If It Pleases and Sparkles …

There are few things I love more than comics. They are rich with iconic characters that I’ve always loved, from Wonder Woman to the more obscure but fascinating anti-hero Lady Shiva. And oh, how I love the art; so many ways to draw a character, an emotion, an action. Add to that the stories and the ingenious writers who bring them to life every month. Comic books opened up a whole new world to me; Wednesdays at my LCS, lunches with my fellow aficionados, and blogging are my joys. If you visited my home and viewed my bookshelf, you would find, first & foremost, comics so good I had to get the trades (the issues are of course bagged, boarded and stored safely in their long boxes), some modern and contemporary philosophy, and some classic prose. But the most ostentatious thing on my shelf (drumroll): All four books in the Twilight saga.

Blasphemy you say?  Well, it certainly wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been deemed a heretic. Why should this be any different?

I get a lot of flack for being a Twihard (that is the “official” term) from my fellow geeks. So do the millions of other fans of the series. I read blog after blog, article after article and hear endless podcasts about how much the geek world loathes the series and how it (and fans) didn’t belong at the cons. Frankly, I am over it.

The “Twilight” books are 2,000 pages of pure deliciousness. The story is overwhelmingly character-centric: Bella, the self-deprecating, clumsy teenage girl who is also an excellent student unaffected by peer pressure; Alice – the empathetic, fashionista, pre-cog vamp who can snap a neck before you can blink an eye; Emmett the lovable, honest, football-loving vampire next door. Even the villains are divinely designed. Aro, the 3,000-year-old maniacal but perfectly couth head of the Volturi. He can read every thought you’ve ever had with a touch.

Then, there is Edward. Impeccably mannered, well dressed, infinitely intelligent, protective, and genuinely interested in the person that Bella is. Swoon (duh). And don’t give me that creepy stalker shit about Edward. Um, he is still a VAMPIRE. (And if you’re going to call him out, then why not turn a side-eye to Supes for watching Lois sleep? Even worse and much more blatant are the rape and other acts of violence against women that occur in “Watchmen” and “The League of Extraordinary Women,” written by fan-favorite Alan Moore.)

Aside from the characters, the scenery is like butter for the imagination. The Pacific Northwest, Alaska, Italy, an island off the coast of South America. All these juicy bits swirled into an against-all-odds love story with super-powered vamps, Native American shape shifters, and a ton of hybrid lore; a rather good recipe for the brand of obsessiveness geeks are known for.

And, there are plenty of aspects to “Twilight” that parallel stories in comics.

Super Powers: These are powers that were either latent or subdued when they were human, but manifested themselves after a catalyst set off the transformation (vampire venom = genetic mutation), then powers manifested. Yeah, that is nothing like Marvel’s mutant powers that are latent until puberty, or the TV show “Heroes,” where the “fight or flight” adrenal response triggers the powers. The wolves begin phasing in New Moon…right after puberty due to vampires in the vicinity.

The God-Human Love Story: Supes and Lois. Diana and Steve. Black Adam and Adrianna.  Phoenix and Cyclops. Thor and Jane. Talia and Bruce. EDWARD and BELLA.

Outcast teens with a secret: Xavier’s school. Teen Titans. Runaways. Twilight.

Benevolent alien who wants to peacefully coexist with humans: Do I really even have to itemize this?

All of these elements have pleased superhero fans for years. So why wouldn’t the ladies enjoy it, too?  But more to the point, these are common threads. So, why all the hate?

It seems the Twihaters’ biggest gripe is the revamping of classic vampire lore. They hear the word “sparkle,” and their brains go catatonic. Then they move on to the default response of ridicule. Really? Can’t you be a little more flexible?

So what if Edward can go out in the sun? I’m pretty sure Blade was a daywalker. How is that more offensive than the constant retconning in comics? Last year’s Final Crisis event saw Batman “killed” by Darkseid’s Omega Beams, but then we saw him alive drawing on a cave wall (sometime in the past) over Anthro’s dead body? And somehow, Black Hand could raise his “corpse” in Blackest Night #5 to elicit an emotional response out of the JLA. I’m sure DC is going to tie it all together … or maybe they won’t, and later retcon half of “Final Crisis” and use the rest. Now that is infuriating.

Stephenie Meyer brought fresh eyes to the vampire story. Meyer’s deviations are on the classic limitations of vampires: unconscious periods, sunlight, crosses, garlic, holy water, wooden stakes, etc. “These are all myths – deliberately placed in earlier centuries to mislead impressionable humans and make them feel safe.”  Seriously, that’s works. In a world ridden with paranoia-induced conspiracy theories — believing you’re safe when you’re really not — is real-world scary.

Since most of the naysayers haven’t actually read the series, they are unaware that much of the “Twilight” lore that they criticize is specific to the Cullens. Yes, they are benevolent vampires who feed on animal blood, but they are an anomaly in their world. All the other vampires are evil, human-eating monsters. And the Buffy-loving geeks didn’t have a problem with Angel having a damn soul! I’d like to know what happened to “willful suspension of disbelief?”  After all, it’s fiction.

