chapter  6
14 Pages

Transitional tastes: Teen girls and genre in the critical reception of Twilight

WithLisa Bode

In Barbara Klinger’s work analysing the critical reception of Douglas Sirk’s melodramas,

she notes how reviewers in the 1940s and 1950s tended to link his films to ‘a leisured,

domestic female audience whose taste, in reviewers’ minds, signified a debasement of art

into sentimentality and cliche


’ (2007, 353). As Andreas Huyssen has shown, the roots of

this association of mass cultural forms – such as romance, soap and melodrama – with an

idea of irrational and easily seduced women, and the preservation of ‘real, authentic

culture’ for men, gained ground in the nineteenth century (1986, 191). Even in the past two

decades, with the rise of cult media and their fan cultures, the process of defining a text as

‘cult’ (and transgressive, resistant and masculine) routinely relies on its opposition to a

feminine conception of ‘the mainstream’ as passive, compliant and over-enthralled

(Hollows 2003). As Joanne Hollows points out, while cult media and their fandoms are

often valorized by academics as a challenge to cultural hierarchies of taste, and aligned

with ‘resistance, transgression and radicalism’ the process of defining cult ‘serves also to

reproduce cultural distinctions and cultural hierarchies along the lines of gender’ (49).