being a mom

More Arguments About Why The Twilight Backlash Sucks, Courtesy Of The Series Writer Melissa Rosenberg

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The other day I wrote about why I felt we need to back off Twilight and making all of the young girls who love the franchise feel bad for how much they like it. As a mom of a daughter, even though I may not understand her adoration of certain pop culture (Hello, Monster High!) I try to respect her interests and appreciation of things, even though I may find them disagreeable in some way. I wasn’t expecting the sort of conversations that have arisen due to my Twilight backlash piece. Some of you basically told me to eff off, and some of you agreed with me, and some of you brought to light all sorts of interesting talking points about feminism and literature. I think we can all agree that we need more books and movies for women, about women, created by women. Jezebel directed me to this great interview with Melissa Rosenberg, who wrote the screenplays for the Twilight movies, and I think it articulates exactly why I suggested we back off girls for loving the Twilight series. From IndireWire.com:

WaH: Going back to Twilight for a second, I watched a lot of the craziness unfolding this summer with Kristen Stewart and thought people were incredibly hard on her. And I’m wondering if you had any thoughts being a woman in Hollywood why we are so hard on our women.

MR: Well, I mean, I’ll take it one step broader, they’re extremely hard on Twilight.  When you start to read the criticism of Twilight it’s just vitriol, it’s intense, the contempt.  From critics both men and women. And it’s interesting, you know, there’s a Harvard professor, who wrote an article after the Breaking Dawn called “The Bigotry of Hating Twilight,” and it was very interesting to me.  We’ve seen more than our fair share of bad action movies, bad movies geared toward men or 13-year old boys. And you know, the reviews are like okay that was crappy, but a fun ride. But no one says “Oh my god. If you go to see this movie you’re a complete fucking idiot.”  And that’s the tone, that is the tone with which people attack Twilight.

WaH: I write about that all the time the double standard.

MR: Good. I’m so glad. It’s an incredible double standard. I’m not saying that Twilight is, you know, some brilliant Oscar-winner, it’s not Dr. Zhivago. It’s not trying to be. Because it is a female fantasy. I would argue that it’s actually a universal fantasy.  Which is, the fantasy being to be loved and cherished for exactly who you are. And that I would say is both male and female, but women are drawn to it.

WaH: And also I think that guys don’t like women treading on their space.

MR: Right. It’s also because it’s female it’s worthy of contempt. Because it feels female, it is less than.  And that is simply a reflection of our society. That’s not relegated to just movies. That’s just a reflection of why we have so few senators and why we haven’t had a female president yet. It’s reflected all over in board rooms…

I still stand by my original argument that we can discuss whether elements of the story are damaging to young girls, we can suggest better fiction alternatives for our daughters, and that there needs to be stronger female characters for our girls to be able to relate to. But like Melissa Rosenberg says so eloquently above, we need to stop making girls feel “Because it feels female, it is less than.” Sadly, a lot of the backlash against Twilight comes down to that very simple idea. Yes, as the writer of the series I’m sure it makes sense she is defensive about it, but I can’t argue against the points she is making, because I basically felt the same way in my article that I wrote here.

Bella Swan isn’t Jane Eyre or even Katniss Everdeen. She probably has more in common with Sleeping Beauty or another damsel-in-distress archetype. But if we continue making our daughters feel “less than” for liking a female-centric series like Twilight, how can we ever have hope that they will one day, on their own laptops or with a pen and spiral-bound notebook in hand, create better?

(photo: amazon)