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Do Twilight Haters Hate the Female Fantasy?

Come on, 'fess up. Are you a Twilight hater?

The latest installment of the series, Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part I, was released over the weekend, and raked in more than $283.5 million worldwide ($139.5 million in the United States alone, that's the fifth-best opening weekend ever).

Surely a sparkly movie that made $283.5 million in a weekend can't be wrong, but if you talked to a Twilight hater (including many professional film critics - Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune said that watching Twilight made it seem like "time itself begins to crawl backward"), you'd be surprised at the virulence of their contempt.

But why all that hate? Erika Christakis of TIME Magazine thinks it's all about hating the female fantasy:

Why is it that female fantasies are such a source of derision and fear? The male species is allowed all manner of violent, creepy, ludicrous and degrading movie tropes, and while we may not embrace them as high art, no one questions them seriously as entertainment, even when sometimes we probably should. (Violent imagery is, after all, associated with violent behavior.) You want to saw someone in half or put their head in a vice? Showcase naked strippers as a fake plot device? Pair a beautiful and successful career woman with a slovenly, unemployed man? Pretend you are Wolverine? Go right ahead. We know you can’t really be serious. But watch a tender wedding night between a virginal, undead superhero and his teenage, human bride, and the scolds come out in force. Are parents worried that their teenage daughter actually wants to be impregnated by a 100-year-old vampire who can crush a headboard with his hands (and perform an emergency C-section with his teeth)?

Maybe part of the reason critics deplore these movies is not only because they are so unfamiliar with kooky heterosexual female fantasies but also because they don’t really like what these fantasies say about men.

Link | See also The 7 Harshest Critics' Jabs at Breaking Dawn


I will be completely honest. I love the Twilight books. The movies don't usually meet the same expectations. That's why they say 'based on the novel'. I also think that some men will have a problem with this story, as Edward is written as the perfect man. He loves Bella and constantly tells her, there is no sex until marriage, he believes in love and honour, loves to sit and talk with her etc, etc. I think any man would have a hard time living up to that. And a woman would be soft in the head to expect all that from a man. There are times in the books where I think it is too over the top with the expressions of love. Too Mills and Boon at times. Still, I can't wait to see the new film.
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I've never read the books and never will (I'm a guy and a Dresden Files fan), but I think a big part of it is just that some of the Twilight fans tend to take it way, way more seriously than any of the rest of us regard those "male fantasies". There's a deeper emotional attachment there for some fans that just makes the rest of us feel those people and the entire Twilight community are, frankly, bonkers. If the fans took it more in good humor and as light fantasy like most people do with other materials, there wouldn't be such a stigma.
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There are a lot of things to legitimately dislike about Twilight, from its turgid writing to the characters to the bad lessons it teaches about relationships. But I do feel like the Twilight hate has an extra, unnecessary edge to it. You would think it'd be too hard to go too far in criticizing something like Twilight, and yet people seem to pull it off.

@dev:

Having just visited some forums about D&D earlier today, I can tell you that male fantasies can be every bit as passionately ridiculous as female ones.
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Actually, people hate Twilight because the sexual revolution happened. The sex scene has been described as "rapey". Also, in Bella's case, abortion would have been a very good idea.

As somebody who has always found vampires to be fun simply for the fact that they're oversexualized, I was totally shocked to find out that somebody wrote a love story about a chaste vampire. Vampires books were written back when pornography wasn't allowed, neck biting was metaphor for intercourse. Mormons shouldn't be allowed to hijack their mythos and tell little girls it's their dream to quit high school to run away and make babies with a guy who gives you validation. Plus...Edward and Bella's relationship is missing something really important to any good relationship. namely, a sense of humor?
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As a female, I have no problem with the fantasy of the perfect man caring for the browbeaten woman. I love cinderella. What I DO have a serious problem with, besides the atrocious writing, is the incredibly unhealthy nature of their relationship which is demonstrated again and again. And the fact that there are teenage girls who go out there and demand their men act more like those who would stalk them, lie to them, and demean them. That their heroine is someone who cannot make any decisions and instead just goes along with what the men tell her. That evil people are only those who don't agree with or like you. THAT is why these stories are so toxic. It is not the fantasy, it is not the vampires (if you can really call them that).
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I'm not a fan of the series. It's just not my demographic. I don't hate on pulp novels, they are what they are. I'd be a liar and a hypocrite if I said I had never relished a cheesy "men's adventure" novel or two.

That being said, I think the perspective here is really interesting. I had not considered the "Twilight" story through the lens of female fantasy. That angle explains a lot, and also why I have not put much thought into "Twilight" thus far.

