New Twilight Book Suggests Hollywood Likes Male Fans More Than Female
June 24, 2010

Much discussion about Twilight fans took place around last year’s San Diego Comic-Con, when comic-loving boys were grumpy about vampire-loving girls getting in the way of THEIR fun.

Bitten by Twilight cover
Bitten by Twilight
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Now, if you’d like to know more, the University of Missouri has published a collection of scholarly essays titled Bitten by Twilight: Youth Culture, Media, and the Vampire Franchise that promises to pay attention to “cultural, social, and economic aspects of the series and to the recurrent messages about youth, gender roles, romance, and sexuality.” From the press release:

Authors argue shifting of marketing strategies with Eclipse indicates Hollywood devalues female fans. … Despite the record-breaking success of the first two Twilight films, Summit Entertainment shifts marketing strategies with its third film to attract a male audience, MU researchers said. … [T]he marketing of Eclipse highlights a subplot of Stephenie Meyer’s book that is dark and violent, a ploy to draw male moviegoers. The official full-length trailer for Eclipse promotes the film largely as an action movie instead of focusing on the love triangle that is established in the third book of the Twilight series.

… “Summit’s desire to draw a larger male audience signals a discrepancy in the way Hollywood values male and female moviegoers,” said [professor Melissa] Click. “What Summit fails to see is that by courting male audiences, they are devaluing Twilight’s devoted female fans and missing an incredible opportunity to develop the terms for future female franchises.”

18 Responses  
Mike writes:  

“when comic-loving boys were grumpy about vampire-loving girls getting in the way of THEIR fun”

Or they were unhappy that shit like “Twilight,” which is written at a fourth grade level, is filled with sexist BS, and mangles beloved legends was stealing the spotlight from more deserving work.

As for Hollywood devaluing female fans…well, no. They’ve just figured out what they figured out about geeks two decades back – slap a popular name on it and no matter what you do to the stories, the hard-core fans will come to see it. The women who love Twilight will go see the movies, no matter what the reviews, no matter what changes are made. The men who are far less likely to go might give it a chance if it looks entertaining. Hollywood isn’t missing any chances here; no spin-offs are coming from Twilight. They’re attempting to broaden their audience to make it a massive hit while they still have a guaranteed captive base audience who will make it a success at bare minimum. Unless you’re seriously arguing that playing up the violence will somehow turn off the female fans, but I would point out then that the first movie had reviews ranging from mediocre to terrible and still brought in almost $200 million.

Note: not arguing Hollywood isn’t sexist, because they certainly are, but this isn’t an instance of sexism, it’s an instance of “bottom-line trumps all.”

Johanna writes:  

Let’s not get in an argument about which fandom is shittier, because I’ll counter with the sexism, racism, and mediocrity that currently permeate superhero comics. Fanboys have no high horse here. I don’t believe that most of them had any idea what happened in Twilight. Trying to keep the girl fans out of comic-con was just sexism.

David Oakes writes:  

I don;t for a second disagree with the conclusion that Hollywood values the 16-25 MALE demographic uber alles. But I am not sure that the marketing of “Eclipse” is the proof. It is the third in a series. More females knew about it as a book, and more females saw the first two films. At this point, they pretty much have all of that audience locked in. The only way to grow the audience at this point is to attract males. (And action loving females who don;t want sappy Chick Flicks, let’s not forget them.) I think they are soolish for not being a little more evenhanded in their ads. After all, every “Twilight” film is *somebody’s* first. But they would be more foolish not to try and chase the action dollar at this point.

But the most foolish thing is arguing whose line is it anyway. It’s 125,000+ people in one room. No one’s going nowhere, fast.

(True story: Before the movie came out, I was able to get out of the Middleman line, go through the entire line for a free “Twilight” poster, *twice*, and get back into the Middleman line before it had noticeably advanced. This too shall pass…)

Johanna writes:  

So by that logic, should we expect Sex and the City 3 to be positioned as an action film? I don’t buy that it’s about expansion, because there’s a much simpler explanation that’s been shown time after time: Hollywood only values the young male audience and wants to aim everything possible at them.

