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12 December 2011 @ 02:30 pm
Hmmph. And a harrumph on top of that.  

I couldn't call myself a Twilight fan, but the universal and gleeful mud-slinging doesn't really do much for me, either.  (And I've actually read the first book.)

This just in:

George Takei releases a video with a tongue-in-cheek plea for Star Wars fans and Star Trek fans to drop their dukes and all agree to hate on Twilight instead.

To quote:

Gone is any sense of heroism, camaraderie or epic battles.  In its place, we have vampires that sparkle, moan and go to high school.  Now, I'm not above mixing in a little sex appeal to spice up the fantasy, but sci-fi fans be warned, there are no great stories, characters or profound life lessons to be found in Twilight.  Nooo… In Twilight, the only message that rings through loud and clear is:  'Does my boyfriend like me?'

I'd love to agree and giggle, but unfortunately, the first thing that popped into my head was, "Um, I worry whether or not boys like me on a daily basis.  I really can't recall the last time I worried about whether my heroic comrades were going to triumph or fall in tomorrow's epic battle.  Although maybe I would if I supported a sports team, I guess."

What fun to call the most agonizing question in almost any adolescent's existence -- Am I viable?  Attractive?  Normal?  Wanted? -- unworthy of an epic story.  You know, you can hate Twilight all you want, but if you really want it to go away, don't whine.  Just write a better damn story that catches the priorities of its fanbase as successfully.

I'd like to hope that the stereotypical male fantasy of being a figure in a tale of great 'heroism, camaraderie or epic battles' and the stereotypical female epic romance fantasy can someday be a) not particularly assigned to one sex or another, and b) accorded the same level of respect.

Which of course would actually mean the same degree of contempt.  Given a choice, our culture still regards the subjects of fantasy and tales, whether dragons, wormholes, or true love, as somewhat warped fetishes.  Rather than seeing the habit of storytelling and imagining as a necessity (and even a highlight) of the human experience, our culture trivializes and sneers.

I would like to expect better behavior from Star Wars and Star Trek fans.

(Well, Trek at least.  I don't know about those SW people...)
ryokoturdburgler on December 12th, 2011 08:54 pm (UTC)
Having read the first Twilight book and based solely on that, I wouldn't say that Bella is contemptible as a heroine. She's in a bad situation (her parents are divorced, her mom isn't giving her as much attention due to remarry, she goes to live with her dad who doesn't know how to be a parent, etc), trying to make the best of it, discovering things she never knew about the world, and actually using her brain to solve her problems. Again, I note this is based on the first book only. Maybe she takes a downward spiral in subsequent books, ida know.

Anyway, I consider them completely different types of stories. Twilight is a character story, and to a lesser degree a world-discovery story. Star Trek is an ensemble cast on a world-discovery adventure. Star Wars is an epic tale of adventure and struggle against oppression. Further, Twilight is modern-day Fantasy, Star Trek and Star Wars are hard and soft sci-fi respectively. How can they really be compared? All three of them, even? Not even Star Trek and Star Wars are all that similar if you remove the fact that they take place in space.

The reasons that Twilight annoys me and that I have no interest in reading beyond the first book is that it is terribly written. The main couple get together WAY too early (a mix of: lack of understanding of what type of story it is supposed to be / lack of understanding of the progression of buildup-climax-denouement), there's a huge boring spot in the middle of the book (very bad pacing), repetitive and occasionally stupid phrasing. I also dislike books written in 1st person, but I admit that is a personal preference of mine.
J.D.: Serenityarasirsul on December 13th, 2011 12:45 am (UTC)
I'd love to agree and giggle, but unfortunately, the first thing that popped into my head was, "Um, I worry whether or not boys like me on a daily basis. I really can't recall the last time I worried about whether my heroic comrades were going to triumph or fall in tomorrow's epic battle. Although maybe I would if I supported a sports team, I guess."

I think that's part of his point, though. I don't think it's so much a question of "this is manly" and "this is girly". I think it's that you and I don't get to worry about heroic comrades triumphing or falling in an epic battle. That's exactly why the story is compelling, it's something we're not. And it's not just battles-- we're not going to be on the forefront of scientific advancement. Race relations. Large scale international (or interplanetary) diplomacy. We're just normal everyday shlubs, poking at a keyboard for fun and profit. We don't get to be the hero.

