The Gauntlet is Thrown, I Can’t Not Respond

Posted: November 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

I spit iced tea all over my monitor when I read this headline at Time Magazine’s online opinion page…

The Harsh Bigotry of Twilight-Haters

HAHAHAHAAAA! I know where this is going! *cracks knuckles*

Hating Twilight is so 2009, and with the newest installment, Breaking Dawn, ruling the box office, the juggernaut hardly needs defenders. But the virulent seriousness of the haters is surprising.

Is it really now? Because I have been hating the Twilight franchise with virulent seriousness from the beginning. A lot of people have.

Many of the reviews have heaped disproportionate and moralizing scorn on an Oscar-winning director’s fantasy enactment of a young girl’s dreams and fears.

Disproportionate to what? Citizen Kane? Casablanca? What’s your frame of reference here?

And winning an Oscar has absolutely nothing to do with future success in directing. (We’ll always have The Untouchables, Kevin Costner.)

Kristen Stewart and her co-stars have been excoriated for their “sullen” and “wooden” performances despite receiving respectable and sometimes highly favorable reviews in other movies in which they have starred.

Well, that wouldn’t have anything at all to do with the characters being “sullen” and “wooden” even in, oh, the source material?

And yes,  Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson have indeed received praise for other roles they’ve done, because the acting that they did was better than what they’re putting out for their Twilight paycheck. I mean, you only have to hold up a picture of Stewart and say the word “Speak” and I’m in a puddle on the floor.

Again, doing something well in the past has nothing to do with the quality of this particular work.

The negative reactions fall in two camps: The dismissive camp simply mocks Twilight’s incorporation of silly, “moony” elements like undying love and the surprisingly authentic portrayal of wedding ritual, honeymoon jitters and the shock of unintended pregnancy; the topics are apparently too boring and unrelatable for most reviewers.

Full disclosure: I have not seen Breaking Dawn, and I don’t plan on it. I’m still sleepy from the absolutely soporific J. Edgar, and frankly, I wait for the  DVD so I can scream at the screen and not get kicked out of the theater.

The deluded camp, conversely, takes Twilight far too seriously, faulting it for leading young girls to mistake fantasy for reality in dangerous, disempowering ways.

Dude, what, I can’t even…

It makes you wonder if some people missed the memo that hundreds of millions of females, like their male counterparts, enjoy their fantasy life straight-up weird, sexy, and implausible.

DUDE, WHAT? WHAT? NO. REALLY?

NO. Stop. Just one second. Shit’s about to get real right now.

First, I would like for Erika Christakis to define for me please ” straight-up weird, sexy, and implausible” fantasies.

I am a sexually active (safe and satisfied) cisgendered female who is active (safely and most satisfied) in my local kinky BDSM community. What turns me on, my personal fantasies, I am sure would confuse Some People who don’t understand them.

But possibly because I am a part of that community, I am sensitive to when Some People try and explain away abusive behavior as “Fantasy!” There are nearly as many articles screaming into the blogosphere about how Edward Cullen fits the standards for an abusive significant other as there are lining the red carpet at every Twilight related event. In fact, I have read so many of them, I can tell you that this one right here is my favorite.

Ugh, I will come back to this vile point in a moment, but if I don’t continue I am afraid I won’t finish…

Why is it that female fantasies are such a source of derision and fear?

Because, patriarchy?

The male species is allowed all manner of violent, creepy, ludicrous and degrading movie tropes, and while we may not embrace them as high art, no one questions them seriously as entertainment, even when sometimes we probably should.

All the female species (really? Species?) is allowed in the way of ludicrous and degrading movie tropes is the romantic comedy.

(Violent imagery is, after all, associated with violent behavior.)

Because everyone who has ever played a violent video game has graduated on to the full Columbine… This sounds familiar. I’m pretty sure someone’s debunked this before… Oh, yeah! Penn and Teller.

You want to saw someone in half or put their head in a vice?

Loved that movie!

Showcase naked strippers as a fake plot device? Pair a beautiful and successful career woman with a slovenly, unemployed man?

You watch Keeping Up With the Kardashians? I’m confused.

