Rocks and Islands and Christmas CarolsBy:
You know that Simon & Garfunkel song, “I am a Rock”? How it ends with “…and a rock feels no pain and an island never cries”? I’m not proud of it, it’s far from admirable, but that describes my motto pretty well. Keep the things you love close to your heart. Don’t share knowledge that can be used as ammunition against you and you’ll never be hurt.
I received a response from reader Julesames regarding my article “Any Given Saturday” that has been haunting me. No, it was not hurtful or negative. My article had mentioned how I keep secret my fanfiction addiction even while willing the teenage girls I was chaperoning to own up to loving Twilight. I was bemoaning the fact that the girls always crumble like a house of cards anytime the boys start mocking them about it. No one is willing to defend and represent the “I Heart Twilight” side of the argument. I admitted to feeling hypocritical, since I keep my feelings to myself while willing others to go to battle for me.
Julesames’s letter stated that she chose to make a stand. She made no secret of her Twilight love, and as a result, she’s been subject to some criticism from co-workers and family but at the same time she has made several RL friends that share that love. She’s one courageous chick; she knows who she is and she doesn’t hide her true feelings.
…and her bravery made me feel decidedly wimpy.
I know this is a difficult subject, and I’m likely opening myself up to attacks, but I think it’s important to shine a light on this topic…the topic being, simply stated: why are Twilight fans derided to the extent that fans feel it necessary to hide their feelings?
In every fandom there are a few loose screws that take their obsession to a level embarrassing to the rest of us. I’m not writing about them; I’m referring to your average, normal yet quietly obsessed fan that average, normal people out there find necessary to mock and ridicule. (I am a rock; I am an island…)
The amount of vitriol spewed by the media at Twilight fans can be fierce. But those attacks hurt no where near as much as comments made by family and friends, who are no doubt influenced by the media and its obvious distain. It’s not great literature, but then we never claimed it was and neither has Stephenie Meyer. I’m not a newcomer to fanaticism. Honestly I’ve been obsessed by other book series, movies and TV shows in the past, but never before have I experienced the amount of hatred and maliciousness that is often leveled at Twilight fans. I’ve never before been made to feel ashamed of my feelings regarding something I loved.
It almost seems like overkill. I wish I could say to them all: “Ok, ok, we get it! You don’t like Twilight! You think fans of the books are emotional and deluded simpletons. Our devotion to Edward fills you with inexplicable fury. You want us to collectively take a long walk off a short pier.”
But really…why do they care so much? Why spend so much energy hating us? Not everybody loves Star Trek or Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, but do people waste time viciously badmouthing any of them? No, not to the extent of Twilight. Why?
Here’s Hoosier Mama’s theory.
Feel free to accept it, reject it, or ignore it: your choice.
They are chick books and chick flicks. All of the other hugely successful franchises since Star Trek in the 1960’s have been male-dominated. I’m not saying women don’t get fanatical about them; after all, I’ve been to a Star Trek convention, and I saw the original Star Wars movie ten times in the theater. I read J.K. Rowling’s first two books to my kids at bedtime while excitedly recommending them to my friends who would routinely ask me, “Harry…who?”
Women aren’t supposed to have obsessions, unless they are male-approved, and then we are welcome to jump on the band wagon. Even Harry Potter got the seal of approval by obsessed boys, but Twilight? It’s not male-approved. Most guys don’t get it and there are only a few that have actually “stooped” to read it. Because Twilight is a romance whose fans are primarily women, some men, without even realizing why they feel that way, think it must be torn down off its pedestal. If they don’t like it, and would never read it, then nobody else should either. It bothers them that their opinion is so totally discounted by diehard fans.
Then there’s the whole other stigma that I haven’t mentioned yet; it’s the 800 lb. gorilla sitting unnoticed on top of our computer screens. Not only are we Twilight fans, we’re also obsessed with fanfiction. I suppose this makes us doubly cursed. In the opinion of the bashers, we’re doubly afflicted with poor taste. If we can’t share our love of Twilight without feeling belittled, there’s no way we would open ourselves up to the avalanche of criticism we would be buried under by professing a love of fanfiction.
If I’m right and the bashing is a result of it being a chick book, how then do I explain the fact that out of the four women in my office who read the books at my enthusiastic urging, three of the women hated them? I can’t explain it. Maybe I work with a bunch of cantankerous, opinionated pragmatists without a single romantic feeling to be found in their cold, cold hearts. (Forgive me. It’s possible I’m still slightly bitter…) Would I recommend fanfiction to any of them? Hell no! Not in a million years. In fact, I’ll never again recommend a book I love to any of my co-workers. I’ve learned it’s entirely too painful. (I am a rock; I am an island…)
The one good result from all the Twilight bashing is the creation of a close-knit community of fans. Because we’ve circled the wagons to protect ourselves from the antagonism of the outside world, we’ve become our own cheerleaders, supporters and ultimately…friends.
So the next time someone you know starts a Twilight-bashing rampage, smile a secret smile at the poor deluded moron. Your place is secure in the huge Twilight fanfiction community, an island where you can express your true feelings in safety with your fellow world-weary fans, where there’s always another fic to read, another review to write…and where you are always welcome.
Did You Have a Merry Christmas?
A Very Cullen Christmas Carol
(Sung to the tune of Away in a Manger)
Away with my fam’ly; no Wi-Fi is near.
This means no fanfiction ‘til Sunday next year.
Withdrawal will be painful; I ask thee to pray
That sanity comes back to me some sweet day.
Away with the Cullens! We wish we could be
Off reading fanfiction alone happily.
Instead we’re with Grandma who won’t understand
When we disappear to hook up new broadband.
Away with their fam’lies; no authors are here.
This means no fic updates for long weeks I fear.
Oh authors! Take pity! Your readers are glum.
Please come back and write ‘til your fingers go numb.
Wishing you every fluffy happiness from my family to yours – Hoosier Mama
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