The Watchtower of Destruction: The Ferrett's Journal - Conservatives and Obama, Us and Twilight: A Further Follow-Up
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Conservatives and Obama, Us and Twilight: A Further Follow-Up|
The good news is, I’ve talked to Republicans, and it turns out none of them are racist.
Now, you might think many are racist, given the harsh reaction they’ve had to Obama, a black president – getting vitriolically angry at him for doing many things that they had little vocal complaint about when Bush was doing the exact same things.
But when I talk to conservatives, what it turns out is that every single complaint they have against Obama is entirely justified by Obama’s damaging policies. They can talk for hours about how what they’re against is Obama’s actions – which, given that they’re Republicans, it seems pretty reasonable that they’d oppose a Democratic President. And since their complaints are based entirely on the laws that Obama’s trying to pass, as are the complaints of all their friends, they assure me confidently there’s no racial component.
Certainly they’re rationalist Republicans. After all, they’re debating me in my rather liberal journal – clearly not a comfort zone for them – and they have many long, thoughtful screeds on why Obama’s proposed laws and policies would do harm.
Therefore, all Republicans are like them.
Oh, sure, there may be a couple of racist mails passed back and forth, and a few embarrassing signs, but those aren’t representative of the true conservative party. Most of the conservatives oppose Obama based on nothing more than sheer disdain for his policies – a sane, rationalist approach.
Which is good news. Because what I was thinking in my foolishness was that yes, the conservatives almost certainly had some valid complaints against Obama. But could it not also be that for many – and not necessarily those who comment here, but not necessarily not – their legitimate complaints are aggravated because of hidden racial sentiment in a way where they wouldn’t freak the fuck out if it was an old white guy in charge like Bush? That it’s easier for them to complain about a black guy?
I thought it likely, given the consistent pattern of alienation and repetition – Obama is not a real American, he’s a Muslim, he hates the flag – that for many, these legitimate complaints are inflamed by an undercurrent that many of them aren’t even willing to look at, turning everyday gripes about the current leader into OMG HE’S RUINING AMERICA. That there’s some ugly stuff there that might be deserved to look at, even though much of what they say is true.
But as it turns out, there’s one of two sides: either they’re all redneck racists and as such none of their complaints is worth a damn thing, or they’re all very rational people who’ve been inflamed by a particularly confrontational President. You have to choose one.
It can’t be so complex as to that they can have both legitimate complaints and racism.
Now. For “Obama,” read “Twilight.” For “racism,” read “misogyny.”
Some people sailed magnificently past my comments that Twilight had some really difficult issues involved to settle, rather dimly, on the interpretation that “Ferrett thinks Twilight deserves a pass on its female issues.” Which is distinctly not true.
Yes, I’m sure you have some good reasons to hate Twilight. It’s eminently hateable. It’s got some really fucked-up issues with regards to female empowerment (or lack thereof) and the prose is amazingly bad, and Edward’s stalkery creepdom. Yes, all those are manifestly clear. Yes, I’m sure you and all of your friends have thought it through very thoroughly, and that each of you have considered it carefully.
Yet forgive me for remaining unconvinced that the reason that everyone so easily dumps on Twilight is because of its terrible prose, and that there’s not a scrap of “teenaged girls have terrible taste and should be scorned” in there somewhere. Because as I said, it’s not just Twilight, but Justin Bieber and Titanic and Sex in the City and a long score of feminine media, where if you tell people you really enjoy such silly things, you have to justify these silly pleasures on some level.
Because they’re girl things.
What I’m suggesting is that maybe, in addition to Twilight being deeply flawed so that you intelligent people can pick on it, there’s something inherent in our culture that allows us to see teenaged girl things as disposable. (As witness this comment here about how the shrieking girl fans of the Beatles are presented as not really appeciating them.) Which does not mean that Twilight is immune to valid criticism, it just means it’s more okay to kick girlish things like Twilight around because we subliminally accept it.
