I’m not gonna lie, I’ve always had a bit of a thing for Kristen Stewart (or as I affectionately call her, K-Stew/K-TRILLA/Bella Swizzle), since the moment I became ironically-but-not-really-ironic-at-all immersed in the Twilight movie franchise. Sure she may not have the greatest artistic range, and the “FUCK OFF” vibe she often projects can be a put-off for some. But where others see a sullen, miserable B-I-T-C-H, I see gothic-chic and effortless swag. Indeed, my favourite Kristen Stewart moment ever was her quote to Vanity Fair regarding criticism for “not smiling enough” on the red carpet:
“I have been criticized a lot for not looking perfect in every photograph, I get some serious shit about it. I’m not embarrassed about it. I’m proud of it. If I took perfect pictures all the time, the people standing in the room with me, or on the carpet, would think, What an actress! What a faker! That thought embarrasses me so much that I look like shit in half my photos, and I don’t give a fuck. What matters to me is that the people in the room leave and say, ‘She was cool. She had a good time. She was honest.’ I don’t care about the voracious, starving shit eaters who want to turn truth into shit. Not that you can say that in Vanity Fair!”
Which I can only imagine she said in her trademark flat monotone, and was no doubt followed by that adorable/annoying (depending on your opinion of her) lip biting thing that she always does. That, folks, is what the kids call “TRILL AS AN OG”.
So it was with some dismay that I watched Stewgate (tentative title) unfold, and the vitriol which followed (mostly from Rob “R-Patz” Pattinson’s tween army), which culminated in Will Ferrell’s “Trampire” bit on Conan, and resulted in effectively a soft black-listing from Hollywood. In what should now be familiar territory, the woman has been the sole target of a comprehensive character assassination, despite the fact that she was just one girl in a two-person operation.
Where is the hateful smear campaign on Rupert Sanders? Yes, that is his name. You may not have remembered, seeing as the pages and pages written about this scandal have largely glossed over his involvement in the affair. To use one example, Google “rupert sanders affair” and you get 4.9 million results. Google “Kristen Stewart affair”? 63.5 million results. And while Stewart twists in the wind waiting to find out what happens to her acting career, Sanders is already back on his feet, with an offer to direct “90 Church: The True Story Of The Narcotics Squad From Hell”, a film adaptation of a bestselling crime novel. Convenient for him as both have been dropped from a “Snow White and the Huntsmen” sequel (a bullet dodged for Stewart though in my opinion, that movie sucked buckets of dicks).
It’s an almost laughably improbable task to ask tabloid media to be logical or rational, and there’s no point asking why they are choosing to cover the scandal in this way (hint: $$$$). But it is dispiriting to see that in 2012, we see an office affair between an impressionable 22 year old girl still in the early stages of her career, and her 41 year old boss (he of a wife and two kids, let’s not forget), and immediately move to demonising the woman, uneven power dynamics be damned.
Before we immediately descend to black and white conclusions about her character and moral fibre, we need to remember that while the saying goes “actions speak louder than words”, sometimes people do things that aren’t “themselves”. Consider for a moment the kind of fishbowl experience which is the life of a young star attached to a movie franchise with such a maniacal fan base as Twilight. I’m 21, and I get rattled when I get tagged in embarrassing Facebook photos. Stewart is just a year older than me, and has had to deal with the spotlight since she was just a wee teenie bopper herself. The pressure, the attention, the noise, the criticism, it must all get completely suffocating, and one could definitely see how that environment could distort your view of reality and how you perceive your existence to the extent where it drives you to do the kind of thing that she did. I hate to play armchair psychologist here (wait, what am I talking about I LOVE playing armchair psychologist), but from this perspective it almost seems as if she wanted to get caught, as an act of self-sabotage to get away from it all, or perhaps just to try and regain some sort of power and control back in her life. As it were, the reckless way that they conducted the affair (i.e. in a public park, in plain view of the paparazzi) was somewhat suspicious. This quote from the June issue of Elle magazine is especially telling:
“I can’t wait for something crazy to fucking happen to me. Just life. I want someone to fuck me over! Do you know what I mean?”
This is not to excuse her actions. Indeed, she would be the first to take responsibility for them, as she did in perhaps the most raw and genuine celebrity apology I’ve ever read. But it is to say that before we tie her up and burn her at the stake (WHORE!!), we should stop and think – really think, about the toxic celebrity culture which builds up these child stars before tearing them apart, not to mention the sexist and misogynistic coverage of scandals such as these.
Oh and if you try and bring up the “she’s a role model for all the tween girls who obsess over the Twilight franchise” thing please stop stealing our oxygen and cease breathing. Not only is Twilight a terrible “love” story which indirectly encourages stalking and obsessive behaviour, as well as continuing a proud Hollywood tradition of inflating young girls’ expectation of men, but it also ignores the simple fact that the central tension in the last 3 books is the presence of a human/werewolf/vampire love triangle (wow that sounds horrible). Bella’s actions in those books are hardly a “how-to” guide to monogamy, trust me.
It is with all of this in mind that I’m rooting extra-hard for “On The Road” (her next movie) to be a smashing success. Not only is the book a hipster-bible of sorts, but I’ve always been a sucker for backs-to-the-wall shut-up-the-haterz performances. Be it Kanye West’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”, Dirk’s 2011 playoff run, LeBron’s 2012 run, or Tiger’s ongoing attempt to return to dominance, there is nothing more satisfying than seeing an embattled star brought down by the mass media machine, coming to terms with the ultimate Gift/Curse dichotomy that is celebrity culture, and emerging with an all-time “I JUST DON’T GIVE A FUCK” performance.
I can’t even begin to imagine what she (or any other celebrity in her position) can be going through right now. But take it from this fan: get away from the noise for a while, clear your head. Then listen to Eminem’s “The Way I Am” in your trailer in between takes for your next movie.
Then crush it, K-Stew. We’re rooting for you.