Hearting the Twilight Fang-Girls

Hearting the Twilight Fang-Girls

Nov 24

“OK,” wheezed the beleaguered usher. “Once the movie starts…no more yelling!!!”

Naturally, they didn’t listen.

They screamed when the lights went down. They screamed when the credits floated onscreen, curlicue-laden, gothy font and all. They screamed for Jacob, flowing-tressed heartthrob in the making.

“Oh, shit,” I whispered to Kelly. “I’m scared of what’s gonna happen when Edward shows up.”

Well, duh. Banshee wails, awesome in their pure, gut-wrenching hysteria.

I have a weird relationship with Twilight. The sheer junk foodiness of the proceedings made me hate myself a little while I was reading through the saga. I had many winding conversations with people about how the books are, well, Not Good, Exactly, yet boast a fiendishly addictive quality not unlike the lardy, chemical-infused cream filling so favored by Hostess snack foods. In the end, I retain an undeniable affection for the thing. Everyone who’s labeled it fanfic is pretty right on, but in a way, I think that’s its genius and chief appeal: it is the ultimate Mary Sue fanfic, no holds barred. The movie does a nice job of distilling that appeal into a swooning ode to romantic breathiness and guys with amazing cheekbones. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Here’s my favorite review I’ve read so far, courtesy of pal/Twilight viewing companion Sarah O.

That’s not really what I want to talk about, though. No, I want to discuss an aspect of The Hype/Backlash to the Hype that’s been bothering me for a while and reached a fever pitch when I had the chance to view the movie as it’s meant to be viewed: in a theater with a bunch of willing-to-go-with-it friends and a gaggle of excitable 13-year-olds.

See, I’m bothered by the strong vitriol some folks — particularly those amongst my geeky brethren and sistren — seem to have for Twilight fans. Hate on the property all you want — that’s always allowed, certainly, and I probably agree with at least a couple of your points. But there’s this weird, dismissive attitude that comes out whenever Twilight‘s legions of teen fang-girls get brought up and it’s kind of pissing me off.

Look: as geeks, we are passionate about many things. They are not always good. Some of them are downright stupid. We express that passion in different ways — writing, zineing, costuming, buying shit we do not need. The Twilight girls…do that stuff, too. They have that same passion. Even if you don’t like the thing they’re passionate about…they’re also geeks. We all have a kinship. Are they easier to make fun of because they’re teenage girls? Because they scream a lot? Because they get starry-eyed over the notion of cute boys who sparkle in the sun?

I was excited to watch this movie with them because of all those things. Even though Twilight fandom is not necessarily my fandom (or if it is, it’s in a weird way that’s not as pure as it is for true Bellaheads), I can understand how they feel. I’m thrilled that they feel that way. I loved that they were screaming about seeing their favorite characters from a book brought to life.

So if you’re inclined to hate on them…I don’t know. Just think about it for a minute. Think about the passion you have for your stuff. Think about how the Mundanes in your life have, at one point or another, probably made fun of you for that.

I suppose this is starting to sound a little overly-serious, but one thing I love most deeply about fandom is the ability to connect through our level of commitment to whatever-it-is, even as we disagree with one another over various pressing issues within genre entertainment. Respect the Twilighters, is what I’m saying. They opened a fucking movie. They made Hollywood see that stuff aimed at teenage girls is more than viable. They’ve earned it.


  1. Yes! You’ve said what I’ve been wanting to say, with more credibility (because I personally know that any kind of story involving sparkly vampires would have me clawing my face off and that I would have hated it EVEN MORE when I was sixteen and into college basketball and technothrillers).

    Still, this reminds me a little of the conversations among more mainstream (non-geeky) moviegoers when ‘Titanic’ came out.

  2. Nice one! 🙂

  3. Ben

    Sorry, but even though I was excited beyond belief to discover that there was actually going to be a Star Trek: NEXT generation, I never squealed when it came on my screen for the first time.

    Chicks, man.

  4. Mike Miller

    Good point. As they say, “To each their own” the fang-girls are more than welcome to swoon away over their blood sucking Jonas brother.

    I mean who am I to judge, I watch Smallville…

  5. Amanda

    You want to divide a room of librarians? Bring up Twilight and some will release an intense hatred beyond all sense. Even when it’s bringing readers into the library we haven’t seen since they turned six. I don’t get the hate.

  6. Well said. I now feel a bit guilty because I was a bit unforgiving to the hardcore Twilight fans when I blogged about the movie today. I’ll say this: I respect their enthusiasm if nothing else. It’s powerful. Listening to them go off like a bomb at certain points in the film was amazing and that’s something I shied away from discussing, maybe because it was kinda positive. Normally, I go to screaming-movies that are very squarely aimed at me, which means that I’m the irrational cheerer, and so it’s really neat to see this from an outsider’s perspective. So I’m sorry, fang-girls, even though your movie was pretty bad. You kids are all right.

  7. I’m still completely unaware of Twilight – and to be fair, I’m not interested in finding out, really. I’m more interested that something apparently so huge only hit my radar three months ago. If it were a meteor, my inner Morgan Freeman would be headed to the bunkers while my inner Téa Leoni wept on the beaches of, I dunno, my heart… or something.

  8. You’re right, Sarah. I have been TwiBashing, and I see now that I was wrong.

    Physician, Heal Thyself.

  9. Sarah, this was a brilliant piece, as usual, because it did something relatively important–it detached the idea that kids are excited about Twilight (overall, a good thing) from the idea of Twilight itself as entertainment/art (which seems overall a pretty bad thing based on everything I’ve seen).

    I think it’s saying something that we’ve reached a point in our culture when the matinee idol of the screaming teen set is a freaking VAMPIRE. Girls may have screamed for Bela Lugosi or Christopher Lee, but for completely different reasons.

  10. Pokemon Geek

    Pikachu I choose you!

  11. Kelly

    I agree. It’s amazing that something this big has come out of teen BOOK culture. Anything that raises awareness among teens or adults about a teen book is a great thing for me.

    I also hope that more people will see Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist when it hits DVD and that more producers will look for interesting teen books that could make good movies — genre or not.

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