Sunday, February 24, 2013

Response to Criticism of Twilight, by Alec Frazier

A YouTube video I made to respond to criticism of Twilight.
This is my response to criticism of the Twilight Saga. It’s a book, people. You’re not supposed to hate on a book like you hate on the Nazi party, genocide, and racism. You know what? I’d like to amend that. People have often shown much greater hatred for Twilight then they have for any of those three things. The hatred does not make sense, and is almost comical in its intensity. What is not comical, however, is that people often resort to violence, emotional and otherwise, out of their hatred for the Saga. In terms of emotional violence, someone once waited until I was depressed for an unrelated reason, and then suggested that I kill myself because I like Twilight. Normally, I would have laughed that off. But since I was already quite sad, I almost took their suggestion to heart. One time, hooligans tried to beat the hell out of indie actor Bronson Pelletier, because he is involved with the Twilight movies. This amount of hatred is not easily explained.

It is my own personal belief that many, although not all, of the people who dislike Twilight beyond regular amounts of dislike have a hidden motive in hating it so much. I am not one of these people, so I cannot point these motives out concretely. One possibility why some people may hate it is because they are jealous of the ideal view of romance that the story promotes. They know that this view of romance is basically unattainable, and therefore they will not have it themselves. Another common motive is that people often hate what they fear. And throughout history, people have feared what they can’t understand.

Let me explain. The mythology laid out in Twilight vastly changes previous conceptions about the nature of vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters, etc. Many people who hate Twilight try to nitpick with the official explanations given in the illustrated guide in saying that they do not make logical sense. I know of a very good reason why they should not nitpick with this: It’s a book! It’s a book! It creates an alternate universe in which its own logic makes sense. To deny this is to deny the logic of other books, or for that matter of other creations, such as TV series, movies, plays, songs, etc. According to my own personal opinion, I can nitpick the Bible into a state where Christianity no longer makes sense. But the reason why the Bible has survived is because it is a system of general guidelines and not a blow-by-blow sportscast. Similarly, Twilight is a book that tells a great story, but is not made to be analyzed to the point of nausea.

Stephenie Meyer 
Other people, especially people who, like me are members of the LGBTQ community, have told me that they will not have anything to do with the Twilight Saga because the author, Stephenie Meyer is a Mormon, or Member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. And? And what? At no time whatsoever has she stated that she believes in bigotry. In one interview, she has actually come out and said that a gay person will become a gay vampire, because being gay is not an imperfection. As a member of the LDS church, Ms. Meyer is obligated by her vows to give 10% of her income to the Mormon Church. There are very few faiths that do not include a monetary obligation of some kind in order to be officially considered a member. I am a Unitarian Universalist Humanist, so I have to pay two dues: one as a member of the First Unitarian Society of Ithaca, New York, and one as a member of the HUUmanists, the society of Unitarian Universalist Humanists. In addition, I had to pay a one-time entry fee into the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (UUA). Does the Mormon Church get some of the money that Stephenie Meyer makes off of Twilight? A little. She is probably exempt from paying most of it due to the massive amounts that she gives to charity. In addition, Mormonism is very patrilineal, and the dues in her family are most likely paid by her husband. May I just take this moment to say that if the Mormon Church were not so institutionally homophobic, I would totally rock that faith. Not necessarily join, but take part in many of their efforts. It is a very good group of people that unfortunately let a few petty bigotries balloon to a point where they govern their whole policy. And may I also say that it is very hypocritical of the LGBTQ community to throw discrimination the way of a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints who is not involved in discrimination themselves. No one wants to be a victim of discrimination.

The Twilight Graphic Novel sold more copies on its first day in stores than any other graphic novel in history.
Another accusation that fans of the Twilight Saga face is that the books are very conservative. The books do not go into politics, but they are very socially conservative. While I agree personally that this is not how I would live my life, I believe that in this society which is grown very socially radicalized, it is wonderful to have a constructed, socially conservative foil to idealize, with imitation optional, although in my opinion not completely possible. Take the relationship between Edward and Bella. Even the way Edward treats Bella is conservative. Her father is a police chief, and is frequently out. Edward sneaks in, and when Bella is done with dinner, he carries her, yes, carries her, to her bedroom. You will ask me, “Alec, why do you like these books—and Edward—so much if he acts this way?” The answer, my friends, is why so many “secular” people love the Twilight Saga. Like thousands, I see the truth: that Edward does not treat Bella with condescension, but with reverence. And that is what makes him the ultimate ideal of a lover to women—and men—everywhere. It is this kind of romance that distinguished the great works of Brontë and Austin from the lesser works beneath them, and many of Twilight’s detractors do not like the fact that this romance means that Twilight is on a higher emotional plane than many other books. It has also been said that the character of Bella Swan is a Mary Sue. Once again, I must ask, and? Yes she may be a Mary Sue, but that does not mean that she is a horrible character. It simply means that she falls into a trope, and she must work her way out of that trope to distinguish herself. And you bet your life she does!

