Hating ‘Twilight’: A User’s Guide

There are many people right now celebrating the release of Breaking Dawn Part 1. And no, I’m not talking about the Twihards. I’m talking about those of us who are happy that there is now only one movie left and after that we will hopefully never have to hear about Twilight ever again in our lives.

Yes, as with any pop-culture “phenomenon” there are us “haters.” Those “Mean Girls From Your High School (TM).”

Those of us who don’t like the material, who are sick of the hype and just want it all to go away. We are legion.

But you know, Twilight-hate is a tricky thing. There’s a polite way to go about it and a way that makes you look like a bigger asshole than Edward Cullen. And as someone who has walked that line, sometimes crossed it and sometimes jumped over it, run away and screamed “SCREW YOU, LINE! SCREW YOU SO HARD!” I have learned how to handle these things. So here is “Hating Twilight: A User’s Guide, by Dr. New Age Amazon, professor of antisparklepireology.”

HATE THE GAME, NOT THE PLAYER: I know, I know. It’s tempting to claim that Twilight sucks because there are many devoted and, um, seemingly off balance fans. But at the same time, the same could be said of Star Trek, Star Wars, Tolkein’s works and Harry Potter. Regardless of your thoughts on the source material (I am NOT trying to equate any of those other works with Twilight), the point is that devoted fans are devoted fans and will be devoted fans. It’s not entirely fair to say that Twihards are “crazy” when there are people who play Muggle Quidditch, okay?

Basically, recognize that the books are crap, but that people are still entitled to be fans of them. And yeah, while it really, really sucks that some people will defend the writing or Edward’s behavior, they have the right to. Don’t blame them. Blame the world that taught them treating a girl like shit is okay or that thinking about things you enjoy is BAD.

THERE IS SUCH A THING AS INTELLIGENT HATE: There’s a lot of good reasons to hate Twilight. The books are poorly written and sometimes Meyer can’t even keep her own canon straight. Edward Cullen is an abusive jerk who treats his girlfriend like property. Bella Swan is a passive victim with no sense of self-preservation and it is a miracle she doesn’t manage to drown herself while taking a shower each morning. The whole phenomenon is symptomatic of our world’s still very upsetting and crappy attitudes about love, sex and gender.

But there’s also some really CRAP reasons to hate on Twilight. And there’s a really big one: because it’s FOR GIRLS. See, part of our world’s crappy attitudes about gender include the demonization of anything seemingly girly. So people end up claiming Twilight is bad not because of the reasons I listed above, but because it’s not-masculine, therefor not NORMAL therefor GROSS. If your reason for hating Twilight is because girls lilke it/normal girls like it/those mean girls from my high school like it? Re-examine why you think like that, please.

BANNING BOOKS IS NOT OKAY, EVER. I see a lot of “We should ban Twilight!” type sentiments. And actually, the Twilight Saga is often challenged in public and school libraries for various reasons (including sexual content, which…what, do they want MORE of it?). And while I know many people calling for the ban of the books are just kidding around, I wanna make it clear. Banning books from public spaces is a scary thing and is something we should not have the right to do.

And destroying books is scary, too. While shooting Twilight with a gun or lighting a copy on fire might seem funny, on a deeper level the message that destroying a book is okay if you disagree with it is really, really problematic.

IN THE END, YOU CAN’T STOP THE JUGGERNAUT: Stephenie Meyer and her series have multimillion dollar publicity teams, ad campaigns and have possibly tapped into the Anti-Life Equation. You cannot get rid of them. And here’s something that I had to accept, grudgingly, at one point: you cannot make all of the fans, everywhere, stop liking it. You might be able to change a few minds, but in the end, people are going to keep consuming Twilight like crackcakes.

Feel free to express your opinion on the books, argue with people, even gif bomb them if you feel like it. I can’t stop you. But decide on an anti-Twilight mission statement that works for you. Wanna see mine?

I appreciate that people sometimes need mindless entertainment, but I don’t think that means they can or should excuse the problems with that source of entertainment. People are free to enjoy Twilight, but I have trouble when they start claiming it is well-written or that the relationships it portrays are healthy or desirable. It makes me worry about deeper problems in society involving gender politics and discouraging intellectualism.

Of course, to be fair, that’s my “academic” response. Wanna see my gut reaction?


Further reading:

Mark Reads Twilight – come on, like I WOULDN’T include this?

Reasoning with Vampires – Tumblr devoted to pointing out bad logic, grammar and writing in the Twilight series. It has been going strong for awhile now.