KJ (owlmoose) wrote,

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Dear Internet Fanboys:

Stop making me want to defend Twilight.

See, apparently the movie of New Moon broke a box office record (biggest opening day) that was formerly held by The Dark Knight, and the fanboys of the world couldn't accept the dethroning of their One True Film. And of course they couldn't just content themselves with arguing that Dark Knight is objectively a better movie than New Moon, which I fully accept as likely. Oh no, it had to be all about how New Moon is icky because it's for girls. Never mind that terrible movies that guys like do well at the box office all the time (Transformers 2, anyone?). A girly movie breaks sales records and the world is ending, oh noez!

You know, I might hate Twilight and everything it stands for, but I can't deny that it's a franchise that's become hugely popular almost exclusively because women and girls like it, based on source material written by a woman, and the first film had a woman director. And, as Women and Hollywood points out, there's a chance that Hollywood might sit up and take notice:

According to Dergerabedian, this movie has the potential to beat the Transformers sequel opening weekend numbers. That movie made $108 million. [Note: New Moon blew Transformers 2 out of the water; it opened at $143 million.] That movie also opened when school was out of session in most places at the end of June, and on a Wednesday, and this movie is opening the weekend of the 20th of November when school is still in session and yet it still might beat it out. Degarabedian says the opening weekend will be “girls kicking the crap out of the boys.” He says that this is the “holy grail” and that this is to the female audience was “Star Wars was to the guys.”

Let’s just think about that. A franchise fueled by girls and women has the potential of beating the machines for the box office record. This movie could potentially be “guy proof” meaning they won’t need guys to see it for it to kick some box office butt. Whereas the other franchises NEED women to make their numbers.

At that point, it almost doesn't matter to me how problematic the source material might be. Like Kate Harding, anything that convinces the entertainment industry that women are an audience worth targeting in large numbers, without worrying if the films will also appeal to men, I am all for. (Also check out the follow-up from Women and Hollywood, which analyses the opening weekend numbers.)

On a related theme, but from a different angle, here's an interesting take from The Escapist's movie critic, who explains why the blatant objectification of men in the marketing materials for New Moon got him to thinking about how women are objectified in pretty much every other sci-fi/fantasy series ever. The whole thing is worth reading, but here's a choice quote:

It was dawning on me, then, that myself and every other male geek currently rolling our eyes at the laughably-obvious, pandering sexual-objectification of these "Playgirl werewolves" had at many times throughout our geek-existence been confronted (or, at least, needled) by our she-geek female compatriots about the laughably-obvious, pandering sexual-objectification of...well, damn near every depiction of the female form in geek culture.

And you know what? If we even tried to defend the point, we probably fell back on explanations and excuses every bit as shaky and transparent as "Twilight"'s nonsense about its wolf men's limited wardrobe budget: "In this future, spacesuit-polymers can be skin-tight and sufficiently-protective!" "Power Girl's costume has what amounts to a cleavage-window because she's still deciding on a logo!" "Female ninjas probably would use their sexuality as a weapon!" "Women in medieval-fantasy don't need to armor anything but their nipples and crotch, cause their fighting-styles rely on flexibility! Especially the Elven Wenches!"

In other words, BINGO.

He goes on to theorize that this table-turning is the reason that the series is so popular, and I suspect there is something to that. He also compares Twilight to selling tainted water to an audience that's dying of thirst in the desert, which I think is maybe taking it a little far, but only a little.

Also recommended: Sady Doyle on the objectification of Robert Pattinson. Some fantastic quotes in here from RPattz, who, like Sady, I'm beginning to like despite myself.

It makes me a little sad, in some ways, that it takes a series as problematic and difficult for me to respect as Twilight to bring all these conversations to the fore. On the other hand, the conversations are so important that I think it's probably worth it. Let's hope that lasting lessons are learned.
Tags: books, feminism, movies, the media

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