Quite interesting.
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Meyers is smart as hell in creating a female character void of any overlying (or arguably underlying) personality--it's really clever, and not a bad thing, but an intentional thing, I think. Any reader can step into the role of Bella. She is intentionally non-descript, the flip-side of that is that Bella's character is extremely problematic when it's analyzed critically. To disagree with the article, I'm way more concerned about what this particular female fantasy says about women than men. It says women MUST have a man in their lives and their lives MUST revolve around them. Moreover, it creates a female character lead who has no goals, interests, ambitions or even personality beyond what is reflected through her interactions with men. And yes, I've read them all. I'm genuinely bothered by it because I can't overlook the implications of her character. Then again, I'm one of those hyper-analytical English profs. But to look at another angle...who cares, because more people are reading...a win in itself. In truth all fantasies have the touch of the ridiculousness in them; it's what makes them fantasies. I'm just not fond of the implications of this one. So I admit, I'm a Twilight hater, but not for the reasons Erica Christakis points out.
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At this point, I believe I've gone through all the stages of Twilight. I have three adolescent daughters. At first I was just glad they were enthusiastically reading anything. Then as I learned more about the story, I was concerned. But the constant Twilight talk gave us an opportunity to discuss relationships, boys, violence, literature, literary criticism, horror, romance, etc etc. By now, they seem to have outgrown the Twilight saga and have moved on to reading a variety of books for pleasure. They plan to see the new movie, but can wait until the crowds die down this time around. So I think it was a learning experience for all of us.
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The problem I have with the book is that it takes for granted that all females have the same fantasy and the same "ideal" man. Furthermore, its heroine is defined by her "hero." She depends entirely on him to fulfill her and without him lacks character, strength, depth, or free will. This kind of dependence on someone is unhealthy. To let yourself be defined by someone is unhealthy.

The book tells girls that their lives have no meaning unless they find a perfect man and this is not only absolute rubbish, but very dangerous. Meyer preys on the insecurities of young girls in order to profit.

All this aside, I found the books poorly written and populated by unsympathetic and, frankly, boring characters.
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Hate is a strong word. I hate partisan politics. I hate bullies. I hate lima beans. I don't hate Twilight books or movies. I am annoyed by the whole vampire-as-hero genre, but mostly I ignore it, hoping it will go away and not be replaced by something even more ludicrous. I am female, BTW.
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First off, I think the Twilight saga is one of the most anti-feminist works to emerge recently. The heroine is nothing but a Mary Sue. Totally devoid of personality. She depends on her man. Instead of creating an identity and life for herself, she adopts that of her new beau and his family. And the whole wait-until-marriage thing is fine, I guess, but it's a little bit too Mormon for my taste, and I find it unrealistic. Aside from all that, for Christ's sake, the vampires sparkle. I started reading the first book just to see what all the hubbub was about and couldn't get past the fifth chapter. Lines like, "...my stomach was full---full of BUTTERFLIES" are absolutely aneurysm-inducing.
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Maybe I'm a little strange, but my teenage fantasy was to find a man who would take care of me, and I would take care of him as well. An equal partnership?

Being completely taken care of and overshadowed by a man is such a lazy and indulgent fantasy.
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I do think the Twilight series is anti-feminist, but that doesn't necessarily make it not a female fantasy perspective. I definitely think there is something to this argument - it is a departure from just about everything out there, especially for teens. It isn't the healthiest fantasy (like in the second one when she freaking jumps off a cliff...) but still. I also think it's fostering some pretty awful relationship ideals.

I mean really. Most boys don't sparkle.
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Seriously, these movies are horrid.
I agree with the subject of the article to an extent; there should be equality between movies of male fantasies and female fantasies,but the reason haters hate Twilight is that it's a really-REALLY-really bad movie.
I knew it was going to be bad from seeing the trailer. It just had that 'WB' and 'CW' sheen to it that spells awful. I had no idea how bad when I finally watched it( only with Rifftrax of course). The acting, writing, directing, pacing,etc.,etc.-everything- is mind-numbingly bad, bland, idiotic and juvenile.
It's like it's made for really stupid and superficial people who never saw a real, quality film and wouldn't understand one and probably hate it if they did see one.
And I understand that it's made mostly for pre-teen and teen girls - but y'know, so was Princess Bride, Labyrinth and Legend in the 80s and those films were great! Hell, Lost Boys was better than Twilight fer god's sake!
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Pretending Twilight is a universal female fantasy is an insult to women.

Sure, lots of women like it. But 50% of the population is below average. Lots of people like nacho cheese that you dispense with a pump at the convenient store.

