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Twilight Readers=Republican Voters

[ 163 ] November 19, 2011 |

OK, what the deuce is going on here.

From Yglesias’ twitter feed, where he notes “Evidence that Obama has a shot at winning Wyoming and North Dakota.” Yeah, you wonder. Having not read the Twilight books and being someone who would rather be face a Singapore rattan whip expert after having chewed gum on the subway than actually pick up this dross, what on earth in the connection? Other than Republicans having horrendous taste in literature.


Comments (163)

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  1. John says:

    Well, the Utah thing is about Mormons (who apparently all read it, but also don’t really like it? I’m confused). I’m not sure about the deep south, though – don’t they hate Mormons there? Good news for Romney?

  2. elm says:

    Ecological inference fallacy

    • gimmeliberty says:

      No, this is just correlation is not causation fallacy. But I’m pretty sure that Yglesias was just being snarky. It’s Loomis that I’m wondering about.

      • elm says:

        Well, that too, but it’s also ecological inference: that there is more support for Twilight in Republican states does not mean that Republicans are the ones supporting Twilight.

        Not to Godwin the thread, since this is the canonical example of ecological inference and is analogous to the discussion in this thread, but Hitler received more votes in Catholic regions of Germany. This did not mean that Catholics were more likely to vote for Hitler.

      • Matt Stevens says:

        Except no one has made a causal argument yet. Plus, the phrase “correlation is not causation” is horribly overused. Much of the time, correlation suggests causation; you just can’t count on it.

        The ecological inference argument has more merit. My guess is, Republicans don’t read Twilight books; kids who live in rural, Republican areas read Twilight books.

  3. wiley says:

    Children of authoritarians and/or religious fanatics and/or alcoholics and/or sociopaths who dream of falling madly in love with a monster who loves them above all else and can give them eternal life and eternal youth and protect them from all other monsters by making them a monster,too?

    It’s a sick story. Really. I would worry about a daughter who fell in love with these stories. Of course, I fell in love with The Lord of the Rings at the age of 16, which is undoubtably escapist, and read it again at the age of 18, and read some of it to a child much later, but it’s a mystic tale of adventure, in which our heroes are not humanoid creatures that feed on human blood and will not die.

  4. dangermouse says:

    What do you mean what’s the connection? I thought like the entire thing was vampire Joseph Smith fanfic porn.

    • Pinko Punko says:

      They read it in Utah, but don’t especially love it. That is what is weird.

      • dave says:

        It’s because what’s-his-name the vampire only wants to marry ONE girl…

      • John says:

        Too on the nose, maybe? If I were a Mormon, I might not like a retelling of my religion’s origin story in which its founder is turned into an undead monstrosity that feeds on human blood. But I’m not a Mormon, so who knows?

      • ploeg says:

        They say that they don’t love it because they have a vague notion that, as a doctrinal matter, they shouldn’t love something with vampires. Doesn’t mean that they don’t read it though.

        • John says:

          But Evangelicals also think they shouldn’t love something with vampires, and yet they do love it.

          • ploeg says:

            In places where you have different types of evangelicals, opinions differ and people are open to stating their own opinion. So your church might disapprove officially, but if you have neighbors who go to another church and have no problem with it, you’re more likely to state your true opinion. In places that are dominated by one group, you’re much more likely to say that you hold the party line, even if there are no consequences for saying otherwise. And this holds for non-Mormons also; it’s just that other denominations might dominate a town or even a county, but they don’t dominate an entire state.

      • dangermouse says:

        That’s the least weird thing. There is sex in it, therefore, people in conservative religious communities insist they hate it while reading the fuck out of it over and over and over again. QED.

        • ploeg says:

          And “Song of Solomon” is an allegory of the relationship between Christ and His Church.

          • Malaclypse says:

            And “Song of Solomon” is an allegory of the relationship between Christ and His Church.

            Points off for not realizing that Every Word Is Literally True.

