I Am Here To Suck Your Blood (and Culture Wars)

12129__1gellar_lToday, my secret was unleashed on the world. One of my college friends writes a book blog and, in today’s post, casually mentioned me. Not, much to my chagrin, as that up-and-coming writer or the girl who threw amazing Halloween parties, but as something altogether worse. I am the girl who gave her Twilight, pronounced it “SO GOOD,” and temporarily ruined YA literature for her in the process.

That’s right, chickens. I once liked Twilight.

A lot. I felt about Twilight the way Liberace felt about sequins: utterly beguiled. The story of Bella & Edward made my heart fucking jitterbug, y’all. Reading it, I laughed and cried and smiled over the triumph of vampy love. When I was done—less than twenty-four hours after picking it up—I loaned it to every girl I knew. Since these were the Halcyon days before “Robsten” and “I Drive Like A Cullen” bumper-stickers, there were quite a few people to receive my fangirl gospel. I told them it was the best book ever, forced it into their hands, and waited to share in its glory.

I am totally mortified about this. I am, also, not. Have I since completely rejected the series? Yes, indeed. The feminist in me, much stronger than she was at age nineteen, hates wimpy wet crumpet, Bella. I think vampires should explode, when exposed to sunlight, and that there are only two reasons a 100 year-old dude marries a teenager: mommy issues or too many nights watching Deep Throat. Either way, not my dream date. Twilight is problematic on both a craft level—one more damned adverb, and E.B. White would have reanimated and gone on a head-bludgeoning rampage—and as a thematic representation of genre. I don’t like it.

And, yet…it seems disingenuous to malign Twilight the way I have in past years. Hype and hindsight have destroyed my love of it, yes, but there was once love. The writing isn’t wonderful and the characterizations put teenage girls back a good fifty years, but so many readers have responded to it for a reason. So, is it just that vampires are foxy? Or that young women like escapist fiction, because our brains are wee and mushy? Those are the easy (read: offensive) answers people like to argue. The more I think about it, the more I think there is something redeeming in Stephenie Meyer’s series, just as there is in all popular fiction.

Getting millions of readers to feel for your characters is no easy feat. People don’t stand in three-day lines or tattoo book quotes on their bodies for every vampire novel that comes out. Meyer’s strength is, perhaps, just that: triggering strong emotion. Similarly, Dan Brown really is excellent at plotting and James Patterson paces books brilliantly. I don’t think they’re the best writers ever, but they also aren’t as bad as most of us literary snobs make them out to be. Things aren’t popular because readers are weak-minded, they’re popular because readers care.

It shouldn’t be embarrassing to care. You can like popular fiction and still be an intelligent, thoughtful person. My own bookshelves are proof that pink covers can peacefully coexist with scientific tomes. Neither is inherently better. I sincerely don’t love Twilight anymore, but I do love what it once sparked in me. Passion for the printed word should be celebrated, not reviled.

Yes, my dear Mr. White, even if that word ends in –ly.

– Grace


20 thoughts on “I Am Here To Suck Your Blood (and Culture Wars)

  1. Well, some times we grow out of what we like, sometimes we do not, i never out grew buffy the vampire slayer, but some people did, it just depends on what your taste evolves into as you get older.

  2. I read the Twilight series for the first time when I was about fifteen. Now, five years later, I no longer like it. I’m not one of the haters; I’ve read the books and seen the films. I’m not ashamed to admit I read it during one lazy summer and yes, I liked it despite the feminist in me that shouted at me for enjoying it. But part of being a feminist is the ability to make whatever choices we want to make and if reading Twilight is one of those choices, then who am I to judge?

  3. I truly do have passion for the printed word. I think that, despite the fact that it’s Twilight, if it gets people reading then… AWESOME! 😀

  4. Hey, I understand. I really liked Twilight when I first read it. I liked it before it was popular. But, I thought, and still think, that it should have been a stand-alone novel. She should have just turned Bella into a vampire at the end of Twilight and had that be that.

    • I agree. The first and fourth novels could have been combined to make one mediocre-ish book. It was so dragged out… And I have the huge problem where I NEED to finish a books series once I’ve begun, regardless of how much I enjoyed the first one. Sigh, these are the things that plague me.

      • Totally! Though I have to admit I didn’t read the last book the whole way through. My mom gave me a pretty good summary haha

  5. Loved twilight until it got turned into a movie but then when it ended met the next vampire big thing or the Salvatore Brothers. Seemingly virtual supernatural creatures take a big part of our realistic existence! 😛

    • Exactly! Remember the experience. I also read Twilight and liked it. I don’t think I should be ashamed of admitting that. It was a nice story to read at the time. Thankfuly life goes on, times change and new good reads are being published constantly.

  6. I was the same way. I found the first twilight book by accident before it was really known and read it in a day. I was hooked! I read all of the following books in the same manner; sat down and essentially read it cover to cover. Now, I rarely admit to this. I don’t think I would feel the same reading them now but that summer when I first discovered the series, I was enthralled!

  7. I’m a Librarian. Wanna know what the last book I read was? It was a trashy alpha male romance novel and it was a lot of fun. There’s value in ALL literature, because it inspires the creativity and imagination that is present in ALL reading. I love that you’ve been able to find something redeeming in Twilight.

    • I love this comment, because I completely agree. I read ‘trash’ then a neal stephenson book and love both of them AND the juxtaposition. Books are awesome, and anything that gets people into them is a good thing… especially if it can start a chain reaction to read more!

  8. I loved this, because a paraphrased version of your post has come out of my own mouth at various points in the last few years. I loved the Twilight series, for exactly what it was–a paperback, easy to read version of Romeo and Juliet. But you are right in your assertion that it is not easy to write a book that manages to tap into a collective emotion the way that Stephanie Meyers did. Just as it is not easy to tell a mystery with the skill that Dan Brown does. I don’t think either one of them are great writers, but then again, I think Jonathan Franzen is a great writer who is in need of an even greater editor and could do with taking himself a little less seriously. Few and far between are those that can spin a fantastic yarn and make you weep with the beauty of their sentences. And when you do come across such an author, you appreciate them all the more. In between there’s lots of good, bad and eh to fill the gaps.

  9. I think it just becomes easy to hate on the bandwagon that comes along with such a big success story, especially when it isn’t founded upon elaborate writing. There should absolutely be some sort of appreciation for books like that when they clearly have fans for a reason. I enjoyed them the first and only time I read that series. No shame in that!

  10. I absolutely loved this blog post! I can relate to this so much.
    There was a time when I used to read the most sappy romance novels ever. Judith Mcnaught used to be my favorite. I used to give JM novels to every girl I knew. Now, years later, I am made fun of for ever reading those books! It’s insane. I remember all those girls getting hooked to JM novels just like I did yet they call them stupid and unrealistic now and argue that they’re not ‘real literature’. I mean, really. You can enjoy such books and still be an intelligent person. I completely agree! 🙂
    I love your blog. I’m new to this but I hope you visit my blog as well. 🙂

  11. I jumped onto the twilight bandwagon very late in the game (and already in my late 20s!) – I love to read and can be quite a book snob, and had somehow just missed the whole thing. but somehow this book series just sucked me in and made me want to read it all. Its rather badly written half the time, the plot lines do some weird things, but the dialogue that she creates is great and reawakens in me all my teenage day dreams. pure escapism fiction. I think what modern feminism really needs to embrace is diversity in women, and I feel that it is often women that are getting in our own way of achieving equality and respect. who cares if someone likes twilight? bella is an annoying character and sappy to start, but she becomes an amazing kick-arse vampire who saves the day in the end!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s