Since today is the apocalypse and my life is about to be snuffed out by a meterorite/rogue planet/solar flare/sudden wave of zombies/the four horseman/a race of underground dwelling potato people, I should probably talk about some inescapably beautiful book that summed up the course of human existence so perfectly I wept over every page.
But instead I've recently been reading all the Twilight books, so I don't know what to tell you.
I knew I'd feel bad discussing my reading habits here. Lisabet and Garce have already spoken of their books, and revealed their amazing literary tastes and their total intelligence. Whereas I am going to talk about a teenage girl who has a nice vampire boyfriend. I should probably redo my masters degree in literature while bound and dipped upside down in a vat of custard, just to make up for this transgression.
Or at least, that's the prevailing thought on Twilight.
Anywhere you go, Twilight is the world of literature's punching bag. Hell, it's not just the world of literature. Pretty much everyone and their mothers is in on the pummeling, from reputable news sources to some hipster you saw on a blog one time, talking about how offended they are that Twilight is so popular when everyone should be reading A Depressing Tome About Almost Dying.
Of course, the actual recommended title is completely different to that. But I feel making up a stupid title gives my opinion of said hipsters some tone, in this discussion.
Because...I don't know. I kind of find it ridiculous when people are all too cool for school and oh I'm so different and yes, of course I think Twilight is mindless pap - aren't I smart? And most of the time, my answer to that is...no, I don't think you're smart. I think the easy dismissal of popular culture, of books that have so struck a nerve that a book based on them has smashed records, is kind of silly.
But don't get me wrong - if you genuinely hated Twilight, there's nothing bad about that either. It's just the posing, pretentious feeling that you have to hate it. If you don't hate it, there's something wrong with you. You're thick, you're a teenage girl, you have no taste, etc. You wouldn't know a good book if it hit you in the face.
When the truth is: I do know a good book. I don't even have to have it hit me in the face. I can see it from here, with my years of studying and reading and being immersed in the world of writing. I understand the craft, the structures, the meanings, the subtexts.
And I like Twilight.
Of course, I understand that it isn't filled with incredible prose. I know, rationally, that they are books without conflict - that the protagonist is offered everything she wants and needs far too easily, culminating in her having a baby that defies all supernatural laws and never cries, shits, or needs her to breastfeed it. The books are flawed, without a doubt.
But who says we can't enjoy something that's flawed? I enjoy things that are supposedly perfect. Why can't I enjoy loads of stuff about these books? I like the fact that they are an unmitigated escapist female fantasy. I love the fact that for the first time in human history, something so driven by women is the top of the charts, the word on everyone's lips, the only thing that matters.
And when people try to sneer and dismiss it out of hand, you know what that feels like to me? Like the same dismissal women have been given for thousands of years. What women like doesn't matter. It isn't proper, it isn't normal. Women should feel bad for enjoying their fantasies, because their fantasies are all based around emotion and silliness and other rubbish stuff.
Well I say fook that. I see enough of that levelled at the romance genre every day. And I sometimes wonder, if the world was reversed...if we valued emotion over intellect, would we be so quick to talk trash about books like Twilight? If women were the victors of history, maybe such ripe contempt wouldn't be everywhere. We value what we value, a lot of the time, because of someone somewhere saying we should.
And that someone is usually a man. Or at least, it has been for a long, long time. Now that it's not always a man...now that 50 Shades of Gray can sell millions of copies almost by stealth...I'm not sure the world is going to continue in that same way. And personally, I'm glad.
I'm glad about Twilight. I'm glad my fantasies and hopes and feelings matter - that it's okay for me to say yeah, I'd love to be swept off my feet by a vampire. So what? Why is that any different to some balding middle aged schlub getting a hottie blonde in Sideways?
Because let's face it, that's why the critics ate that movie up. Don't look me in the eye and tell me something is high art, when really it's just something you desperately want to happen because you're a middle aged schlub, too. We all want our escapes, our flights of fantasy, our hidden desires made flesh. Men have just been getting theirs for a lot longer.
So next time you want to dismiss Twilight out of hand, maybe consider that. Isn't it time that women were allowed to get theirs?