Hey Fox News, Leave Kristen Stewart Alone!
Kristen Stewart has been stuck playing a teenager over the course of four years of the Twilight franchise, and now that she's been transformed by her vampire love Edward, her character Bella will be a teenager for an eternity. But in real life, Stewart is now 22, and now facing the fallout from what's probably the biggest mistake of her young life-- cheating on real-life boyfriend Pattinson with her Snow White and the Huntsman director Rupert Sanders, then issuing a heartbreaking public apology that was actually her first public acknowledgement that she was dating Pattinson in the first place. Stewart has been a megastar for four years, gracefully sidestepping paparazzi intrusion and avoiding talk of her personal life, but it all fell apart a few days ago, with photographic evidence of an affair that will fuel tabloid speculation for many months to come.
Since her apology the media, both tabloid and non, has seized upon the photos, her apology, and all the potential aftermath to come for endless stories-- and for the most part it's been easy enough to accept all this as the price of Stewart's fame. I've felt sorry for her these past few days, pretty well remembering being 22 and making mistakes of my own, but thought the people who wanted to judge her and shame her were likely to be nutty Twilight fans anyway, and not really worth of a retort.
But then, as is their superpower, Fox News managed to set me off. Here's the headline that popped up on Google news this morning.
Liberty Ross, for the record, is the wife of Rupert Sanders, who Stewart was photographed kissing. And yeah, I get that there's a pun to be made, and Lord knows I love puns. But for fuck's sake, that's not OK. Calling Kristen Stewart a "tramp" is adding unnecessary shame and public derision to a young woman who knows fully well she made a mistake, who has apologized publicly for something that's truly a private matter, and who presumably is scrambling to reassemble not just her personal life, but a career that's been launched by the squeaky-clean morals of the Twilight franchise. Kristen Stewart is in hot water, and she knows it; calling her a "tramp"-- a horrifying, slut-shaming term that nobody deserves-- is a crossing a line, going from covering what's a legitimately fascinating celebrity news story to name-calling and abuse.
And of course, because Rupert Sanders is not famous-- but also because he is a man, and men are almost always more easily forgiven in the public eye for this kind of indiscretion-- no one is calling him a tramp. No one seems interested in digging into the fallout in Sanders's own family, because there is a young woman in pain to mock and to call names. After years of writing on the Internet I thought I'd developed an immunity to this kind of moralistic bullshit, but this is driving me crazy. Kristen Stewart has armies of PR people and friends to protect her, but I still feel the need to stand up on my little Internet soapbox and tell everyone to get the fuck away from her.
Kristen Stewart made a private mistake, then publicly apologized for it though she absolutely didn't have to. It is none of our business to judge her from here on out, particularly the blowhards at Fox News, whose roster of talking heads has gone through plenty of their own personal scandals. Report on celebrity gossip all you want, but cool it on the judgment, and on throwing around terms like "tramp" that are demeaning and hostile to all women, not just those who have cheated. I know it's almost silly to ask for civility in talking about pop culture, but come on, this isn't so hard.