It’s been suggested that my liking of Batman is only acceptable in nerd cultures, and I’m just hanging around my nerdy unwashed friends too much, since any reasonably grown man would never admit to liking anything comic-booky in public. Yes. That could be. It could also be clear that my reclusive nerdy culture doesn’t get out much, and the fact that five out of the the last ten years of box office annual #1s include a Spider-Man movie, another Spider-Man movie, a Batman movie, a Lord of the Rings movie, and a Star Wars movie certainly doesn’t mean that my boyhood favorites haven’t achieved, you know, global domination or anything. Or that male power fantasy videogames like Halo and Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto haven’t outperformed even those stalwarts at the box office.
Clearly, the fact that these nerd fantasies are all massive money-makers means that every one of the millions of people who saw Dark Knight Returns never discussed it in public, clutching their purchases shamefully to their chest and never mentioning it among genteel society. It’s certainly not a sign that my silly boyhood weirdo fantasies have actually infiltrated the mainstream culture to a large extent.
(As opposed to, say, Japan, where I hear tell the videogame development industry is suffering because men who play videogames past the teenaged years are considered childishly foolish and soon walk away. Then again, I haven’t been there, so I can’t say.)
My point is that yeah, there are valid complaints to be had with these sorts of teenaged girl’s affections – mostly, the worrying message that a man bringing dizzying love is the only thing you need to complete you, a message hammered home again by Bieber and Twilight and Titanic and tons of rom-coms. That’s a very legitimate complaint.
Still. A lot of women legitimately and unironically love these things. So what then? Do we train society that if women aren’t toeing the line of “Liking empowering things,” that it’s okay for society to make fun of them, dismissing the things they carry close to their chest? A dismissal that further encourages teenaged boys to consider their teenaged girls as alien creatures, both mysterious and trivial?
(I wish I could find an essay someone linked to on Twitter the other day, but there was a creative writing teacher saying that when they asked students to write about what it would be like to be the opposite sex, the girls wrote long, involved essays that showed they’d clearly given it a lot of thought. Whereas half the boys flat-out refused to do the assignment, considering it beneath them, and the remaining half made it clear that trying to think what they’d be like as a girl would be a waste of time.)
So. Do we honestly think that everyone who’s bagging on Twilight is doing it with the same thoughtfulness that you’ve put into it… or is it possible that the moral equivalent of Redneck Randal is riding your coattails, complaining for entirely different reasons?
I don’t have an easy answer. But I think it’s more complex than “Everyone knows Twilight is bad because it’s disempowering.” I think there’s something entwined in there that bears greater consideration. (As is the concept that “changing the world,” as Katniss and Buffy do, is invariably a noble thing, and something as simple as trying to find the love of your life is not really a worthy story to tell. I like world-changers I just don’t think they should be everything.)
Which is why, in the end, I will – and have! – complain about Twilight. I just won’t make Twilight the automatic punchline when it comes to choosing “the worst book in the world.” Because some of those people laughing might not be doing it for reasons that I support. There’s a difference between that and “refusing to criticize,” and if you can’t see that distinction, well, maybe you should write me off with Twilight.
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.
This entry has also been posted at http://theferrett.dreamwidth.org/204827.html. You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.
Tags: books, feminism, man up democrats, movies, nerd rage, politics
Ah, Twilight. I listened to people argue about it so much that I started developing a lot of theories about it, so I read the book to see if any of them came close to the mark.
First, whether or not you like the prose of Twilight, it is not actually any worse or better than a standard romance novel on word for word level. I've seen worse and better, all published.
Second, I think Meyers hit a huge, underserved market, and if publishers aren't providing anything better for teenage girls, then we shouldn't be surprised that this is what they are reading. But the uproar came because women with vampire fetishes can't imagine sexless vampire love, and people who want teens reading chaste heroes are too religiously conservative to be comfortable with vampires as boyfriends. I also think the uproar shows that our nation isn't comfortable with underage desire, even if there isn't sex.
