J.S. Asher wrote:Because I could post it no where else:
A Letter To Stephanie and Her Readers
Note to Mods and Admins: Finish this'"all of this'"and then decide what to do with me. I mean you no harm and I will not post again after this. Think of it as an attempt to make a civil reply to your earlier mission statement and consider it as you will.
Dear Ms. Meyer and fans,
I am afraid to establish where I stand among the readers of this publicly acclaimed series so early in my letter, for the knowledge may corrupt your thinking before I have had my chance to speak. So, with much courage, I will admit to you that I am not a fan of your books. I will not elaborate, yet again out of fear of persecution, but I can assure you that I do not condone to character bashing, name calling, or any other form of common rudeness expected of my kind, and, although I do not share your love for Bella, Edward, or their romanticized anaxiphilia, this does not alter my opinions of you, and I believe that you are all capable of civil reasoning and kindness even towards a critic like myself.
So why are you here? you ask. If you don't like the books, why bother posting on forums dedicated to them? Call it a masochistic weakness; call it a personal war; call it bitter research. I am fascinated and horrified with what commercialism and marketing has done to the world of art and recent generations' perspective of it. The New York Times Bestseller List has its name tacked across the front of millions of books, good or bad, like a purple heart to a soldier's sickbed. Many wear the title with pride, but it is not difficult to achieve; you just have to shoot yourself in the foot. Mind you, this does not imply that the Twilight series is to be condemned for it's reputation, but a book should not be prejudged by its financial status if the author wants it to be appreciated (or scorned) as it is. Every year I test my species' intelligence by investigating the most recent book I have seen clutched in the hands of my peers or stuffed in their backpacks among textbooks. Two years ago, I experienced torment at the pages of Eragon and its sequels. Now my inner conflict lies with Twilight. I will not explain why, being the coward that I am, but do not take offense so easily; the opinions of one critic should not matter to you as you stand with thousands of loyal and sufficiently armed supporters at your back and I with my meager company and wooden dagger. So curse me, accuse me, burn me like a heretic; I am not one to be pitied'"I am your love's enemy'"but allow me to give you a last word of warning for your benefit before the guillotine splits my neck: am I, and all of my kind, the so-called 'antis' , really the ones you should fear?
I understand why you and Ms. Meyer in particular should be so sensitive about a world that you have come to love and dream about as you take refuge from the tyranny of reality. I am a dreamer and a writer too, and although I am not published or critically renowned, I hope you do not choose to judge me by such things. I know what a character is to his author. Ray Bradbury once described his characters as his children, and he was more than four-thirds right. You come to love them despite their imperfect existence as prototypes of humanity, because a part of the humanity from which they are inspired is taken from the depths of your own psyche; to insult them is to indirectly insult the deeper portions of your soul. God fashioned Adam from His own rib and a writer creates a character from a piece of his own heart. I do not know, Ms. Meyer, if your fans and supporters understand this odd and often irrational form of affection entirely, but I believe that you understand what I am talking about. I also understand the struggle and effort involved with the production of a book; the agony of self-doubt, the increased beating of your heart as you relinquish your work to foreign hands for a critical eye to survey. Do not think that I intend to cause you pain, for I have felt it myself.
So, having bared myself as a sworn enemy, a coward, a sympathizer, and a fellow writer with precious brainchildren of her own, what do I mean to tell you? Who else could you possibly be wary of other than the anti-fans of the books you all love? Look around you. We may attack you and your beloved characters with vulgar insults and vicious threats, but there are many among your ranks that are just as unruly. Several of us have been unjustly accused on our own sites of being lesbians and 'retards' . The site that I speak of, by the way, is an actual attempt to give your books an honest critique. I realize that we anti-fans have said and done some horrible things over a simple book that has somehow wound its way through all our minds and caught them in a crushing grip, spurring us into tearing throats out over people and events that never existed except in our imaginations, but your side is as guilty as ours. Both sides fail to recognize its own faults beside the faults of its opposition, and that makes us all hypocrites in the end. Let us end this portion of our conflicts with an agreement and a truce: we are all, fans and anti-fans alike, the culprits.
