A Cat Among The Pigeons

Christopher Fowler
Don't mess with teenaged girls, I say. It's been a salutary experience. Who knew there were quite so many fans of the actress Kristen Stewart, or that they would be ready to scream 'Hater!' without having seen 'Snow White and the Huntsman', the film under discussion? Who knew I'd get more posts for one lukewarm review (I described the film as 'well-made' and said it should please fans of 'Twilight') than for all the serious, carefully considered posts I've made over the last few years? It's deeply depressing to realise that this garnered the biggest response I've ever had, much of it inarticulate to the point of derangement. Regular commenters here have consistently raised insightful points about everything from politics to publishing, but apparently we're all wrong, and should limit our conversation to discussions of minor celebrities who make children's films. The internet is presumably why so many people have become terrified of voicing an opinion at all. As we grow and our experience of the world deepens, we are entitled to discuss anything from pedophilia to terrorism in any way we choose - it's called free comment, and Socratic debate is a dialectic method of stimulating critical thinking and illuminating ideas. Although not, it seems, when it involves fans of Snow White or vampires. Did I miss a meeting where it was decided that youth culture should push out any other kind of culture? That consensus-threats should overpower opinion? A common bully-tactic I got in this intellectually weighty discussion of a girl, a magical queen and seven little men was along these lines; 'If you don't withdraw your remarks about Kristen we'll start an online boycott against your books, and then you'll suffer.' Frankly, this does feel like the last refuge of the knowingly disempowered, and makes me sad. For the record, I didn't particularly 'hate' Ms Stewart or the film. It was beyond consequence of any kind, a capricious piece of extremely undemanding entertainment designed, like 'Mirror, Mirror', to extract a bit more cash from Twilighters, and worthy of a nanosecond's thought. I stood next to Ms Stewart for quite a long time after the premiere and didn't see her face unfreeze into anything appropriating a smile. Perhaps she was suffering the misery of trapped wind or has low blood sugar. Perhaps she was tired and fed up with being forced to go around the world on press junkets; who knows? Feel free to disagree with me on the condition that you were also there last Monday between 11:00pm and 12:00am and saw differently; I'll stand corrected. There's one last point worth making; I'm not the target audience for this film, of course, and I'm primarily interested in storytelling. The thing that puzzled me was this; the film is a 'realistic' take on the fairytale in which the empowered Snow White dons armour and inspires a vast army into undertaking a life or death battle, so passion and eloquence is important. Henry V wouldn't have lasted two minutes if he'd just been drippy. While we may have exhausted the subject of Snow White, a bigger matter has been raised; the wilful ignorance of culture. Hmm - perhaps I'd be better off sticking to detailed discussions about the career of Justin Bieber in future.


Helen Martin (not verified) Mon, 21/05/2012 - 00:25

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Sarcasm doesn't suit you, Chris. I must say that this is a forum where I most certainly do feel safe to express my opinion, no matter how ill-informed or mindless. That is one way to learn that you are ill-informed and/or mindless and people on this blog have corrected me several times. They have always been polite and considerate - unless you have held back vicious posts. How did those people even find this blog? Some adult must have told them and it's too bad you got the result.

Gretta (not verified) Mon, 21/05/2012 - 06:37

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

More responses even than the one about the woman who might/not have been a murderer? Blimey. I only read a couple of this latest lot before I gave up. Did any of them threaten to sue?

Honestly, though, the attention span of your average teenager is microscopic('Squirrel!'). Come tomorrow, they will have found something new to be 'outraged' about. Give them not another thought, admin, I say.

And please, not "the singing mop"(Copyright C Fowler). I don't think any of us regulars deserves that. And anyway, he's been overtaken by One Direction(please don't go there, either!).

Amy (not verified) Mon, 21/05/2012 - 06:41

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I don't care if you don't like Kristen Stewart, Mr. Fowler. In fact, I couldn't care less. However, you're being a huge hypocrite, making dramatic leaps in logic and assuming an awful lot.

Firstly, I have a problem with anyone who says that Kristen's face is frozen and refers to the Twilight series of movies when reviewing her performance in another movie. That's completely illogical and surprisingly juvenile. I can post a large amount of footage of her crying, laughing, screaming, content, etc, in real life interviews and in her movies. Secondly, I'm not a teenager and I would think that most people who found your blog aren't either. In fact, statistically speaking, most of her fan base is over the age of twenty-five. Thirdly, I noticed that the only people who had the privilege of being berated and called "deranged" by you were those who criticized your review. Those who agreed with you or sided with you in berating said commentors were ok. They haven't seen the movie either.