No, I didn't like Twilight. Joss Whedon is the only writer who ever convinced me that a blood sucking parasite on two legs could be a legitimate love interest, and I think almost the entire paranormal romance industry is proof that even most feminists can't give up their attraction to stronger men. But in the first quarter of 2009 40% of all novels sold in America were written by Meyers, and I think that's something we need to study, not scold.
I get this sometimes too - people deciding that because I said "X is good" rather than "X is good, but I am aware of Y, Z, A and B as negative things" that I must therefore be a fervent support of Y,Z,A and B.
I don't really understand why people feel the need to insert things into what I say and then assume that I meant them in the first place.
(And I loved Sex and The City, up until the first movie, which was awful, and showed they had completely forgotten what people liked about the series.)
Another sex and the city fan as well.
|Date:||April 6th, 2012 08:48 am (UTC)|| |
I think that disliking any one of those things, or a subset, is not particularly indicative. If I disliked all romance, and thought that male fantasy was the end all be all, you could imply that I am denigrating women's pursuits. But just because I dislike Jane Eyre and Twilight, doesn't mean that I didn't like other (better written, less obnoxious hero & heroine) female fantasy.
Justin Bieber is not my cup of tea, but then I find him no more ridiculous than 50 Cent, Katy Perry, or Lady Gaga, Kanye West, or LMFAO. Pretty much most musicians, really. I don't get the screaming fans. Then again, I didn't get them for my "it" bands when I was in HS either.
Teenagers, male and female, are kind of silly. It comes with the territory. We expect them to be growing up and trying to figure out what they want to become. I am not a fan of supporting "chick who gets the broody stalker, and lives entirely in hopes of that" as a goal for women, nor a good theme for books. There is plenty of female fantasy that rocks my socks. There is, by the way, and equivalent trope in much of "fantasy" which is the hero finding out that his parents were secret elves/kings/magicians and therefore he is special. It's a trope I dislike.
Twilight does a wonderful job at portraying all-consuming new love. I admire it enormously for that.
Twilight also resorts to the hackneyed stereotype that women are to be admired only for beauty and devotion, while men get to be admired for doing cool things. I find that annoying and disappointing.
I don't think Twilight is dreck for its bits of chauvinism any more than "Game of Thrones" is worthless just because the author uses his setting to indulge in the stereotype that women who stay women must have their lives defined by sex and childbirth. They're both full of cool. They'd both be better with less chauvinism.
But there's a good reason to care more about Twilight than about Batman.
Men aren't held back from taking power by the traditional norms for boys. Those norms come from a tradition that men get to have power.
Women are held back by the traditional norms for girls. Those norms come from a tradition that say a woman exists to ornament and fulfill her ruling man, not to make her own life.
Whatever flaws there are in traditional boys' YA, they obviously don't hold boys back. But traditional girls' YA sends a message it would be nice to update for the 21st century.
And if you recognize that shooter video games are the boys' equivalent to Twilight, there's been plenty of honest criticism and dumb moral panic about those games too.
So if you don't see the same complaint about what boys are doing for entertainment, I think you're just looking in the wrong place. Turn your eyes from the bookstore to the console.
If all you're saying is that you think the complaints about Twilight are nastier than those about violent video games, I guess that's a judgment call you could make.
To me, after Buffy and Xena, Twilight feels like a step backward. And that makes me a little sad. Because it does a great job of portraying the feeling of love, and the feeling of love should make people better at doing things, not better at smelling like dessert.
Edited at 2012-04-06 10:01 am (UTC)
|Date:||April 6th, 2012 06:19 pm (UTC)|| |
I normally prefer to stay out of this argument, because of just how in-the-minority I am, but I read the first book, and I can appreciate Twilight.
Now, that's not say that I enjoyed the book, nor did I find it particularly well-written, nor the concept or story particularly interesting, compelling or even readable, but this is coming from the perspective of a 29 year old man. (I was 29 at the time.) I finished it. I gave it to someone else, and they enjoyed it enough to read the rest of the series. Kudos to them. It really just wasn't for me. Literally. I am not in the Twilight demographic.