Changing Looks of Some of the Main Characters
At bottom is Twilight, with New Moon above, with Eclipse above that, with Breaking Dawn Part 1 above that, and Breaking Dawn Part 2 above that. Characters are, from left to right, Bella Swan/Cullen, Edward Cullen, Alice Cullen, Jasper Hale, Rosalie Hale, Emmett Cullen, Esme Cullen, and Carlisle Cullen.
Another thing that many people hate is that Twilight has introduced many talented actors to the world. Actors who are not that hard on the eyes either! The cast consists of gorgeous men and women who make beautiful vampires and werewolves. Many people immediately write off the actors and creators behind the Twilight Saga because of the hatred mentioned above. Many of the creators involved with the Saga are the kindest most gentle-hearted people you will meet. Yes, some of them have done embarrassing things on camera. And yes, one or two of them has been drunk and disorderly in public. But as celebrities, they get news coverage when that happens to them. Not a single one of them is a genuinely bad person. Not a single one of them is a genuinely bad person like Mel Gibson or Tom Cruise. Indeed, the degree to which they are involved in charitable endeavors will put almost anyone to shame. And not a single one of them has ambitions of being the next Brad Pitt or Tom Hanks. They know and are content with the fact that most of them are relatively small potatoes in the Hollywood world. Perhaps this is why so many of them get so much hatred. Many people have tried to point out to me that they are not the greatest actors or creators in the world. I know that, they know that. Their detractors know that, too. And they are angry that the actors and creators are fine with that fact. Because it shows that the actors and creators are content with being less than someone else. This is something that the detractors would never be content with.

So what is the overall point behind this? The overall point is that it is a book. Books are powerful, I know. But they are only imbued in the power which we give them through our perceptions. And by less than a year after the first Twilight novel was published, the perceptional appeal of Twilight was so powerful that Stephenie Meyer was named one of the Library of Congress’s authors of the year and got to speak at the young adult tent of the National Book Fair on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. I have heard accusations that she bought this success with some massive fortune. There was none. Any money she had at the time was her husband’s earnings from his job. At the time of the National Book Fair, she had yet to see a single paycheck from the Twilight Saga franchise. Dreams are powerful things. And Twilight had come to Stephenie Meyer in a dream. It is very hard to destroy dreams. And people who dislike Twilight are fine. But people who wantonly disparage it by making Twilighters feel terrible will have to destroy a dream. That, my friends, is impossible.

Constructive criticism is welcome, but bullying will not be tolerated.

3 comments:

MelbieToast said...

Dear Alec, so agree with you and thank you for your video and words about Twilight..I really didn't realize there were so many crazies out there who hated the Twilight Saga... WOW... they should just get a life! Really!

I love the Twilight Saga, Avatar, Star Trek (been a Trekie since 1966) and also love Star Wars and any great fantasy/sci fi works, films, books. We are not alone, we number in the billions.

Thank you again Alec!
Best Regards,
Melbie Toast

blacknightstar said...

people who are so on bella being in an abusive controlling relationship with a dominant crazy old vampire of a man i would have liked to ask them what is their definition of feminism actually? for me feminism does not constitute throwing men away just to show that now WE ALSO CAN. how is it wrong to respond to someone's worry even if they are being unresonable sometimes? did non of your MALE family members get a little carried away worrying about you? what do you people do then? warn all to back off or get kicked out? if that is indeed the case then i'm glad your thought process is completely beyond me. because even if i do not need a man to feed me i would very much like it to be worried about and on occasion even be given some advice.
I have tons of girlfriends who are independent yet considerate of others feelings. feminism that laughs on the concept of sacrifice scares me.

blacknightstar said...

agreed