Something deserves praise if it elevates; if it just caters to the lame, then it doesn't matter how many tickets it sells--it still sucks.
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Hmm, I loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Interview with a Vampire, Dracula, Being Human (UK & US). Respect for True Blood.

Twilight and the Vampire Dairies are just TWEEN female mindless SCHLOCK. Even when I was a teen and would've has options, I'd have ignored or hated this thing.
Lowest common denominator prevails in this day and age. See Jersey Shore.
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I dislike Twilight in the same manner that chicks would dislike Fried Green Tomatoes done in Michael Bay fashion. Vampires are supposed to be scary, nasty, evil critters.
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firstly, what everyone else above said: it's a crappy movie and it's surly no feminist literature.
secondly, even if it is female fantasy: i do also frown upon certain movies which have only the purpose of delivering the goods to men. that's what intenet porn and privacy are for. movie tickets are are too expensive for pure hornyness, at least for me. i'd like to get some lasting impression for my money.
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"Violent imagery is, after all, associated with violent behavior." No it's not, at least the consumption of the imagery is not. Isn't it time we got over the whole "Violent images made him do it" fairy tale? With an cliched image about men like that, it's understandable that that reporter (and twilight'S fanbase) needs her infantile version of the castrated slave of her wishes. which shows it: twilight is not like action or horror. it's like certain other cheap media, demeaning to both genders and to be watched in private, with a tissue.
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Women fantasize about having obsessive and abusive stalker boyfriends who they'd rather kill themselves than live without?

This is why I hate being a female.

Not to mention the writing is awful and Bella is a Mary Sue to the max.
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uuuh uuuhh they hate what I love so they are a bunch of sexists/racists/whatever I can play a card of.

Come on. People hate it because it's a cheesy drama about a sparkling vampire. Guys don't hate it because girls love it, which is what she's saying, which is ridiculous
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I just find it hard to relate to a "heroine" who is in actuality the villain of the piece. Her motivations are purely selfish, she steamrolls through the lives of everyone around her hellbent, literally hellbent, on getting only what she wants, which is simply, to become a monster. She wants that brass ring of immortality so damn much, she'll push and needle the man she supposedly loves into going against everything he believes to give it to her. She drives her dad nuts with her mood swings and reckless behaviour, she ignores her friends, she dumps the guy who helped her get over losing the man who left her for her own good, she sees firsthand the manipulation and violence of the Volturi, knowing the family she's about to marry into won't stand up to them, will accept them slaughtering a tour bus load of men women and children and just keep walking, will accept their judgements no matter how evil... and for what? So she can be a wife forever and ever and ever. No other ambitions than that? At all?

How can you look at her and not see the next head of the Volturi? She's a runaway train of id.

It'd be funny if it weren't so creepy.
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Wow. An article purporting to be about female empowerment that is:
- paternalistic ("*THE* female fantasy"),
- full of strawmen (are there other movies that are targeted specifically at female experience, which are nonetheless appreciated by men? Obviously, yes. Even some including vampires, I'll guess, based on how much I appreciated some of the A. Rice Mayfair Witches /books/.)
- condescending (a quick look at the reviews suggests that people seem to dislike the bad dialog, bad acting, but she nonetheless blames it on failings of the viewers who don't share her views)
- hypocritical (so having eye-candy for men is absurd, but she'll gush over Robert P's looks?)
- revealing about her own past (the weird 'guys demanding oral sex in a high-school parking lot' tangent)

No, I hated the movie because it moved like a very slow train-wreck, to be sure to include enough religious propaganda...because the dialog was absurd and unrealistic...and *in spite* of some of the eye candy for men (and in spite of the supposed male-appealing violence).

I hated the movie because the acting was horrendous. (Well, not all of it. The "father" vampire actually does a fine job. And R.P. isn't a bad actor. And Bella's mother does a good job with bad lines.)

I hated the movie, but was disappointed (seeing it in Manila) to not hear one person in the theater express a hunger for diniguan afterwards.

(Now, I'm off to read everyone else's comments, to see how redundant I've been.)
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@Ewen: yeah, but D&D obsessors aren't exactly well respected either, and more importantly, it's not nearly as big of a group. Since it's an isolated fantasy obsession (both in terms of small group size and the fact that it's mainly behind closed doors, like "true" otaku), it's equally derided by many people, but seen as sad/pitiful instead of outright hated.