David Oakes writes:  

If Hollywood “always” caters to males, how did the first two movies get out?

Like I said, I fully agree that Hollywood is phallo-phillic. It’s just that “Eclipse” is one of the few cases where there is another explanation. If the film itself scuttles the Romance in favor of the Action, that’s something else. (And to be honest, I am half expecting it.) Otherwise, it’s no different than the ads trying to claim that “Kick Ass” made a great date night film.

Thom writes:  

Part of the problem is Hollowood is notoriously resistantto changing times. They still operate under an old model that sought the money not realizing the money is more spread out than they thought. Of all movies that should have shook them into the present, it should be the Twilight films.

I would be more inclined to agree with David’s premise if Summit was clearly taking a multi-faceted advertising approach. It is not uncommon for trailers to be tailored to appeal to certain audiences. A trailer that emphasizes comedy, one that focuses on action or adventure, one that highlights romance. This is, so far, not what Summit is doing.

On the other hand, I don’t think they are trying to get young women to NOT see the film. I think they assume those fans are already a given. They do not have to sell them on seeing the movie. Sex & the ity 3 would never pursue the male dollar, and has little reason to. For one thing, it’s film aimed at specific audiences-which have not been heterosexual men. In fact, your premise is done some damage by introducing SatC, Johanna, afterall, if they valued young male audiences over female ones-why greenlight movies that have no chance in hell of getting that audience?

Geeking Out About… » New Twilight book suggests Hollywood really wanted a boy writes:  

[…] to Comics Worth Reading, a new book on the Twilight phenomenon from the University of Missouri discusses the gender […]

Johanna writes:  

Thom, they rarely do. Or they send female movies straight to DVD when very similar male movies are released. There’s usually one woman’s movie a season — Twilight, SatC, Mamma Mia — and execs are always stunned when it succeeds or blame women when it doesn’t. Catwoman failed, so WB refuses to do female superhero movies and even talked about not doing movies starring women. Jonah Hex failed, so WB is … going ahead with Green Lantern. There’s a clear double standard. (I suspect SatC is seen as a bit different because the franchise is managed by a guy.)

Thom writes:  

I don’t disagree…it’s just the SATC example… they would never try to pursue the young male audience because they know that is not an audience that would be willing to see the franchise. Like I said, I am skeptical of David’s defense because they seem to only be trying to expand one audience. They still believe that is where the actual free money is. It’s safe and proven, and that is how Hollywood works…reality be damned. Someone has to wake them up that the model has changed and they are behind the times.

J M Rossi writes:  

I think the marketing strategy has more to do with greed than sexism. Summit likely believes (correctly, I’d suspect) that they’ve already maxed out their female viewership. That viewership has had four books and two movies targeted right at them, which is sufficient in itself to whet their appetites for this one.

However, the books and previous movies have been marketed and branded very strongly as female fare, so if Summit wants to try and add some viewers into the mix, they’re going to have to spend some money to overcome the widely-held belief that the Twilight franchise is strictly ‘girl stuff’.

I have doubts as to whether they’ll succeed (the above-mentioned belief is pretty pervasive and may not be something Summit’s marketing team will be able to overcome), but they’re not putting much at risk either. They could spend 10x the amount they’ll spend trying to entice men/boys on a campaign designed to actively discourage women/girls from going and I’m guessing it wouldn’t make much of a difference. That audience is about as locked in as an audience can be.

Johanna writes:  

What are good examples of Hollywood doing the opposite? Concluding that they have the boys for the latest action flick and so putting out a romance-focused trailer?

Romanticide writes:  

Have ever people think, ever for a second, that some women like action in their films? and that some of them actually hate the idea of “women only like romances, the sappier the better”?
I don’t believe the highlighting of the action in the third film is devaluing the female market, on the other side I do believe that hollywood can be very sexist and that twilight IS very sexist. (I could make a huge list of why but you have probably heard most of those points already so I will save it)

James Schee writes:  

Uhm… a very angry female vampire who has been in all three first books and first two movies. Who builds an army of newbie vampires (who according to the book’s mythos is the strongest type) to destroy Bella, the Cullens and everyone they know. Forcing the Cullens to seek help from their vampire friends as well as their sworn enemies the werewolves in order to survive. Is a subplot of book three??

