Monday, October 26, 2009

Twilight Bashers

"I have long felt that any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has just put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae or banana split." - Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

If you don't like Twilight, that's fine.  Although I absolutely loved the series, I have no problem with you.  Everyone's entitled to their own opinions - even strong ones.

However.  If you're one of those haters who hates Twilight so much that you speak out frequently and vehemently about how much it sucks.  Then yes, I do have a problem with you.  If you're one of those people who, upon hearing someone mention the series, says with superciliousness dripping from your tone, "Oh, please tell me you're not one of those."  (With intent to make Twilight readers feel bad about themselves.)  Then yes, I take serious issue with you.

For the love of God people. Who CARES if you think vampires are stupid? Or if you don't like how Stephanie Meyer writes?  Do you know how many more kids are reading today because of the Twilight series? Why would you ever, ever speak out so forcefully about a series that has created a huge interest in books for a lot of kids who never previously had any desire to read?  Not to mention, you must be little on the inside if you seek whatever power it is you're looking for from putting someone down based on what they enjoy to read.

As a former teacher, I know firsthand that Meyer's series promoted teenage reading.  I saw a LOT of kids reading Twilight - in a school filled with students who hated to read.  I literally had a teenage student, an LD student for that matter who tested at a 5th grade reading level, tell me that she loved Twilight so much that it was the only time she ever chose to read instead of watching TV when she got home.

So, in my opinion, if you go around blogging or facebooking or using any level of communication to make fun of people who read Twilight, you should be ashamed of yourself.  If your hateful words have turned one child away from reading, just one, then you disgust me.

Instead of bashing Meyer's writing ability, you should applaud her for enticing youth away from video games and television and into the literary world.

Now, some people have argued that kids branch out after reading Twilight to reading the classics. I have absolutely no idea if it's true or not.  Also, if you read Twilight and didn't like it and gave it a bad review somewhere, this post is NOT addressed to you.  Unless you went a step further and went out of your way to belittle people who did like it.

As for my love of the novels... Perhaps I'm biased.  I've had a thing for vampires since the good old days of Bunnicula.  (Come on, how could you not love Howliday Inn?  The Celery Stalks at Midnight?)  So, I started young.  I also watched, and loved, Bram Stoker's Dracula in the early/mid-nineties.  Since then, I'll admit it, I've yet to meet a person with longer than average canines that I haven't found attractive.  I don't seek out books about vampires, but I definitely enjoyed Twilight.  I've read all four books more than twice.  And you know what?  I'm sure I'll read each of them more than twice more.


  1. I agree. Reading is subjective. No book has every been written that EVERY ONE in the world will love. Reading is way too subjective. I just read a book I really disliked but I'd never publically bash it. Some people out there will probably love it.
    Regradless of what anyone thinks, a novel is someone's labor of love. If you can't say something nice about it, don't say anything at all.

  2. Jeesh. Sorry for the typos in above post. lol

  3. Oh, I totally hear you! It really gets me when people snap, "Vampires don't sparkle." Um...vampires don't ANYTHING. They're made up. I mean, who knew slapping some sparkles on a made up creature could incite such wrath.

    I have to admit that the words, "the writing is crap" have slipped through my lips. But that hasn't stopped me from reading the books. So if that says anything about me I hope it's that I'm accepting and open-minded. That I'm willing to dive into a story despite writing that makes me roll my eyes every now and then.

  4. I'm definitely critical of TWILIGHT, but I hope I don't belittle people who like it. I get it, I do. It's escapism and there is something really compelling about those books. I tore through the first one even as I was hating it. I don't think they're well written, but they obviously strike a chord with lots of people, and I'm not some kind of literary snob who thinks a book has to be a masterpiece to justify its existence. I've loved plenty of terrible books.