On the other hand, we both worried about whether or not the boys liked us. (Well, technically, not so much the boys in my case.) It does indeed capture the most agonizing question of almost any adolescent's existence-- and since most of us have been adolescents, that means there can't help but be a little bit of "been there, done that" to it.

I don't think this makes one better or worse than the other (though Takei does-- or at least he jokes that he does)-- depends, I suppose, on what you're looking for in your movie. But I do think it's not a case of "male" versus "female".

I will grant that I never worried about whether the sparkly immortal girls liked me. That would, indeed, be a new experience. And me, I wanted to unite behind something else entirely. But I never got around to making a Babylon 5 icon, so the Serenity one will have to do. :)

Edited at 2011-12-13 12:46 am (UTC)
irene_adler on December 13th, 2011 01:20 am (UTC)
I'll admit I have a hate-on for Twilight. Still, my immediate inclination is to leap to the defense of any interest of fandom nerd girls from fandom nerd boys. Those guys are corrosive, if they take against you when you're a teenager.
At that tender geek age, meathead normal guys can tell you anything, and you've learned to shrug it off -- but when the cool guys tell you you're being an idiot, you believe it. Because they're cool. Because they're awesome and space is awesome and they've read more books and seen more stuff and done more things than you . . .
OH HI what I don't remember anything. No! I don't remember high school. Barely at all. What were we talking about?
A. Askew: think deep 42anivad on December 13th, 2011 03:30 am (UTC)
"I'll admit I have a hate-on for Twilight. Still, my immediate inclination is to leap to the defense of any interest of fandom nerd girls from fandom nerd boys. "

this. :\
A. Askewanivad on December 13th, 2011 03:25 am (UTC)
I'm not sure if this is where Takei was coming from, but for me I tend to prefer my fiction to have things that are removed from my real life experience; fiction is my escapism, and my chance to live vicariously through people going through epic space battles and those other things I never would, while still having enough of a human factor to keep it relevant and relatable to. (Twilight possibly fulfills that criteria, since real life isn't exactly full of sparkly vampires.)

But through that I also hope to come away having experienced profound emotions and philosophical revelations and life lessons, all in a safe space with no direct impact on my own life, and come away from it feeling enlightened in some way as though I've just embarked on a grand journey and come back a wiser, more mature person.

Reading fiction that revolves mainly around the question of 'does my boyfriend like me?' doesn't meet that need, because I get enough of similar RealLife issues to deal with, and there's no new lessons to be learnt from watching fictional characters basically going through the exact same thing. Different perspectives, maybe, but not enough to keep me reading.

(I also like fiction that is pure mindless entertainment with no deeper meaning, but for different reasons.)

for reference, I've only read a bit of the first chapter of the first Twilight book, and a few pages of the script for Eclipse, mostly out of trainwreck fascination at how terrible the writing was and lamenting the injustice of how Stephenie Meyer was a published writer and I wasn't.
where have my words been?bheansidhe on December 15th, 2011 02:06 am (UTC)
Having read all of the books, here is my interpretation of what you said.

Asking questions like "Am I attractive? Am I viable? Wanted?" etc. is not the problem (nor a topic unworthy of the book). That's not the problem with Twilight, either.

The first problem is that Bella isn't characterized by any trait OTHER than crippling self-doubt. That's it. That's all she is. She doesn't deal with the issues; she *is* the issues. Smeyers doesn't show her working through them in any way.

No, Smeyers LOVES it that Bella feels this way. In a really sick, unholy fashion. She lauds it. She brandishes Bella's unwillingness to so much as look at herself in the mirror as virtuous. Do you know when Bella is first described as looking at herself in a mirror? Her wedding day. That's right; she doesn't get to appreciate her appearance until she's property of a man.

Bella thinks so little of herself she calls herself stupid and clumsy and unpopular. Smeyers thinks that's all evidence of how properly self-effacing she is (and other characters praise Bella for her modesty). Bella thinks she is no one and nothing without her boyfriend; Smeyers calls this Bella's "loyalty." Bella whines, manipulates, abandons friends without a second thought, and uses others like tissue paper, but Smeyers continually refers to her as "selfless" as though "Be a selfless doormat" was the eleventh fucking Commandment.

Anyway. I has feelings. About this story. And I should probably shut up about them.