In my years running the website I had the pleasure of running into loads of different fandoms. From Harry Potter and Marvel fans (boy, do you never want to get in a row with those guys!) ruight through to smaller niche fandoms like Jurassic Park and Power Rangers. In general I love fandoms (yes, including the Marvel fans). That sense of community, of seeing a bunch of fans just geek out about their favourite properties – thing of beauty, man, thing of beauty.
The thing is, people do not belong to one fandom. And when fandoms fight, it gets ugly, because they start dictating what their community can and can’t like – and all that does is just alienate people. I love both Star Wars and Lord of the Rings but when the movies came out and some ‘dared’ to say that Jackson’s epics were better than Classic Star Wars, it got ugly for a time. So much so, that I found myself drifting away from both.
People don’t like the same things and I wouldn’t change that for the world. Diversity keeps the world interesting, gives us something to discuss. Which is why all this Twilight hate is really getting to me.
I’ve not read the books, but I’ve seen both the Twilight and New Moon movies. I didn’t think they were particularly bad as movies, but they really weren’t for me. Like many in genre the only thing I want my vampires glistening with, is their victims blood. I’ve not read the novels, people I trust say things that make me think I wouldn’t like them. If I’m honest, I think I’d hate them. I’m not, and don’t think I’ll ever be a Twilight fan.
But you know what, if you love Twilight, great! By the same token, if you’ve read the books or seen the films and hate them, you are equally entitled to your opinion.
The problem comes inbetween, where hate of the books has become institutionalised rather than a personal opinion. And with it, comes the generalisation of members of the Twilight fandom as “idiots”. (Note: people in opposing fandoms are always “idiots”). Call me old fashioned but I think that before you start spouting off to all and sundry about how bad the Twilight books are, you maybe should have at least read them. Note that this is different to someone saying they don’t like the concept of sparkly vampires.
Twilight has introduced a lot of new young fans to genre. Some will only ever love Twilight, attracted to the romance but not the genre element. Some will go on to discover Bram Stoker, or Anne Rice. I bet at least one kid reading Twilight now, will go on to be a big genre superstar in twenty years time, admitting in interviews “I know they were a little trashy but they introduced me to genre and I love them so”.
Which means that with this influx of young new fans comes a little fair bit of ignorance to what has come before. Which means taking a deep breath before telling the hundredth fan that Bram Stoker did not rip off Stephanie Meyer. Just remember that along with the ignorance, comes a lot of new ideas, and that’s good even if some of the ideas are bad.
Don’t get me wrong, I think there is an obligation on authors to educate their fans. I know it’s slightly different but I spent a lot of time engaging with fans of the old site and that investment really paid off, with all of us becoming more informed (myself included). Educated fans help the community as a whole, but that takes time, it takes investment.
The important thing is that Twilight is exposing a lot of new people to genre. That’s a good thing, but like any community when it gets an influx of new people, it takes some adjustment, the old guard wary of the new. In the long term it’s healthy but you gotta be open to change these fans will bring.