Sunday, November 27, 2011

Brow-Beaten - A Response to Erika Christakis's "The Harsh Bigotry Of Twilight-Haters"

Brow-Beaten - Where Words Hurt

Hey all!

Welcome to my new section Brow-Beaten, where we will be examining some of the debates that films, games and other media can invoke. I read a lot of reviews and opinion pieces online and for every piece that makes me think there is a piece that makes me sigh. It's odd that media meant for contemplation and enriching of the human mind can so often end up making us merely angry, or in extreme cases, stupider. With that in mind, let's re-examine Twilight : Breaking Dawn Part 1.

If you haven't already, please take a few minutes to read my review of Twilight : Breaking Dawn Part 1 ( the receiver of such rave reviews as "LOL" and " You paid money to see that? Really?") by clicking the link here.

Now if you like, you can read the following article, "The Harsh Bigotry of Twilight-Haters" by Erika Christakis, published on under the Ideas section by clicking the link here. You don't have to read it ; I'll quote the article here.

Erika Christakis (hence-forth known as EC) is an educated woman who wrote a rather impassioned article about Twilight-haters, which we will now examine. Is she an intelligent, articulate woman making a number of fine points or an imbecile hack who does not know what she is talking about? I want you, the three people who read this blog, to decide.

(But the correct answer is imbecile)

EC, Yesterday

Point Number 1 - Artistic Merit In Numbers?

Quote from EC -
"And with Twilight : Breaking Dawn Part 1, ruling the box office, the juggernaut hardly needs defenders."

This point is just moronic. That the popularity of something excludes it from all criticism (also known as the "Bella Swan Defense") is something a child should be able to deride. As popular as other trends have been in history (Nazis, New Coke, Bruno Mars), one could argue that they were ultimately not good things.

This statement that Twilight hardly needs defending is doubly annoying when the rest of the article is a sad boo-hoo of how mean boys won't stop being mean to Twilight. This amounts to claiming Twilight doesn't need defending, so stop picking on it?

Point Number 2 - Acting Is Hard

Quote from EC -
"Kristen Stewart and her co-stars have been excoriated for their “sullen” and “wooden” performances despite receiving respectable and sometimes highly favorable reviews in other movies in which they have starred."

Well what the fuck does that prove?!

What difference does it make if Kristen Stewart did her job as an actress and actually acted at some point, somewhere? If I once made a woman orgasm (it could happen), would that then make me Don Juan? To say she has got praise in other films doesn't prove a thing as regards her performance in the Twilight series. Robert De Nero was in Taxi Driver. That doesn't make The Adventures Of Rocky And Bullwinkle a work of art.

She is AWFUL, and I mean ABYSMALLY SHIT, in the Twilight films because her acting is sullen and wooden and ABYSMALLY SHIT, maybe that's why people called her out on it, you fucking cretin.

And while we are at it, quote your sources for fucks sake! Where are these so-called "highly favorable" reviews? I struggled online for almost half an hour to find a review that mentioned her acting as a positive.

On the other hand, here are some examples of other people thinking Kristen Stewart was carved from the same tree as Keanu Reeves. To find those reviews, please click here, here, here, here, here and here. Oh and here is a review from a professional reviewer. No need to thank me.

Point Number 3 - Camp 1 : The Dismissive Camp

Quote from EC -
"wedding ritual, honeymoon jitters and the shock of unintended pregnancy; the topics are apparently too boring and unrelatable for most reviewers."

Firstly I would like to point out that most reviews, including my own, stated that the wedding was by far the best part of Twilight : Breaking Dawn Part 1. Secondly, there is a large difference between the shock of unwanted pregnancy (which is dealt with in the film in a three minute scene) and the actual issue most reviewers seemed to have, which was the issue of a pregnancy potentially killing it's mother and the moral implications there-in. Bella's only act of self-assertion in the whole series is to tie herself to the duty of a woman to suffer/die in child-birth. How progressive.

