Archive for March 17th, 2011

Twilight versus Star Wars?

Amanda Hocking asked: “Why is it so much more respectable to geek out over spaceships and a made up religion than vampires with undertones of a real religion? Is it because of the romance? Is romance inherently uncool?”

Frankly, Scribbler said it already and said it well:

“The thing is, if you take the vampires and the werewolves from Twilight, you actually have nothing that makes it geekish. It’s a romance story. They aren’t fighting to save the world, they aren’t even really fighting evil. It’s all about scores of characters fighting over the safety of one human girl. Theres nothing grand or epic in that.

Look at the vast majority of geek “stuff”. it’s mostly – and I do emphasize “mostly” – epic. It’s grand scale. Super heroes taking on super villains, the underdogs taking on the vast evil space empire, a bunch of heroes out to save the world from some huge monster. Innocent people get saved from the big bad.

Twilight is the opposite. Lots of innocent people getting killed (The Vampire Army) just to get at one girl. It actually runs completely against “needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”.

Also, there are no male characters, bar the “bad guys” getting killed maybe, that are actually of any interest to guy geeks. The two main male characters don’t stand out as particularly interesting or strong characters in a “hero” sense. Neither of them seems inclined to use their unusual super power on some kind of grand scale to help anyone other than Bella.

I see them as no different to any other male characters in a romance story.”

Precisely.

It’s not about geeks disliking everything that the mainstream likes, or necessarily purely about gender and their different takes on what is enjoyable and what not, or even the question about whether romance is icky or not. To frame it in those terms almost seems like making strawmen arguments.

Personally, I don’t find the Twilight stories compelling because I find them shallow.

Noting: I read fluff all the time. In fact I read so much fluff I’ve been accused of having it rot my brain. I have nothing against fluff. At all.

There is nothing at stake. That is, nothing too important.

Ultimately it’s a love story with nothing hanging in the balance asides from one or two people’s happiness. Perhaps if you threw in their families and friends, you might get fifty people who are going to be affected by the outcome.

Compelling? Perhaps in the short term.

Compared to the fate of the universe and whether it gets taken over by the dark side? Suddenly not quite so much.

I like Babylon 5, Star Trek and so forth because there’s depth. There’s humanity and sacrifice. There’s more to it than just two people angsting over their rocky love affair. There’s entire worlds at stake and millions of lives routinely hang in the balance. Even barring that, the political angling is fascinating.

I adore romance novels and I probably read a couple thousand of them over the course of my life — but I’m not going to consider them worth “geeking” out over.

To me, it’s diluting the concept of geeking. Geeking to me involves actual thought about the work; being able to take home something other than the purely superficial.

Interesting as Meyer’s work is, I don’t think there’s much to read into it past the literal. There is no worldbuilding as it’s mostly set within our world; there’s no interesting twist in terms of vampire culture to delve into; there’s nothing particularly political in how the vampires and werewolves intersect, and the romance between Bella and Edward isn’t even as tragically fraught as Romeo and Juliet’s (which I feel is saying something) because there’s nothing but angst keeping them apart.

At the end of the day, I want something that makes me think, that stirs the blood in ways more than just hormonal.

Twilight just doesn’t do it for me in that sense.