Many bloggers wonder whether Meyer (pictured) had directly or even indirectly supported the infamous Mormon-backed campaign to pass Proposition 8 in California. Noting that the LDS Church imposes a compulsory 10% income tax on ots members, some question how their money, as fans of Meyer’s books, may have been used to dismantle the effort for gay and lesbian marriage equality.
“What if we are a fanpire nation, allowing the passage of Prop 8 via our Twilight obsessions?” wonders Professor, What If ... ? in his/her blog.
Defenses of Meyer (from The Mormons Are Coming! blog and En.FairMormon.org, for example) stipulate that LDS’s contributions to Yes on 8 campaigns were through individual contributions and “in-kind donations”(free or discounted services) that total about $190,000. Defenders also contend that support for the campaign only came from congregations within California under the direction of the Protect Marriage Coalition.
Still, this is a huge mega-industrial church which does not condone gay or lesbian existence and (according to Time magazine) enjoyed $5.2 billion in tithes last year. Excusing its direct responsibility for the success of Prop. 8 is like arguing over the innocence of an icicle on a monolithic iceberg.
Infinitely more savvy than she was perhaps five years ago (and also probably armed with the shrewdest publicists in the history of Hollywood]) Meyer has, smartly, stayed away from the bubbling controversy, avoiding any discussion of her politics. On the other hand, she has publicly discussed how important her Mormon faith was in the creation of her multimillion-dollar saga.
Her sensibilities are evident in the story itself. This isn’t the most sexually experimental bunch of vampires out there. Edward and Bella barely touch or kiss. They make Vampire Lestat and Buffy look like they are from '70s San Francisco. But still, Edward, Bella, and all those hot half-naked werewolves have struck a chord. It’s not Meyer’s fault that she is a success and has created a striking, absorbing piece of cultural property. Who knows what and who will create something that will captivate the public’s imagination?
Arguments about the power of art and the moral compass of its creator have been debated for hundreds of years. Just look at the work of Wagner, Leni Riefenstahl, Elia Kazan. Or, conversely, the work of the countless gay and lesbian writers or artists who have transmuted their sexual desire into heterosexual characters.
But this isn’t simply “art” we are talking about, it’s a marketing juggernaut. Tied to the publishing industry, tabloids, iTunes, Meyer’s Mormon-inspired saga is a major media event and marketing campaign — a huge multiplatform effort demanding our attention as consumers, no matter what sexual orientation. This makes Twilight,New Moon, and the next 13 sequels a definitive way to take temperature of gay and lesbian representation.
As we all flock to the theaters and fawn over the beautiful faces and flawless bodies, maybe we should take a step back and notice how surprisingly unevolved it appears. It’s 2009, and this is a major piece of pop culture, but the resolutely heterosexual film could have happened in 1955, starring James Dean and Sal Mineo. Or in 1980, starring Kristy McNichol and Matt Dillon.
It makes you wonder: the vague state of gay life in the mainstream entertainment market is still a big annoying cock-tease — and it’s uncomfortably reflective of our fangless mundane reality: a world where we can’t get married, adopt children easily, or even make out in public. And in places like Rhode Island, we can’t even die equally.
Will an openly gay vampire ever come to Forks? When will we be allowed to get married? It all seems like themes in a shelved screenplay at this point.