You know what I found appealing?
That for all of its flaws, and idiosyncrasies, and all of the negative stereotypes and spin associated with it, Stephenie Meyer has made a fucking ton of money off of her admittedly mediocre talent.
From the perspective of an aspiring writer: that is bad ass. All I've got to say, I suppose, is congratu-fucking-lations Stephenie Meyer. These books came out when? 2005 according to Wikipedia? And they're still hot topics, and therefore, pulling in even more cash for Meyer's career via royalties? It's a verification that talent is not the be-all end-all of artistic success when it comes to literature.
Good point. A related point I always like to make is, you shouldn't blame someone for having success doing something you don't like (such as being mad at Stephenie Meyer for writing Twilight).
There are a tons of people out there writing tons of bad novels. The difference is that her mediocre novel became hugely popular. If Twilight wasn't popular, she might have written the rest of the series anyway but not sold them, or she might have gone off and done something else that worked better.
But either way, we shouldn't blame her for doing something she made a ton of money at. Most of us would do something similar if we got paid a bunch to do it. It's not her fault, that's the "fault" of all the people who liked Twilight.
|Date:||April 6th, 2012 10:00 am (UTC)|| |
I think the reaction to people who disagree with oneself is often to assume that those people must be stupid.
So we think Twilight is terrible (I tried, couldn't finish it) and instead of just thinking "okay, different strokes for different folks" people think "people who like this are stupid." And especially *ESPECIALLY* when those people are teenaged girls and there is no redeeming "cool" factor, no reason to respect their opinion, we all shit on the thing they like instead of thinking that maybe it has some value or appeal that just didn't tickle us in the right way and/or actively offended or appalled us.
But people like this thing. People really REALLY like it. And maybe some of them are not very clever and maybe some of them haven't actually read any other books. Just like some of the people who like your favourite thing aren't very clever and some of the people who like your favourite thing haven't had enough experience to compare it to "real classics" or "real literature" or they just say they like it because their friends do or whatever. Stupid people can like awesome things and clever people can like terrible things (or things that other clever people think are terrible).
If someone I like and/or respect likes something then even if I don't like that thing I generally recognise that that thing has some value. At least to my friend. So I'm likely to classify that thing as "not for me" rather than "god-arse terrible". And, as you point out, society has no inherent respect for the opinion of Teenaged Girls. One of my best friends has a 12 year old daughter and she tells me about the things I like and I have zero intention on following up on any of those things because I assume that everything she likes is terrible. But I have no actual basis for that. I have recommended things to her that she's loved (We watched Star Wars IV and V together the other week and she absolutely loved them) and I remember the things that I loved when I was 12 (books/movies) and a lot of them I still love.
But it's so deeply ingrained in us that little girls like things which are worthless and trivial, and must be therefore incapable of liking anything which isn't worthless and trivial and that anything they do like is, obviously, worthless and trivial.
Which is manifestly untrue, and very sad.
|Date:||April 6th, 2012 12:56 pm (UTC)|| |
On the other hand, when something with a core audience of girls finds a wider audience, such as MLP, it automatically becomes viewed as appropriation, or the wider audience being creepy as fuck for being interested in it. (Usually depending on the size and demographics of the wider audience.)
Society as individuals has very little respect for the opinion of anyone else. Which is, admittedly, a truism that doesn't add much to any discussion other than broaden the scope / possibly dilute original points.
I think, with racism and sexism and 'isms' generally, there's a sort of confusion of terminology.
A "Racist1" is someone, who, like a majority of people in this society, has subconsciously internalized some negative attitudes about minority racial groups. If a Racist1 takes the Implicit Association Test, her score shows she's biased against black people, like the majority of people (of all races) who took the test. Chances are, whether you know it or not, you're a Racist1.
A "Racist2" is someone who's kind of an insensitive jerk about race. The kind of guy who calls Obama the "Food Stamp President." Someone you wouldn't want your sister dating.
