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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation


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i'd like to point out first, my del.icio.us tags include amtdi and non-con
children of dune - leto 1
seperis
You know, I thought I talked myself down off this one, because frankly, Twilight is not great literature and mounting a defense takes up valuable time reading non-con amtdi porn.

But you know, I just feel that inspired, plus I ran out of Dean/Castiel reading and my son still has Twilight in his locker. Go figure.

I have to know something; did I miss the memo that I'm supposed to be ashamed of being twelve? My apologies; see, when I was twelve? I never really considered to form my actions to meet an arbitrary standard that would come into existence twenty years later on my reading habits, because that? Would have totally pulled the Gor novels right out of my hot little hands.

As in, please to be putting down your AMTDI non-con for a second while ranting on how Twilight is ruining young girls. I will totally be there when fandom as a whole stops finding aliens made them do it rape as a fun and lighthearted fanfic pasttime. I mean, I will be there, but I'll still be writing it. Hell, throw in eroticized slave-fic with idealized sexual slavery and falling in love with your enslaver controlling boyfriend who stalks you...wait.

Writer responsibility comes up a lot with this, which I suppose is fair when one is writing cross-alien-species sexual hijinks and one is struggling to portray those sensitivity, or the reality of slave trafficking in the modern world, or hell, magical healing cock after rape and lets toss in mpreg for kicks, because there's a genre that's incredibly sensitive and socially conscious. I have zero interest in writer responsibility, to be honest, except for one key points--did they tell a story? That's it; that's where it starts and stops, with some codicils of audience. Twilight was readable to a huge group of people.

Maybe the mystery is the plotline? Because I agree; I cannot imagine why anyone would enjoy a fantasy novel about two people obsessively in love with each other and would do anything to be together.

You may pile your under the bed romance novels over to the left, please; lets do this right. Let's blackball the entire romance novel industry already. I want petitions against VC Andrews, Johanna Lindsay, Judith McNaught, Catherine Coulter, Virginia Henley (Okay, I could stand to lose her), and anything set in Viking England with a wee Saxon lass.

Seriously. I get hating them for being bad, as beauty is in the eye of the beholder; shaming young girls for something they've found to love is edging right into the reason I'm trying to stop myself from ever using the term "Like a twelve year old girl" again in any slash fic I write. Which will probably be something I'll have to pick up on beta because comparisons to teenage girls as insults to men is surprisingly common.

Please lay off the girls. And remind me again how Seeds of Yesterday ended. For the life of me, I couldn't find it with my other VC Andrews work.
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I worry about why they find it readable. Is it because they buy into the idea that stalking=true love? Is it because no one has ever introduced them to anything better? Is it because nothing better is marketed toward them?

You and I can choose non con tentacle rape porn. A 12 year old girl, OTOH, might be better off with more guidance.

No, they wouldn't. Unless we have decided en masse that we need a single arbitrator of taste.

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My issue isn't primarily with the audience, and never has been, to be honest. They're young, and I hope and believe the majority of them either have already realized or will realize the flaws in the Twilight series.

My issue is, and has always been, with Stephenie Meyer and the people who are promoting Twilight and the relationships in it with no caveats, no codicils, not even a hint of "well, but..." And (I'm sure somebody'll come around and correct me on this) but the majority of romance novels I can think of that have the same sort of squicky issues as Twilight are generally written for and marketed towards adults. I've been racking my brain, trying to think of another series I read as a kid or teenager that was like Twilight, and I can't think of any.

Frankly, the only issue I have with the fandom of teenage girls is their treatment of Robert Pattinson, because DAMN, this is approaching, like, Beatlemania or something, only with more violence.

Judith McNaught's contemporary romances have some similar themes. As do most of romance novels. Nothing Stephanie did was new; it's just the first time the application of romantic cliches of romance novels with age-specific caveats has done so well.

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IAWTC, and would just like to register a OMG at that pic. What.

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Well, the only thing that creeps me out about Twilight is that Mormon bishops are recommending it to girls in the LDS church. I would have hoped that they could have found something different to recommend to them that was more...spiritually uplifting, I guess is the term I'm looking for.

That being said, I read Anne McCaffrey's Pern books ( which also have their problems concerning women ) with an obsessive love as a teenager and can honestly say that I survived that experience unscathed. The important thing is that they are READING.

This.

Honestly, I could care less if LDS gives it away in a gift bag. It's a book, and apparently fun to read. I am totally on board with anything fun to read.

Keeping in mind I enjoyed Battlefield Earth by L Ron Hubbard at the tender age of fourteen very deeply. And avoided Scientology completely.

This is interesting. I hate to join the queue of commentators going "but I hate Twilight for only good, wholesome reasons!" but - I rip into any and all books / tv shows / songs / media and go "Racism! Sexism! Colonialism! THE PATRIARCHY!". And then I enjoy them. That's how I was raised to treat media: problematic! yet awesome! And that's how I would like to raise my kids, should I happen to have any: huh, that book sure has some weird ideas about human interaction in it, but no author anywhere is without some crazy. Enjoy it! If anything in it really wigs you out I'll be over here, reading Buffy fanfiction.

