I first got into the Twilight series because my sister was raving about them, and yeah, I’m not afraid to say that I enjoyed them. What I really appriciated about them was Meyer’s daring to go so far outside the typical vampire templete, giving them a twist that we had never seen before. She went farther outside of the box than I intend for the vampires in my would-be paranormal romance. And for that she has my respect as a fantasy writer.
I could never get into the movie adaptations. I watched the first one, thought many of the creative desicions made were awful, and chose not to engage with the rest of the films. But that didn’t deter my appreciation for the books. Yet unbeknowst to me, there was an entire counter-cultural crusade against the Twilight series and Stephanie Meyer herself that went on during the late 2000s. YouTuber Lindsay Ellis made a phenomenal video about the hate Meyer got, which I highly recommend.
Ellis gives thoughtful insight to how “we, and by we I mean our culture, we kinda hate teenage girls.” So because Twilight was shamelessly geared towards this demographic, it became a target for that wider, societal contempt.
I’m not saying that there isn’t any legitmate criticism that can be made against the Twilight series. There are a slew of feminist arguments that can be made for the sublte and sometimes overt misogyny represented, but a cultural phenomenon such as this in literature and film should be taken in stride as a learning lesson, not as a call to grab one’s pitchfork and set the author’s house ablaze.
The popularity of Twilight and the like reveals unflattering elements of the human condition that many wish just didn’t exist or at most were restricted to a small minority of teenage girls and wine moms. But with over 100 million copies sold, this reveals the painful reality that we haven’t evolved as a society as much as we would like the think we have. So rather than analyze why some unhealthy social constructs represented in books still have a dangerous hold on our collective psyche, people instead choose to lash out at the author for the unforgivable offense of writing the book in the first place.
I find the distain for Meyer in a small way comparable to the distain for Trump. The current president makes himself very easy to hate, but I must admit that I don’t so much hate Trump as I am saddened by the sizable chuck of society that gave Trump power. Before Trump I would have thought American society as a whole has moved beyond racism and sexism at least enough to easily dismiss someone like Trump. The fact that he now runs the United States is very telling of all the blind spots our society still has.
In short, we shouldn’t hate Stephanie Meyer nor think of Twilight as this blasphemous stain on modern literature. She didn’t do anything that society didn’t allow her to do. Twilight is not the worst in the YA romance genre when it comes to promoting sexist stereotypes, but because the series grew to be so big, Twilight and its creator have been highjacked as the ambassadors for everything we despise about certain social problems that we still face.
You can hate Twilight, but that hate should be directed towards something constructive, not mindlessly fuel disgust for the author and anyone who dares to enjoy Twilight.