Comic-Con's Twilight Protests: Is There a Gender War Brewing?
Saturday night, photographer Shannon Cottrell and I walked up and down the line to get inside Comic-Con's Masquerade, noticing a curious wave of screams. We wondered what was happening, followed the sound, and caught a young man in a black, military-styled jacket holding a cardboard sign. Scribbled on it in pen was:
Shannon Cottrell Twilight protestors in line for Comic-Con's Masquerade
"Twilight ruined Comic-Con. Scream if you agree!!"
He wasn't the only one standing in protest against the presence of the teen vampire phenomenon at the annual fan gathering. All around us were crews of young people, mostly male but with some females in the mix, holding similarly haphazard signs. Some chanted the sort of short, snarky phrases that you might find in the midst of an Internet flame war ("Vampires burn, they don't sparkle!"), others stood quietly, their signs lodged ironically between campaigners for free hugs.
Shannon Cottrell Twilight Protestor
We combed the line trying to find people who would explain the anti-Twilight sentiments to us. Was there a gender war brewing?
"I don't think so," answered 19-year-old Daniel Maher. "I'm getting an equal amount of high-fives from women."
We met another young man, who only identified himself as Daniel, in line and asked him about the protest. Although he said that he wasn't necessarily speaking for himself, he noticed that many people felt Twilight was attracting "screeching girls."
"Isn't that kind of sexist?" I asked.
He countered, "But girls have been making fun of fanboys for years, calling them nerdy and smelly."
Neither Shannon nor I could argue that point. We know full well that the fanboy has been the butt of jokes for decades. But, when the President of the United States admits to collecting comics, can you say that's still the case? Boy geeks have become pop culture heroes, but for girls, it's a different story. Girls have no one like Seth Green or Kevin Smith, high-profile figures who have become successful at least in part because of their nerdy obsessions. And with Twilight, an almost exclusively female fandom, it's impossible to see the protest and not ask if there's even the slightest bit of a gender bias.