If you are a gossip junkie like me, you’ve probably been following the Kristen Stewart-Robert Pattinson scandal pretty closely. For some reason, I’ve found it even juicier than the Holmes-Cruise divorce, which looked for a while to be the biggest gossip story of the year. The reason is actually hard to pin-point. I’ve never watched a single Twilight movie, save for a short scene from the most recent offering, which, based on my own child-birthing experience, beat poetic license to a bloody pulp [pun intended]. I don’t know much about KStew and Sparkles themselves, and my personal thoughts on them can be briefly summarized. She strikes me as having a remarkably inexpressive face for an actress, which seems to only come to life when telegraphing terminal ennui on the red carpet. He, much like vanilla yogurt, evokes no strong reactions on my part, good or bad. Together, they just … are. Hardly Liz and Dick material, right?
Well, perhaps I didn’t give them enough credit, because here we are. Not, mind you, that I’m comparing this story to the Taylor-Burton saga; that would be practically sacrilegious. But there is something about it that fascinates me as much as it might your average Twihard. It’s all so … non-Hollywood, non? Rough around the edges, un-pretty, real. [So not-business-as-usual that some people are now speculating that it was all a massive set-up. Oy vey!]
Take her apology. Typically, when a celebrity messes up, they get their reps to phone in the usual, not particularly apologetic, press release that concludes with the mandatory “please respect our privacy at this difficult time” paparazzi bait. Stewart’s mea culpa sounds like it was written by a 14-year old trying to sound profound whilst having a minor meltdown. Unless she has the wiliest PR agent this side of Sidney Falco, I assume it’s an accurate reflection of her mental state, which makes it the sort of “behind the scenes” reveal from which even the most exposure-hungry starlet would normally shy away.
And then, take those pictures. What celebrity in her right mind gets caught making out with her middle-aged illicit lover in a car in broad daylight? I had always assumed that one of the upsides of Hollywood affairs would be the lavish settings. [And, you know, a hunky partner-in-crime, though I guess there is no accounting for taste.]
Oh, and don’t forget the follow-up: Stewart supposedly broken-hearted, crashing a friend’s pad, eating countless gallons of ice-cream and generally being too despondent to do mundane things like, you know, wash her hair and stuff. While this sounds suspiciously close to a movie version of real-life heartbreak, it’s somehow much easier to picture Stewart living it out than, say, Jennifer Aniston. It fits Stewart’s public persona, and not least of all that overwrought apology of hers.
All of these things, they fascinate me. It feels like, for the time being, Stewart and her team are still looking for the right Hollywood angle from which to tackle this story, and we’re getting a front row view of the machine at work. Not your typical tabloid fodder, for sure.
And, finally, there is the moral side of the story. This is actually the part that interests me the least. Stewart has admitted to cheating on her boyfriend with a married man. The public gasped. If they were being honest, I think it would be fair to say the reaction was due, in no small part, to the fact that the cad in question is, by movie star standards, no looker. Ostensibly, though, it was because of his matrimonial status; in the public eye, this seemed to aggravate Stewart’s already reprehensible temerity in cheating on Pattison (who seems to inspire near cult-like devotion for reasons I cannot readily discern) in the first place. But should it? It feels so “Brangelina circa 2004” to point out that a married person’s obligations of loyalty and fidelity to his or her spouse cannot be delegated to a third party – one who has not otherwise assumed any God- or state-sanctioned quasi-contractual commitments. It seems so self-evident to say that, while cheating with a married person might make you a crappy individual, it does not, in any way, make you responsible for their adulterous actions. It’s just so tedious to still be having this conversation. If true, I take it as another sign of her apparent immaturity that Stewart reportedly considered making an apology to Rupert Sanders’ wife. Stewart doesn’t owe her one. The only person who owes Rupert Sanders’ wife an apology is Rupert Sanders. Stewart should stick to apologizing to her boyfriend, though I hope that from this point on, she will do it in private. I also hope she stops feeding the public’s desire to brand her with the big red letter “A”, because that is so gratuitously self-defeating. She doesn’t owe anyone penance, not even Pattison. Her only responsibility is to own up to her actions and accept their consequences, whatever they happen to be. If those consequences end up feeling a whole lot like punishment – losing her boyfriend, getting blacklisted for a role, enduring years of Twihard hate mail – so be it. But she shouldn’t have to put on a hair shirt, dump ashes in her hair, and wander the desert for the next decade to satisfy the public lust for … what? Justice? Vengeance? Shadenfreude?
Save the melodrama for the big screen.