Pretend you are Wolverine? Go right ahead.

AWESOME, THANKS.

We know you can’t really be serious. But watch a tender wedding night between a virginal, undead superhero and his teenage, human bride, and the scolds come out in force. Are parents worried that their teenage daughter actually wantsto be impregnated by a 100-year-old vampire who can crush a headboard with his hands (and perform an emergency C-section with his teeth)

Well, YEAH. Parents should be worried when their precious baby girl wants to be impregnated by an centurian, virginal, undead “superhero”* who also happens to be abusive. Parents are worried that their baby girls will think that being in a relationship with an abuser is okay.

Maybe part of the reason critics deplore these movies is not only because they are so unfamiliar with kooky heterosexual female fantasies but also because they don’t really like what these fantasies say about men.

Take a second… Read that again.

*MINDSPLODE*

The discomfiting reality of the Twilight phenomenon is the way it strips off the veneer of détente between the sexes. For all the progress we promised our daughters, women’s bodily experiences mark them in ways not only unimaginable, but also uninteresting and even repulsive, to men.

I am both uninterested and repulsed by your bleeding vagina.

When was the last time (or only time) you saw a movie that featured menstruation? (The Runaways, directed by … a woman.)

Menstruation played by Dame Judy Dench.

Most mothers know the sense of their body being taken over by aliens, and more than 500,000 women still die in childbirth every year worldwide. Is it really so surprising that we would be drawn to Bella’s gruesome tribulations?

If it were only that, I would agree with you.

For all its tremendous ick factor and craziness, the vampire-hybrid delivery captured with excruciating realism the desperation (on poor Edward’s bloodied face) that attends a birth when things go badly wrong. You could hear a pin drop at the screening my daughter and I attended. The gothic horror felt more palpable because it merely exaggerated, rather than imagined sui generis, what many women go through every day.

Again, if it were only that, I would agree with you.

And what happened to “(Violent imagery is, after all, associated with violent behavior.)?” This is okay? Violently tearing into the flesh of your wife is okay when she’s having a baby, if it is for good? So, the graphic violence in SAW gets a pass, too, right? Because Jigsaw also thought he was working in the best interest of his subjects.

We sure know blood.

ABOUT EVERY 28 DAYS, AMIRITE LAIDEEZ?! *high five* *high five* *high five*

The other thing women know all too well is the lurking danger of men. The idea of a wildly earnest romantic lead who isn’t demanding oral sex in the high school parking lot (and who happens to look like Robert Pattinson) is all very appealing, no?

No. But that might be me.

Yet our perfect vampire man, alas, also has the capacity to inflict serious harm — much like in the non-cinematic world, as even 5-year-old girls can intuit.

You don’t have to read Steven Pinker’s fine new book on violence, The Better Angels of our Nature, to grasp that women have always been its singular victims.

So we’re completely ignoring male victims of domestic violence?

The devastating power of rape, which results in pregnancy 5% of the time, is its ability to “change the progeny” of a woman forever. This threat often clouds our real lives and it certainly clouds our confused notions of entertainment. Is it any wonder that the young man whose heart Bella tosses aside for Edward is, you guessed it, a wolf? As one of my jaded neighbors once opined, “All men is half dog.”

WHAT? This is just bad writing. I am so, so confused. He’s a wolf, like in the Red Riding Hood sense? Half-dogs? She was afraid Jacob would rape her? What?

We’ve wandered off the point. This needs to be tied back in to the original theme of why I shouldn’t make fun of Twilight.

If this offends you, take a number.

42! Sweet!

Women have long endured men’s insulting and unhinged fantasies. Just lie back and enjoy the estrogen drip.

No. You can’t make me.

*Ick. What a terrible choice of words.

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Comments
  1. Politicalguineapig says:

    Brilliant take down. Hope your new computer arrives soon.

    • Lindsay Smith says:

      Thank you!

      Yeah, taking advantage of Cyber Monday Deals today (Hooray slow work days!) so I don’t think I will be laptop-less for long. But it’s strange how attached you get to electronics that you’re close to so often for so long, and Elvis Mark 2 was an old laptop…

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