Do “Twilight” Fans Get Flak Because They’re (Mostly) Girls?

Another day, another Twilight headline. Today, has an interesting article in which writer Sady Doyle (who defended Megan Fox on The Frisky) points out how books in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series are a smash hit (Breaking Dawn, for example, sold 1.3 million copies on its first day), but they get a hell of a lot of flak from … well, everybody.Pop culture trends favored by teen and tween girls are often derided as being silly and frivolous—just think about the disdain heaped on shows like “Gossip Girl” and “90210”! Doyle wonders if it’s possible that Twilight is attracting flak—from pop culture critics who think it’s garbage, feminists who think Bella and Edward send bad messages about relationships, etc.—because its fans are “fangirls“?

A little recap for those of you who’ve been living under a rock for the past year and a half of all the things Twilight (both book and movie) takes flak for, in no particular order:

  • obsessed Robert Pattinson fangirls
  • obsessed Taylor Lautner fangirls
  • Stewart/Pattinson romance hype
  • a supposedly bad message for fangirls about relationships
  • “racy” content
  • fangirl squealing
  • fangirl screaming
  • fangirl crying
  • et cetera, et cetera …

Why do I think Doyle’s gendered critique of the anti-Twilight flak could be legitimate? Well, when you think of other recent books which have caused a huge sensation, it’s true that Twilight (book and movie) is the only one which has women and girls as the primary audience. Harry Potter (book and movie) fans were generally co-ed, as were fans of The Da Vinci Code (book and movie). Furthermore, Harry Potter and The Da Vinci Code became sensational mostly for offending religious folks, which is not the case with Twilight at all.

On the other hand, few will disagree with me that Stephenie Meyer’s writing in Twilight won’t be winning any prizes. I haven’t read Harry Potter or The Da Vinci code. Word on the street, though, is that J.K. Rowling’s writing in the Harry Potter books is quite good, and Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code is fast-paced and well-written as well. It’s possible that backlash against the book version of Twilight is fueled by frustration with a kinda crappy book getting so much attention.

Clearly, pondering Twilight poses some very interesting chicken-or-the-egg questions. So, what do you think: If the plot was more about various adventures, like the Harry Potter books, instead of a romantic love triangle, do you think the Twilight empire would get more respect? [The American Prospect]