Who Am I?

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I served in the US Navy from 2002-08; four of those years were as a Nuclear Propulsion Operator aboard an aircraft carrier. I engage in political activism in various Democratic circles when I am able to. I have a cat, and I am an uncle.

All opinions that I express are my own and do not reflect the views of any organization that I represent.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

TWILIGHT (PROBABLY NOT THE FIRST RANT AGAINST IT, NOR THE LAST)


It has been a while since I ranted about something. Right now I am working on some new ones. In particular, one about the Texas State Board of Education and their decision to eliminate historical figures such as Thomas Jefferson from history text books (REALLY… WTF?!).

Right now I am taking a (brief) break from politics to comment on two items: first, the upcoming NFL Owners Meeting that will discuss changing the overtime rules for the playoffs and my prediction for who will play the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints (still feels weird typing that….) on September 9 at 7:30PM Central on NBC (mark your calendars, shouldn't I get paid for mentioning that?). And, two, the topic of the release of New Moon on DVD.

While flipping over to the local news, I saw a story about the release of the DVD. It did not look like there was a long line at the store, but I saw a family with children at the front of the line. I guarantee you that DVD will still be there at 7AM. Parents, you don't need to be dragging your kids to get in line for a DVD/movie/etc. for a midnight release.

Now, have I gone to an event that I could have waited until a more appropriate time to attend? Yes. July 27, 2007. I went to a midnight showing for The Simpsons Movie in Newport News, VA. Was I tired the next day at work? Yes. Was it worth it? Yes.

Here's the thing: I went to the movie. Please note that last sentence. I went to the movie. Let me expand on that sentence:

I, by my own free will and only I, went to the movie for a midnight showing fully understanding the consequences of my actions that resulted in me going to work the next day sleep deprived. It was only me that saw the film. I did not coerce anyone else. I made an adult decision.

I decided to pull up my essay from English 1320 (which I got an A on the paper and in the class as well….) for the response. Now, I have never read the book nor seen the Twilight movies. I have read the plot synopsizes on Wikipedia to get an idea. Simply put: Not my cup of tea. This essay will stress that point.

Twilight Response
    The literary trend today among teenagers is Twilight, a series of books that falls under the newly created fantasy genre of vampire romance. This series has generated a multi-million dollar franchise for the author, Stephenie Meyer, and the movie studio that produces the series of films. There has been recent criticism of this work. The feminist writer, Christine Seifert, has created a different type of classification for this type of literary work: abstinence pornography. Even on the website youtube.com, a series of cartoons titled Tube Daze created by a former United States Navy sailor tackles the issue of Twilight being a form of pornography. In one episode, the sailors, portrayed as members of the United Space Navy in a Halo type universe wearing the familiar body armor, are on the midnight watch in port. Bored out of their minds, as most sailors are when standing the midnight watch, the discussion leads to the type of movies the sailors saw when they were last on leave (watch from 1:19 to 4:52). One of the sailors begrudgingly admits to watching Twilight with his younger sister and complaining more about the ridiculous storyline than Seifert's analysis of a vampire bite as a phallic representation. His friend makes the analogy of that women is to Twilight is as men is to pornography. Similar to Seifert's proclamation, the Tube Daze episode makes the connection that Twilight is based around a fantasy. Most pornography, gay or straight, is male driven which is based on the act of sexual intercourse. Female pornography is centered on the romantic aspects. Why would Twilight, a series of books written primarily for teenagers, be classified as pornography? Did the author of the books, Stephanie Meyer, purposely write pornography for an underage audience?

The issue at hand is what the definition of pornography is. Pornography, as defined by the United States Supreme Court in Miller v. California (1973), is anything not having any scientific, artistic, or literary value when applied to reasonable community standards. In a previous Supreme Court case, Jacobellis v. Ohio (1964) that dealt with an obscene film Justice Potter Stevens said "I know it when I see it." When applying these cases to Twilight it is difficult to determine if it is pornographic. A medical textbook can display pictures of naked human beings because it falls under the scientific value of the Miller case, and a reasonable person knows that a medical professional deals with naked people all the time. Michelangelo's David can be shown in even the most conservative parts of America without controversy because we, as a community, have assigned it artistic value. However, according to some groups of people, modern artistic and performance works such as The Vagina Monologues has fallen under the category of pornography because of the straightforward manner the show takes in celebrating being a woman. Others do not see it as such, but may see professional football as obscene because of the violence; the worshiping of false idols in teams, players, and corporate sponsorship; and the objectification of the women with their performance as cheerleaders on the sideline. This falls under the definition of what a community views as pornographic by their standard. In the community of feminist writers, such as Seifert, may view other works similar to Twilight in the vampire romance genre as pornographic with the analyzing of the plot line and discovering sexual imagery in a vampire, thirsting for blood biting into young, supple flesh of his victim. A teenaged woman only sees the passion between the characters and is checking the Internet daily for any information on any future movies in the Twilight saga.

Who is Meyer's audience? Clearly it is not Seifert, nor is it the sailors of the submarine force. Meyer clearly wrote the books for women, particularly in the teenager range of that gender that would believe in this fantasy. Meyer is also following popular trends in the fantasy realm. The author of the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling, has capitalized on the wizard market. Libraries hold social events where guests dress in costumes of their favorite characters. The relatives of Tolkien will never have to worry about making money because they have The Lord of the Rings series to provide them financial security for many years with people reading the books and watching the movies about a quest taking place in a fantasy world like ours that is dominated by wizards, elves, and hobbits. Apparently the popular trend in the romance fantasy genre among Meyer's target demographic is vampires. The trend shifted over from a muscular Fabio type character to a Nosferatu being. Somehow vampires, despite the conventional wisdom about their need to feed on human blood during the night and sleeping all day in a coffin, are attractive. Because of the Twilight phenomena television has capitalized on the romanticism of vampires such as HBO's True Blood, and the youth oriented network, The CW, with The Vampire Diaries. Does Meyer care about the criticisms of her work from Seifert? Of course not because people like Seifert is not her target demographic. If Meyer had written a book targeted toward feminist writers like Seifert, there would have been complaints from young teenaged women that her story failed to relate to them mainly due to that she did not write such a book targeted towards them. That is what is Seifert's complaint is similar to the sailors, the story does not target her.

Meyer did not intend for her novels to be pornographic, but from the point of view of a feminist writer it is. Meyer wrote a romance series in order to capitalize on the current trend among young people. This is no different than the romance novels that are sold in various bookstores around the world that fall in a fantasy genre. That is one of the basis behind pornography is that it is a fantasy. If a person imitated the action of rampant sexual promiscuity that takes place in pornographic films, they would face many years of disease and possible paternity lawsuits. Much like if a person spent most of their life biting people on the neck and trying to drink their blood. There would be serious legal and medical consequences to those actions. The real question that Seifert should pose is how dangerous is it when fantasy overtakes reality. When people fail to separate fantasy from the real world that is more dangerous than a serious of books being classified as pornographic.

Conclusion: I think Twilight is total crap, but I think calling it porn is a little extreme.
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