A "Racist3" is a neo-Nazi. You can never be quite sure that one day he won't snap and kill someone. He's clearly a social deviant.
People use the word "Racist" for all three things, and I think that's the source of a lot of arguments. When people get accused of being racists, they evade responsibility by saying, "Hey, I'm not a Racist3!" when in fact you were only saying they were Racist1 or Racist2. But some of the responsibility is on the accusers too -- if you say "That Republican's a racist" with the implication of "a jerk" and then backtrack and change the meaning to "vulnerable to unconscious bias", then you're arguing in bad faith. Never mind that some laws and rules which were meant to protect people from Racist3's are in fact deployed against Racist2's.
I think the backlash against Twilight is mostly Sexist1. Heck, I think Twilight's problems are mostly Sexist1. Doesn't mean they're not worth calling out. But people are getting offended at being called Sexist2s or Sexist3s when none of this debate is on that level.
|Date:||April 6th, 2012 12:40 pm (UTC)|| |
|Date:||April 6th, 2012 12:41 pm (UTC)|| |
Do we train society that if
women people aren’t toeing the line of “Liking empowering things,” that it’s okay for society to make fun of them
In essence, yes. Mockery and caricatures have often reduced the stature of racist, homophobic and extreme political viewpoints, etc. It is in itself a way of inflicting groupthink and defining societal inclusion on a "with us or against" basis. The mechanism's present in most human interaction, and rooted in biology.
Large groups of people don't carry nuanced messages well, but given a representation of something they can feel superior to (eg, twu luv narratives) the net effect isn't necessarily negative. At least not inherently more than being human and part of socialisation.
Nobody is demanding government intervention for the Duggars, the Prairie Muffins, or the girls who think Edward Cullen is the BEST BOYFRIEND EVER OMG OMG. Nobody's trying to deny them civil rights or even having interventions for them.
Giving them the side eye all "...so you really don't like having to think for yourself, huh?" or whatever does not seem like a bad thing.
As is the concept that “changing the world,” as Katniss and Buffy do, is invariably a noble thing, and something as simple as trying to find the love of your life is not really a worthy story to tell. I like world-changers I just don’t think they should be everything.
Right, and they're not.
But...there's a difference between trying to find a place in society, which includes friends and work you like and yeah, dating (which is how I saw SatC, or at least the non-annoying elements thereof) and "trying to find the love of your life," which...does not end well. Not for you, and *really* not for people who have to put up with you.*
As for the general post...yes and no. Yes, I think that there are problematic reasons for complaining about Twilight--I am not a fan of the "hnur hnur those guys are too pretty" complaint, as it usually comes from men who wouldn't know a gym or a clean shirt if one bit them on the ass--but that doesn't stop me from making it an auto-punchline for other reasons. That's not the way I work.
Sort of the same way I feel about politicians or other public figures, actually. There are a lot of problematic insults thrown around at, say, Palin (sexism) or Gingrich (size issues); that doesn't mean I'm not going to use them as punchlines for other reasons, because they deserve it for other reasons.
Short version: if having obnoxious people on a side meant I automatically had to get off a side, I couldn't be a gamer, a feminist, a pagan, or a liberal.
*And your whiny-ass FB posts about how haaaaaard it is to be single; suck it up, Buttercup. The more cringing desperation with which you long to be Part of A Couple, the faster any right-thinking potential partner is gonna run for the hills, for one thing.
|Date:||April 9th, 2012 05:43 pm (UTC)|| |
While I will agree with you that the whole "these boys are too pretty" argument is silly, the fact that the fucking werewolf runs around with a perfectly waxed chest is more than a little ridiculous.
The thing that bothers me about this essay and the one before it is the gender essentialism. You're using "girl things" as shorthand, but it's erroneous shorthand.
_Twilight_ speaks to a section of the teenaged girl market, and I suspect to an underserved and silent section of the teenaged male market.
