What does the Kristen and Rob saga say about us?

OPINION

August 15, 2012|Matt Pais | RedEye movie critic

Obviously, the world will never be the same again.

Kristen Stewart and her “Twilight” co-star Robert Pattinson. K-Stew and R-Pattz. Stroganoff and Puffinson (unofficial nicknames). Call 'em what you want; they appear to be done. That’ll happen sometimes after infidelity, particularly globally publicized infidelity involving that time-honored scandal, the actress and the director. In this case, as you probably know by now, it was Stewart and her “Snow White and the Huntsman,” 41-year-old, married-with-kids director Rupert Sanders, whose name is surely now more well-known than it was when he was just the filmmaker behind one of the year’s less-guaranteed hits.

This story has turned into much more than just a tale of cheating, however. Jodie Foster wrote a column for the Daily Beast about how the media and angry fans should lay off her “Panic Room” co-star. The Oscar-winning actress recognizes how much different today’s culture is from the way young actors and actresses existed in the public sphere when Foster, who began acting at 3 and broke out as 12-year-old prostitute Iris in 1976’s “Taxi Driver,” was a kid. She's right, but that's also something that has been true for a while, and something that those in the public eye inevitably must keep in mind while trying to life something resembling a "normal" life. Meanwhile, reports and rumors swirl about whether or not Stewart will be involved in the sequel and/or spinoff to “Snow White and the Huntsman,” as if maybe she wouldn’t be a box office draw anymore because of something that has absolutely nothing to do with what’s on screen. (Ignoring that people will almost certainly be interested in seeing how this incident may or may not liven up/intensify the actress' performances.)

That wouldn’t be something new, of course. Plenty of stars (Mel Gibson comes to mind first) have had significant offscreen incidents that have cost them in their careers. Yet Stewart’s “previous” box office clout is debatable, considering "Snow White" is her first big, non-"Twilight" hit. Many “Twilight” fans may have seen “Snow White and the Huntsman” because of Stewart’s presence in a big-budget summer movie. Yet I’d argue the film became a much-needed hit for Universal (still smarting from the bomb that was the unfairly maligned “Battleship”) because its trailer offered something stylish and somewhat edgy, at least compared to the pathetic joke that was that other, immediately forgotten Snow White movie, “Mirror, Mirror.” The presence of rising star Chris "Thor" Hemsworth and the shot of Charlize Theron in what looks like a white chocolate bath doesn't hurt either.

The public fixation on celebrities then results in awkward situations like Robert Pattinson’s “Daily Show” interview, in which the interviewer feels like he/she must acknowledge what everyone’s talking about without actually wanting to focus on something private and personal. Jon Stewart didn’t pry, and he shouldn’t have. He just expressed his condolences, shared some ice cream and moved on. Personally I have no interest in the sort of gossip that many popular publications traffic in; when I interviewed them, I asked neither Pattinson nor Stewart about their favorite dates together or what the other one smells like or any other supposedly useful, inside information that might be found elsewhere.

Rather, obsessing over celebs, and especially celeb couples, as if they’re the epitome of everything that is beautiful and fascinating about love and fame continues to sever the line between the work and the people behind it. That’s probably expected when a significant portion of the audience for a product like “Twilight” (or “Harry Potter” or “The Hunger Games” or whatever) is teens and pre-teens, with big emotions wrapped up in their favorite movies and books and the people who brought them to us.

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