My second complaint, however, rests entirely on your side. My first encounter with such as happenstance did not occur with Twilight, but with the briefly and enthusiastically popular Eragon. I do not know if you have read or even heard of Christopher Paolini's novel, but the book was known for its close resemblance in both setting and plot to Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series. This was not any reason for alarm in my mind; I was naÃƒÂ¯ve and I believed that fans of the book would catch on to its derivative nature and naturally turn to the classics from which Eragon's structure was clumsily gleaned. I was later horrified when I found out months later that the fans of the book were actually replacing The Lord of the Rings on the classics shelves with copies of Eragon! I understand, Ms. Meyer, that you, as well as your main character, are a lover of classics, so such news should enrage you as much as it did me. Not only that, but Eragon was suddenly everywhere: on posters across cities and shopping malls, at special conventions not unlike your Twilight Proms, and on CNN where the author, being nineteen at the time of the book's release, was declared a prodigy. And where was poor Tolkien; the author whose ground-breaking novels have been so abused by copycats looking for prestige and a buck or two? Ah, commercialism at its best! Behold as marketing rapes the last dredges of dignity left to the artistic world! But that is a subject for another time. Twilight, I realize, was not written by its author with the intention of becoming anything more than a pleasant excursion, but the same sin that condemned Eragon has befallen your novel as well. You have said that Twilight was strongly inspired, even based off of, Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, which is more than Paolini was able to say as he merely listed The Lord of the Rings among his favorite books and then pushed the subject aside. There are differences between basing a story off of another work and writing a story that is derivative of another work, the first being that an author who bases their story off of a famous piece of literature actually admits to it. In that, I am destroying any possible misunderstandings that might involve me accusing you of writing derivatively. I am not. But what I am concerned about is the fact that some Twilight fans are now replacing Romeo and Juliet with copies of your novel and declaring it better than Shakespeare. Is this merely a juvenile form of flattery or are we surrounded by philistines? What do you think, Ms. Meyer? I am jabbing you in the shoulder with this information, but it is up to you to decide whether they are right to do this to a classic that you claim to love. Like Paolini, you are also tumbling toward the realm of franchise as well: how can you take your characters seriously when people impersonate them like they would celebrities, when upon the release of the upcoming movie their faces and names are posted on the billboards of shopping malls, and when they are personified in comic strips as beady-eyed animals chirruping puns? (I know you may be thinking of the Harry Potter franchise as you read this, and I assure you that I would think far more of Rowling and her story if she had not shrouded it in marketing.) From the outside, there is something damningly ignoble about such treatment of one's characters and they lose a part of what makes them precious and real as a result. If I am coming across as worn out and long- winded it is because I feel as though I cannot describe the true crime that is being committed here. I am merely shouting into the wind, attempting to reach out to a group of people who may or may not find my opinions worth regarding. I am sorry if I am becoming unclear.
Twilight Lexicon's recent mission statement has also put me at unease as it duplicates what happened on the official forums for the Eragon franchise: our opinions have been silenced by decree and must be whitewashed to your approval. I understand your initial reasons for it, but such a maneuver will prove unsustainable and self destructive in time as it did on the other forum. You cannot keep the trolls out for long and former debate threads will be reduced to pages of, as my fellows put it, 'fan worshipping' which will undoubtedly bore and disgust existing and potential users. I assure you that you are not the only ones with problems such as these: freedom of speech can be a tricky thing and some people will abuse it. I also believe that you are probably embarrassed by your users' conduct and comments when the author of the very book your forum is built around frequents the site herself! I have looked over your arguments with trolls and critics alike, and although I have my own replies to them, I urge you not to be so surprised and horrified that someone does not share your thoughts or your love for certain aspects of the series. There is no way to convey your folly without pointing out that, yes; you are 'limiting free speech' , but your control over the actions of your users will eventually dwindle. If the masses could be controlled and informed in such a way, I would not be an active anti-fan of Twilight.