Characters not doing anything for almost an hour is something I find personally boring though. As for what's too unrelatable for myself, that would be all the necrophilia, bestiality, pedophilia and hyper-possessive behaviour of the series protagonists. Glad you Twilight fans find that those actions totally applicable to your day-to-day life. Somehow.

Point Number 4 - Camp 2 : The Deluded Camp

Quote from EC -
"The deluded camp, conversely, takes Twilight far too seriously, faulting it for leading young girls to mistake fantasy for reality in dangerous, disempowering ways."

Hmmm... So it's deluded to assume media can influence people eh? But then why do you say later in your article that "Violent imagery is, after all, associated with violent behavior"?

So which is it? Does the tone of imagery influence the viewers thinking or doesn't it? Are the haters deluded or not?! You can't have it both ways. Is your assumption that Twilight, a series that features multiple deaths (including dismemberment followed by burning and being torn to pieces by wild animals) somehow not violent? Nice of you to tear your own argument apart for me though, thanks!

Point Number 5 - What's A Vise?

Quote from EC -
"You want to saw someone in half or put their head in a vise"

My friend (and handy editor on this article, much love) Gillian would like to take this time to point out that you probably meant vice. Also, if you write for the TIMES, use your spellchecker. I don't get paid to write my articles, you do.

(N.B. I have just been informed that vise is an American spelling. Which almost makes me more annoyed then I was before... Thanks to Ernest Blythe for that one)

Point Number 6 - Critics Against Kooky-Ness

Quote from EC -
"Maybe part of the reason critics deplore these movies is not only because they are so unfamiliar with kooky heterosexual female fantasies but also because they don’t really like what these fantasies say about men."

No, as mentioned above, critics deplore these movies because they are fetid shit.

As for "kooky" sexual fantasy, is that the kind of sexual fantasy the cookie monster has? If you mean eccentric or unusual, I can accept that fantasies (by their nature) are difficult to critique, as everyone's fantasies are unique to them and their experiences. But that isn't really what the issue is about here.

Ladies of the world, do the following things make you wetter then an olympic swimming pool?

1. A man who threatens you with murder when you are both alone for the first time?
2. A man who destroys your car so you can't visit a male friend?
3. A man who can't kiss?
4. A man who hurts you severely during sex, then feels sorry for himself?
5. A man who abandons you, knowing it will cause you to have a mental breakdown?
6. A man who performs cesarean sections with his incisors?
7. A man who can't act?

This is the heart of this article and, much like Edward's, this argument has been dead awhile. These fantasies may make men look like abusive stalkers with an abundance of self-pity but they make women look like pathetic morons with no self-respect for desiring such a man. Twilight as a series shows no empathy, remorse or pity for the women involved and is far more insulting to them and females as a whole then it is to the male characters.

Bella gets literally ripped apart during birth, after suffering numerous injuries and seriously insulting and hurting those close to her, most of all her father Charlie. Male films, even those with questionable values, usually show male figures as empowered. Female fantasy like Twilight does not empower the female characters but rather strip them down to their most sexist, meager standards. To me this kind of media, which has reached millions of young, impressionable people worldwide, is dangerous; even wrong.

The ultimate irony here is that EC seems to feel any attacks on Twilight as a whole are just male-pysche knee-jerk reactions to women getting what they want in the cinema (which is apparently emotionally-unresponsive, sparkly, abusive vampires...?) and finds attempts to rationally critique the series as inherently sexist.

It's hard to believe standing up for women as a sex would make me the target of an angry rant about chauvinist cinema. Who would have thought that it would be so easy to convince women to angrily defeat a vicious, woman-hating piece of shit like Twilight? How can something so simple not make sense to so many people?!
This. Does. Not. Compute.

Point Number 7 - When In Doubt, Quote 3rd World Health Statistics!

Quote from EC -
"Most mothers know the sense of their body being taken over by aliens, and more than 500,000 women still die in childbirth every year worldwide"

Um... what?

I assume the alien take-over EC refers to are fetuses and not probings by visitors from Mars? If so, then she regards the act of pregnancy as something of a repugnant act. As a male, I have little right to judge but is this a somewhat hostile view of the act of pregnancy? If anyone can answer this, I'd be grateful to know.