          • 4jkb4ia says:

            And I said, “Wait, wait, I know this. This is the Song of Solomon.”
            “Or as we call it in our tradition, the Song of Songs.”
            “And it’s about Christ making love to his Church,” I said.
            “It is not about Christ and his Church,” the rabbi declared.
            I was taken aback. “Well, I used to do Bible study, and that’s what it said in the BIble.”
            “Not in our Bible.” the rabbi said. He spoke very absolutely.
            “You mean like that’s not your interpretation.”
            “No.” he said. “The Song of Songs is not about Christ and his Church. That is simply not true.”
            “Well.” I said. “Well, you know, every religion has a different idea of truth.”
            He sat there and glared.
            But I, being a religion major, said, “Every religion has its own metaphors of the unknown, you know. And just because these metaphors are different doesn’t make them invalid.”
            Then Rabbi Siegel looked at me like if his conscience hadn’t forbade it he would have taken one of the pointy pens sticking out of his gold penholders and stabbed me in the heart. And he looked at me, and he looked at me, and he said, “Sharon, I am a founding member of this state’s ecumenical council of Christians, Buddhists, Taoists, and Jews. I have been a lifelong contributor to interfaith dialogue in this nation. And I will yield to no one in my conviction that all of our scriptures, whether prophetic or poetic, should be a bridge of understanding between the peoples of the world. These lines of poetry are measures of our commonality…”
            “Uh huh,” I said.
            “But we had them FIRST!”

            In my defense, that’s Allegra Goodman. I am aware the comment was meant to be snarky.
            And it took me a few years to realize how silly Sharon has been written. But I think that was done on purpose to show that the passionate searching after G-d redeems all the silliness.

            Yasher Koach to everyone in the Tebow thread which was awesome.

  5. McAllen says:

    I haven’t read the books myself or anything, but from the recaps I’ve read they seem to support a pretty old-fashioned view of gender relations, with the woman being passive and basically existing entirely for her man, and the man being the protector of the woman.
    Also the fourth book has an anti-abortion message, where Bella baby is literally killing her but she still goes through with the birth,

  6. scepticus says:

    I would have speculated poor literary taste due to stifled/underdeveloped critical thinking skills, which correlates to voting Republican, but I think Wiley may be on to something.

  7. JoyfulA says:

    Did Yglesias mean Colorado rather than Wyoming? Because otherwise, I don’t get it.

  8. wengler says:

    If you don’t ever read another book, read this one.

    You will then never know how bad it is.

  9. dion says:

    What’s the mystery? It’s the whole abstinence, sex-could-kill-you, anti-abortion-even-if-the-mother-could-die thing. Which party does that correlate to?

    • Warren Terra says:

      This was pretty much my impression as well – and I recall hearing that it’s been aggressively marketed to the religious folks on these grounds.

      • LoriK says:

        Yes, it was heavily promoted in certain circles because of the abstinence aspect and that was before the series ever got to anti-abortion book.

        I really don’t think the books’ greater popularity in conservative circles is any more complicated than that.

        • Robin G says:

          Then there’s the “women who can’t/don’t have babies aren’t real women” message. Oh, and the “vain girls deserve to be gang-raped” message.

          God, these books.

  10. J. Otto Pohl says:

    This is interesting. I am wondering if there are any other correlations between popular literature and voting patterns that stick out like this that have been verified. I suppose the simplest explanation is that there are cultural tendencies associated with the two main political parties in the US. The stereotype that NASCAR fans are more likely to vote Republican would be a similar correlation if it in fact is true. I don’t know if there has been any study actually mapping the correlation like has been done above. The underlying causal relationships between these correlations seems to be disputed. But, Frank Rich I think gives one plausible explanation at least regarding Kansas.

    • c u n d gulag says:

      I don’t know about the correlations between pop lit and voting, but that IS an interesting question.