The Twilight movie franchise has grossed $500 million worldwide as of December 7. This is only the third week of release. We still have two (maybe three) movies to go. The Twilight Saga is going down in Hollywood history as a force to be reckoned with among the ranks of Batman, Star Wars, Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings. Period.

Get wise, guys. All the disdain in the world is not going to make it go away. Twihards are a force to be reckoned with. We are geeks; we are smart; we have epic buying power — and we LOVE Edward. SUNSHINE!

5 thoughts on “If It Pleases and Sparkles …

  1. I don’t think the average geek has a problem with the powers and things like that. But, to be honest, that also isn’t what draws in the twifanatics. So most of your parallels to comics aren’t the crux of the issue.

    Twilight is popular because it is a romance novel. There is a reason it is mostly popular with women. Yes, you did list all of the hero love stories, but I don’t know many comic geeks that REALLY care. They aren’t swooning over how great it is that Lois has Clark. Yes, they hate it when someone screws it up (like they hate it when anyone changes the status quo). But I can’t remember a comic book discussion where people’s main draw for the comic was to watch the interaction between the lead and his/her beau. Heck, most of the time, the ‘normal’ person relationship is there more to ground the character to people can identify with them easier…to give them a mundane dimension before they go out and beat up bad guys.

    But I think the big thing you gals need to come to terms with about your status is that it is obsessive. It is no different than any other group who immerse themselves so much into something that the rest of the culture looks at them funny. Like the folks waiting days outside to get tickets for star wars or those guys who paint their whole bodies into their favorite sports team colors.

    And for the record, Anne Rice vampires caught plenty of flak for being foppish wuss vampires. When I played the vampires RPG, we usually made fun of people who picked the clan of vamipres that were the wuss vampires (all artsy and lovey). Sorry to say, but guys like stuff that kicks arse. Blade knows martial arts and kills lots of monsters. Edward stares at the ground because he loves some chick to much. One of these things doesn’t scream ‘AWESOME!’

    Also, I am willing to bet that most ‘Twihards’ are NOT geeks. Liking one thing that you can kinda label as geeky does not make one a geek. This goes for people who love Harry Potter or the Transformers movies as well.

    Like

  2. Amen PsyPhiChic! I get tired of getting ragged about loving Twilight. They are great books! They got me back into reading full-time. I have become friends with people because of the Twilight connection. They love the books and it gives us something in common. Heck, I even have “Team Jacob” friends.

    I have started reading the Sookie Stackhouse novels (aka True Blood on HBO) and have fallen in love with these books about vampires, werewolves, fairies, etc. It is my Twilight fix since there are no more Twilight books. Yes, I get abused for liking these books as well. But as long as I am happy with what I am reading, I could care less about what other people think.

    You won’t catch me wearing a “Team Edward” t-shirt (even though sometimes I wish I would) or wearing Cullen crest jewelry, but you will see me opening night for the next two Twilight movies….

    – Proud to be a Twihard.

    Like

    • YAY!!!!! Us Twihards gotta stick together, it’s rough out there.

      I do have an “Edward” shirt, BUT I ordered it from an artist on DeviantArt who did such an amazing rendition of Edward that I HAD to have it. I wear it proudly. It is a happy medium, I supported an artist and show my Cullen love. Check out her Edward ~ http://wieldthekey.deviantart.com/art/Edward-Cullen-COLOR-D-104462588

      Things are tenuous with my “Team Jacob” friends, I only excuse them because they haven’t read all the books. So I just assume they don’t have all the info…because if they did, well you know ;-)

      Thanks for reading!!!!

      Like

  3. The Twilight series is here to fill a hole in the genre. Before this we’ve never had a female centric mainstream fantasy novel with ‘cute’ guys for girls to enjoy. Yes, we’ve had strong women in literature and film… but this is not the same.
    The problem people have with Twilight are problems I have with alot of the other ‘nerdfare’ you use to defend Twilight. Bella Swan is one dimensional… endlessly miserable and self-destructive. Edward is just eye candy, filling every anti-feminine cliche there is one ‘what women want’ He is mature (read hundreds of years old) but youthfull (plays sport, attends highschool, looks 17 for ever). He is respectful (never pushing his romance or desires) but dangerous (every girl loves a bad boy). And then Jacob, a door matt of a side story to extend what really should have only been one book.

    The problem with Twilight is not in its basics. High-School girl falls for dangerous but responsive sexy vampire. Thats a good story. The problem is in its execution. The endless spelling and gramatical errors (grammar nazis will note that my spelling/grammar is bad, so imagine how much worse Twilight had to be for me to notice). Stephanie Myers book is fluffed up pillowed out narative, with boring ‘Mary-Sue’ characters… 7 books with no depth.

    And of course, the underlying message is just as bad… but the whole Mormon bashing thing isn’t up my alley and you’ve all heard it before.
    Great attempt at trying defending your fandom, and I have no write to criticise you for having that fandom… But I simply don’t understand how you can invest in these characters who are so flat.
    Or, as a writer, read through her muddled narative and convoluded ‘a-wizard-did-it’ plot.

    Like

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s