Monday, October 18, 2010

On Twi-Bashing and the esteem of young women.

Sometimes I wonder if people don't have something better to do with their time than bash Twilight.

I know it's not a perfect series. But really. The intense Twi-bashing is starting to seem a little overkill.

But there's more to it. I work in Jr. High ministry. I care a LOT about jr. high girls. And when people use unkind language to bash the book that a lot of these girls adore, it starts to feel like an attack on these girls. And you know what? Sometimes it is.

And it's pointless. You can never change whether or not someone likes something by bashing it! They'll just get defensive. And if you're not trying to change their minds, what are you doing other than letting off your own negative feelings in a public way? Which really doesn't do anything other than a) stir up more negativity and b) hurt the feelings of any fans who happen to overhear you.

Well tough? Not so. Teen girls suffer from some of the lowest esteem of any group in the world and bashing their favorite book with cruel jeering words is NOT helpful. When you bash something that someone likes, you essentially bash that person's essence. (And remember how many of them are your friends on facebook, please!)

It'll hurt them and it won't change their minds. Again, what is the point?

I understand many of you need to let off steam about bad grammar and Edward being a stalker... I have my own rant needs at times. But the trick is making sure that your rant listeners are those who sympathize with you, or have given you permission to go off on a rant.

So please, have some consideration and do it in private with people you KNOW share your feelings. And then, please be respectful of the real people involved. Stephanie Meyers is a human being and child of God and deserves to be treated as such. Teenage girls are young women struggling to understand themselves and their place in the world. They are learning to make wise decisions. They also deserve kindness and encouragement, rather than derision. Do they sometimes make silly decisions? Heck yes! Good grief, I once was a silly teenage girl myself and I didn't start thinking clearly until I entered college! Thank God I was surrounded by people who guided me and built me up, rather than telling my that my obsession with Tudor England was insane and dangerous! For the record, I turned out just fine despite spending most of my pre-teen years reading about those messed up family politics!

(Random: Henry VIII or Edward Cullen? Hmmm...)

I'm not saying that I'm perfect. When surrounded by Twi-haters I do tend to go with the flow. But I'm not saying that it's right. I'm sick of the name-calling and put downs - even in private.

We're better than this, aren't we?

Instead of bashing Twilight, why not write your own series? Or if you're not a writer, find some really good books (like Regina Doman's Fairy Tale Novels or Robin McKinley's Beauty) to recommend instead.

Believe it or not, it is hard to find good young adult romances. Teen girls actually don't have limitless variety to choose from. A lot (I could even say the majority) of young adult romances are crass, boring and cheesy. Twilight at least aspires to be classical, poetical, and uphold some semblance of virtue.

I'm not saying it is an emblem of perfection. But I've been investigating what young teens actually have to choose from, and once you exhaust Austen and Bronte, the pickings are slim. I can understand why they would turn to Twilight with an exclamation of delight and relief. (Especially since it's a series that understands and borrows themes from Austen and Bronte!)

You don't have to love Twilight. You don't have to like it. But please, think before you speak, and consider that this is a subject dear to the heart of many young women, and there are better ways to help them than using negative words.


Hydra said...

I agree with you. No one should insult anyone or hurt anyone's feelings in a case like this.

However, I completely understand why some people would fly off the handle about Twilight. Personally, I have never seen the movies or read the books. But from what I can tell, they are certainly not for impressionable teenaged minds.

My favorite movie reviewer, Steven Greydanus of the National Catholic Register, wrote some articles about Twilight - the books and the movies. Here's one article. Links to the others are at the bottom of the page:

Cecile said...

Thank you so much for writing such a thoughtful post about this topic. It is true that attacks on Twilight often turn into attacks on the girls who love it. This isn't that different from the distaste more "enlightened" people express towards pop stars, homemaking, poetry, fairy tales, and the color pink. The books are far more controversial than those things, of course, but it seems like there would be less hubbub if the books weren't so "girly". Items that attract a passionate following of girls and women are so often looked down upon. I find this frustrating and sad.

I read the Twilight books, found they didn't do anything for me, and forgot about them. However, I completely agree with your point that one should never put down another person's taste. One should only comment if the person wishes to harm herself or others because of the material. I'm glad that you are championing the feelings of your junior high girls! (sorry this was such a long comment!)

Christina said...

Good thoughts, Elena. I agree completely that ranting and nay-saying a book just make people defensive about what they like.

The problematic bit is that many people who love Twilight consider any bit of negativity or criticism (even if its presented in a good way) as terrible and hurtful to them. That's not the fault of the criticizer. Criticism is a good thing, if done correctly!

It's just that when people get offended if someone says, "I don't enjoy Stephanie Meyers' writing", it's not wrong of the person who said it to say such a thing. You can't go about walking on eggshells and not having any opinions.

Elenatintil said...

Christina -

I am certainly not saying that people can't say "I don't enjoy Stephanie Meyer's Writing." They have every right to have their own opinion and say so.

My issue is with those who use inflammatory language, and put down others. I am suspicious that the girls who react the way you mention do so because they've heard SM and Twilight put down so harshly. (also perhaps because their parents never taught them moderation, but I think that's the parents fault, not the teens).

Do people sometimes overreact for no good reason? Yes. I've seen it happen. People can be unreasonable about anything. But I'm not talking about others, I'm talking about our own individual responsibility. We can't set our standards by how others treat us - we have to act in such a way that they will see us as people worthy of respect.

Am I perfect at that? No way. But it's been a big lesson for me this year and something I feel strongly about.

Cor Mariae said...

wow---what a rant. ;) very interesting, and I think pretty much true. charity, charity, charity!! ;) I usually find Twi-"bashing" to be quite funny because of how I have heard it done---in a very sarcastic hilarious manner. if however I ever heard someone truly *attacking* it, I wouldn't defend it (because I don't necessarily like twilight myself) but I hope I would have the courage to ask them to keep things charitable. :) I know how *I* would feel if someone started bashing the thief books or some other series dear to me. :P

I'm catching up on your blog btw... ;D I never noticed that you had little boxes you could check under posts!!! exciting.. ;d

:-* CM