      What I’d like to see is the correlation between owning a library card and voting. I suspect a pretty good majority of people who have library cards are Dems/Libs.
      I think that Republicans much prefer to buy and own things, while Democrats don’ mind sharing what they like with other people.
      Still, it’d be interesting to see what the actual breakdown is.

      • vacuumslayer says:

        I don’t have a liberry card. No issue with sharing. It’s just with Google at my fingertips, I’m just wondering what I’d do with it.

        Oh, and I admit I think being able to download books to your mobile devices is pretty neat. So I guess that comes down to more of a techno-geek preference for how I want to procure my info/entertainment more than anything else.

      • J. Otto Pohl says:

        I don’t think the library card thing is a given. My family all have all had library cards for at least three generations and most are registered Republicans. I am registered now as an independent, but switched from Republican sometime in the mid 1990s. Even when I was registered to vote Republican I spent a large portion of my free time in libraries. I think a far better correlation with library cards is with college education. All four of my grandparents went to college. Maybe more Democrats have college degrees, but I have not seen any definitive correlations on this yet.

        • Warren Terra says:

          That’s because you haven’t looked. I’ll not do your work for you, but plots of income vs. voting preference and education vs. voting preference pop up from time to time – after a Presidential election you’re almost certain to see a few.

          As you might expect, Democrats are preferred by the least educated and the most educated, with Republicans doing best among those voters who have enough education that they’re likely to be financially comfortable, at least historically, but not too much education.

  11. Robin G says:

    Twilight hates women. The GOP hates women.

    I have spent a lot — and I mean a lot — of time examining the Twipocalypse, and it really is as simple as that.

  12. vacuumslayer says:

    Isn’t it, like, this big ode to purity and chastity? Of course the Repigs like it.

  13. vacuumslayer says:

    Also the fourth book has an anti-abortion message, where Bella baby is literally killing her but she still goes through with the birth,


  14. Robin G says:

    Oh, and completely anecdotally, about 90% of the people I know who love Twilight are conservative (the other 10% are just fucked up) and 100% of the people I know who hate Twilight are liberal. For what it’s worth.

  15. calling all toasters says:

    And here I thought Twilight was satire. I mean, the n-hundred year old vampire boy bothers to go to high school (and can go out in the daytime), just so he can meet the one he is meant to be with, and she is the stereotypical “teen book” reader (introverted, etc.)? It had to be a send-up.

    But then I thought the Trump, Cain, Gingrich, and Bachmann campaigns were satire, so what do I know?

    • Robin G says:

      I have genuinely considered the possibility that Meyer may be the greatest troll of all time. So much of her stuff just seems to be built to *force* the publishing industry to call her on it, and in each book it feels like she’s just pushing the boundaries farther and farther, waiting for someone to finally say, “This stuff is *too* sick and poorly written to market it to young girls, no matter how much money we’ll make.”

      It could be the greatest social experiment of all time… but then, Ann Coulter might be, too. Probably the sane likelihood (although I think Meyer is just painfully lacking in self-awareness, whereas Coulter is cold-blooded.)

  16. Karen says:

    I’m extremely happy that Texas is merely pink on “Twilight.” By having only male children I’ve missed out on Christmas and Easter dresses, American Girl dolls, and joint manicures, and I have had to endure a million viewings of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “Transformers,” but at least I’ve been spared “Twilight.”

    • firefall says:

      I’m honestly not sure that Twilight, bad as it is, is worth suffering Transformers for.

      • Warren Terra says:

        I just watched the third Transformers movie (on Netflix; I often like bad movies with good special effects; and don’t judge me). I’d seen reviews claiming that after the complaints about the first movie and the abomination of the second one the third was a more conventionally watchable guns-n-monsters flick. Don’t believe any such claims. It is possibly the worst, most offensive movie I’ve ever seen. Not a single character is remotely likable or believable, or well acted; the sexist, racist, and lifestyle stereotypes (indeed, slurs) are laid on with a front loader, not merely a trowel; the action is incomprehensible; the twists can be predicted at least an hour in advance; etcetera. It shouldn’t have been a surprise, I suppose, but honestly the awfulness was piled high upon itself to a degree that quite shocked me.