But if no one has pointed it out yet, some women and girls like the things you're calling "boy things," and that makes those girl things too.
Society has said some of this for a long time, but you're perpetuating it. I reject this, and so do a lot of women who like superheroes and action movies. And calling Buffy a crossover into MALE power fantasies? Just plain offensive. Maybe teen girls have more than one type of fantasy, and maybe one of them is the kind you describe, and maybe one of them is gender-neutral butt-kicking.
Just because female action heroes have been denied to us doesn't mean we haven't WANTED them. Look around. We keep writing articles about "Where are are female action heroes? We want more Ellen Ripleys! Give!"
...yeah, also this. And thank you for saying it.
I realize "girl things" means "traditionally feminine things", but...putting in that extra word would really help a lot.
As a fairly avid fan of young adult literature, I've gotta say that I agree that there's a lot of girl hating going on, and I imagine there's a lot of it, because it's cool to hate on whatever's different, but that can't actually be all of it, can it?
There's a lot of really great YA fiction aimed at girls. What about the Lirael books by Garth Nix? Those are fantastic. How about The Golden Compass series? Another awesome heroine. Even the "Nicholas Flamel" series has some good moments, and at least as many gal protagonists as guys.
Golden Compass got made into a movie, and people hated on it not because it was horrible, or for girls, or any of that. They hated on it because it was godless, which really, anybody who'd read the books already expected. Though, yanno, I also expected them to hate on Narnia as godless, because the godless hating crew has absolutely no understanding of metaphor, but I digress...
If people were going to hate on popular stuff that's aimed at girls, JUST because it's aimed at girls, why aren't the Ramona books an object of universal scorn already?
|Date:||April 6th, 2012 02:52 pm (UTC)|| |
Well, I hated on Golden Compass because it was poorly made and boring. The godless parts don't really show up until the later books. I liked the books, but the movie was unlikeable.
1) I know you're just using it as an extended example but: Are the "rationalist Republicans" that you're discussing things with actually holding and/or defending positions like "the President is not a citizen" or "the President is a Muslim"? It seems like you're conflating two things, there.
2) It's "Sex AND the City," not "Sex IN the City." Pet peeve.
3) Looking at the Beatles example, I always thought that the screaming girls didn't fully appreciate the Beatles because they were girls-not-women, not because they were girls-not-boys. But I'll freely admit that it's at best difficult to disentangle the two.
As I said earlier (or at least tried to), I'm really reluctant to give up my position that young people and their interests tend to be trivial. But you do make me question whether I (and not-so-question whether society at large) trivialize girls more than boys.
Sorry on #2.
On #1, no, I'm not arguing, and I should have made that clearer, but it's three in the morning and I was tired.
This was a very effective essay, just for the record.
You are wrong about the beatles. I remember during that time, the male fans of the beatles would go to the concerts during their american tour and could not hear a single note. John wouldn't even play his guitar he would go air guitar, because the girls were shrieking so loud and for so long you could not hear a single note. Except for that one concert in atlanta, where the local manager sent out an advertisement asking every local musician to loan his amp to them, and they put every amp they could find some at first base some at second some at third and I guess this was the first 100+ decibel concert to fill a modern sports arena, and lo and behold the male fans could finally hear the music. The beatles loved it, the only stop on the tour where they could play their music and be appreciated for their music instead of just pose and have dumb girls scream at them because of who the hell knows, even to this day it is unclear why those girls went hysterical.
But one thing is clear, they weren't screaming for the music, because they couldn't hear it. I get it they loved the beatles, but they certainly didn't love the music because they weren't listening.
This is not sexist, this is fact. And this is also why the Beatles quit touring.
I thought the Beatles also stopped touring because they started making music that couldn't be performed live (due to using studio techniques).
No comment on the majority of your post, I agree. But I'd be interested in this post about the essay on being the opposite sex, too. I'm not so sure the boys would consider it "beneath them". Maybe they would be afraid that the other boys would call them gay or unmanly if they put too much thought into it! Girls have a lot more permission to be boyish than boys have to be girlish, in this society.