The craziest D&D people I've met, you wouldn't let get close enough to hate. :)
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I don't hate the movies and I'll admit that I probably would've loved all of it if I was still a teenager.
I just don't think the story is any good. I've seen the first 2 movies and yeah, that was much more than enough.
I'm all for the female fantasy so long as it's good... such as True Blood.
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Putting aside all the other things blatantly wrong with this movie, such as the mediocre acting & rapey sex scenes, this movie breaks certain film rules for incorporating Vampires. Vampires DO NOT shimmer. Case closed.
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My problem with the entire series is 2 things.
1) Stalking and emotional abuse should not be shown to be a good thing. Especially since these are supposed to be written for the young adult crowd.
2) She has no purpose. Her goal in life is to be a boys shadow.
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My problem with these books & movies is simply that they're just not good. Whatever widespread appeal or controversy they may have stirred up, the fact remains that they are a poor excuse for writing & film making. Condescending and formulaic are two words that easily come to mind... The vampire genre as a whole is dumber for having endured them - and the same can be said about Twi-hards.
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Attention grabbing title making wild generalizations - check.

I hate Twilight because it has bipolar and conflicting themes and characterizations, dialogue is terrible and sometimes repeats narrative that already happened, thus watering down any mystery for readers to find.

Bella is 1-dimensionally infatuated-yet-remarkably-emotionless vehicle into which female readers can insert their psyche, a complete Mary Sue, pursues her relationship with an inconsistent lover to the detriment of everything else in her life but doesn't suffer a pints worth of guilt or consequence unless it directly involves Edward or werewolf Calvin Klein jeans model.

The only thing I will praise Meyers for is getting more young girls to pick up reading. It's her franchises only redeeming contribution to our culture. At least these youth will pick up better literature eventually for taking an interest.
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Female fantasies suck! At least with male fantasies someone winds up dead and the other victorious. In female fantasies the female remains a perpetual victim while the man is held rapt with guilt at the injustices incurred by the woman. I think I'd rather be dead.
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As a woman who loathes the Twilight "saga", I can say with absolute clarity that treating the story as a sappy romantic fantasy is as much a misinterpretation as assuming "More than Words" by Xtreme is a love song just because the tune sounds pretty.

The story is filled with juvenile wish-fulfillment, selfish manipulation and ruthless self-aggrandizement, all wrapped up in a package delivered by a cypher clearly intended to make the reader or viewer take on that persona for the duration of the fantasy.

It's a terrible lesson for adolescent girls (hook up with the stalker monster and let him do all the work rather than making something of yourself), and the writing and acting is mostly abysmal.

There are plenty more romances out there that have substance and female protagonists with agency that are much more satisfying. That's why this woman loathes Twilight.
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OMG what is wrong with everyone... it's called a good story and entertainment. It always amuses me when people find it necessary to make rude and snide comments about Meyer's writing.... (and this includes the so called critics) — it sounds like jealousy and sour grapes! Guess what? You were not smart enough or clever enough to come up with another twist on the Vampire genre that could make you millionaires, but she was... so give the lady a little credit.
Here's a suggestion... if you don't like it... DON'T READ IT — if you hate the story.... DON'T BLOODY WELL GO AND SEE THE MOVIE, leave it to those who do like it. Perhaps all you haters need to find something to do with all the spare time you seem to have — instead of obsessing over the Twilight books and movies perhaps a little charity work is in order. Come on all jokes aside, it's all being taken way too seriously!! Olga from Sydney Australia
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I appreciate the feelings of many of the self-titled feminists and film critics who dislike the series. The the films are certainly not everyone's taste.

That said, I've felt I could relate to the female character and the direction of the films. I don't look at the movie as being a "role model movie." I see Bella as insecure and obsessive. Isn't that a unique description that sets her apart from all you strong ladies? She comes from a broken home and her mother clearly revolves around her husband. Again, don't you have a friend with a mom like that, perhaps who turned out like her mom?

For my part, I can relate with getting dumped, being melancholy, and deciding between what's good for me and what's dangerous. It's a classic choice many women make. Having chosen my own Jacob to marry, I look back at that time when I had that passion, the lust, the confusion in my life. Tweens? Hah, I wish. I call it my 20's, and these movies bring back that energy. A true escape and one that you want to experience. That time in my life was so exciting.

The movies are also well done. The acting is good, the soundtracks are good, the cinematography is decent. The dialogue, which could incite laughter in its silliness, I can forgive in the same way I forgive George Lucas when I watch Star Wars. It's all in good fun.

And finally, if you're really concerned that Bella isn't a good role model, you can always explain to your daughter that Bella could end up damned, with a vampire-made c-section, unable to enjoy life as she is now walking dead. :)
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