Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Twilight vs. True Blood

Everywhere I travel on the Interwebs these days, I encounter articles, posts and comments with themes similar to the following:

  • Twilight is too silly
  • "True Blood" is too smutty
  • Edward is a sissy, please bring back Nosferatu
  • Forget vampires, I dig werewolves
  • Forget vampires, I dig zombies
  • Vampires are better than anyone so shut up
  • Bella should shut up
  • Sookie is annoying
  • Team Edward vs. Team Jacob vs. Team Bill vs. Team Eric in all possible combinations

Some of this bashing is humorous and for fun, and then I can get a laugh out of it. But a lot of it is amazingly mean-spirited. I am sometimes tempted to put on a “make love not war” button. I know it’s human nature to say “my favorite vampire show/vampire hero/vampire-loving heroine is better than yours,” but everyone please chill! Whatever happened to “all kinds make a world?”

First of all, it seems kind of silly to me to do literary analysis of either Twilight or the Sookie Stackhouse books. Everyone on both sides needs to realize that none of these books can possibly be “worthless,” considering legions of readers love them. They were written to entertain, and just because they don’t entertain you, doesn’t mean they have no value.

I realize that sometimes it’s hard to get your mind around just how different people are from each other. I’m stunned by it every time I encounter it. But taste is an individual and varied thing. Just this week a fan told me her favorite story in my latest collection, Soulful Sex: The Darker Side, was the very one I happened to like the least. This has happened before, I assure you.

Truly, there’s probably no aspect of life where people differ as much as they do about sex. Not only do people have varied and disparate erotic preferences, oftentimes what one person likes is boring, unpleasant, or even disgusting to another. Consequently, when we argue about matters with erotic content—and you must recognize that the “Twilight vs. True Blood” debate is one such—opinions can certainly clash violently. That’s why it’s imperative to recognize this is a matter of taste, not esoteric absolutes.

I think about Stephenie Meyer’s first imaginings of Edward, so many years back. She had to have thought the concept of vampires avoiding the sun because it revealed their otherworldly appearance was original and interesting. I’m sure that writing about it was delightful. It is, in fact, a clever idea and one that has a certain charm.

No doubt Stephenie, had she thought about it, would have figured not everyone would go for this interpretation of the undead. But no writer can possibly aspire to please everyone, so that would have done little to dissuade her from writing about it. I’m sure she never guessed that one day it would become in vogue to bash the idea of “sparkly vampires” with as much virulence as you see on the Web. Of course, at the same time, there are plenty of people who think the concept is fabulously romantic.

Writers write for the people who will enjoy their work, not those who won’t. Think about it: what else can you do?

Our society has come a long way in learning to live and let live in the sexual arena. Most people recognize the diversity of erotic taste, just as they recognize that different people have different favorite colors, food, music, etc. There are a few absolutes, certainly (pedophilia, for example, is absolutely wrong), but much of the time we’re talking about just opinion. Blonds with beards get Joan excited, while Asians are a turn-on to Jean.

And therefore I’m suggesting, once you see that a million or two people (1) adore Twilight, (2) live for "True Blood," (3) think Edward is hot, (4) are crazy for Bill, etc., that should tell you none of these are worthy of condemnation. We all have our preferences, and you probably want to respect the preferences of others.

I think it’s fun to talk about favorites—I have ever since we passed around slam books in school (how’s that for an ancient term?). Mine (currently at least) are "True Blood," Eric, and vampires. That said, there’s a certain plotline in Breaking Dawn that I thought was brilliant; some days I really adore Bill; and Jacob and Sam have showed me that shapeshifters have their charm.

But what I really love is that there is so much out there for paranormal romance lovers of all stripes. So let’s celebrate the excellent variety of the smorgasbord! It’s so much better for the digestion.


bainst said...

I totally agree Diana, but the problem with people is that once they get passionate about a something--anything it can spiral down to mean spiritness. I've been commenting a lot on your log for that last few topics, especially about vampires and bad guys, and I have my preferences. But I don't knock others because they're entitled to their own opinions.

Diana Laurence said...

I'm sure you're right, that it springs from enthusiasm gone wrong. And I certainly understand the frustration one has when someone adores something that seems awful to you. Taste is an amazing thing...the variance is so wide!

ParaJunkee said...

Thanks for sharing Diane. I just really am excited that it is so popular now. I'm probably showing my age, but I was just getting into reading adult novels when Queen of the Damned came out (Anne Rice) and I became obsessed with the series - and vampires.

Going to Catholic School...well people thought I was an absolute freak. I think the words of a teacher were "pagan" all because of a little obsession with a make-believe race. Its not like I believed I would one day turn into a vampire, I just thought it was a cool idea.

It is wonderful there are now discussion posts on what supernatural race would you like to be...and which vampire is your fav. The fact that people are spiteful - well it just shows you that even in a subculture, people divide themselves and condemn, which is very unfortunate, because really all of us in this subculture have been looked at funny at some point by another, so they should be more aware of their actions.

But, like the kid on the playground that has his toy stolen by the bully and turns around and pushes the next smaller kid out of the way... no one every grows up its all playground psychology in the end. Everyone just wants to belong and feel superior.

Diana Laurence said...

Very insightful and true, ParaJunkee. I sometimes think that imagination scares some people, and their nasty reactions spring from that fear. Better to get familiar with the contents of your imagination, so you can find out it really can't hurt you!

We're probably pretty similar in age I think! Anne Rice's books were the first vampire literature I read voraciously.

Mesmer7 said...

I've never been a fan of romance novels, and the one episode of Tru Blood I watched bored me to death. But I recently picked up Shana Abe's book, Queen of Dragons, and enjoyed it. The book was in the science fiction area of the library, so I expected sci fi, which it was. But I was surprised at how distinctive and well developed the lead female character was, and that kept me interested.

Diana Laurence said...

New book to me, Mesmer! And True Blood isn't for everyone I'm sure...nothing ever is!

Miss Organizized said...

This truly is an unfortunate thing about the human race. And so freaking frustrating too. Clearly the internet is an easy way to bully people around. I was in that environment a lot during my LiveJournal days and it actually got to the point where it made me lose some faith in humanity (some?) Now that I don't really take part in forums, I guess ignorance is bliss ;) Obviously it's a part of your job as a published author to be within the 'forum' type of environment...a necessary evil if you will.

Diana Laurence said...

Man, Katesi, I don't miss those LJ days of yours. So many heartaches and tears! In a way the internet can be real life distilled down, and condensing the bad stuff is not a good thing.