    However, my real problem with TWILIGHT is not the writing or my own envy at how Stephenie Meyer was plucked from slush pile obscurity to fame and fortune (which I think fuels a lot of her more vicious detractors), but rather the messages of the book. I think some of them are problematic, especially for impressionable girls. Maybe my inner Vassar girl is showing, but it worries me that girls reading the books think Edward is the ultimate in dreaminess when some of his behavior would be considered abusive or otherwise unacceptable in the real world. It concerns me that Bella literally gives up her life to be with him, and this isn't seen as a problem, or even a sacrifice, at all. If all the teenagers reading the books see them as escapism, fine. But if they're subconsciously taking on board the truly messed-up gender dynamics on display? Eek.

  5. Down with Twilight haters! Actually, I've never understood the purpose of bookbashing. It's not like the cinema where you spend money to see a movie that turns out to be rubbish. You can read books for free at the library, and if you don't like it after the first paragraph, just return it. But why go out of your way to give a bad book review (over and over)? So silly. It drives me crazy when people recommend Twilight, but ammend the recommendation by inserting, "It's not the best writing, but great plot." I mean, really. We won't think you're an idiot if you appreciate Twilight. Such snobbery.

    Great post! Whatever you're writing, I'll buy it when it publishes. Especially if it has vampires.

  6. You go girl! I'm with you 100%

    People who slam books like, Twilight, or J.K.Rowling's Harry potter series for that matter, bore me to death.

    I was brought up with my parents saying 'If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all'.

    And like you said, if Twilight gets kids (or even some adults) reading again, what does it bloody well matter.


  7. Came to your site via #amwriting on Twitter. You make some interesting points, and I love the Vonnegut quote! :-D

    I have to admit that I read the first book of Twilight and disliked it. I also saw many of my high school students, as well as adults I knew, reading Twilight, and I also encountered people who vehemently disliked the series, so I wanted to see what it was about the book that provoked such strong reactions in people. I think I can understand both points of view.

    You're right that there's nothing to gain from bashing Meyer personally. But I think it's perfectly healthy for people to question and critique her writing style and her themes. I actually think it was brilliant of her to play on the idea of sexual tension without consummation; we live in such a sex-drenched society that abstinence has never been so sexy! ;-D But like Cristin above, I cringe at the idea of Bella, initially a wry, book-loving teen, seems to give up family and other interests for this man/vampire. On the one hand, Meyer has done a decent job portraying just how consuming a true first love can feel. On the other hand (and I haven't read the whole series, so perhaps by basing solely on Twilight, I'm not being fair), I wonder if such a love is worth celebrating? But hey, I spent my teenage years reading every Harlequin novel I could get my hands on, and I'm consider myself a feminist. So, I'm sure each reader will take away her own message from the book. I think it would be especially cool if teachers and/or parents could read with their teenagers and discuss the ideas of the book.

    Despite my personal dislike of Twilight, I do applaud Meyer for writing a series that has entertained millions, encouraged young people to read, and gotten people talking. If only I could do such a thing! :-D

  8. Wow! Thanks for the awesome comments everyone :)

    Karen - typos shmypos... it's just a comment after all!

    Jenni - I get so irritated when people get so bent up over the sparkling. It was one of my favorite parts! But it is totally made up. It's not like Meyer gave a false characteristic to a real culture, haha!

    Cristin - I absolutely hear what you're saying (even if I did have to look up what you meant by Vassar, ha). But, I think if you look back through classic literature you'll still find unhealthy teen relationships in much of it! (Romeo and Juliet comes quickly to mind.) AND not to mention that a lot great (considered) literary works share antifeminine themes. I loved the all-encompassing love theme... But I also know it's unrealistic AND in real life it would actually be very unhealthy.

    Carolina, I will hold you TO that! (If I ever get published.) Though I don't have vampires in my current book...

    Quillfeather - you crack me UP! And apparently our parents raised us similarly :)

  9. Um, just wanted to add that I'm terribly sorry about all the typos above! And thanks again for the thought-provoking post!

