risten Stewart became a name I recognized because of Twilight. I saw the first one in a theater because the only friend I’d sit through Josie & the Pussycat Dolls and Uptown Girl (“Sheets of Egyptian Cotton” is a moment I regret having embedded in my brain.) with came into town for her annual-to-biannual visit, and she picked Twilight. I don’t know if she knows she has bad taste in movies, but she does, and only for her do I deal with it.
So I’m not a Twilight fan. I’m not a vampire lore loyalist, but the ridiculous amount of teen press popping from the series just makes me wretch. And I’ve seen the interviews. Kristen Stewart is an awful representation of herself, and every public appearance she’s made (that I’ve caught wind of, admittedly not many) absolutely warrants the parodies and satire.
One night we rented The Runaways, and, confusingly, I thought she did Joan Jett fairly well. A couple of images of the off-duty actress crossed my monitor, and I was confused further: Hey, I like the way she dresses. I noticed the “snarl” that celebrity press attached to Stewart didn’t read as a snarl to me. I seriously thought, given that time on Letterman she thought that she could drive to Russia from England, that the girl just plain didn’t know how to smile. Parts of her bothered me less and less while other parts were warming up to me. Whahappened?
And then the calendar page flips to June, and with it, the July Vanity Fair appears in the mailbox. My first knee-jerk reaction to the cover is “Ugh, Kristen Stewart!” then “THAT DOG IS SO FUNNY LOOKING.” and finally “Did they specifically choose this image for the cover because they knew the dog would make me less annoyed by Stewart?” I fastforward to the feature looking for more of that dog, and cannot deny loving Mario Testino’s shots. And then the article sends me into taking personal inventory of myself and being overly judgmental toward women and famous Hollywood types who I will never meet.
Statements like this:
‘I have been criticized a lot for not looking perfect in every photograph….I’m not embarrased about it. I’m proud of it….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!’
For all that unease on the red carpet and at photo shoots, she has learned to love great fashion…especially when the designs represent true creative expression, or are, in her terms, ‘some cool shit.’ If she wears it, you can know she loves it.
…make me think I’m being harsh for unjustified reasons. The first is that, as I’ve explored before, I’ve internalized the reflex for girl-on-girl hate. Beautiful girl in a successful role? It’s because she’s beautiful. Ugly girl in a successful role? Haha, sucks for you, you may be high up but you’ll never be beautiful. Beautiful girl in a lame role? That’s what you get because you probably don’t have brains. Ugly girl in a lame role? What? You want my time of day?
How is anyone to survive? Or even be motivated to try, with those unfounded conclusions being made all the time?
– We (women, men, too, but women especially) have been conditioned to constantly compare ourselves within social circles that may or may not exist, but regardless we’re always judging and ranking and ultimately making it impossible to just appreciate any combination of achievements or born-with-it qualities. Earlier I asked: Hating on Sarah Jessica Parker: Legit or petty? Now I ask: Hating on Kristen Stewart: Justified or am I playing into Hollywood’s ridiculous and fickle standards?
Which brings us to my second internalized judgment system that I should probably unlearn as soon as I can: Buying into Hollyweird. While I still believe this statement is true, that Kristen Stewart is a poor representative of herself, it is only because I’ve accepted that all Hollywood starlets have to be representatives of themselves, at all: at once sexy, bold, smart, athletic, glamorous, eloquent, and…all kinds of other things that they should be able to portray on set, but which we don’t expect of “normal” human beings who aren’t in front of cameras all day. While, as public figures, I think it’s fair to expect them to know when they’re flashing too much coochie getting out of a limo in a micro-mini, really who gives a shit how good they are at turning on the charm at the sight of a microphone? They should absolutely know how to answer a couple of questions about becoming their character on late-night interviews, yes, but should we really be expecting all Hollywood celebrities to be our sources of world news, or even fashion decisions?
The truth of it is, for those who are perceived as worldly and impeccably styled, it is because Hollyweird manufactured them that way – and Hollyweird is no simple machine. Sure, Natalie went to Harvard and Matt has his little water charity, but they also have “people.” People who prep them with messaging, people who run their foundations, people who secure them “sightings” when they go in and out of Starbucks wearing The Right Kind of Jeans, people who lay out their clothes for them the very second they think about stepping outside. A lot of the time, we are judging Hollywood celebrities for how it is decided they will be portrayed outside of a film, which results in a great deal of credit not going to their public relations girl, hair guy, makeup tranny, or stylist sister.
To bring it all back, I don’t care about Twilight, and I can completely sympathize with Kristen Stewart if what she says in her interview is true. If she has no plans to assimilate to Hollywood, why should I judge her? Perhaps she considers her work hours to be when she’s actually acting, which is actually similar to why (at a very macro level) I don’t include a “Tweets are my own” line in my Twitter bio. It seems fair. Why acknowledge the inflated values of a system you don’t want to be governed by? Judge my work when I’m actually working. I have some anti-establishment, you-do-you spirit in my bones, so maybe I should be championing her instead.
Then again, by being in movies that have such mainstream appeal and clearly aren’t going to skip press junkets in their contracts, is she obligated to be “better” off-set? Does signing on buy her into Hollywood? Is she Hollywood at all? Or is Hollywood just that pressed for atypical PR buzz, that there needs to be one rebellious young starlet at all times, and right now it’s her?
Either Vanity Fair contributor Ingrid Sischy is just a fucking genius at spinning the reputation of a young adult with a poor public persona, or the real issue is me caring at all.