Stewart-Pattinson: Betrayal and hyperreality of a media romance

'Twilight' costars Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart. A perfectpair? Faux romance? Strange conflation?
'Twilight' costars Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart. A perfectpair? Faux romance? Strange conflation? (JOEL RYAN / Associated Press)
Posted: July 28, 2012

It won't be long now before teens across the globe take to the streets in sackcloth and ashes in mourning over Kristen Stewart's swan dive from media grace.

K-Stew, whose romance with Twilight costar Robert Pattinson has helped us keep at bay the horrors of a world engulfed in poverty, war, and famine, admitted this week that she had engaged in what she called a "momentary indiscretion" with her married Snow White and the Huntsman director, Rupert Sanders.

The fallout has been shocking: Fans, for the most part teenage girls, have unleashed a fury of disappointment and outrage, a wave of hysteria not seen since Sigmund Freud set up shop in Vienna.

K-Stew committed the gravest of all celebrity sins: She betrayed that she's a person, not an idea. Held up for the last four years as a baby-doll darling, a talented tomboy-turned-prom-queen - and above all, the consummate good girl - she had the effrontery to remind us that she's as carnal as the rest of us.

Many fans profess shock that K-Stew, 22, would go for some 41-year-old father of two and forsake Pattinson, 26 - that perfect, melt-in-your-mouth combination of British reserve, gentlemanly manner, and sweaty-hot beefcakedom.

Thing is, K-Stew's affair may be virtually the only real thing about her.

Why? Because when it comes down to it, the much-vaunted K-Stew/R-Pat romance is completely unreal.

The two may go out to the movies, share meals, go on trips, and maybe make love (not much longer, perhaps?), but we know little about their actual lives. What we do know, in great detail, is their love affair as the fictional Bella Swan and Edward Cullen, the ultimate romantic pairing.

Fans, we wager, are angry at K-Stew for sullying this fictional romance - something she never had. Why else would K-Stew's betrayal inspire such crazy, hyperbolic reaction?

It's a classic conflation of reality and media hyperreality, promoted by the entertainment industry. What better way to hype a teen-romance flick than for its leads to intimate that their on-screen pairing was so hot that it spilled out into real life? What's really bizarre is the thought that Bella and Edward are supposed to be the ideal couple. Let's face it: Their bond is a strange, ugly creature, with a creepy, reactionary, antisex message.

Bella and Edward's romance is hypersexualized - Edward, the vampire, wants to consume Bella; she wants him to make love to her even if it means her death - yet based on a promise of abstinence. They vow not to make love before marriage.

Teenage girls reportedly are drawn to the couple because theirs is a safe relationship. Edward is a maternal presence, a protector.

Yet, in a notably antifeminist turn, Edward demands total and absolute devotion: To be with him, Bella forgoes her high school degree, college, a career, or anything that remotely suggests an independent life.

Once they marry and finally have sex, Bella immediately becomes pregnant. The message: You copulate, you reproduce.

In the Twilight world, pregnancy is a curse straight out of Genesis. Carrying a half-vampire baby, Bella wastes away, apparently consumed from within by the creature.

Edward veritably forces her to have an abortion (sensitive). But she voices a radical pro-life credo: No abortion for her, even when the mother's life is in danger.

This is the perfect couple? The romance every girl dreams about?

Far better to cop an illicit snog than be stuck in that nightmare.


Contact Tirdad Derakhshani

at 215-854-2736 or tirdad@phillynews.com.

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