Today the Young Adult community of writers and readers is up in arms over an extremely condescending article on a website called Slate. The sudden fallout from the article gives me perfect lead to talk about something I’ve been meaning to write about for a while — the Anti-Fanboy.
The article in question.
It’s been interesting for me, personally, to watch the backlash from all sides against the Twilight franchise (you know, “Ooh, sparkling vampires!” and, well… there’s a lot worse of comments being made about the franchise, particularly the movies, but some of it might be NSFW). Whenever the movies do well, which they always have to date, 90% of the comments on the Facebook fanpage for Box Office Mojo are people saying “I can’t believe people watch that crap!” and “I hope the new Twilight movie BOMBS!”
The negative reaction, the mockery and the insults and degradation, against Twilight and people who like the series (either books or movies) is even to the point where I’ve known people who were actually afraid to admit to me that they were reading the books. I’m not talking about the bouncer for the seedy nightclub downtown, I’m talking about young women that I worked with.
I have no problem admitting that I watched the first two Twilight films. I didn’t particularly enjoy them, but I see no reason to hate on them. I’m sure Stephanie Meyer put as much thought into those books, if not more than, what I put into my own works. I’m sure Catherine Hardwicke (director) put a lot of time, energy and thought into making those movies excellent.
As I said, I didn’t personally find them all that entertaining. The first had an interesting, almost Shakespearean, premise. The second kind of took that and turned it into a soap opera, but I understand there’s an audience for that.
The truth of it is, we as humans, or at least Americans of the 21st century, hate fanboyism. Unless it’s something we’re a fan of, in which case we often become fanboys ourselves.
I’ll admit, I hate Avatar. No, no, you don’t understand. I. Hate. Avatar. The movie — the show, Avatar: The Last Airbender, is actually pretty good (though Shyamalan’s adaptation was utter garbage). But James Cameron’s Avatar is actually a decent little movie. It’s a remake of about five other movies, but it doesn’t fail to entertain. When I first saw it in theaters, opening weekend, it was actually kind of fun.
But then everybody started raving about it. “Oh, it’s amazing!” “It’s beautiful!” “OMG, 3D!” “Oh, the visual effects!” “OSCAR! OSCAR! OSCAR!”
And… the film wasn’t that good. It didn’t deserve the $2.8bil it made worldwide. It definitely didn’t deserve more than a couple Oscars (thank God The Hurt Locker took home a well-deserved Best Director/Best Picture duo), and those only really for VFX and maybe Cinematography.
So when everyone started acting like fanboys toward Avatar, it was my natural, instinctive reaction to hate the movie. And I did. And to a large extent, I still do.
I became the Anti-Fanboy.
The same thing happened with Toy Story 3. I grew up on Toy Story, and loved Toy Story 2. It wasn’t that Pixar took my beloved franchise and ruined it. No, instead they ended it with a boring rehash of TS2, and everyone cried and loved it and it won Oscars and made a billion dollars. And so now I hate Toy Story 3.
It’s this same anti-fanboyism that drives vast numbers of deluded persons like myself to hate Twilight. It’s for that reason that so many people think the series is horribly made. It’s for that reason that so many people think that Young Adult fiction in general is formulaic vampire porn.
It’s not because it is, it’s because enough people like something that we don’t like that we feel the need to condescend and demean those who do. We feel that people who love Twilight must be immature teenage girls who faint at the sight of chest muscles, and we feel that YA writers are probably the same. We feel that if we ourselves did not enjoy this, it must not be of good quality.
Young Adult authors don’t just do two drafts of a book and then throw it out to the masses. YA writers work hard and fast to get things done, and to get them done right. I don’t write YA fiction, and I don’t read much of it. But what I have read, I’ve mostly enjoyed. I’m even looking to reread some old YA books I loved in my early teen years, such as The Bartimaeus Trilogy and The Sea of Trolls. And though I may be sternly anti-fanboy over Avatar and Toy Story 3, I’m earnestly attempting to change that, and I hope you’ll do the same.