    • Karen says:

      I failed to clarify in my original post that I meant “Transformers” the cartoon, not the movies. We bought the first movie but refused on the next two. My sons watched the others on streaming Netflix, but that was in another room so I didn’t have to suffer through it.

  17. Im a loser says:

    loves vampires!

  18. Larkspur says:

    Now I know more than I previously did about the Twilight phenom. Eww. But in mitigation, a lot of people are opening (or downloading) books and are reading words on pages, which means that reading is going on right now, and that’s good, yeah? Back when I was Twilight-aged, I adored gothic romances (the kind with suspense and plucky heroines rather than the “crushing one another to to his or her bosom” faux sexy ones). Then I got so I could read sooper good, and I stumbled onto other topics and genres and blah blah blah here I am today at LGM!

    But I don’t have kids, and having a kid so enthralled with this series could be unsettling.

    Now I am going back to LiveJournal to continue reading The Sparkledammerung! Slocum, thanks for the link.

    • Tybalt says:

      Twilight is genuinely awful (and politically unspeakable) but it really isn’t any less childish than, say, most of Byron.

      It certainly has more moral and emotional complexity than the majority of stuff written for boys (I’ve been re-reading Conan Doyle – masterful stuff, but I think a frog would find his moral universe a bit risible).

      • Malaclypse says:

        I remember rereading Stranger In A Strange Land as an adult, and being floored upon realizing that Heinlein had Michael “vanish” homosexuals because of their inherent moral wrongness. The attitudes towards women were pretty wrong, but towards gays it was simply jaw-dropping.

        • deleted says:

          I’m not about to defend Heinlein’s politics, which were risible, nor his Galtian fantasies, nor his ‘deft’ (LOL) use of the language, and I am certainly not defending ‘stranger’ (a dreadful novel).


          Heinlein was among the first Sf writers to portray gay characters in a positive light, and when his characters expressed distaste for homosexuality the homophobia was invariably presented as barbarous atavism. There are examples all through his work of this. In the famous Lazarus Long stories it becomes clear that in the Utopian future, teh gay is so usual as to not even excite notice, let alone comment.

          Heinlein is guilty of many things, hating on the fags is not one of them.

          • rhino says:

            this is me. Not sure how i became. ‘deleted’. odd.

          • Malaclypse says:

            Have not read the Lazarus Long stuff in 30-some years, but there is some bad stuff going on in Stranger. It was presented as a simple casual aside – of course Michael just folded them into nothingness. Not a central part of the story at all.

            That was what I found most awful as an adult – the casualness simply vanishing a category of people. Hatred is the wrong word for it. But it was an indefensible attitude.

            • Dave Haasl says:

              You know, I don’t remember the “Gay” vanishing in Stranger. But then again i don’t remember much about the book – I just wasn’t that impressed. Stranger marked the point in Heinlein’s literary career that I stopped liking most of what he did.

              • Larkspur says:

                You know, I don’t remember the “Gay” vanishing in Stranger.

                There we go. Heinlein’s work here is done!

                While I recognize his importance in the SF pantheon, his writing just never appealed to me. (Deleted Rhino’s remarks are hereby noted; this is the obligatory YMMV.)

                Also, I read The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged right on schedule, and neither book made much of an impression on me. Of course, this was a long time ago, and I might have benefited from a sort of herd immunity. With the proliferation of Twilightism, I reckon a whole generation is way more at risk than I was. Ayn Rand was definitely niche stuff, and I was apparently resistant.

                BY THE DAMN WAY, Ms. Stephenie Meyer is not a Boomer. She was born in 1973. She could be, but is definitely not, my daughter. So I will not be made to pay for her influence upon the world, okay? Yes, I am being shirty. I am entitled to bad-moodiness. I am a Boomer, and entitled to everything.

                To quote Smeyer: Gah.

