I recently spent some time with my teenage brothers and 12-year-old sister — something I don’t often get the chance to do. I don’t normally interact with any teenagers, so I’m not as ‘up with the lingo’ as I was in my heyday. My knowledge of fads is usually restricted to what I stumble across on the internet or hear people talking about. I’m very much in my own little bubble.
This means I spent the entire time with my siblings learning how everything about me, things I liked, things I said or believed, made me a “twelvie”. This word was spat out at me with the same derision with which Malfoy hisses “mudblood”. Apparently, there is nothing worse than being 12 years old, or having things in common with a 12 year old, and refusing to be ashamed of it.
Use Snapchat? Twelvie. Ever taken a selfie? Twelvie. Like any popular music? Twelvie. Most ridiculous was the fact that identifying as bisexual/queer/anything other than heterosexual makes you the worst twelvie in the world. (I’d like to think my excessive lecturing in response to this statement accomplished some change in beliefs, but I doubt it.)
My brother simplified it by saying: “twelvie’s think they’re being different and unique, but they’re all the same”.
I was 12 once. I wore gold glitter vests and fluorescent Supré shirts, had a major obsession with Harry Potter and Operator Please, and would soon become very emotionally invested in Twilight. Ironically, in my late teens I became exactly the person my brother is now in regards to Twilight. I pushed these books to the back of my shelf (they were too expensive to throw out) and became convinced that I was much smarter and wiser than anyone who hadn’t also grown to detest everything to do with the series. Before getting rid of the books, I wrote a message in their covers telling future readers how the characters’ relationships fulfill the main criteria for spousal abuse — something that leaves a bad taste in my mouth whenever I remember my once strict allegiance to ‘Team Edward’.
I suppose that’s why I’m so interested in educating my brother and his peers on why there’s nothing wrong with people liking what they like: it’s a healthy dose of residual guilt due to spending my teenage years looking down my nose at people. I identified far too much with Adrian Mole from the book series of the same name. In retrospect, he was actually a pompous ‘intellectual’ twat.
Nothing is exclusively for one audience. There tends to be an R rated undercurrent to all fandoms — people have even made The Little Mermaid into smut, which takes imagination and a whole new level of creative license. The first time I ventured onto fan fiction sites, I couldn’t believe that people wanted the characters I’ve loved since childhood to do that.
Recommended ages don’t really mean a thing anymore. I’ve heard people argue until they’re blue in the face that ‘Adventure Time is a children’s show’, but a short watching will show that there’s content in this show clearly written for adults. It’s the same story with The Simpsons. Everyone watched it as a kid, but revisit it as an adult and you’re likely to understand some of the jokes you laughed along unknowingly to years earlier.
The way I’ve heard twelvies portrayed, they are invested in the naïveté of the world. They are blissfully unaware of the problematic issues that may surround their loves, or are aware, but make the conscious choice to remain passionate about it.
I’m 20 years old. One Direction songs make me happy. I still listen to the Spice Girls. I’m not straight. I still watch Disney movies all the time, and I Snapchat selfies every day. According to my brother, I’m a twelvie. None of these things are harming anyone, and are all just things that are a part of me and things that I enjoy. Your entire life is about self-discovery and figuring out what you do and don’t like, and it’s hard enough without the rest of the world trying to boss you around.
My opinion is, basically, if it doesn’t hurt anyone else, then what’s the harm? Why get invested in controlling other people’s interests if it is literally not going to benefit you in any way? Shaming doesn’t do a damned thing for anyone.
Twelvies are just people doing things that they happen to have in common with other people. Sometimes I’m a twelvie, sometimes I’m an octogenarian, sometimes I’m just a 20 year old. It doesn’t really matter. I like what I like, and I want my sister to be able to like what she likes without consequence of attack from other people.
Viva la twelvie.
Feature image: Lord Marmalade
Fangirl image: Kelly Garbato
Originally published at hijacked.com.au.