In my opinion, that's hypocritical and a direct contradition to your opinion in one of your beloved blogs that said, and I paraphrase, that art is made to be discussed and debated over. Yet, it seems like you don't really want that to occur.

I actually was a fan of yours and was willing to show you the respect that I think your work has garnered. If you would've allowed people to say how they feel (free speech and all), I would've respected that. However, you've decided to dedicate a whole blog entry dripping with sarcasm to further berating people who don't agree with you, assuming their age and belittling a classic fairy tale. Very odd for a writer. I'm very disappointed.

Ford (not verified) Mon, 21/05/2012 - 07:06

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Oh! Dear! Too many people just don't really get it, do they? Blogs (Facebook, Twitter etc.) are basically online vanity publishing (I do it myslef!), when they're not just straight advertising. Since when have blogs been peer reviewed, academic works? They're PERSONAL! If you don't like the content; or the opinions - don't read it! It's not compulsory!

I want more sarcasm! More "dramatic leaps in logic"! More personal opinion!

Keep it up!

Amy (not verified) Mon, 21/05/2012 - 07:12

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

@Ford, of course it's not compulsory, however, it's public and he is a public figure. If he didn't want people to ever disagree with him, then he should've made it a private blog, accessible by invitation only. Like I said, I was a fan of his work and that's why I was here. Then, I saw that one of my favorite authors took a whole paragraph of a movie review to belittle an actress. He actually thinks he's an authority on her emotional state because he stood next to her at a premiere and she didn't smile enough. He can be as sarcastic as he likes, however, I can express my disdain for the tone of this blog.

Cid (not verified) Mon, 21/05/2012 - 08:04

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Presumably, Amy, you're not going to stop being 'a fan of his work' just because you disagree with his opinion of an unconnected actress' performance in an unconnected film, right? That would be illogical, and we all know you love a bit of logic.

Amy (not verified) Mon, 21/05/2012 - 08:25

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

@Cid, no it's not illogical to stop being a fan of a person who berates people who have a differing opinion and calls them deranged. That is enough to make me never buy a book again. Also, I'm a proud fan of Kristen Stewart's and she hasn't done anything to warrant the vitriol that she's gotten for playing one role during a fourteen-year career. She's never berated an author, a story or said anything negative about a fellow artist, that I can recall. Lastly, I am a big fan of logic. Logic dictates that if you put your opinion out there for people to read, you should expect some push-back, occasionally. Particularly, when you supposedly advocate discussion and debate over art.

The youf (not verified) Mon, 21/05/2012 - 08:33

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

How dare you have an opinion of your own, don't you know why we pay you for this site?

Alan Morgan (not verified) Mon, 21/05/2012 - 09:03

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

You are wrong. And all my friends think so to. I am a friend fan of Kristen Stewart and you dont know how she inspires us to have nice boyfriends that are cool. FACT. You are a homerfobe CHRISTOPHER FOWLER and are jealous that your horror is not PROPER about vampires and my friends all know that when you did your 'campaign against real fear' it said noty vampires. LOL!!!!!

When I meet Kristen we will be BFF. Just because people like stories about vampires and you write about old people who were in the olden days and now in London you hate it that people like young people like vampires.

You only let people agree with you that agree with you and you should SHUT UP because of freedom of speech. You cannot write stuff on yourblog because you are OLD!!!

When I am a vampire I will be pretty and you will still be old writing about old people who are matches. I have never read your books and by not doing so now you will be sorry!!!!!

raedarius (not verified) Mon, 21/05/2012 - 10:49

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

So much to enjoy in this and the review post.

Right now, I'm torn between the poster who used both 'hater' and 'shame on you' in one post, demonstrating themself to be simultaneously 16 and 60 years of age, or the wonderful 'That is enough to make me never buy a book again'. Not just your books, mind, any book.

I really hope they talk like this in real life.

