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Fanpire: The Twilight Saga and the Women Who…

Fanpire: The Twilight Saga and the Women Who Love it

by Tanya Erzen

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I first bought Twilight for my then thirteen year old daughter, after reading a news article about it's phenomenal popularity in the US, in the hopes that it would spur her to read something other than her Facebook status feed. She glanced at the blurb then tossed it back at me, complaining it was too thick and she wasn't interested. Deflated, I figured I would read it and see what all the fuss was about. Three hours later I looked up and cursed, its was Sunday 7pm, the shops were already shut and I would have to wait until the next day to go and buy New Moon. On Monday morning I dropped my children off at school, bought the rest of the series and spent the next two days immersed in Forks.

In my late thirties, a married mother of four children with a university degree, I was hardly Meyer's target audience but I read the books breathlessly, one after another, resenting interruptions and finished the last page of Breaking Dawn with a sigh of regret. Intellectually I recognised the flaws in the series but I just couldn't bring myself to care. I have no idea why I fell in love with the saga, but I was wholly enamoured.

Fanpire is the result of ethnographic research amongst the diverse fans of the series by Professor Tanya Erzen, who was interested in exploring the books appeal. An analysis of online surveys promoted at Twilight fan sites and first person interviews with Twihards of all ages, yields surprising contradictions and fascinating theories. Erzen also explores the accusations leveled at series fans by Twilight haters and its critics.

For the most part, Fanpire is a very readable cultural study, with discussion from Twilight identities such as the site hosts of bellaandedward.com, twilightmoms.com and twilightguy.com and quotes from the fans themselves. It is a little repetitive at times and occasionally drifts off into tangents (such as Meyers' and Summits lack of support for the town of Forks).
Interestingly, though Fanpire was written before the 'discovery' and publication of Fifty Shades of Grey, Erzen devotes an entire chapter to Twilight fanfiction and specifically to the source of Fifty Shades, known then as The Master of the Universe, and shares an interesting comment that reveals the genesis of the erotica series name.

Fanpire is an interesting read, and I think the author's hypothesis's have some validity though I am not sure it adequately explains my own infatuation with the series. Some phenomena simply can't be explained or defined by either a qualitative or quantitative study and the popularity of Twilight is one of them. ( )
  shelleyraec | Oct 25, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0807006335, Hardcover)

An author immerses herself in the frenzied fandom of Twilight, the young-adult vampire romance series that has captivated women of all ages
Twilight, Stephenie Meyer’s young-adult vampire romance series, has captivated women of all ages, from teenagers who swoon over the film adaptations to college-educated women who devour the novels as a guilty pleasure. All told, over 110 million copies of the books have been sold worldwide, with translations into 37 languages, and the movies are some of the highest-grossing of all time. Twilight is a bona fide cultural phenomenon that has inspired a vast and unimaginably fertile fan subculture—the “fanpire,” as the members describe it.
Just what is it about Twilight that has enchanted so many women? Tanya Erzen—herself no stranger to the allure of the series—sets out to explore the irresistible pull of Twilight by immersing herself in the vibrant and diverse world of “Twi-hards,” from Edward-addition groups and “Twi-rock” music to Cullenism, a religion based on the values of Edward’s family of vegetarian vampires. Erzen interviews hundreds of fans online and in person, attends thousand-strong conventions, and watches the film premiere of New Moon with Twilight moms in Utah. Along the way, she joins a tour bus on a pilgrimage to Twilight-inspired sites, struggles through a Bella self-defense class, and surveys the sub-universe of Twilight fan-fiction (including E. L. James’s enormously popular “Master of the Universe” story, the basis for her erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey).
Erzen also takes a deeper look at the appeal of traditional gender roles in a postfeminist era saturated with narratives of girl power. If Twilight’s fantasies of romance and power reflect the fears, insecurities, and longings of the women who love it, the fanpire itself, Erzen shows, offers a space for meaningful bonding, mutual understanding, and friendship.
Part journalistic investigation and part cultural analysis, Fanpire will appeal to obsessed fans, Twilight haters, and bemused onlookers alike.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:06:40 -0400)

"Fanpire: The Twilight Saga and the Women Who Love It is a mixture of journalism and cultural analysis that looks at one of the most successful cultural franchises in recent memory, Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series. Over 110 million copies of the books have sold worldwide, with translations into 37 languages. The release of New Moon in November 2009 was the third largest box-office opening ever. Millions check websites like the Twilight Lexicon and Twilight Moms for up-to-the minute information about the books and films. MTV even has a Twilight correspondent. Erzen investigates how the series, which appeals to a great extent to conservative Christian girls and women, sheds light on the yearnings and dissatisfactions of its readers. She also explores what obsessive interest in the Twilight romance among middle-aged women says about the failure of marriage as a romantic institution, how it affects the thinking of young women faced with sexual decision-making in their own lives, and how it embodies the idea that women are already empowered and thus in no need of feminism. This book is written in an entertaining and accessible style to appeal to parents, teachers, and friends of Twilight fans who earnestly wish to understand why their daughters and peers are so obsessed. While the book is a critical assessment of Twilight's ideas of romance, relationships, sexuality, religion, and the commerce surrounding the franchise, Erzen is respectful of fans' experiences and the pleasures they take in the books and fandom. With wit and candor, Erzen explores how she herself is appalled by the series' ideology and yet irresistably drawn in by its over-the-top romantic appeal. Twi-hards, as obsessed fans call themselves, are an active community, both online and in-person. Erzen's research for Fanpire has involved not only long hours in chat rooms, but has taken her to Twilight conventions, to movie premieres put on by the fans, to Forks, the small Washington town that serves as the setting of the saga, and has involved interviews with dozens of fans. She will be able to do a lot of Internet-based promotion to all the fans she has met in her research--as well as to the relgious studies and women's studies worlds, online and in academia. *65,000 words"-- "From Barbie dolls to blockbuster films, the Twilight saga has bedazzled millions of fans and generated billions in revenue. Tanya Erzen introduces us to the global fanpire- members of Edward-addiction groups, twi-rock musicians and adherents of vampire religion- to explain how Twilight has become a massive cultural phenomenon, and why women and girls derive such pleasure from Twilight's fantasies of romance and power. In the supernatural world of Twilight's vampires and werewolves, the fears, insecurities and longings of many girls and women about sex and relationships are confronted head-on. Like the characters in the books, fans imagine that they can have it all: empowerment, respect, and true love, fantasies that are reinforced by target marketing. At the same time, the solitary reader is now part of a far-flung fanpire of like-minded devotees, where she fashions new identities, and encounters belonging and enchantment in everyday life"--… (more)

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