped out on seeing Cloud Atlas recently because I didn’t have time to read the book, and it looks like it might be something that’s right up my alley. Just a quirk of mine, even if I like the story I feel like the book loses a little something if I read it afterward (and I can’t help but picture the film actors when I’m visualizing the action of the book in my head). And of course most times the film ends up leaving quite a bit of the book’s story out, so it may fall a bit short, but I can seperate that more easily: a film only has so much length and some things have to be changed.

      With Twilight for you, sounds like it might have been that they had to exaggerate some elements to fit into the film format, where they were given time to breathe in the book and maybe weren’t as intense or noticeable when you read the story, which had its own pacing.

      Thanks everyone for the comments!

  4. Ouch. Stephen King’s words = not very nice. Then again, this is the same guy who, in his memoir On Writing, told readers that if they weren’t born with it then they should just give up on writing because it can’t be taught. That said, I’m not particularly fond of Twilight. Poor Mrs. Meyer, it wasn’t all her fault. The hype after the movies came out was just too much for me.


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