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Twilight and women and Hollywood, again.

And here I was, hoping that I would never have to defend Twilight again, but noooooo, Hollywood had to go and ruin everything.

So the last time I discussed this media franchise, last fall, the fanboys of the world had united in their fear and loathing of Twilight because New Moon broke a box office record that had been held by The Dark Knight, and also because the screaming Robert Pattinson fans had "ruined" Comic Con earlier that summer. Still, the strength of New Moon's box office performance had some people speculating that maybe the studios would finally realize that women actually spend money on movies (note the second paragraph).

Yeah, so much for that.

Authors [of a new scholarly book on Twilight] argue shifting of marketing strategies with Eclipse indicates Hollywood devalues female fans :

Despite the record-breaking success of the first two Twilight films, Summit Entertainment shifts marketing strategies with its third film to attract a male audience, MU researchers said. With the latest Twilight film, the researchers observe that the marketing of Eclipse highlights a subplot of Stephenie Meyer’s book that is dark and violent, a ploy to draw male moviegoers. The official full-length trailer for Eclipse promotes the film largely as an action movie instead of focusing on the love triangle that is established in the third book of the Twilight series.

"Although the establishment of a love triangle in Eclipse is central to the story and marks a very important turning point in the series, the movie trailer highlights the action, rather than the romantic, elements of the story," Aubrey said. "Why is Summit doing this? From a cultural point of view, the media industry doesn’t confer cultural legitimacy on texts until they are embraced by men, not just women."

Because it's not enough that women will see this movie in droves and will spend millions and millions of their dollars on the film and the books and the tie-in merchandise. That's girl money, so it doesn't count. No, Hollywood can't possibly consider a franchise successful unless they can get the men to approve of it. Is this because, as a culture, we tend to value men and traditionally male interests more than women and traditionally female interests? Or is because men are the holy grail target demographic for advertisers? (Then again, we might ask why men are the holy grail demographic in the first place.)

I watched the trailer, and the above analysis is no exaggeration. Except for one brief moment where Jacob and Edward are staring each other down, you would never guess that there was a love triangle, or even a romance. Bella gets maybe 15 seconds of screen time; the focus is on the vampires and a little bit on Jacob. Full disclosure: I haven't actually read the book (I stopped after the first in the series), but from what I recall from reading synopses and talking to friends, the epic romance is the primary focus of the story, and the vampire army business is thrown in to raise the stakes at the end. (If I am wrong about this, I am happy to be corrected; let me know.) The film trailer would have it appear to be the other way around. So, here's the big question: is this just about the marketing, or did they actually change the movie to make it potentially more appealing to male audiences? Because that's where I would move from irritated to outright angry.

Hat tip to Comic Worth Reading; especially check out the comments, because the post's author pwns some mansplainers in a way that is really worth seeing.

This entry is also posted at http://owlmoose.dreamwidth.org/478353.html. There are currently comment count unavailable comments on DW.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 29th, 2010 03:40 pm (UTC)
I think there is an element of plain old greed to it as well. The filmmakers know their core audience will attend this movie multiple times regardless of how they advertise it; the trailer could be just a shot of a rhinoceros taking a dump in slo-mo with the word "Eclipse" at the end and the fans would come. So they figure, they might as well advertise to the people who are not guaranteed to come, like young men, and maybe they can get even more ticket sales. It makes sense as a marketing strategy, even if it is kind of annoying. I seem to recall people saying that the previous trailers also emphasized action and deemphasized romance to a certain degree.

I was just having a conversation the other day about how Hollywood seems stuck in the past, how it really seems like they are not getting any better at all when it comes to gender (or race) issues. I think I had seen a TV ad for some action movie that was like, 29 seconds of male faces and 1 second of a pretty blonde woman being kissed. I know the moviemakers would say they are giving the audience what they want, but I can't help thinking the audience is being pretty underestimated here.
Jun. 29th, 2010 04:28 pm (UTC)
While I think there is some truth to that, why is it that it never works the other way around? No one says "all the male fans will come see Transformers 3 no matter what we put in the trailer, so let's showcase the romance so that women will come see it"? Like you said, it's 29 seconds of action, one second of kissing. (Leaving aside the issue of "men like action, women like kissing" assumption, which would be a whole other post.)

I agree that things do not seem to be getting any better lately. Although I might just be feeling pessimistic because of the TLA mess.
Jun. 29th, 2010 07:58 pm (UTC)
Well, young men are not as loyal to Transformers 3 as Twilight fans are to Twilight. The marketing people probably think of the young dude audience as fickle, and the Twilight audience as totally locked in. Anyway, I'm not saying there is no component of gender issues going on here, since Hollywood clearly sucks in that regard, just that mercenary ones contribute as well.
Jun. 30th, 2010 03:31 pm (UTC)
Yeah. I don't discount the profit motive at all. It just interests me how it slots into the larger pattern we always see. "Here's a movie in a franchise that appeals to women. We should grow it by trying to attract more men!" "Here's a movie in a franchise that appeals to men. We should grow it by trying to attract... even more men!"
Jun. 29th, 2010 05:45 pm (UTC)
Chances are they actually changed the movie. Which don't get me wrong, I'm actually glad they did so. Eclipse was supposed to be about the vampire army shit. It was supposed to be about the werewolves and the vampires teaming up to destroy a common force. Instead, it was almost like Stephanie Meyer was so focused with the ridiculousness of that love triangle that she just forgot that her book was supposed to have a plot and tacked on the army ending at the end of the book.

I think the changes they must have done to the movie is totally the book done right (of course, I may be wrong as I obviously haven't seen it) but they could have phrased it better. Said that the movie was made that way so it was more action packed and such and not just oh, we did this to encourage more male viewers. And I also agree with what peachespig says. They're thinking about how much money they're going to make. That's about it. And apparently it's working, because my 16 year old brother asked me to take him to see Eclipse the other day. To say I was a bit confused was an understatement.
Jun. 30th, 2010 03:29 pm (UTC)
If Roger Ebert's review is any indication, the plot of the movie is not substantially changed from the book; the marketing is just focusing on the vampire army subplot.

I'm sure the studio's decisions are based on wanting to make more money. I'm not suggesting that a bunch of marketing folks sat down in a room to plot ways to attract men to the movie because they think male audiences are "better". What I always notice and try to point out when I see it, is the larger pattern their marketing choices are a part of. Want to attract a large audience to a movie? Make it look more interesting to men. And this is true whether the content of the movie itself is more traditionally male- or female-oriented.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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