I guess I agree with you that it's kind of dickish to go after teenage girls for being fannish about an imperfect canon, though, because none of us has a totally unimpeachable canon. I guess, too, that it requires a certain kind of trust in girls to believe that they are strong enough of mind to withstand some ideologically suspect yet totally enjoyable literature.

Edited at 2008-11-28 12:03 pm (UTC)

If we banned all books that are ideologically suspect, there would be no books, because none of us would be able to agree on purity. Purity in values via the textual medium is far less important than real life modeling of values and behaviors important to growing girls. They *should* get to have their fun with an impossible romance. God knows with the pressure from society, from parents, from everywhere else to conform to an outside standard, the one place they should be free is their minds. Taking that away strips off pretty much the last way they have to express some kind of personal autonomy that society can't--quite--affect.

I think the moralist argument is that the young are more easily influenced. And I understand being disturbed about the content of fantasies, and fiction propping up patriarchy. I'm being disturbed about mine frequently, but personally I think 12-14 is too late to fix in taste what patriarchy already broke.

I mean, when I became a feminist as a teenager I noticed that my fiction reading preferences were not in line with my politics, and I tried to "fix" it, so from maybe 14 to my early twenties I weeded out for ideoloogy, but it didn't work at all. I still find rape and humiliation fantasies hot, and I still like male characters better, and I still have a thing for authoritarian warrior fantasies with obedience to duty, and for glorified violence, and destiny and a natural order in the universe, even though all those ideas are icky.

So basically since I couldn't change my tastes, I decided that it was best to be aware that the ideas are problematic and still enjoy them in fiction. I do think that fiction has a role as subtle (or not so subtle sometimes) propaganda tool, but I think it is not that effective to fix fiction, but that it would be better to fix the root causes and then the fiction tastes reflecting this may follow.

I went through a very similar progression trying to reconcile my kinks and my politics -- and came out the other end believing (1) certain preferences are bred in the bone, and frankly, it's pretty damned insulting to tell me that I'm a victim of society's prejudices for liking what I like and (2), censors ALWAYS are doing it for the good of the young and sorry, but it's just as misguided whether it's worrying about Dungeons and Dragons 20 years ago, or Twilight, now. Of all the things kids need, moralizing isn't one of them.

I want petitions against VC Andrews

I read (and reread) the Flowers in the Attic series as a teen and... well, I'm not sure what kind of petition you're proposing, but if it's a petition stating "I know these books are retrograde crap and I liked them anyway" then hand me a pen and I'll sign.

I've felt a lot more relaxed w/r/t matters of taste since I decided that just because I like something doesn't mean it has to be good in any way. I used to plead "guilty pleasure", or spend time defending the supposed redeeming/ironic/etc. values of the things I liked, trying to justify these things as somehow "good" because how could I like something that was bad? Answer: easily. There are lots of things that I think are crappy and lame, but still give me pleasure, and I reserve the right to like whatever pleases me, even if it runs contrary to my aesthetic a/o moral judgement.

Maybe if I hadn't read rape scenes like the one in Flowers in the Attic at a formative age, I wouldn't enjoy all that AMTDI noncon fanfic now, who knows. I don't think reading skanky melodrama as teens (or still!) disqualifies anyone from frowning over skanky melodrama for teens now. I don't think it's hurting anything to engage critically with a story like Flowers or Twilight and point out all the skeevy elements. IMO, it's okay for critics to list off their problems with the story all they like, as long as it's also okay for readers to say: I recognize that Twilight's central relationship seems creepy and stalkery and controlling, but I still like Twilight. A story doesn't have to be morally sound or eloquently written for that, it just has to be enjoyable.

Anyway. Personally I think the Twilight books seem to be badly written with ridiculous plot turns, but I'll be honest, I mostly dislike them because I wish I'd had the idea to warm over some geared-down, hetted-up Ricean vampire shenanigans and serve them up to the teen market for big $$$. Going by what I've read of the books, I wouldn't even have had to edit. :P

I'm trying to stop myself from ever using the term "Like a twelve year old girl" again in any slash fic I write.

Oh god, thank you for that. That formulation really grates on me and for some reason it's extremely pernicious in SGA fandom. I'd love to see a fandom-wide intervention to get people to think twice before they use it.

I need to type less, or faster, or both

(And then I hit post and found that the two people above me said much the same thing, only more succinctly and better.)

O.o

... shouldn't people be happy their children are reading? Because my little sister who hates reading is reading that damn book and I'm kind of jumping for joy.

Pre-teens and teenagers = crazy. Most of them level out with age, but I doubt not reading a book with questionable content will really be the deciding point.

*shrugs*

Pretty much yeah. I'm so there.

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I came to a similiar realization. I will happily rip at the book for being badly written (I couldn't read it, I tried), but ghod knows I've got plenty of dubious literary pleasures myself, and I read a lot of shite as a teenager. I'm not mocking fans unless they attempt to claim that this is a healthy relationship and should be emulated!11! or that it's literature for the ages!11!1 Those assertions,now, I'll argue.

