Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Case Against Snobbery, Revisited: Thoughts about Twilight

I know.


More air-time given to possibly the world's most over-hyped teen paranormal romance saga.

But hear me out. I was giving the Twilight series some serious thought last night as I put away the dishes. I will begin by saying I have read all four books, so I can speak with some authority. I have also spent my fair share of time in this life unapologetically bashing them. I mean really ripping them to shreds. I'm not going to go into all the reasons why I think it is poor literature. They don't matter. They have been hashed and re-hashed, and there is no more hashing to be had.

But what bewildered me last night, as I sat pondering (unaccountably) on Twilight, was how much it spoke to certain people. The fact is, there are people who genuinely love Twilight! The question I should have thought at that point was, "Why?" But I didn't. My first thought was, "It's because they have no taste in literature--or life in general." I had noticed that the same kind of girl, no matter the age, goes gaga over Bella and Edward, and--up until last night--had written them all off as people I could never relate to on a truly meaningful level. These seemed to be girls who had almost never voluntarily picked up a book in their lives, seemed to have limited worldviews on just about every issue, and--given the chance--would probably ask me why on earth anyone would ever want to become a librarian?

Then my hypocrisy-dar (that's like radar...anyway...you get the picture) went off as it usually does when I'm being totally disingenuous.
-Fact: I kind of enjoyed at least two out of four books in the Twilight series. Unfortunately, the last one sucked so bad it sucked anything that could have been considered decent out of the other three. (Except New Moon. New Moon is a province of suckage all it's own.)
-Fact: I know, and love, several people who genuinely enjoyed Twilight. And yeah, I can relate to them on a meaningful level.
-Fact: Not all of my tastes have always been so "exalted." I loved Goosebumps; I read Animorphs; I love The Game of Thrones... I enjoy popular fiction! I do! It's usually popular for a reason! And if you're going to be any kind of a good librarian, you have to know what people like to read. You can't just read essays all day long and expect to be in touch.
-Fact: You can't make generalizations about entire groups of people (especially a group as large as ardent followers of Twilight) and come off as anything other than a huge a**-hole.

Furthermore, if you think about it, it's actually kind sexist to deride a work of popular fiction simply because it has mass appeal to women. Oh. So, because it speaks to issues that resonate with women, it's automatically inferior? It's like people who bag on Sarah Palin for being an attractive woman.* I can't buy into any of that with a clear conscience.

So anyway...once again, I've devoted way too much time to something that deserves pretty much NONE of my time. But I guess the point I'm trying to wend my way toward is that if you're gonna hate Twilight, hate it for the right reasons. I care about the story about as much as I care for chopped liver. But I have seen the light in terms of judging those who truly enjoy it. And now, instead of arrogantly saying, "I know why they like it," I'll just humbly and genuinely wonder, "why?" And I'm sure each lover of Twilight has their own unique reason.

*I dislike Sarah Palin as much as the next educated person. But I try not to criticize her for being woman.