A very good point that I hadn't considered.
Oh, well, that's fine. I would never in a million years reflexively use Twilight as the automatic punchline to worst book in the world jokes, because I have read (part of) Frank Frazetta's Death Dealer, Book 2: Lords of Destruction.
For the record, though, I did just the other day use Twilight as the canonical example of a book for a moony-eyed adolescent girl to relate to (as a way of giving my late-bloomer going-through-adolescence-at-26 friend shit; her reply was "go fuck yourself").
Edited at 2012-04-06 03:05 pm (UTC)
|Date:||April 6th, 2012 07:37 pm (UTC)|| |
I did just the other day use Twilight as the canonical example of a book for a moony-eyed adolescent girl to relate to (as a way of giving my late-bloomer going-through-adolescence-at-26 friend shit; her reply was "go fuck yourself").
Exactly. It's been so reviled that even any benefit to the books can't be acknowledged.
I am reminded of a Dork Tower comic from back when the Lord of the Rings movie came out. The boys are in line to see the Lord of the Rings, enduring mockery from two guys. Finally, they enter the theatre and one guy turns to the other and says "So, you want to go see it?" "Oh yeah, it's awesome."
Mocking things is not necessarily rational.
I would also point out that teenage boys are generally seen as stupid, sex-obsessed, violence-obsessed, and smelly. We don't take them seriously, except possibly as threats to our daughters and our property.
Precisely. Your point about Buffy and Katniss is so, so important. I think one of the really, really harmful things that feminism has accomplished is a celebration of girls who behave in non-feminine ways, girls who figure as the heroes of boy-stories. I think we've ended up perpetuating the denigration of femininity that we should be trying to fight--it feels like misogyny with a prettier face. We should be focusing on eradicating the prescriptive elements of gender roles, not on punishing femininity and feminine people. I love Buffy and I love Katniss and I think these representations of women do really interesting and powerful things but I want more variety for women.
Twilight's awful but I sense that a lot of people--particularly those who chime in without having read it--are not getting the nuances of why. And I think the not insubstantial amount of chick flicks and rom coms that are not godawful speaks to this as well. Katniss is fine but no heroine gets to me quite like Elle Woods.
|Date:||April 6th, 2012 04:23 pm (UTC)|| |
In The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory the author makes a really amazing point that often feminism is harmful to the ideal of equality because it celebrates the "feminine" which, in effect, limits the traits that women can safely have. The same feminine traits that feminists often promote are, oddly, the same ones that conservatives often use to keep them in their place. And the anti-stereotype is no better, it's just the same tired role put through a flipped filter.
|Date:||April 6th, 2012 04:01 pm (UTC)|| |
I freely admit that I fall victim to this. Heck, I knock twilight fans sometimes and i *AM* a twilight fan. And Justin beiber fans and sex and the city (though I stand by my horror at the mere existence of the second movie). Despite the fact that, yes, i can come up with honst well thought out reasons to dislike these things, there is still a part of me that was raised as a boy in America who dislikes them as a knee jerk reaction because they are girly. Absolutely true.
My hope is twofold.
a) that people can still accept that I can have a legitimate opinion on the subject despite my bias.
b) that I can try to appreciate these things despite my bias and give them a fair shake.
Just an anecdotal point about mainstream heros, my volunteer work at the library downtown here in l.A. lately includes helping develop the Graphic Narrative collection, including the Superhero works. We're doing a presentation on May 5 that includes screening a movie. Based on my listing of recent graphic narratives gone film, the librarian (whose background is Art) selected Dark Night because of it's impressive complexity of themes. She has no background in the geeky, and I had listed not only the Batman franchise, but all of the recent Avengers films (the new one comes out the DAY BEFORE our presentation).
