That said, I’m always taken aback a bit when people criticize Kristen Stewart for not smiling enough. Because, really, that alone is a terrible reason not to like someone. I remember something Margaret Atwood, who I love, love, love, once said. She noted that a critic said she was “always glowering.” She responded by taking all of the press photos of her and lining them up. In half of them she was smiling. In half of them she was not. From this she drew the conclusion that if a woman is smiling half the time and not smiling the other half of the time, she is, in fact, glowering.
And this does seem like an unfair criticism. If someone went up to say, Clint Eastwood, a man not known for smiling a whole bunch, and started saying “Why so serious?” they would sound like the fucking Joker. They would sound like a supervillain.
So. You never need to smile to please me, Kristen Stewart.
But I would really appreciate it if you stopped playing roles that play into this adolescent fantasy that you can be super special and “the one” without doing much of anything.
I guess I hate her because of Bella Swan. Jesus Christ, I realize Bella is supposed to be an “everygirl,” but her entire reason for being seems to be “so that she can be rescued.” She does not have a single trait that you could describe in an admirable way. (Namely, “God, that Bella, she has a wit like Voltaire’s!” or “What’s great about Bella is her Hermione Granger-like intellect.”) But it’s cool because she is special. She is so inherently special that Edward, a vampire alive for hundreds of years just loves her. Why? Because she’s special. And because she’s herself. Which is special.
This is not enough. Develop traits, young people reading Twilight. It is weird to say “You are not inherently amazing” but you are not inherently more amazing than anyone else. You become special by working very hard to develop your strengths. This is how you succeed at things. This is how you become someone who is admired and loved. You do not win at life by waiting around, complaining about the rain, and hoping everyone will love you. We get the lives we work at.
If this is confusing, please read every column by Jen Dziura.
But then, Kristen Stewart is an actress, and Bella Swan is a role. Any actress in that role would have to play her essentially the same way. But then, she managed to play essentially the same role in Snow White and the Huntsman. What does Snow White do? Get imprisoned forever. Then a Huntsman comes and saves her. Actually, a lot of people come and save her. I’m not sure what character traits we’re supposed see in her (she’s blandly pleasant?) up until the last ten minutes of the movie when she suddenly – somewhat inexplicably – grows a spine. Frankly, like the editors at our sister site Crushable, and like Woody Allen long before them, I found myself rooting for the Evil Queen.
That said, I really, really, really love Adventureland. She’s pretty great in that. And the scene where she tells someone that they aren’t friends anymore because she’s refused to go out with someone Jewish is exactly the way you wish you’d behaved as a teenager. If you lived in the 80’s. And were having an affair. With your boss. At an amusement park.
Italics on all of that. Just, all of it. Adventureland is just a good movie.
But it seems like she went from cool independent films like that, to playing roles that continually uphold this idea that you don’t need to do anything to be special. And you do. You really, really need to do things.
Unless you are like, a magical princess who is going to save the realm from darkness because being in your presence cures all manner of ailments, and, actually, I still think you should be working on that.