What’s Wrong With You?

August 2, 2012 at 10:32 am (pop culture)

I wrote this for a website but they weren’t able to use it, so here it is! 

I was a therapist for seven years, and I took it very very seriously. I am not a therapist anymore, so it’s time to have some fun with the skills I currently only use when silently and unethically diagnosing strangers at parties. So I’ve dug through four years of interviews, appearances, and more so that we can figure out, using her public interactions only…

Kristen Stewart, what’s wrong with you?

We were first introduced to Kristen Stewart in 2002, when she played Jodie Foster’s daughter in Panic Room. In interviews for the movie, she presents as a slightly tomboyish, reticent, pleasant young woman. Her face is free of makeup and she’s decidedly not tarted up. This makes us feel hopeful for her future, because at this age, Miley Cyrus’ vagina had its own IMDB page.

In 2006, after a few roles in movies like Zahura and The Messengers, she was interviewed by Jon Favreau in Interview magazine. Here we see the first signs of her personality, as Kristen discusses why she acts:

Well, this is never something that I sought out. For most actors, it’s such a struggle to get work. Once they have it, they feel that there’s an enormous amount of pressure on them to make it work, and have everyone love them. In my case, it was never like that. It was just about working with the people that I want to work with, and telling the stories that I want to tell, you know? 

Ahh, I see. She’s playing the “I’m too cool for this, but yet I am doing this, life is full of contradictions” card! But Interview, tell me this- is she more mature than her peers?

When I stopped going to school, I got the strongest dose of perspective. When you’re a kid, your friends, your school, your teachers, your family-that’s your whole world, your whole existence. And then when I stopped going, I lost all my friends but the few that were really close to me. And I still maintain those friendships. My friends who are still going to school are still totally caught up in it. When they graduate, they’re going to experience the exact same thing that I did. I just went through it when I was in the seventh grade as opposed to the twelfth. 

Yes. Yes she is more mature than her peers. This is all very helpful in creating a diagnosis for one’s public persona. Keep in mind, this is all pre-Twilight, when she was just a young actress with a ScarJo-like ability have her flat affect be watchable.

Then came Twilight.

Being cast in Twilight was huge for Kristen Stewart’s career, but unfortunately for her, it made her into a public commodity. In 2008, just before the movie was released, she appeared on Late Night with David Letterman in a now-legendary appearance. Letterman’s natural enemy is the young and pretentious, and our girl KStew is young, a bit pretentious, and most damningly, she is awkward.

There’s a lot of cringey moments in this interview, like when she admits that she’s boring and doesn’t know what to talk about on Letterman, but my favorite moment is when she tells Letterman that after their European press junket, which will end either in Berlin or London, she plans on “driving to Russia”. “Let’s hope it’s Berlin”, Letterman deadpans, and the audience goes nuts. Kristen can tell she’s the butt of the joke, but she’s not sure why.

This was when I start feeling sympathy pangs for KStew. She’s 18 in this interview, and who didn’t think that everything coming out of their mouths was really mind-blowing at 18? I used to give lectures on feminism at parties, and I was an idiot. I was also not much fun at parties. Letterman would have had a field day with me.

Some people are ubercharming and witty when they’re the center of attention, but most of us just get really awkward and sweaty- and yet we expect our celebrities to be good at both, and it’s kind of a shame. The people who are really good at being interviewed by David Letterman, nine times out of ten, are not the people you’d want to hang out with in life. We bemoan the celebrities who seem so artificial, but we are very uncomfortable with celebrities, like Kristen Stewart and Katherine Hiegl, who say unseemly things.

But I’ll get off my soapbox and back to KStew, who at this point I’m diagnosing with

  • I’ve Got Something To Say Disorder (a young-adult onset, fairly common)
  • r/o Awkward Disorder (This means there are mitigating circumstances that could be producing these symptoms, like her age, so we need more time to diagnose)
  • Adjustment Disorder (this is a real one, and you diagnose someone with this when they are going through an unusual circumstance- Twilight- that throws their lives into a tizzy)

In 2009, she gives several interviews where she references the Letterman appearance. This quote is from Nylon, and notice the sly passive aggressive insult to people who are good on the couch:

“I feel like I have nothing to say on those shows… I’m not good at the funny thing—most people are really great on those shows.  I don’t have a contrived personality that [I can] just pump out [for] a five-minute segment, so I end up sitting there and looking kind of baffled.  Embarassing.”

Too cold, KStew! Too cold! She was clearly hurt by the huge backlash of that appearance and wanted the ball back in her own cool court. This was also my trick when girls were hotter than me; I just said that I had better things to worry about than makeup and hair. Things like SCIENCE! More from Allure:

“It’s all about those 10 minutes. You have to be funny and cute, and you have to promote the movie, and I don’t know what else,” she says. “You have to look hot or something. I don’t know; I don’t know.”

Got it. In this interview, Kristen also continues to let us know how she is not like other starlets.