I also wonder what love triangle there is in the third book. The entire series is from Bella’s first person perspective. Which you clearly see that while she cares for Jacob, she doesn’t return his feelings at all in that regard. I know a
food chain’s ad campaign tries to play it differently, but I don’t see how anyone thought she was with anyone other than Edward.

After the first two books the series really pretty much shifted focus from love and teen girl coming of age, to more action oriented plotting. My sister who is a big fan of the series as a whole, and pushed them on to me to read (and given how much I’d done the reverse to her felt obliged to do so) said she didn’t like the last two books quite as much because of the shift.

I honestly wonder how they are going to do certain scenes from the next book and keep it from being R rated honestly. They are very much horror oriented…

J writes:  

[i]What are good examples of Hollywood doing the opposite? Concluding that they have the boys for the latest action flick and so putting out a romance-focused trailer?[/i]

Not Hollywood, per se, but the networks regularly do this with sports. The Olympics, baseball, the Super Bowl – all of these are heavily covered in unrelated stuff to try and be more appealing to women (as well as any other non-fans). The thinking is that baseball fans will watch the playoffs and All-Star game no matter what, so they can safely ignore that demographic while trying to appeal to the rest of the world.

J M Rossi writes:  

“What are good examples of Hollywood doing the opposite? Concluding that they have the boys for the latest action flick and so putting out a romance-focused trailer?”

I seem to recall the Peter/Mary Jane romance being foregrounded in much of the marketing for the Spider-Man films. I’m not sure about trailer edits specifically, but the love story angle received a lot of attention when the stars and key creatives did their pre-release press.

Johanna writes:  

Nice examples, thanks. I hate that “here’s the touching family package” when it comes to the Olympics, though. It’s distracting from what everyone’s there to really see.

Roxie writes:  

I am huge Twilight fan and one of the things that has always bothered me in discussion about the viewwership of the saga is–how do we get the boys to see it? Even if it is true that the female market is “locked in” to Twilight, it is incredibly annoying to have every conversation about that knocked into “but what about the boys? will they want to see it?” Especially when I cannot recall a movie with a more male-oriented audience ever wondering “well, what about the girls? what’s in it for them?”

No. Every story speculating on how much money Twilight will make & who it will draw in inevitably asks the “what about the boys?” question.

I think it’s shame, as it’s missing out on a bigger point: What are women & girls seeing in Twilight that they feel they aren’t getting from other films? What can we do to draw the female audience in? It implies that the female audience is assumed and not worth study.

Makk writes:  

I think, from what I’ve read, that this has become a boys vs girl discution. My comment comes from mainly my experiences as Otaku, and a Comic convetion follower.

Holliwood is sexist? of course, movies “for girls” aren’t usually as promoted as the ones “for boys”. I mean, how many have seen “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” and how many have seen “Pride & Prejudice”.

Hero comics are sexist? doubtlessly, I mean it is the hero saving the damsel in distress. As far as I’m concerned I’ve never seen Louis Lane grab her goddamn ovaries and solve something!!!

but why, should we, manga/anime recurrent fanGIRLS have to deal with the fashion fever of those who will have forgotten twilight after a year or two of the realease of Breaking Dawn!!!

My point is, if twilight fans want to gather, then do it, but respect the space of those who have been there since before you even thought about going to an event like the comic-con, or other of the sort. If these girls decide to go, then please consider the kind of people who will also arrive, comic fans, manga fans, video game fans,

I recall a few victories from manga/anime fans over twilight fans. This boy wanted to enter this convention in shorts shirtless and tatooed and arguin with te guard that he was Jacob Black cosplaying (is that even posible?? O_oU)nnd I entered free thanks to my “L” cosplay, which is by far much less distinctive and normal than much others.

the other one was on the eclipse movie mexican premiere on a mall and me and a friend saw this kids all with t-shirts and patches and stuff from twilight… I couldn’t resist the temptation to shout “I’m with team Edward…” from the balcony, the look on their faces when I added “ELRIC!” was priceless!!!! XD


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