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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Why Twilight is Great, and so is Saturday Night Fever

I'm going to share a childhood memory and date myself at the same time. Brace yourself.
My sister and I fought, seemingly non stop, for about a decade. We used to beat the stuffing out of each other regularly. She had the natural advantage of being 5 years older than me, but I was small, agile and had long finger nails. We hated each other throughout the long years of childhood until, at 16, she lent me her passport so we could go out clubbing together. After that, we've been what sisters should be to each other - like a portable piece of home.

But there is one really good memory I have of those fighting years. Anamari would dress me up in one of my mom's lilac or baby blue silky nightgowns (using belts and safety pins to keep it on) and we'd do exhibition dance shows for our parents. We'd do the hustle. She would lead (of course) and get to flip me up in the air, throw me down between her legs and spin me around. I'd circle her while she did this pointing thing (see picture) moving my shoulders up and down in what I was sure was devastatingly alluring. I think I was six.
That would have been me in the red.
My sister and I had never seen Grease or Saturday Night Fever. We heard the music and saw the pictures in magazines. At Halloween there'd be girls dressed as Sandy, like the sock hop had never ended. We didn't know about the origins of the pop culture memes of the day, but it didn't matter. We took it and created something of our own out of it.

You may love Twilight, the Hunger Games, Harry Potter. You might hate (some or all of) them and think they are over blown. You may be scratching your head wondering what I'm talking about (if you are, may I suggest you go back to the hermitage and contemplating the sound of one hand clapping?) But whatever you think of the original material, you can't deny that they are sparks. They have seeped into the cultural fabric with a vengeance and spawned movies, parody, music, art, fashion and tchotchkes you can buy at Hot Topic. Then there's the fan fiction, which 50+ shades of gray I will post about on Thursday.

So ultimately, though I don't think it's the best book in the world,  I do think Twilight is great. I've got my Hunger Games tickets for Friday. I've ridden the Dragon Challenge at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. These books make people want to be creative. How can that be a bad thing?

Wait, that wasn't rhetorical, I'm asking; Am I wrong? Can it be a bad thing? Do Twilight or the Hunger Games, irrespective of their intrinsic value, make junk? Does anyone need a tin mockingjay pin or Bella's cubic zirconia engagement ring?

16 comments:

  1. You're right. I actually kind of have to credit TWILIGHT for really getting me interested in YA. I'm sure I read some before, but I didn't become a voracious YA reader/fan until TWILIGHT. I'm not a fan of the series anymore, but I am thankful that it steered me toward my love of all things YA :D

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    1. Jamie, that's a really good point - hadn't thought of it, but it did get me much deeper into YA. I think I was headed there anyway, what with Harry Potter and His Dark Materials, but Twilight was a good 'gateway' drug :)

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  2. Oh, sock hops! That was the most popular social activity when I was a kid. Every dance was a sock hop until nearly high school.

    I don't think Twilight is "great" but I can't argue with the creative phenomenon it is partially involved in inspiring. I've read Twilight fanfiction that I think is much better than the original books; HOWEVER as light enjoyable reads, it was pretty OK. And I read all of them. Including the half-book. Yes. That happened.

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    1. Regarding the "junk" aspect...I remember my intense Lord of the Rings obsessive stage. Does anybody "need" a bookmark with a copy of the One Ring tied to the tassel? Does anybody need a Galadriel tiara? PROBABLY NOT. But, they are damn cool. And if fanart makes people happy, I say more power to you. Please don't name your child Frodo. There's *some* limits.

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    2. Oh Callie. When I get those little pamphlets in the mail - you know the ones, with the wizarding chess board, Hermione's time-turner and the authentic Arwen Evenstar pendant - won't lie. I'm tempted!
      And we did consider Arwen as a name for our eldest daughter. Phew - dodged a bullet!
      And when I say Twilight is 'great' I'm not judging it on it's own merit, but on how passionately it affects people, sparking creativity. I really think that is the greatest contribution of these books.

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    3. As soon as I published that last comment, I was like, someone here's going to have named their child Frodo, or their parents named them Frodo. And then I'll be a total jerk. O_o

      I've been SORELY tempted by the wizarding chess boards.

      Yeah, I agree with what you just said about Twilight sparking creativity. As long as vampires and werewolves are not real and no teen girls go around trying to "be Bella" in real life, it's all cool.

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  3. I loved Twilight when I first read it. Then I went through a highbrow, "the writing isn't really that great" phase. Now, I realize that I loved Twilight for a reason, that people calling out Meyer on her writing skills is (in part) jealousy, and that no matter what flaws it might have, at its heart Twilight is a pretty addictive love story.

    And I totally agree, whether you're a twi-hard or a potter-head or... wait, what are HG fans called? Anyway, whatever you are, it's great that these YA books are spawning a generation of creativity! Great post!

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  4. While I don't love all those books (LOVE HP, liked HG, finished TWI)I do love the effect they have on readers. And I love the authors for what they have been able to accomplish. Don't hate - congratulate! And, for what it's worth, I adore Saturday Night Fever. We still listen to the soundtrack :)I have a sudden urge to put on my my my my my boogie shoes...

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    1. Also, just for fun, I tagged you in my blog for the lucky seven meme. It'll be up Wed. Have fun! :)

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    2. Hey Sheila - thanks for the tag, looking forward to it! Personally, I think the Bee Gees are underrated ;) But, can you believe, I STILL haven't seen Saturday Night Fever in it's entirety? I need to get that on Netflix, pronto. I may even wear a pastel nightie and break out some dance moves...

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  5. The only reason some people really hate those books is BECAUSE they are popular and they want to seem "cool" by not liking what everyone else likes. At least that's my opinion. None of them are great works of literature, but they're not supposed to be. They are perfect examples of what they are and I had a great time reading all of them. And isn't that the point?

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    1. Sharon, I agree, that is the point, enjoying the work. Getting inspired by a story - whether it's through parody, fanfiction or music is a very big bonus!

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  6. Well said. No one can deny that this stuff is influential. And in my opinion, you can always take something away from that. Thanks for the great post!

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  7. Love them or hate them, these books have become part of our culture, and they do influence writers. There are people who have turned to writing because they loved HP, TWILIGHT, or whatever. Or they've turned to writing because they hated them, and felt strongly that they could do better. Hopefully, those in the latter crowd will develop due respect for the authors of those "hated" works when they try writing their own novels. But in any case, these books have become influential. And the lesson for everyone with these novels is: this is what you can accomplish if you have the passion, the drive, and the determination.

    And the Bee Gees are seriously underrated. :)

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    1. Colin, with you on the Bee Gees - absolutely! And I think about the 'haters' a lot in this sense: when they write (if they are writers) and they have to put their vulnerable baby out there, will they have a moment of OH! I get it? That it's no where as easy as it looks? Probably not!

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