I was first introduced to the wealth of online fandom communities a little less than 10 years ago when I watched the television show Smallville. Since then I have scoured the internet for websites that allow me to connect with people that love the same things I do. During this time I have learned that there can be a lot of hate whether it is between two different fandoms, two factions within the same fandom (anyone else remember the Heron vs. Harmony wars?), or your pesky neighborhood troll. Even with all that, though, the proportion of news or forum posts with little to no hate far exceeded those that were infected with it . Recently I have begun to see a shift in this trend with one particular group becoming the focus of an overwhelming amount of abuse: fans of The Twilight Saga.
I began reading The Twilight Saga after the first three novels were published and before any of the films had come out. I really enjoyed the books and couldn’t wait for the final installment, Breaking Dawn. Naturally I went online and began looking for websites about the Saga and found a few that I enjoyed. At this point in time the fandom was rather enjoyable with a nice group of people who found escape in a supernatural love story. There was the occasional bickering between Twilight and Harry Potter fans about which series was better (I will never understand this debate – they are two completely different stories), but all in all things were fairly docile. In the last few years that has changed completely.
Now any time I look at an online news story pertaining to Twilight the comments section following it is full of people making hateful remarks about the series and the people who like it. The moment someone says anything that sounds even remotely as though they may be a fan of Twilight that person is attacked as being stupid for the simple crime of liking something. It has gotten completely ridiculous and it makes me wonder why. Why have people gone from ignoring news to do with something they don’t particularly like to actively seeking out to hurt those who do like it?
It seems to me this change is directly correlated with the growing popularity of the series through the movies and, more specifically, the ever increasing number of boisterous younger fans. Fair or not, anytime preteen girls begin to obsess over anything that “thing” becomes a target for ridicule. As a former preteen girl myself (much longer ago than I care to admit) I remember and understand what it feels like to find that heartthrob you can’t stop thinking about, and so I don’t begrudge them their Team Edward and Team Jacob fanaticism – even if I do find it annoying. To be perfectly honest, the drastic change in the fandom has caused my own involvement to cool so that I no longer consider myself a “twihard”, but that doesn’t mean I am going to lambast some young girl for crying when she sees Taylor Lautner or for commenting “Oh my God he is sooooo cute!” when a new picture of Robert Pattinson is released. At the end of the day, no matter how loud these girls may be, they are still just that – young, insecure girls. Obviously the entire fandom is not just made up of this demographic – I know men and women ranging from teenagers to age 60 who enjoy Twilight – but it is a good probability that the post you are abusing was written by one of them.
Whether or not I am right in the “why” of the dramatic rise in targeted Twilight hate the end point is the same: it needs to stop. Not everyone has to like Twilight. Not everyone has to like Twilight fans. But everyone should be respectful of those who do enjoy the world created by Stephenie Meyer.