        • Murc says:

          Yes. Thank you, Mal!

          NOBODY remembers that scene in Stranger. I keep having to actually get my copy of the book and refer to it directly in order to support my point that Michael is a secret serial killer who is incredibly judgy underneath his Christlike exterior, and that the angry mob did the world a favor.

          (For those wondering, towards the tail end of Stranger, Michael confesses to Jubal straight-up that he walks around, sifts through peoples heads, judges the contents therein, and then murders them if they don’t measure up. This is presented as kind of a casual aside, although both Michael and Jubal at least have the brains to keep it a secret.)

          NOBODY remembers this scene. I’ve had people accuse me of lying until I get the book in front of them.

      • John says:

        Isn’t any more childish, you mean?

        Anyway, Byron was actually a good writer, which is surely relevant.

    • Robin G says:

      “Kids Reading Books” isn’t really a problem anymore, thanks to Harry Potter. In a time when all other book sales are dropping, mid-grade and YA continues to skyrocket. The benefits of book-cracking, therefore, can be obtained without the horror that is Twilight Messaging.

      • Robin G says:

        Or, to put it another way, it’s like saying “At least kids are getting interested on current events” when you find out your 12 year old is obsessed with FOX News.

      • Anonymous says:

        You realize that reading Harry Potter and Twilight is a step backwards from skipping reading to play Grand Theft Auto, right?

        It’s not just if the little bastards are reading, it’s also whatthey read. This crap might actually be more harmful than Atlas Shrugged, because it doesn’t just stunt your empathy but actually flenses your literary taste out of your brain.

    • guthrie says:

      One of the critiscisms I have seen of Twilight is that the heroine isn’t plucky and is rather passive. Basically the opposite of what you liked then.
      From further consideration, I think that the twilight series appeals most to girls who can imagine themselves as Bella.

  19. Dan Coyle says:

    John Nolte, when the first film came out, called it “Iconoclastic.”

    I think that says it all right there.

  20. 4jkb4ia says:

    On Topic, I have read all of 20 pages of any of these books. But Stephen King on Dracula might fit. He said that vampire stories exist to reassure you that sex really is scary, and dangerous. You can see this even in Dead Until Dark. Sookie cannot possibly know what she is getting herself in for, and how uncanny it could be. This particular vampire story could work because it undoes the scariness and the danger as much as a vampire story possibly can. So you can believe that sex is scary but with the right person it will not be.

  21. Desert Rat says:

    Didn’t, and won’t, read the novels…but found myself at the first movie, which was utter dreck. Since then, I’ve learned a bit more about the series through the Mrs. and my youngest son, who read them when he was adolescent.

    In the first movie (and from what I read of the series), Bella comes off like a mousy, submissive, limp dishrag. Apparently, four books later, she doesn’t really grow out of it either. Basically, it’s a weird conservative Mormon bodice ripper with mythical fantasy tropes.

    If I was forced to watch Breaking Dawn Part I, I’d probably be rooting for the not-quite-werewolves to kill and eat the entire cast, human Bella, and sparkly faeries we’ll pretend are vampires, followed shortly thereafter by devouring the director, producers, crew, Stephanie Meyer, her parents, et al.

    I’m seeing an amount of snobbery with regard to Harry Potter. Not every book needs to be a literary triumph that nobody outside of Lawyers, Guns, and Money (and other lefty blogs) won’t read.

    Harry Potter is pretty solid young adult genre fiction. I think Rowling tells a pretty solid story, in a pretty consistent world, with interesting characters. It’s not Lord of the Rings, but it’s good for what it tries to be. Not everything has to be a towering literary achievement to be enjoyable.

    • Malaclypse says:

      It’s not Lord of the Rings,

      True. Harry Potter has an actual female character. LotR, not so much…

    • Ed says:

      I’m seeing an amount of snobbery with regard to Harry Potter. Not every book needs to be a literary triumph that nobody outside of Lawyers, Guns, and Money (and other lefty blogs) won’t read.

