Review Rant : The Bastardization of the Female Fan

When Twilight was released last year, I found myself concerned by some of the negative reviews written about the movie. Don’t get me wrong. I am not one of those fans who insist that all off those around her must love what she loves. I found, while enjoyable, the Twilight film to be rather flawed. My dismay was the way critics attacked the film. I felt compelled to write a paper exploring how female fans are portrayed in the media for my Popular Culture class.

With new reports surfacing that New Moon made almost 26 million dollars during its midnight showings, the power of female fandom can’t be ignored. Yet, critics continue to bash the series for plot devices and character representations that have long been accepted in films geared towards male audiences. Let’s take a look at some of the major complaints against New Moon:

1) The numerous shirtless appearances by Jacob and Edward

Funny that for decades females have been objectified on screen (just look at some of the most famous scenes in recent blockbuster films – Megan Fox straddling the motorcycle in Transformers, the useless undressing of the female lead in Star Trek……Kirsten Dunst soaking wet in the rain in Spiderman,….). It has become an accepted part of the cinematic adventure. It is no coincidence that often the Oscar for best actress goes to a woman who plays a female who does not fit this sexualized identity – put on some weight, wear less make-up, butch yourself up and you’re a shoe in for a nomination. The sexualized female is the norm; it is often only when one steps out from this identity that she receives critical acclaim.

Yet, New Moon is geared towards female sensibilities, and it becomes a joke. The ooooh-ing and ahhhh-ing for the sexualized female is an accepted part of the movie watching experience, while the ooooh-ing and ahhhhh-ing over a male by females is insipid and shallow.

2) There is no passion, no edge to Edward and Bella’s relationship.

When did it become a sin for an onscreen couple to not jump into the sack right away? New Moon is not True Blood, and nor should it be expected to be. In fact, the classic vampire tales, such as Dracula and Carmilla, are devoid of sex. Sure, there are allusions, but no sex. So one actually has to read into the symbolism, which means using your brain, the lump three feet above your….. but I digress. Their relationship has been called timid or tame, but I suggest it is their restraint that showcases their passion.

3) Cheesy dialogue

Now I admit, The Twilight Saga has some cringe worthy lines, but unlike in Twilight, they work within the construct of New Moon. Weitz’s film echos films of yesterday; it follows in the tradition of using a score that weaves itself within the story, a character onto itself, relying on the power of words to express feelings and sentiments rather than physicality. Think of the classics – they are filled with these larger than life lines that echo a time when dialogue was similar to that heard on the stage. Now, we live in a society too jaded to sit quietly and accept, while melodramatic, the poetry behind the lines. I do feel the script has been the major downfall of both films, but Kristen and Taylor especially pull these lines off with ease in New Moon. But, once again, these lines are often chopped up to being mushy and female in nature. Just by terming them female they somehow take on a negative overtone; when did this become alright?

I must repeat my anger is not over the fact that critics tend to still not love The Twilight Saga; I get that. My anger comes from the ways in which by labeling the film female, the labeling somehow suffices for its description. How many reviews read: well teenage girls will love it. Perhaps I read too much into this, but alas I feel compelled to speak.

Check by this Sunday for my official review of the film.


16 Responses

  1. 100% agree with you … heaven forbid we view the female audience as an acceptable, viable audience.

    I was talking about some of the gratuitous eye candy scenes in “New Moon” with coworkers on Thursday (saying that while enjoyable to look at, they were completely ridiculous within the context of the film) — and my coworker noted that he’d felt the same way watching “Transformers 2” with Megan Fox. (It was refreshing to hear it coming from a guy …)

  2. I could not agree with you more! Bravo for writing this. I wish critics would leave the Twilight fans alone so that we may enjoy what we love ;). I don’t run around, thumbing my nose at all the female objectification, waving red flags about it. It’s become a staple for the movie industry. I also agree with the poetry of the lines and the script – sometimes, action isn’t needed, just a lovely story. I do feel the movies would be better if we had another screenplay writer…but that’s just me. I’m just happy the books are on the big screen.

  3. i could absolutly not agree with you any more. you are so right, and this needs to be shown to every male critic of the films. it’s extremly sad to me that these facts seem to be so elusive to all the men when it’s so painfully obvious to the women. yet another sign men need to open their eyes and quit being so single minded.

  4. Thank you! I’ve been wondering if I was alone in feeling this way!

  5. You’re definitely not alone in feeling this way. This is even a major topic of concern amongst those who don’t like Twilight.

    Several of the reviews question how New Moon can sustain it success cite that Twilight’s earnings dropped by 49% from Friday to Saturday. This is a valid concern, however, they’ll then go on to say that it another reason it cannot sustain itself is because it fails to capture male audiences.

    Where was this concern for the female audience with Batman, Star Was, Transformers, GI-Joe or any other male centered movie franchise?

    I also think a lot of the vitriol is because these critics KNOW that this movie will do well no matter what they say & use this as an excuse to use particularly inventive & cruel language.

    I also noticed that many of the reviews talk about New Moon ‘lacking’ the magic of Twilight. It’s been a year, but I seriously cannot remember the critics gushing about how magical Twilight was. And Ebert’s review reads as if he didn’t even see the movie!

  6. I’m no feminist, but I agree with your comments … as much as I can without having seen the movie yet (is it Sunday yet?!)