  10. Christina, I completely agree with you about it being healthy to critique writing style. As I said, I don't have any bad feelings toward people who gave the books bad reviews! Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and though I let myself get caught up completely in the story so I didn't notice writing issues, but I do know why they are annoying because I have noticed them in plenty of other books!

  11. I've read all four books.

    I am NOT a fan of the series.

    However I can see that the series has done much good above and beyond simply entertaining. It has made new readers. It has brought in a LOT of blood to blood banks via drives etc.

    However the books themselves leave much to be desired. Vampires do not sparkle! (I find sparkling vampires an insult to all other vamp writers and the vamp genre as a whole.)
    Also it seems to say that by being needy and clingy one can get their desires (sex & death).

    It does redeem itself as a series in the final book where Bella finally grows a pair and stands on her own and doesn't need Edward or anyone else in order to survive. She finally comes into her own.

    I applaud Meyer for the work and dedication that went into getting the series not only written, but published and later made into a movie. I just wished she had left the glitter at home.

  12. I've encountered the same bashing as well. Unfortunately, it was in person, with a bunch of other writers. And not just against Meyers, but Cassandra Clare, Christopher Paolini, even MAUREEN JOHNSON for goodness' sakes!

    I'd foolishly wondered aloud about what could take Eragon's place when the series ended. Suddenly everyone around me clamored to say "Hopefully no one, that book sucked" etc. They all seemed vehement about one popular author or another, and it was appalling how these people talked about them. But I knew I'd never get them to see how they were being cruel to the readers for no reason other than to sound 'writerly'. I guess I'm one of the few writers who can completely shut down the inner editor, really let myself get pulled into a story, even if I don't end up "omega loving" it.

    Do I really want to befriend these people who bash every author I enjoy reading who also happen to have wildly popular books? It was exactly how you said- superciliousness. Or outright anger. Belittling the story, the writer, and in round about ways, me.

    I'll have to see those people again, but when I do, I can guarantee I won't be talking about the books I love or the story I'm working on.

  13. Ha, I only meant us Vassar girls have had a reputation for being rather stringent feminists ever since the college started, since it was the first one for women (Mount Holyoke will try to tell you they were, but they're liars, it was us).

    I'd quibble with comparing TWILIGHT and ROMEO AND JULIET (and not just because I have an MA in Shakespeare!). I don't think the moral of R/J is "go kill yourself for love!" whereas that's kind of exactly the point of TWILIGHT. Plus it's more the yucky gender stuff that bothers me about TWILIGHT as opposed to it's portrayal of first love as all-consuming and hyper-real, which I think is spot-on (although Bella will never have the oppportunity to grow OUT of her intense first love, she's pretty much committed herself there.) I mean, let's face it, Juliet was the brains of that operation, and Romeo killed himself first! :) Plus Romeo and Juliet's attachment is critiqued by the play as too intense and unhealthy, which TWILIGHT never does.

    "AND not to mention that a lot great (considered) literary works share antifeminine themes."

    Yes of course, but that doesn't mean we should celebrate or encourage or excuse modern books that are bad for women! Especially when they're targeted at teenage girls. We read misogynistic classics in SPITE of their misogyny and talk about that shortcoming of the text.

    "But I also know it's unrealistic AND in real life it would actually be very unhealthy."

    I just hope girls get that too. If they do, then despite the books not being my cup of tea, I don't really have a beef with them.

    This is an interesting conversation. I hope you don't mind me disagreeing with you, just tell me to shut up if you do! I like to debate, but I know not everyone else does.

  14. Cristin - are you kidding? I love that you disagree with me! Don't get me wrong, I love when people agree with me too ;-) but clearly you're educated and you're not just jumping on the "we hate Twilight" bandwagon.

    I didn't exactly mean to compare Twilight to R&J, just meant to point out that there are other works out there that don't set great examples for real life.

