In which I seem to have spontaneously morphed into a grouchy old fanhag, and briefly sing the praises of Vampire Game

You know what meme I could stand to never see again? The idea that people hate on Twilight because the fans are “overwhelmingly girls”.

I love me some good girl-oriented series. My manga shelf contains the entire eighteen-volume run of Peach Girl, a high school drama with a much-harassed heroine and a pair of prospective suitors that isn’t afraid of diving into soaring heights of melodrama. I’ve devoured Jane Austen and Kaoru Mori, I’m still keeping up with Desperate Housewives, I will sing the praises of Madeline and Dorothy and Utena, and you will take my Sailor Moon from my cold dead sparkle-strewn hands.

And there’s no question that any hint of female focus in media gets looked down on in general. The basic imbalance highlighted by the Bechdel Test shows that up in a heartbeat. Female writers routinely use, if not male pseudonyms, initials that don’t betray their gender (think K.A. Applegate, J.K. Rowling, and, yes, D.B. Ferguson). After being disappointed by the performance of The Princess and the Frog, Disney thinks part of the solution is to give their next princess movie, Tangled (a.k.a. Rapunzel), a male protagonist. I still remember that time in elementary school when my little brother made the mistake of letting his classmates know that he owned a couple of Barbies.

But here’s why I don’t like Twilight: Because it presents emotional abuse and stalking as a romantic ideal. Because of that time the clerk at the DMV asked “Hey, do you read Twilight?” after seeing that I had a completely unrelated book in my hand, as if it was the be-all and end-all of reading choices. Because I am a fan of classic vampires, and while I don’t mind reinterpreting vampires in new and overly pretty ways, this pretty sparkly version is fast becoming the first one people think of. Because the actual text of the book is so mind-numbingly boring that I couldn’t get through the first two chapters.

I recognize that a couple of these are products of hype backlash rather than flaws in the books themselves. But you will note that not one of them is even remotely similar to “girls like it, therefore it must be bad.”

…and now that’s out of my system, I think it’s about time I reread Vampire Game. It’s a shoujo manga, about a princess, with a love triangle, including a vampire. There’s also a complicated system of magic, and plenty of political intrigue among the heavily interbred ruling families of the bordering countries, and everyone has their own motives and missions to perform, and the vampire in question is currently incarnated in the body of a kitten. If that isn’t enough to entice you, I don’t know what is.

7 thoughts on “In which I seem to have spontaneously morphed into a grouchy old fanhag, and briefly sing the praises of Vampire Game

  1. Wait, wait, wait. With all the myriad 100% legitimate reasons to dislike Twilight (some of which you named), there are people going around saying they don’t like it because its fanbase is overwhelmingly female?

    For fuck’s sake.

    • Oh, wait, NEVER MIND that comment, talk about Completely Missing The Point. (Sorry, I just woke up. I should know better than to try to think coherently yet.)

      Still, word to this post.

  2. So I decided to give Vampire Game a look, and into the 5th volume. I’m a guy, and i have to say this is great! The guys love stuff isn’t bad because they all look so very girly and the politics are interesting.

    A well told story is something that crosses the bounderies of demographics.

  3. when i’m on public transit generally i make a point of trying to figure out what people around me are reading, and sometimes go as far as asking them if i’m particularly curious. however it’s gotten to be that when i see a woman reading, i don’t bother, unless it’s obviously *not* twilight (or worse yet, some cheesy twilight ripoff) via a white cover or something like that.

    such transit bibliovoyeurism was actually my first encounter with the series: i asked a girl what she was reading, and she started breathlessly rambling about the plot and asked if i would read it. i stammered out something about vampires not really being my thing and i still remember the look of disappointment and resentment on her face. this was before the books were *hugely* popular, but not long after that, time magazine did their piece on them, and lo and behold, that weird vampire thing i saw a girl reading on the subway turned out to actually have an audience…

  4. Twilight is insanely popular among both the girls AND boys at my school. They even started an entire book club around it, where they read (and re-read) it together. The English teacher is just grateful they’re reading. I am strongly tempted to pull out the Hellsing TV series for the anime club so I can point to it and say, “THIS. This is decent vampire fiction! Twilight is NOT!”

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