    I, too, have been concerned with the pidgeon-holing going on; perhaps the critics 1) haven’t read the books so they lack appreciation for their depth and 2) don’t realize that many, MANY fans are not “silly” teenage girls … we are thoughtful, educated, worldly, well-read professionals who happen to appreciate Stephenie Meyer’s writing and are thrilled that it’s brought to the big screen so we can enjoy it in another form.

    I’ll be reading your paper (that you linked above) over the weekend … and it’s discussions like this that make me so glad to help with NNT.

  7. Ha, well I am very much a feminist 🙂

  8. Thank you. I had been thinking of writing a piece like this myself.

    I have been feeling this irrational, unabashed joy for the last several days. I ENJOY this. Was it as Oscar worthy picture? No, but it makes me HAPPY. I want to see it again because the feelings it evokes (and to stare at Edward some more! YUM!), not because it’s an art piece. I LIKE these kinds of movies and stories, and I am SO SICK of everyone slamming it just because it’s the “hip” thing to do. Fart jokes, gratuitous sex, and gore are OK, but this ISN’T? I don’t get it, and frankly get a little p.o.’d at the double standard.

  9. OMG, well said. I’m tired of the Ben Lyon’s of the world hating Twilight sooo much, that he would actually stoop so low as to degrade the Oscar winning special effects legend, Tippit calling the effects “still amaturish”. Huh?! Are you kidding me? The wolves looked believable to me. The fanboys are on the war path because New Moon has smashed the box office records for The Dark Knight and Star Wars Episode 3. Not to mention the Potter films. They underestimated the female fan base to their own peril and I’m loving every minute of it. So, let the haters hate. Summit is laughing all the way to the bank. They have clued into the female audience. With the release of Remember Me next year, that will do well too. Eclipse will outdo New Moon, mark my words. Breaking Dawn will do even better than them all. So I say fanboy reviewers and critics…take that! Keep hanging on to your Avatars and Spidermans…we’ll take Edward and Bella thank you very much.

  10. Thank you so much for posting this. I agree 100%. Im so glad there are others out there that feel the same way. It seems Like those who are Bashing it so harshly have not even read the books. Like Lorrie said i wish they’d just leave the twilight fans alone. If you like it good, if not just stop talking about

  11. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am very concerned about the level of viciousness in some of the reviews. No, the movie isn’t Oscar-worthy but the negative comments about it are completely unwarranted and the only reason I can find for it is a disdain for women, and fear that we as women will ignore the “professionals” and see the movies we want to see without consulting them.

    And thank you for pointing out, and how many times do we have to say it?, that it is NOT a sin for teenagers NOT to have sex. I just don’t get it, especially with the moral majority constantly spouting off about abstinence.

    So, thank you for writing this. I sincerely hope that some of the powers-that-be will read it and take it to heart – at least a little bit.

  12. I agree as well. First of all, it’s about time that we as women are able to unabashedly admit that we like looking at good-looking men without their shirts on. The shirtless scenes were true to the book and weren’t written into the plot just as gratuitous sexual eye candy. As you said, Women have been objectified for centuries and now it’s time for the men to be considered sex objects too.

    I think the lack of physicality is refreshing. I don’t need to see everything when I thankfully know I can still use my imagination to picture some of the nuances hinted at by the writer. That’s why I read books without pictures!

    And I think the most important point that was left out of this entire conversation is that it seems no one is adverse to taking money from WOMEN. So the fact that we’re paying to see these movies and making them multi-million dollar blockbusters is okay with everyone?

  13. I 100% agree. There was an opinion piece in our newspaper calling Twilight stupid porn for women with no plot or character depth. I wrote back and said basically the same thing you wrote. I’m not surprised it wasn’t published because no one wants to hear anymore about gender discrimination or from a female perspective that actually rings true.

  14. You are so right, especially on the first one. The movie has its flaws, but some of the critics it gets is just stupid.

  15. I agree. I have been saying these things, perhaps even a bit more stridently. I am sick of the male dominated show biz world attacking The Twilight Saga. They are trying to make it almost shameful for an actor to be in it. If their mind-washing techniques ever get to one of the male leads, we could lose one of them for Breaking Dawn. Can you imagine Edward played by someone else? Or Jacob?

    Movies today are not adult, most movies are TEEN MALE oriented. Transformers, X-Men, Spiderman, Batman, Indiana Jones, Fantastic Four…and yet you don’t see a single critic complaining about “Oh god not another Teen MALE movie”. They may complain but they don’t make it a gender issue. As if there is something particularly stupid about females.

    I refuse to go watch any more teen male porn, war movies, etc. Let’s see how those movies do with an 80% male audience.

  16. I totally totally agree with you. I am ecstatic to read your rant!

    I don’t read critics of any movie cause I tent to think they are paid to either sing the praises or destroy a film, it never strikes me as personal like or dislike.

    I’m not blind I can see the flaws in both movies but I was not expecting a masterpiece and I accept Twilight and NewMoon for what they are entertainment! And bloody good at that. Guess what they didn’t set out to be oscar worthy movies

    I don’t go to the cinema only to watch oscar worthy performances infact the main reason is to escape to be entertained.

    Twilight and NewMoon do just that for me! They make me happy! Judging by the takings and repeat viewings they do the same for a lot of people (not just females). I wish the critics would stop boxing the public into definitions that are at bets ludicrous and at worst insulting.

    Thank you for your rant it was a pleasure reading it

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