In a stroke of short-lived boldness, I had planned to add a list of common criticisms against Twilight and provide explanations and counter arguments using quotes from the people who have said them (including Ms. Meyer), personal experience, and quotes taken directly from the books, considering all sides of the argument so that, if any unintended fight were to break out in a thread despite your statements, you could refer them to an educated response to their arguments. However, taking this action would seal my fate on this site. You did not ask for an opposing opinion, or even a highly mixed one, and you have established that such thoughts are unwelcome on your site, so I will back down with less than a glare.
Now, my points made, what do I wish you to do? Nothing. I expect no favor from my fellow readers or Ms. Meyer. I am here to inform and to prod. Maybe you will consider what I have written here, or maybe you will scoff at it as a futile argument and destroy it. I no longer care. If annihilation is my fate, so be it, but maybe you will learn something from me, and maybe some phrase, some word from this letter will trail after you like a reminding omen. If I had more to say when this letter began, I have forgotten it in my realization that this novel and its fandom will fade and vanish like so many others before it. I no longer worry because such frivolous things, for all their popularity, do not pass the test of time except in the faint memories of those who once read them, but have lost the vehemence that drove them to fight for them. In a few years, the storm will calm and dissipate and the two warring sides will move on to other things of more importance if you do not break each other over nothing. And so I say: 'A plague o' both your houses!'
Response from a site owner who hasn't seen such a bombastic and and overly-dramatic post filled with logical fallacy since the most recent presidential debates.
1. You do realize that this site is not owned, and operated by Stephenie Meyer? As was stated in the beginning of our manifesto (our meaning Alphie, Pel, and Imogen) it has a policy based upon the personal preference of the owners of this fan site. This site is envisioned as a place where fans can kick back and enjoy. Stephenie Meyer does not sanction our posting and forums. If you want the official forums that are sponsored by Little Brown I would suggest visiting the Twilight Saga forums.
2. Last I checked there was no mass psychosis causing schools, students, and fans everywhere to replace Romeo and Juliet with Twilight. Surely if this were taking place the the National Council of English teachers would be up in arms, and that's just for starters. Unless, Stephenie performed some sort of hypnotic spell when she spoke to them in November 2006 as their invited guest, I believe that you have little to fear.
3. Twilight has many fans, as you cite book sales support this. This site has approximately 11,000 members. Clearly significantly more than 11,000 people have bought these books for it to have the success that it does. Not all of these people post here. You cite the abusive behavior of these fans. This site can and is only about what happens on this site. If you are having an issue with people in another forum, I suggest that you take it up with the moderator of that forum. We are gifted with many things around here, the ability to to control behavior off our site is not one of those items nor should it be. This brings me to my next point.
4. At the same time you ask that we control fan behavior that you personally don't like, yet you criticize us for regulating the content of our site. I classify this by stating your position is inconstant, though I am sorely temped to use the "H-word". Some of this regulation is character based, a.k.a. the manifesto, and some of it is plain old "The avatar that advocates in jest shooting people is not appropriate here. Please remove it from your signature."
5. Stephenie's books have loosely, very loosely been inspired by themes in classic novels and plays such as Pride and Prejudice, Romeo and Juliet (incidentally it inspired New Moon and not Twilight as you previously stated), Wuthering Heights, and A Midsummer Nights Dream. These themes being the following amongst others: jumping to conclusions at a first meeting, abandoning all reason and dying for love, making choices that are not selfless thereby showing your darker side, etc. If anything, I think people are now more interested to explore the originals, not shuffle them to the back burner. In no case have readers ever been encouraged by this site or by Stephenie Meyer to discard these books.
6. Lastly, I need to wrap this up. Were I to go fallacy by fallacy, bombastic leap in logic by bombastic leap in logic, pseudo-intellectual argument by pseudo-intellectual argument, I'd exacerbate my carpal tunnel syndrome, and moreover I'd want that hour of my life back. I think our fans, and for that matter the general population far more discerning than you, or in general, what society gives them credit for. I think they can judge if they want to associate with this site and its rules. My signature quote by Abraham Lincoln sums up our site's feelings along with another classic Lincoln statement that I paraphrase here: you can please some of the people all of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time. If we are not people's cup of tea, they can move on. In its simplest terms we cannot be everything to everybody.