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10 August 2016 @ 01:13 pm
Twilight & Phantom fan-culture  
The changes have been set in motion... Now, to wait.

I registered for my Fall class: PHL211 Existentialism, which begins Sept. 26th. AND I applied for a job at New Seasons in the bakery. The bakery! If both of these things work out, it will be very easy to get from work to school or vice versa. Now I get to sit around for the next 5 weeks wondering what the rest of this year will be like, and particularly if things will get better for me...

In other news. I keep wanting to upgrade, and I think once before on this journal I have mentioned why: that in the absence of fulfilling relationships with other people I soothe myself by shopping. I mean, I've got Brandy and he's awesome when I can actually see him, but I'm still feeling down and really frustrated that I can't get out of this funk. So now, I got a new string of lights for my room and am hoping to find just the right new blanket for my bed. I went to Uwajimaya to buy new bowls for everyday eating (beauuuutiful ones straight from Japan!) and also to Kinokuniya for school supplies, all of which was Rilakkuma themed. ♥

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Also, I peeled a potato for lunch that had an epic butt-crack.

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So now that the perfunctory life update is out of th way, the main subject of this entry: I'm having a very bizarre fixation with Twilight. Twilight, the series I think was written poorly, and riddled with cliches, mary-suisms, sexism, and oh so many other unhealthy attitudes and behaviors... Twilight, Smeyer's magnum opus of bland and tedious wish-fulfillment narrated by a reckless, sociopathic snob. Yet there is something about it, where I can't look away, even if I'm yelling at the book or cringing at so many moments in the films. Something about it that I'm not too proud to admit parallels with Phantom, especially when it comes to fan culture, so it interests me to unpack the reasons for its popularity.

Now, unlike Smeyer, Gaston Leroux never glorified or glossed over abuse or codependency (we can thank Andrew Lloyd Webber for doing that ~70 years later), but regardless of the original author's intentions, both of these stories have had their torches carried by legions of young women who I think are jaded by real men and the experiences they have had with them. These are young women who have not always been so secure and are sick of chasing men who ignore, reject, or turn on them. I think they want to be wanted so badly that the other side of the spectrum (obsession, clinginess, creepiness) has its appeal if done in the right way, and if the man is brilliant enough, unusual enough, hot enough, or immortal. (I've read something once about how a fan knows it's wrong that Edward sits in Bella's room watching her sleep, but she just can't find it in herself to be bothered and still wishes a man like him was ensnared enough by her to want to do that.)

Both stories have to do with flirting with danger. These aren't Nice Guys - they kill or have killed before, and that habit is still simmering within them. They do not care about the rest of humanity, and they do not notice or find a use for other women, but all of their kindness is funneled down and directed at one target: one special woman who somehow disarms them, whom they regard as being better than everyone else.

It's only through the eyes of these men that these women are "better", though: neither Christine Daae nor Bella Swan are incredibly remarkable women. I mean, Christine is loads more interesting than Bella, and a much better person to boot, but what I'm getting at is the both of them are still imitable, and soooo many girls from these two fandoms have a yearning to imitate them so that they can attract men similar to Erik or Edward. Go to a Twilight forum and you will find girls trying to get a hold of books Bella reads or posting videos asking if they look like Kristen Stewart. For a while, Target was selling the exact bed set that she had in the films, and fans were clambering for it.

Meanwhile, pass through Phantom-related tumblogs and half the girls say they are singers studying music in school, wearing red scarves, or making it loud and clear that their ~*~real name~*~ is Christine. No matter what shit these characters go through, they are still young women who are passionately wanted by enthralling and dangerous men. (I also use the word "enthralling" vaguely, because Edward is still a very bland character. For all the decades he's lived, none has seemed to make an impression on him or lend the author any characterizing anecdotes. Such a waste.)

So I guess what I'm getting at is that Twilight might not hit me in the feels, it might even bother or bore me a lot of the time, but I'm extremely aware that its fans are not that different from the fans of the story I love. In fact, if you explore the Twilight fandom, there are a lot of nice people who say they have found a community that betters their lives, or feels like home. I would go so far as to say that some of these people's interpretations of the story and characters, and the contributions they make to fan culture, are more valuable than Smeyer's actual books.

While I was researching all this, I found two absurdly dedicated Bella & Alice cosplayers who treat each other like sisters and meet up every summer in Forks for Stephenie Meyer Day (lol). The both of them run blogs about hunting down the exact clothes from the films, being hired as performers at Twilight cons, and the Alice one does vlogs and stuff in character. Both also make it clear that cosplaying is fun but nobody has to be or look like anybody else to be worthy of love or appreciation. I would have never thought that this kind of thing was going on, but it is!, and I was happy for them. The Alice cosplayer said she scarfed down the books following a bad break-up, and I couldn't find it in myself to judge her. Look at what I'm doing, just because of an old flame making a brief and hurtful appearance in my life? Looking through these blogs with actual interest.

Anyway, I'll wrap it up by saying that the situation with the film cast is an entirely different but equally entertaining subject. With articles like 11 times the ‘Twilight’ cast hated ‘Twilight’ more than anyone, and tumblogs like Robert Pattinson Hating Twilight, I've been able to have my misgivings with the story acknowledged. They were a goooood balance... XDDD

Well, I'm starving. Bye!

-J
 
 
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