As for the half a million women dying in child-birth, most of those women don't have their spine collapse first as Bella does. Most of those women also live in the third world and give birth in unsanitary and often flat-out unsafe conditions, not in the delivery room of a luxury condo in the mountains. I'm going to guess most third world women probably haven't got a lot of time for the plight of a wealthy, obnoxious, strange sub-urban white girl and her struggle to get laid. Just a guess mind you.

So your whole point is women suffer during childbirth and that justifies the extremely truamatising scene in Twilight : Breaking Dawn Part 1 that ends in an absolutely horrific death and near infanticide? That point doesn't really hold up to the harsh light of logic. That's like saying rape exists so more teen films should include rape by elephant to really drive home that rape is an unpleasant experience.

Point Number 8 - Men Are The Devil

Quote from EC -
"The other thing women know all too well is the lurking danger of men. The idea of a wildly earnest romantic lead who isn’t demanding oral sex in the high school parking lot (and who happens to look like Robert Pattinson) is all very appealing, no?"

No. No it isn't.

Wildly earnest is somewhat different to an odd stalker who repeatedly threatens you. That would strike me as something that hints at the lurking danger of men. Edward and his demands may not include blow-jobs but his courtship does feature injury, abandonment and segregation from your friends, family and everyone you care about. EC's article has now collapsed into a sexist, ham-fisted attack on males, not even as regards their role in cinema. At least your right that it's lucky Edward looks like Robert Pattinson though.

Point Number 9 - Everybody Needs Good Neighbours

Quote from EC -
"Is it any wonder that the young man whose heart Bella tosses aside for Edward is, you guessed it, a wolf? As one of my jaded neighbors once opined, “All men is half dog.”

Do I even need to analyse this one? Who cares what your sexist jaded neighbour thinks of men? To say nothing of the fact that through-out the series, Jacob is the ultimate victim, which somewhat under-mines your argument for him as an avatar of male aggression. Team Jacob doesn't exist in popular support of a dangerous male figure but more in support of a wounded male figure who, by all accounts, would be better for Bella then her final choice Edward.

Jacob is sympathetic and kind to Bella. His motives may be romantic but he makes a lot of effort to stay friends with Bella after he realises she loves Edward, even appearing at her wedding even though it hurts him to do so. He attempts to build bridges with Edward, despite Edward being nothing but hostile, abrupt and rude to him.

To say Jacob is somehow a huge threat to Bella does not mesh with how the story in either the books or films depict him. The only hint of danger is his animal side which never does anything to Bella beyond stare at her with sad puppy eyes. But who knows, perhaps they are secretly the sad puppy eyes of a monster.

Ok he falls in love with a baby (and seriously, what the flying french fuck?) but aside from that, Team Jacob for life!

Point Number 10 - Why Can't We All Get Along?

At the end of the day, if EC wants to enjoy the Twilight series then that's fine. She is a well-educated, adult woman who is simply enjoying escapist fiction. That's cool with me.

But to come out online and insult those who hold an alternate opinion to her, then go off and write an article that does not support her views and have the gall to use a smug, self-rightous, smarter-then-you tone pissed me off to no end.

That she contradicts herself or that her points often seem outside the topic is insulting enough, which makes it all the worse that she does this while insulting anyone who may feel differently. I may not hold Twi-hards in the highest esteem but I don't automatically assume they are all morons then use blatant sexism to back up my theories.

The only worthy idea she has (that female fantasy is under-explored in modern cinema) is totally disregarded very early on. This is sexist drivel masquerading as opinion-based debate.

If you wish to read an article that examines the long-term benefits of a phenomenon like Twilight then look no further then this excellent and much more humble article written by Anne Billson that is available via The Guardian online, click here to view it.

Anyhow, that's all from the first episode of Brow-Beaten. I must admit, that was fun! If you liked it, let me know and maybe I'll do more of these further down the line. Anyhow, I'll be taking a break for about two weeks I'm afraid. Don't fear, when I return, I promise it shall be worth it...

Til then!

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