Before we dive into our many thoughts about the life and times of Kristen Stewart, let’s get one thing out of the way: Yes, this is very silly. It’s silly to feel that we have any sort of stake in the thoughts of actors and other people whose entire job consists of saying words and feeling feelings in front of a camera. You think celebrity culture is ridiculous, and you’re not wrong. But this is the world we live in and like it or not, you DO care what these 25 year old actresses think, or at the very least you acknowledge that there’s a cultural importance to the attention we give them, or you wouldn’t have clicked on this headline.
Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about Kristen Stewart. And how she can simultaneously intrigue us and bug us, and how she’s managed to do this for almost a decade now.
There aren’t many 20-somethings that are as divisive as Kristen Stewart. For some, the irritation or even vitriol brought up by her rolled-eye, bit-lipped face is stronger even than that evoked Woody Allen’s thinly-veiled sexual fantasies masquerading as A-list comedies. (For some, I said. Hopefully not for you.) In the late aughts, it would have been hard to find a self-proclaimed fan of Stewart. Young girls hated her because she got to make out with the sparkly vampire they lusted after. (And then cheated on him! The worst crime against vampire fans.) Adults couldn’t stand her because of all the twitching.
But then something happened. She took a break. She stayed out of the spotlight, she started doing indie roles (and doing them well), and then she started speaking up. She started talking about feminism, encouraging girls to embrace the word (and what it stands for). She started doing funny feministy videos, and— most surprising of all— she started having fun. It was so easy for so long to write Stewart off as a joke, a young Hollywood cautionary tale. With the very public tabloid fodder affairs, her career-launching, but image ruining vampire franchise, and of course, the hair flipping—
The lip biting—
And the eye-rolling.
But as we’ve watched her grow up, our feelings have changed. And it’s only mildly horrifying to realize that the feelings I suddenly have are entirely motherly. And I know I’m not the only one, so I’m going to insist on using the “we” here and bringing you all into this with me. We feel protective of Stewart. We watched the mainstream media fumbling over how she was galpaling around with her #1 gal pal, and we felt embarrassed for them, but were also so happy that KStew was happy. And we LOVE it when she looks happy.
We still get annoyed when her when she says the dumb things we can all remember saying in our early 20s, that droll “eff society” diatribe that we all spouted in college and now cringe to remember. And that’s the thing. Maybe we wouldn’t cringe so hard at her if we didn’t see our younger selves in there. And if she weren’t quite so smart or self-aware or exhibit such real acting and humanhood potential, maybe we wouldn’t care about her at all. But as it is, we do, and she is, and we just want good things for her. The simplicity of celebrity culture insists that every actress fit an archetype: Jennifer Lawrence is your make believe BFF; Amy Schumer is your BFF when you realize you’re old enough to drink; and Kristen Stewart is the baby bird who is so close to leaving the nest, we’re just full of anticipation. Does that sound patronizing? Of course. And I don’t care. We just want good things for her.
So Kristen Stewart, please keep ignoring us. Keep rolling your eyes at us. We are embarrassing, just like a real parent. We want the best for you. We want you to keep galpaling with your nice gal pals! We want you to keep talking about feminism and your views on society and entertainment until you can articulate them without relying on “likes” and lip bites and guttural sound effects and hair pulling.
We want you to have fun, and are happy when you do, even if we roll your eyes at your choice of stoner comedy. (But then we’ll be proud when that turns out to be so much better than we expected.)
Oh, and we want her to smile more. Which, no matter what random men on the street think, is only something your mother is allowed to tell you.