“I go outside, and I’m wearing a funky T-shirt and my hair is dirty, and people say, ‘What’s wrong with her? She needs to invest in a hairbrush,’” she says. “I’m like, don’t you get it? I’m not that girl! Like, I never was that girl. It’s not like I was really clean-cut last year.”

Me thinks the lady doth protesteth blah blah blah…. and there go my sympathy pangs. Kristen has now fully embraced making sure we know that you can take the girl out of the coooool, but you can’t take the cooool out of the girl. Whether or not she is supposed to play ball and get PR coaching or dress up in public is a different debate, because KStew is letting you know that regardless of whether or not celebrities need to do that stuff, she’s not doing it. She. Is. Above. It. Which makes those celebrities who play ball assholes, and makes those who watch talk shows feel dumb.

Let’s update our diagnoses, shall we?

  • I’ve Got Something To Say Disorder
  • Awkward Disorder- confirmed
  • Too Cool for Schoolitis- Not only does she have things to say, she’s too cool to even let you know what those things are now. So there.

By now she’s making regular appearances on Leno, Fallon, Kimmel, and Conan, and she’s getting a bit better and being engaged in the conversation. She’s still awkward, but because we know this about her as a people, as long as she shows up and says words while smiling, we’re on board. It’s a bit endearing. On Conan she relates stories of not knowing how to handle fans that are crying in front of her, and on Fallon she dresses up like a nice starlet and talks about funny things she’s seen in New York. We’re comfortable with our KStew at this point. She’s trying to be private about her private life, which I find extremely respectable, if not deluded, by refusing to answer questions about whether or not she’s dating Robert Pattinson. Hilariously, there would probably be less paparazzi on her tail, desperately trying to get proof of their relationship, if she just admitted it, but I totally understand her point of view.

On her secret relationship, in British GQ in 2011:

“I don’t worry about it at all. It’s just one of those things. I’m selfish. I’m like, ‘That’s mine!’ And I like to keep whatever is mine remaining that way. It’s a funny little game to play and it’s a slippery slope. I always say to myself I’m never going to give anything away because there’s never any point or benefit for me.”

In 2012, fully 100% famous, she gives an interview to Elle in a bookstore. I don’t know why celebrities do this, it only ever makes them look pretentious- it’s the rule of bookstores, and it sounds weird when you read these interviews on a plane, rather than in magical bookstore land with her. Witness:

Stewart stops suddenly and smiles, picking up an autobiography. “Let’s not be pretentious – let’s buy Snooki.” (She doesn’t.)

“Let’s find Bukowski. I love his poetry.” Stewart heads off, her voice trailing behind her. “You should read his Ham on Rye. It’s autobiographical from his first memory sitting under a table, poking at people’s shoes. It’s like, so visceral. And so in a kid’s head. It’s firsthand, second-nature writing. It literally just falls out of him.”

She also talks a bit about how easy her life has been, and how she believes you learn more from bad things.

….so that’s when bad things happened. Apparently, Kristen Stewart had an affair with the married director of Snow White and the Huntsmen, making it the second worst thing to come out of that production.

After damning pictures were released, rather than insisting that none of it was true and it was all out of context, like a proper celebrity, both Kristen and the director, whatever his name is, issue statements through People magazine apologizing for the affair.

This never happens. It’s like Kristen thinks she’s a politician- I thought her next step would be to resign from Twilight! KStew, who hates the media, took her case directly to the people of… People, even including an apology to her boyfriend (bit of advice:  apologize in person before in People). Why is she suddenly so willing to use the media, the thing she hates the most, the thing that brought her cheating to light? Probably her third diagnosis.

  • Rebel Rebel Syndrome- as her dual diagnoses of I’ve Got Something To Say Disorder and Too School for Schoolitis have kinda morphed into the same affliction, this larger diagnosis encapsulates both
  • Awkward Disorder
  • Actual Guilt

In this situation, it seems like Kristen did the thing that she felt was best, rather than thinking about her career, or her celebrity cache, or Twilight fans. She was thinking about the fact that she cheated on a dude she most likely loves with a father of two. And she felt shitty. She’s the opposite of the jumping on the couch Tom Cruise, but an equal PR nightmare.

People are rushing around trying to demonize or excuse her most recent behavior, but I’m not trying to do either. I’m just trying to diagnose a girl who, from the start, has wanted us to know that she’s not part of the machine, she’s just trying to tell stories with her actings.

Treatment Recommendations

For full treatment of her afflictions, I recommend not acting anymore and becoming a cobbler, like Daniel Day Lewis did that one time. But since that probably won’t happen, I suggest she get some hobbies to talk about on late-night television, stay out of the spotlight for a minute to let the fervor die down, make another movie like Adventureland, and keep being awkward. It suits her.

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  1. da said,

    She just seems humorless, which I find to be the worst characteristic in a person.

    Nice read. I enjoyed it.

  2. Martin Schneider said,

    It’s funny: Dave might be the one with the wrong assumption on the Berlin thing. You can drive from London to Russia, no problem. You drive over the Chunnel. To Stewart, who grew up with the Chunnel in her existence from a much earlier age, this isn’t strange.

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