I broke down and saw New Moon this weekend out of sheer curiosity. After the second sequel and the tabloid obsession with Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, it finally seeped into my consciousness and I thought I would see what all the tween hysteria was about. The movie didn’t suck but I didn’t get what was so over the moon (no pun intended) compelling about this vampire movie. Of course, the lead actors are beautiful people and they allegedly have a thang going on which adds a certain level of intrigue I suppose, but the reaction didn’t really compute. Then I realized there is nothing new under the sun. The reaction to Robert Pattinson (the hyperventilating, screaming and crying at the mere mention of his name or at the sight of him) is the Beatlemania pill different generation all over again; it’s that ‘It’ chemical reaction that 1 out of 1,000 celebrities seem to inspire. This ‘It’ thing turns teenagers into raving lunatics as they deify a mere mortal, dreaming about the infinitesimal possibility that this projection of a human being will someday carry them away on a white horse or possibly – if they are lucky – look in their general direction for a nano-second. I suppose it’s harmless enough, unless you happen to be the poor soul receiving all of the suffocating attention. Especially in cases when you’re not outright in search of or getting energy from it, but are serious about your art and find the attention makes you extremely self-conscious and uncomfortable.
Doubtless it can be draining and scary. Such is the price of fame – I cannot imagine what a prison that would be. For every celebrity who clearly gets off on the adulation from the masses (Tom Cruise, Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton), there is another deeply sensitive, often introverted individual who is just serious about their art and craft and view the fame thing as one soul-crushing prison to which they are sentenced. To come out of such a peculiar dynamic unscathed must be an extraordinary challenge. Even if one were to try to stay grounded, being surrounded on a daily basis by thousands of people who are tearing their hair out and losing their composure because you have walked out of a trailer must be difficult to compute with one’s system. I can see how easy it would be to actually buy what the fans were selling: unwavering obsession for apparently no reason. It is an instant ego stroke for one who is meeting fame with a certain void or underlying insecurity. The more susceptible seem to fall prey to the hype and start believing it about themselves which just takes them further into their disconnect from reality. Bob Dylan strikes me as the perfect example of an artist who certainly didn’t want the amount of attention he received and always seemed to stay five steps ahead of anyone wanting a piece of his soul: ever elusive, always cloaking his answers in mystery, never feeling he owed the public anything than what he wanted to give which was his art. The public has put an unfair burden on celebrities as demi-gods, often to the artist’s detriment.
Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart both seem to have good heads on their shoulders as they become acclimated to the hairy territory of navigating such public intensity. Kristen Stewart made a comment that I thought really cut through the madness like a laser. “What really kills me — it really rips me up — is when people think I’m abrasive, inconsiderate or ungrateful because I don’t go outside in a bikini and wave to the paparazzi. Come on!” That mentality, if nothing else, will protect her and keep her strong in the madness that will envelope the franchise she and her co-star have signed up for. I think they will both be okay. What really causes the teen froth and ecstatic convulsions on sight? It must be that certain “je ne sais quois.” Most level-headed celebrities who are the unfortunate victims of such hysteria seem equally lost when explaining what exactly the “what” is about them as well. I guess the only thing that can be said in such cases is, “Be careful what you wish for.”