Size Matters

There’s so much that’s wrong with this post that it’s hard to know where to start or, for that matter, whether it’s worth the effort to offer an alternative. The commenters actually do a really good job getting at the basic stupidity of the post. But I decided that I want to get at the conflation of “grown-ups” and critics and society, because that conflation lets Berlatsky pass off the exact opposite of the truth as the truth.

You can see it in the title of the post–“‘Twilight’ vs. ‘Hunger Games’: Why Do So Many Grown-Ups Hate Bella?” So many grown-ups hate Bella? Who are these grown-ups? Berlatsky clarifies: “Critics have expressed the Katniss-would-beat-the-tar-out-of-Bella dynamic in various ways.” Oh, the grown-ups are critics. Okay. Critics do tend to like the Hunger Games trilogy better than the Twilight books.

But then, look at how he moves out from that: “The relative discomfort with Bella, then, can be seen as reflecting a larger discomfort with femininity. That discomfort is prevalent not just among men, but (as Melinda Beasi says) among women as well.” So, it’s not just critics, it’s society at large and feminists.

No. This is exactly wrong. Even if most critics have problems with Bella, even if I buy everything else in Berlantsky’s argument (which I don’t), you cannot reason from that a reflection of a larger societal discomfort with femininity. Why not? Because in our larger society, Bella is ridiculously popular.

Accurate publishing numbers are hard to come by, but back in 2009, USA Today reported that Meyer had sold 40 million copies of the Twilight books. Yes, forty million. It’s probably sold more than that, but let’s keep our thumb on the scale here.

I couldn’t find good numbers for the Hunger Games trilogy, but just based on the probably kind of bullshit numbers at Wikipedia, I think we can safely say that each of these books has sold less than two million, so, in total, if we’re being way generous, 6 million copies. Nothing to be ashamed of, but it’s not remotely close to 40 million.

But Berlatsky says, “Comparing Twilight and The Hunger Games, it’s easy to see why second-wave feminists, and adults in general, find a girly teen so much less attractive than a tomboyish one.” This just isn’t so. Forty is greater than six. By a lot. If only a quarter of Twilight’s readers are adults, that’s still ten million, which is more than all of the Hunger Games readers. If only an eighth of all of Twilight’s readers are adults, that’s pretty much the same as the whole readership for the Hunger Games. There is simply no evidence that adults in general find a girly teen so much less attractive than a tomboyish one if we are using the receptions of Twilight and the Hunger Games as our barometer. In fact, the evidence suggests exactly the opposite.

Amazon’s Top Ten

The greatest part about blogging for me has been the awesome people I have met through it. Heather Solos has been kicking around the internet for a long time and she took me on the most awesome tour of Charleston, South Carolina one time and she and I share a hatred for the same small Midwestern town, which shall remain nameless, and now her book, Home-Ec 101: Skills for Everyday Living, is one of Amazon’s Best Books of 2011.

I will attest that the best advice I ever got on how to keep blood from staining a wood floor came from Heather. She does indeed have skills for everyday living.

Have We Been Wrong about the Nathan Bedford Forrest Statue?

Up until this morning, I assumed that butt-ugly fiberglass looking thing on the side of I-65 south of town was supposed to be a tribute to Forrest. But then I saw that someone has submitted a close-up of the statue to the Scene‘s photo contest.

America, WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT?! I’m going to have nightmares. His teeth look like someone’s wearing dentures on top of dentures. His bejeweled eyes seem poised to shoot lasers at you in two different directions. He seems to be stabbing himself in the neck with his beard! People, he’s cutting his own head off with his own damn beard! Did you even know beards could be weaponized?!

If that’s the kind of monster that was coming up the Franklin Pike towards Nashville, who could have even half a second’s regret that the Union fired on it?! God damn, why didn’t the Confederates?

I bet, when that thing was erected, Nathan Bedford Forrest died again of embarrassment. Holy shit.

On the Other Hand

So, I’m still feeling a nasty taste in my mouth about Occupy Nashville, who should have been ignored until it got cold and they went home, but were instead galvanized by Governor Baby acting like a dictator and arresting people for exercising their First Amendment rights. It seemed like any group that could bring folks from across the political spectrum together to support their right to protest was doing some good work. But some good work and good intentions don’t mean that everything they do is going to be golden.

And so, yes, yuck.

But then, every day I wake up to see that New York or Oakland has turned into some kind of… I don’t even know. I don’t know what the implications of mayors deciding to mobilize the police against Americans is. I feel like someone’s going to get killed. It makes me feel angry and helpless. Again, I ask, could they not have said, “Cool. We’re glad to have you. Here’s the porta-potties. Have fun come December!”?

I feel like we’re seeing first hand that a lot of elected officials do believe they’ve been elected to a kind of benevolent dictatorship.

But what to do about it? I don’t know. Go sit with Occupy Nashville and make it seem like I’m down with the slave auction?