11/26/2012

Aletter to Kristen Stewart




Dear Kristen Stewart,

I'm sure you had an inkling about how much your life would change once you took on the role of Bella from those crappy Mormon vampire books that take all the sexiness out of the supernatural and all the power out of girl power.  Still, no matter how many times someone warns you, you probably think of yourself as a star with a small "s" and an actor with a big "A."  So the hate pouring down on you right now must seem like an avalanche of never-ending sh**.  Sure some people are not going to like you--your looks, your acting, your personal style--whatever.  You are in the spotlight, so that type of hating is going to happen.  I'm sure you are willing to roll with that as much as any actor is.  Yet the kind of venom thrown at you now is just CRAZY.
Michael Fassbender holding me and my bra
Some of us may harbor vivid fantasies about actors, where they take on characteristics of their roles, or they shower some of their charisma personally onto one of us.  So Michael Fassbender may bump into me wandering around some bookstore, and we end up talking about Milan Kundera, and then we have some passionate affair where I run around half-naked in a bowler hat, and he's still incredibly endowed and fascinated by me, an older woman.  Nice Fantasy.

Now as a public figure, one has a certain responsibility as an actor/star to uphold some values: clubbing baby seals and beating family and/or partners are all unacceptable.  You are also expected to shill for your latest film.  They are your employer and they are giving you money, so that kind of labor is required.  But who you f*** is none of anyone's business, even if it affects their little (or big) fantasies of you.  People make mistakes too, so if you regret the fling you had with that older director of your film, so be it.  Maybe things between you and Rob are not as clear-cut as they might appear.  I'm not sure who suggested that you publicly apologize (perhaps it was your idea), but it's out there.  Done.  Let's move on
What it's like to be Kristen Stewart these days
I'm sorry that the gender politics of Hollywood and the U.S. makes it impossible for you to do so.  Men cheat, women cheat--it happens.  Yet in the masculinized cheating scenario out there, men are free to be promiscuous, while women are obsessed with "putting a ring on it."  At least according to insidious gender stereotypes.  So if Rob cheats, he's just sowing his male movie star oats (or seeds, I don't know), while you are evil.  Women are to blame because they have scary ladyparts, and men are victims with no power in the world and cannot help themselves.  We've seen this scenario play out with the Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, Angelina Jolie triangle for years now.  Aniston is ostensibly the victim with a ring on it, but so is Pitt, who was held in rapt awe by Jolie's scary ladyparts.  Jolie is the evil one (and now she's playing sleeping beauty's Maleficent, which is, of course, a documentary).

People like Will Ferrell do not help matters.  Perhaps he was just making a joke when he called you a "trampire" on Conan's show earlier this month, but he might as well have been making "rape" jokes with the sh**storm he created.  Now there are websites selling t-shirts that say all manner of horrible things about you.  I hope he's feeling a bit ashamed.  Where's his public apology??

Now I'm not going to utter some useless aphorism that is not all that helpful right now (this too shall pass, some things are not meant to be).  This situation sucks and your suffering is unfair and I'm angry for you (not at you).  Instead, I'd like to thank you for some truly memorable performances that highlight your gifts as an actor, and shift the  focus away from your current role as a celebrity punching bag.  Thank you Ms. Stewart for the following work over the last 5 years:

THE MESSENGERS (The Pang Brothers, 2007).

Kristin Stewart as Jess makes a terrific final girl, and she doesn't have to fake being a teenager with angst here; she plays her age.  Of course, she's not too keen to be dumped in the middle of nowhere with her family in order for them to fulfill some lame "gentleman farmer" fantasy, and she's the first one to sense (as Final Girls do) that there's something hinky going on in this bucolic homestead.  Dylan McDermott plays her delusional Dad in a trial run for American Horror Story, but Stewart sets the bar for the troubled, misunderstood teen.  The film has some great haunted house scares that are deeply unsettling, and crows--scary crows.

INTO THE WILD (Sean Penn, 2007)

Kristen Stewart and Catherine Keener are the best things about this lame-ass story regarding spoiled rich kid Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch) who decides to live amongst nature, literally sets fire to money, refuses everyone's help, and dies in the middle of nowhere like a complete idiot.  At least Kracauer's book didn't make him into some kind of wounded hero.  In contrast, Penn seems to think that people will give a sh** that this guy's misguided walkabout is somewhat noble.  Stewart plays Tracy, a guitar strumming indie traveler girl who catches Chris's fancy.  She's way too interesting for him, and projects legitimate charisma on this lame fable.  Way to elevate a brief "girlfriend" role!!
Stewart pretending that Jesse Eisenberg is fascinating
ADVENTURELAND (Greg Mottola, 2009)

This lovely little indie film has its "issues," but Stewart as the witty, carny girl, Em, is a quiet, thoughtful revelation.  Again, she plays her age, she makes mistakes (sleeping with an older married man portrayed by Ryan Reynolds, hello!), but she makes the audience genuinely care for her plight.  The fact that Eisenberg's James hates on her once he finds out that she's doesn't live up to his fantasy ideal is just too damn prescient.  Still, he's the one that comes chasing after her in the pouring rain like some wet dog left at the door of the pound.  Implausible ending but smart and nuanced performance.  Oh, and I heart Bill Hader, always.

THE RUNAWAYS (Floris Sigismondi, 2010)

As a young, badass Joan Jett, Kristen Stewart really rocks.  She inhabits the edgy physicality that makes Jett, and the Runaways, rock icons.  She is utterly believable as a rock musician who loves to play guitar.  And she conveys the yearnings of same-sex desire toward blonde hottie Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning) so palpably and viscerally, that you can feel her heart beating.  Sigismondi really captures those unrequited feelings in the quiet moments where her camera focuses on Joan, and how her surreptitious glances are loaded with unwieldy lust.  When one thinks of a Kristen Stewart performance, this role is the one I hold up as the gold standard.  Thanks Ms. Stewart for being a worthy role model here (rather than that milquetoast doormat Bella).

Oh, and this film makes 70's fashions fabulous again.


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