      Actually the Twilight series has been the subject of far more derision from literary types than Harry Potter, and a few critics, mostly female, began pointing out that, quality of the writing aside, the hostility had more than a little to do with the powerful appeal of the books to teenage girls, not an audience that gets a lot of respect.

      • Desert Rat says:

        Actually the Twilight series has been the subject of far more derision from literary types than Harry Potter, and a few critics, mostly female, began pointing out that, quality of the writing aside, the hostility had more than a little to do with the powerful appeal of the books to teenage girls, not an audience that gets a lot of respect.

        I’m quite sure there is some sexism out there with regard to criticism of the books. However, one can criticize Twilight from a feminist point of view just as readily as any other point of view.

        The lead character is a submissive wet blanket, who basically spends the first film (and I presume the novel), basically floundering around until she meets a man, er, vampire, er, faerie. Bella is hardly a shining example of an independent woman.

        The series is also strongly anti-reproductive rights, and reinforces the negative stereotype that a woman is pretty helpless and lost without a man around (again, going by what I’ve seen of the films, and read of criticism about the series). Not exactly values I’d want to instill in a daughter.

        I’m fortunate in that I have two sons. I would wrestle with my conscience with regard to whether I’d allow a daughter (at least up to a certain age, anyway) to read them, for a variety of reasons. Fortunately, it’s not a choice I’ve had to make.

        • wiley says:

          My surrogate daughter watched the movie while visiting us. She, her father, and I thought it was really lame, especially the sparkly-ness. Though she’s an avid reader, she didn’t bother with the books. We could have had an interesting conversation about it, but I’d hate to see her wasting her time reading garbage.

          When she was a child, she loved the real Grimm’s fairy tales and read them to me while I worked in the garden. She likes anime now and likes to draw thusly.

          Though she has been seeing the same boy for three years, I cannot even imagine her being subject to his whims. Thank Gawd. Her father and I did not raise her to be a dishrag.

          Recently I was pleasantly surprised that not only is Planned Parenthood alive and well in Texas, but that they are all over the place in San Antonio.

        • Ken says:

          I also have qualms about book 2’s message, “If your boyfriend leaves you, a suicide attempt will get him to come back.” I’m sure that’s not what Meyer intended, but it’s all-too-easy to read it that way.

    • John says:

      I like Harry Potter, and think it has value, but the prose in the first two books or so is kind of painful.

      • John says:

        And I’ll add that while I was less distracted by bad prose in the later books, I’m not sure if this was because the writing was actually better, or just because I became accustomed to Rowling’s bad prose and didn’t notice it anymore.

        • skidmarx says:

          One SF writer agrees with you:
          I’ve read the first two Harry Potter books, and I dislike them intensely. I have no argument with J. K. Rowling personally – she may be very nice. But I find the books drab and pedestrianly written, and deeply unoriginal. And whatever her own politics, I find the politics embedded in the books incredibly reactionary.
          I recall him expanding on this in person with the words “At least Enid Blyton knew how to construct a sentence.”

          • Joey Maloney says:

            Well, fair enough, because while I admire China Mieville’s politics and I think he’s doing some very interesting stuff with his writing, “very interesting” isn’t the same thing as “readable”. I’ve tried two of his books and bogged down both times after a hundred pages or so.

    • Karen says:

      Actually, we’re in a wonderful time for fiction for kids and teens. In addition to the Potter books, there are also “The Hunger Games,” the Rick Riordan mythology books (HIGHLY recommended, btw), Lemony Snicket and the Artermus Fowl books. I’m sure not all of these are Truly Great Literature, but they engross the kids who read them without serving up horribly offensive messages otherwise. (I grant that all of these books have less-than-ideal elements, but you have to work a little to find them.)

  22. wiley says:

    This thread has been the most fun I’ve had on LGM— it’s hilarious and all of the links link to more hilarity. Nice way to spend my morning. Thnx.

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