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|Written by Kevin Johns|
|Tuesday, 17 November 2009 00:00|
If you're like me, you probably have friends who, to this day, still proudly declare that they have never seen James Cameron's Titanic. They say this as though avoiding one of the most popular films of all time is some sort of badge of honour, a defiant act to be respected and admired. The implication is clearly that it is cooler to have not seen Titanic than it is to have seen it.
In a similar vein, publicly admitting you are a fan of director Catherine Hardwicke's Twilight, or, heaven forbid, the Stephenie Meyer book on which the film is based, is to commit an act of social suicide. Despite being an international phenomenon generating millions dollars in sales and being devoured by ravenous fans everywhere, like Titanic a decade ago, Twilight is decidedly not cool.
Some argue that Twilight's poor social standing is a result of the fact that the book and the film are both examples of low art, yet some of the people making these arguments are the same folks who proudly read their copy of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code on the bus ride to work a few years ago and were the first in line to buy tickets to Ron Howard's film.
There was nothing about reading The Da Vinci Code or seeing the film that was considered shameful by mass culture at large. After all, everyone should be allowed to enjoy a good beach blanket read or a popcorn flick once in a while, right?Women's issues have long been considered secondary to male concerns, if not dismissed as completely trivial all together.
But if that is the case, why is Twilight so disdained?
The reason, of course, is that Twilight is looked down up for the same reason Barbara Streisand, Titanic, Dawson's Creek, Mamma Mia! and any other number of hugely popular cultural properties are mocked, disdained, and labelled uncool: they are targeted at a female audience.
The Da Vinci Code and Twilight exist on the exact same plane of low-brow, mass-consumed art, and yet one (targeted largely at men) is shrugged off as a fun page-turner, while the other (targeted largely at young women) is considered pure and utter drivel for no better reason than that the arbiters of cultural capital are sexist.
Earlier this year, a writer ceased contributing to (Cult)ure, and one of the reasons he listed for quitting the magazine was that we were writing too many articles about Twilight. Would he have quit if it had been The Da Vinci Code, or Star Wars, or Transformers we had been writing about instead?
Women's issues have long been considered secondary to male concerns, if not dismissed as completely trivial all together. Whether or not Bella should commit to her vampire lover is a silly second-class concern when placed next to 'important' male questions like whether Shia Labeouf and the Autobots will be able to defeat the Decepticons.
On rare occasions, women's interests have been able to seep through into the realm of cultural credibility. Madonna's music and tours have played an active part in defining pop culture cool for over twenty years, and Sex and the City has been accepted, for the most part, as a worthy part of the North American cultural milieu.
I suspect, however, one will still have a difficult time finding a straight man who freely admits to enjoying Sex and the City, let alone Mamma Mia! or Twilight. As always, admitting you like that silly women's stuff is just not cool.
Kevin Johns is a senior editor of (Cult)ure. He can be contacted at