*g* I'm with you on both. *glee*

Okay but... I don't think any of us are passing our fave non-con AMTDI fics on to our teenage daughters squealing that Character X is the PERFECT BOYFRIEND OMG. I'm not saying this calls for some kind of "action," I'm just saying it's depressing as fuck.

The same women who pass that attitude to tehir kids are already screwed up; the book doesn't add to that or subtract from that. IT's already there. The ones that don't, say, normal teenage girls, get a charge from the chaste deep romance of the couple and are affected exactly as much as any light escapism does. So the judgment pass on Twilight is ridiculous in that its conflating an already existing issue with the existence of a book.

I've been wondering what your take on the OMG!TWILIGHT thing would be.

I've mostly been happy that my older daughter, age 10, isn't a precocious reader, because Twilight seems like something I should read if she were reading it, and, really, I'd rather read McShep.

(BTW, reference Shakespeare - she's reading Romeo and Juliet in school right now, and her class saw an abridged version of the play last week. I was worried a lot about the messages in it, but afaict she's mostly into the funny bits, reading me aloud passages that "Have words that were swears back then" and such; I was afraid the everyone-dying thing would bother her especially, but, like my seven-year-old pointed out, that's no different from the end of Angel. So, um, my point is... oh, never mind, I forget.)

One thing I've found fascinating is how literate the fandom surrounding Twilight is. I haven't read any Twilight fanfic, but some stories are getting thousands of comments, and a lot of the intrafandom debate is pretty well-conducted considering the participants are in tenth grade. If we can convert them all to genre!buddy!TV fanfic writers post-Twilight I'd be delighted.

Imagine these forces in the service of slash. It's aweing. *g*

Hi. I'm not a Twilight hater in that I don't think it's worth that much energy. At the same time I cannot understand why people like the books because I do get hung up on the stalking=romance thing--and my twelve-year-old self would've felt the same way. I think there's an epistomological problem here over what romance *is*, because it's not the same thing to all people. I tried to read Twilight, and the main reason I couldn't get through it is that it doesn't even speak to my experience of teenage love or crushes or what have you. (Hand to God, my thirteen year old self thought Romeo and Juliet was the stupidest story ever.)

The main reason I'm commenting is that I think you're lumping together romance novels too much. Twilight fits in to the old school stereotype of romance, and yes, there is a lot of romance out there like that. But not all romance follows that pattern by any means. Are you familiar with the blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books? They're all about the romance, and I like their take on Twilight, and on why Edward is fascinating to so many people. And I don't think they get too judgmental about it. Edward is a full on return of the classic Alpha Male. Not everyone desires or enjoys that any more, even among the subset of hardcore romance readers.

I'm not at all of the opinion that we should dismiss an entire genre of literature. I'm not in favor of dictating what gets read. I'm ABD on an English PhD, so I have no illusions about what goes on in "true literature." Rather than pulling up Shakespeare, you could've mentioned Richardson's Pamela, instead. People know Shakespeare, but Pamela is right there at the foundation of the novel as a genre. I'm guessing you pulled up Shakespeare because of Romeo and Juliet, which does make a nice analogy, I suppose. It's a problematic analogy, but I might be here all day if I try to get into that.

The point is that I do think the Twilight hate gets simplistic and *completely* out of hand, but at the same time I think it's perfectly acceptable to say "I like romance, but I don't think this book is romantic. I like romance, but what this story presents as romance is troubling to me."

I also think people need to learn how to discuss and critique a story without being didactic about it.

Anyway, a YA genre romance that *does* get it right, in my opinion, is Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely. I recommend that to everyone who might read YA or romance, regardless of if they even have an opinion of Twilight.

Edited at 2008-11-28 05:19 pm (UTC)

Instant recognition to create the analogy is more important than citing what people might not have read and/or read long enough ago that they wouldn't recognize by memory.

I think it's perfectly acceptable to hate Twilight for all and any reasons, including sparkly vampires being offensive to the vampire genre. I also think it's acceptable to ask why this one is worse than Flowers in the Attic or anythign written by John Saul and John Norman that were standard reading fare when I was a kid.

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:::clap clap clap clap:::

That is all.

I needed to vent that out.

See the thing about Twilight - I refuse to read it. Not because it's offensive, or badly written or that the story seems kind of blah to me (come to think of it though, if it was a fanfiction with say, JRodney I would be all over it, god) but because I'm pretty sure that if I dip my toe in I'll become an insane fangirl who will never, ever recover. Because let's face it - that's what I do, and this is the kind of book that begs it to be done.

And I don't want to be in that fandom :(

*dies laughing* You'd be an awesome twilighter!

Thanks for saying this. Yes, they're bad, and yes, they send troubling messages, and yes, it's troubling that this message is so attractive to young girls, but the fault lies with us as a society rather than the book or the girls; we blame the book for making the icky bits of our society impossible to ignore, when really ignoring doesn't seem to be working as a solution and maybe we should stop that.

Yes. And you said it better. Teh book isnt' the problem; its the people who model thsi behavior real life that are the problem and pass on those values.

I had this totally interesting serial killer novel analogy, but I cannot remember the name. Dammit.