    And you’re right about not needing to celebrate misogynistic sides to modern works. But I don’t agree that Twilight is bad for women. Bella doesn’t fit in; she’s never felt as though she has. How many teenage girls share those exact same feelings? She finally finds something that feels right and she finds happiness through something different than the norm. I think a message telling teenagers that you don’t have to follow what the “normal” (or popular) kids do to find happiness, isn’t that horrible of a message.

    I also hope that girls understand how unhealthy it is to be completely obsessive and give your entire life to someone else. I'm not convinced, though, that authors should have to take on the responsibility of educating them about it. (Please don't think I'm a horrible person for saying that!) I think that parents and families and communities should fulfill that role. Books are a place to find escape (sometimes) and I think that's alright.

    This really branches out to so many other forms of media! TV, movies, music, pop radio station talk shows... Teenagers are exposed to unrealistic circumstances in a lot of different ways. I think parents have the main responsibility to make sure kids know that there’s a major difference between the way things work in what they see or read and the way those same things (wouldn’t) work in real life.

    So. There are my $.02 (although perhaps there’s been a dollar’s worth already, haha).

  15. STERLING, thanks for your comment. I can see why you wouldn’t like the sparkle factor... BUT vampires are fictional! They don’t always have the same characteristics, regardless of what book they’re in. I thought it was such a unique spin - I loved it! But that's just one girl's opinion :)

    And I also see what you’re saying about sex and death. But couldn’t it also be twisted into: don’t give up on what you want because persistence pays off? She does get sex, but it’s after she’s married – which is RARE these days. And death? If you choose to look at it that way, I suppose. I think of it as a different kind of life...

    BRITTANY, I hate those in person bashings! Especially because I am not a quick thinker when it comes to defending things I like... I get too flustered. Writing it out is much easier for me. I also can completely shut down my inner editor for stories! I think I kind of do that for most things in life (most of the time anyway). Rose colored glasses and all that.

  16. Right on, lady!

    and I love the commercial! so funny!

  17. Yes, I dislike Twilight. The first time I read it, I found it fun, slightly mindless fun. Since then, I've found myself more and more disturbed by the messages in it, perhaps best illustrated by the time when Edward grabs Bella's jacket (when they've barely known each other, mind) and demands that she get in his car - she says let go, he says only if she gets in, and I believe adds that if she runs away he'll only catch her and drag her into this car. And this is a relationship displayed as the be-all end-all of forbidden romance and love.

    Your argument about the fact that at least people are reading would be a good one if they weren't at the same time drinking in extremely unhealthy ideas about relationships and gender roles. Were it not for that, I could simply leave it as a rather mindless book that one could read for fun.

    (Also, please keep in mind that a lot of the hatred on the Twilight hater's side often comes after encounters with Twilight fans, who have attacked people for saying they disliked the series. Not all of the fans are as reasonable as you.)

  18. Thanks Tamara - I had a great time creating it, haha.

    Roslyn, I think people can find messages in most commercial works of fiction that may disturb them. Also, maybe this happened in the movie (I can’t remember), but in the book Edward doesn’t grab Bella’s jacket. Yes, he demands that she gets in – but it’s because he’s concerned for her safety – she is after all being “herded” by a group of really horrible men. Are you telling me that if you’re daughter was being chased by a group of men and a schoolmate, someone she happens to have feelings for, saves her by demanding she gets in his car so that he can drive her away from the bad guys, you would find fault with it?

    I stand by my argument that it’s a good thing this book got teens reading. Anything (barring Hitler or devil-worship type stuff) that gets teens reading deserves praise in my opinion. Trust me, illiteracy is huge still – and the lack of interest in reading is really, really sad.

    You do bring up a good point, I think, about some of the Twilight fans. You’re right – they do attack people who don’t like it, and they shouldn’t. Just as we (fans) are entitled to our love of the series, so are you (people who didn’t prefer it) entitled to your dislike of it.


Yay! I love when you have things to add :)