Christopher Fowler Mon, 21/05/2012 - 11:26

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Dear Amy -

I hardly think you can say I limited free speech by allowing dozens of loopy comments to run on the site. I've only screened out the ones which were obscene and threatening. I'm afraid Alan Morgan has hit the nail on the head with his perfect parody of what the rest were like - in fact, they were much worse. I'm glad you've posted because you can obviously articulate your opinions, and that means you have something to say to others.

I hope you see the film and make up your mind as to whether it even warrants comment - it will be interesting to hear what you think of it, so please comment - I can't say fairer than that.

Amy (not verified) Mon, 21/05/2012 - 12:10

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)


I'll take your word for it that the comments you didn't allow were "obscene and threatening." I can't apologize for something I didn't see or do. The comments I saw under the review of the movie made some legitimate points and it would have been nice if the commenters that attacked them for contradicting your statements would've been reprimanded for their behavior and belittled, as well. I'm pretty sure there were extremes on both sides of the issue (unfortunately, there is an issue).

You said that the movie was well done and that it should satisfy Twilight fans, as though fans of the series are some omnipotent entity who cause filmmakers to forgo all logic and only make movies for them. That would make sense if the Twilight series were the top-selling movies of all time, but they're not. Harry Potter sold more tickets and now The Avengers is sweeping the box office. So, it would make more sense for filmmakers to make movies with universal and ageless appeal, with storylines that men and women enjoy.

Your review was very condescending and mean-spirited. That could be part of the reason why some of the reactions were so extreme. That's no excuse for bad behavior, but you have to admit that some of the onus may fall on your own shoulders.

Besides Walter Mosley and Elmore Leonard, you've written one of my favorite crime stories, i.e., Water Room. I'm sure you've received your fair share of rejection and criticism as a writer. I'm also relatively sure it didn't feel good. Just put yourself in this young woman's place for a second. Even if you don't like her work, does she deserve to be denigrated for not smiling enough? Would you even notice that the actor you were standing next to wasn't smiling if the actor was male? I don't presume to know the answers to those questions. I just hope that you can have a little empathy in the future.

I will let you know what I think of the movie.

Elinor Vickers (not verified) Mon, 21/05/2012 - 17:13

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Good on you Christopher! A blog is where you should be able to express your opinions right or wrong. My opinion, for the record, is that I love your books beyond reason and feel somewhat the reverse about Twilight and actors therewithin. I don't think there would be much cross-over between your fans and the average Twilight enthusiast anyway. Maybe they should try your Bryant and May books instead, it would contribute to their personal development. All the best x

Mal Dando (not verified) Mon, 21/05/2012 - 18:07

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I would like to refer everyone who has blogged on here to the Robert De Niro Martin Scorsesse film 'The King Of Comedy'

Gretta (not verified) Mon, 21/05/2012 - 19:43

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Alan M - equal parts scary and hilarious. Respect to you, sir.

Dan Terrell (not verified) Mon, 21/05/2012 - 20:28

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I'm seriously sorting through and deciphering what happened in the past 48 - 72 hours, as I recall something similar happening once before.
Therefore, although I have nothing yet of "sociological" significance to add, but I'd like to propose the phenomenon at least be named.
Since it descends like a flying hord, may I suggest the term: "Flash Dump".(It exists as a data processing manuever, but I think it quitw describes an internet, or social media, activity.)
It's sort of a film/book based reference, and seems appropriate here, still it suggests a decending flight of winged monkeys - no slander intended - and recalls the excellent Wizard of Oz movie and the many increasingly repeatious books written by several authors.
Example in usage: "What a day! I got caught up in a Flash Mob in the tube station - a BeeGees remembrance thing - and then when I got home, I found my article on butterflies had got my blog Flash Dumped."
Okay, it's back into the tornado cellar with lantern and books until the all-clear siren blows.

Lostintown (not verified) Mon, 21/05/2012 - 23:48

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Sorry. I must have missed the email.
Is this a troll feeding party?

I should have worn something more appropriate.

Alan Morgan (not verified) Tue, 22/05/2012 - 06:29

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Everything's research. I look forward to the short story drawing on it all. :0)

Amy (not verified) Fri, 25/05/2012 - 01:06

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

@raedarius, your post would be witty if you would've acknowledged that you don't actually have to buy books to read books. You have heard of libraries right? Nice try at being clever, but no cigar. I hope you're not as thoughtless when you speak, as when you write. Also, "Not just your books, mind, any book," is not a complete sentence. If you're going to pick people apart, be correct.