Shake It Off, Shake it Off — A Follow Up Conversation About Bullying

Something amazing happened this last week. Something so rare that it’s sent waves across the internet because of pure awesomeness and generosity. What’s that? Is it an empowering message via Taylor Swift about pointless criticism?

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Even better! Stephenie Meyer is using her clout as one of the most successful writers of this century and as a film producer to give back to the community. She’s doing this by producing short films based on her work, Twilight, and allowing 5 aspiring female creators to make said short films. It guarantees instant notoriety for those involved, helps women break past some of the barriers of the good ol’ boys club of directing in Hollywood, and gives the fans a little juicy content that they’ve been longing for since Breaking Dawn Part II hit theatres and grossed close to a BILLION dollars.

So naturally, the internet is awash in praise of Ms. Meyer for giving back, no caveats, no strings attached. Right?

Oh wait, this is the real world. This is the internet.

I wrote about the tragedy that is Stephenie Meyer (who still hasn’t released a new work of fiction since 2008, in large part, I believe, because she’s been the target of an extreme amount of bullying and it’s gotten to her) in a post a few months ago: http://delarroz.com/?p=105  aptly titled, Haters Gonna Hate.

Since that time, I actually attended another Sci-Fi/Fantasy convention in the SF Bay Area, and subsequently watched yet another panel of well known professional authors degenerate into picking apart Twilight. And this morning, I wake up to read Tor.com’s daily articles as I typically do, since their interests typically align with mine and Tor itself is one of my favorite publishers.  I see this:

http://www.tor.com/blogs/2014/10/twilight-short-films-facebook

An article that attempts to invalidate Ms. Meyer’s great contribution and giving back in a number of subtle ways. I’ll note a few pertinent points to the articles as well as some of the “fan” responses on Tor.com’s facebook page that shows that this bullying is still alive and well.

The article opens up with a criticism of the story: “Only two years after Breaking Dawn, Part 2 brought us the weirdest mash-up of non-starter epic battle and creepy baby/werewolf love affair…”   

Okay, at least the author saw the movie. Is it necessary to open an article regarding a contest for aspiring female directors with a swipe at the original story? Does it give any information pertinent to people interested in this topic that they don’t already know? Probably not, but okay, I get the person didn’t like the film. That’s fine. The article goes into a few paragraphs then detailing the press release about the Twilight short films that they’re going to undertake, and a contest for aspiring female directors. Cool! I wish this was the lead story here, as it should be.  We can move on, right?

No. Once it gets back into commentary on the topic: “So… what can we expect from this officially-sanctioned fanfic?”  

Now this may not seem like much of a knock, but fanfic is used here to make these short films being produced sound like they mean less than if they were some other sort of film. I’ve scrolled through Tor.com’s articles today. There’s a review of Star Wars licensed comics, no where does it mention it being licensed fanfic. A review of Dr. Who’s latest episode hailing it as brililant — also technically fanfic at this point if you think about it.  A Star Trek DS9 Rewatch, dedicating a whole article series to rewatching fanfic without calling it such.  So it’s definitely used as a negative term in this instance, even though that treatment isn’t given to other successful licensed properties.

We’ll move on again. “It’s also a bit odd that this female empowerment comes from the notoriously problematic Twilight.”  What? So we’re criticizing this incredibly generous effort because you don’t like the book? Why? What place does this have? At this point, ti’s becoming hate. And also.. it’s not “coming from Twilight.” Twilight is a work of fiction, it doesn’t produce things. It’s coming from a person, Stephenie Meyer. Who happens to be a woman.

“The Times wisely identifies this project as a marketing effort to keep theTwilight fandom at a constant low boil” — and the article ends with cynicism. They’re not REALLY doing it for the good of female creators.  Except for as facebook content they’re not going to make a ton of money on it no matter what, that is the stated intention of what thye’re doing, and Ms. Meyer definitely could use her clout for much more profitable endeavors.

As a whole, the article, titled “Twilight Will Live on Through Short Film Fanfic for Facebook”, again an attempt to diminish the scope of Ms. Meyer’s new found charitable cause, drips with hate. I get it, you don’t like Twilight, you want to make sure everyone else doesn’t watch it or anything to do with it either, as do the professional authors talking trash about it at countless conventions.

Naturally the internet trolls follow up with comments “No thanks” and “Facebook has a no porn policy lol”. Diminishing both Meyer as a person for this effort — and as an unintended consequence, the aspiring female creators who will be involved in this project.

It’s been beyond absurd for years. So I actually challenged the article on Tor.com’s Facebook page with a comment: “So when someone makes a Marvel movie about Stan Lee creations reimagined, it’s not poo-pooed as fanfic by people in charge of publications like this. So let’s ask the pertinent question here about why this gets treated differently even though in actuality, it’s the same thing (a licensed property, this time with more creator direct control) — is this because Ms. Meyer is a woman or because she’s Mormon?”  I believe this is a valid question, and I think if we look deep down at the heart of this issue, it’s a little of both. It’s worth reflecting on at the very least.

To conclude, I issue a challenge to the haters out there: How about you write something as impactful and lasting as this series of books, instead of trying to trash someone else’s good works?