We just got clearance from Warner to screen the film - we anticipate a huge response.
|Date:||April 6th, 2012 07:21 pm (UTC)|| |
either they’re all redneck racists and as such none of their complaints is worth a damn thing
Unfortunately, regardless of party (and I still think this "there can only be two" is a load of crap), said redneck racists still get to vote.
There's a lot of deep urban racism as well, whether it be gangs or rich white vs poor other. That leads me to believe it is prevalent, albeit not a direct stance of any particular party or candidate.
Still. A lot of women legitimately and unironically love these things. So what then? Do we train society that if women aren’t toeing the line of “Liking empowering things,” that it’s okay for society to make fun of them, dismissing the things they carry close to their chest?
Enh, not entirely. I mean, I kinda think we're not going to let go of judging people according to what their choices and affinities say about them, but liking some particular thing really should not be the whole story. Context matters. If someone likes Twilight and wears a promise ring and doesn't swear because it's unladylike and longs for the day she'll be happy forever because a man has completed her, well, I will probably reach certain working conclusions about her approach to life, and I will not respect her for it. I will respect her right to choose it, but I will think she's a cowardly idiot and that she likes Twilight because its puerile value system reinforces hers. If someone likes Twilight and is clearly punk rock and lives her life according to self-chosen standards and is a functioning individual whose life is centered in herself, I will probably conclude that she likes Twilight for reasons that are not related to seeing its bullshit as how life is ideally supposed to be, and will be able to sustain respect for her.
Hell, I love The Princess Bride more than almost anything, without the slightest contamination of irony, and while it clearly has subversive and deconstructive elements, it just as clearly follows a form and style, and carries various of the messages of those. And I will entirely unironically cut a motherfucker for attempting a feminist critique of it.
Though this might just mean that it's okay when I have double standards, but not when you do.
Also, for the record, I thought the "baseball in a thunderstorm" thing was brilliant. It's such bullshit that so few depictions of superpowers ever show anybody taking simple joy in their exercise, and Ms. Meyer has my appreciation for not sitting still for that noise.
I've seen every Twilight movie. They are not very good. I don't understand why their werewolves are so phony-looking, because it seems like an important visual element of the series.
Also, I feel bad for Bella's human friends, because they were nothing but nice and welcoming to her from literally the first minute she set foot in the school, and Bella ditched them immediately when the cool kids started liking her.
But they're not the worst thing in the world or anything. I've definitely seen worse.
Some people sailed magnificently past my comments that Twilight had some really difficult issues involved to settle, rather dimly, on the interpretation that “Ferrett thinks Twilight deserves a pass on its female issues.” Which is distinctly not true.
If you thought that was the point of my reply to the previous post, then you were mistaken. That was a bad faith argument on your part - as was the strawman argument you chose to open this post with.
This is an excellent clarification of the things that made me cock my head in your last post! Though I realize in retrospect that part of it was my own fault; I hate Twilight and I'm occasionally (although not often, because I simply don't talk about things that I dislike much; I'd prefer to spend time on things that make me happy) vocal in my distaste for the book. So I wound up going into your post about misogyny being connected to the hatred of things popular among teenage girls, Twilight in particular, a little defensively. And that led to me reading "all" where I should have been reading "some" - you never claimed that everyone with serious issues with the book has a degree of underlying misogyny to their dislike/outright hatred, but I reacted as though that's what you were implying rather than considering that just because I have specific reasons for hating the book doesn't mean everyone who hates Twilight does.
You've explained yourself brilliantly here, though, and I've certainly run into people who seem to hate Twilight without knowing much about it or having given much thought to it beyond "lol Twilight sux". And to some degree, I find them almost as disturbing as Twilight's fans...usually because they're the sort of person who simply hates things because it's cool to hate them.
I do hope that this essay of yours makes anyone who hasn't examined their hatred for certain things look a bit more closely, and make sure they're objecting for valid reasons, rather than about things they aren't familiar with or - as in the case of your Obama example - with too much vitriol for something that they wouldn't think twice about if it had a different audience.
Edited at 2012-04-07 10:05 am (UTC)