The petition to remove Robert Pattinson from the upcoming Twilight movie has reached over 100,000 signatures as of this writing. The petition creator, who goes by the name of “Ruthless G,” states that she started the petition because she believes the whole point of the movie is to promote abusive relationships. She writes, “I refuse to support a movie whose sole purpose is to promote an unhealthy relationship. I believe strongly that love should never be abusive, and no one deserves to be treated like Kristen’s character Bella in Twilight.”
Ruthless G is referring to Kristen Stewart, whose character Bella Swan was abused by her vampire lover, Edward Cullen. It is well known that Stewart’s and Pattinson’s characters’ romance blooms in a sexually charged fashion throughout the first Twilight movie. While the filmmakers didn’t create an abusive relationship, they did leave room for interpretation. When asked if she feels that Bella’s love for Edward is “objectified,” i.e. turned into something erotic, co-writer Stephanie Meyers answered, “It’s very challenging to say there was any one thing that we were trying to do with Bella and Edward’s relationship, because it was very complicated.”
Why Are People Signing the Petition?
The reason behind the abundance of Twilight fans who have signed the petition is more complex than Ruthless G’s simplistic assertion that the movie is solely focused on abuse. In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Stewart acknowledged that she is aware of the controversy surrounding her character and the movie. She said, “I’m really proud of the conversation that we’re having, and I’m really proud that so many people are participating in it. I think it’s great that we’re having a dialogue about love and relationships and abuse.”
The actress also responded to claims that the movie is exploiting women by revealing her character’s breast milk for medicinal purposes. She said, “That’s something that was written in the papers, and I think that it was a little bit sensationalized, I must say. If anything, it was about empowering women, and about having the strength to say ‘no’ to things that aren’t right for you. So, for the record, I’m not doing any nude scenes in this movie,”
As Stewart acknowledged, the controversy surrounding the Twilight movie has made it a talking point. The petition has emerged at a time when women are battling to retain their right to abortion and speak out about their experiences of sexual harassment and assault. Many have cited the petition as evidence that the filmmakers are trying to silence them by limiting their roles and controlling their bodies. Moreover, the petition is an example of a way in which women are standing up to male authority figures, including film producers.
What is the Role of Director Robert Pattinson?
Pattinson has played a pivotal role in the Twilight franchise, not only as its lead male star, but also as one of its directors. Fans signed the petition because they believe that as the director of the film, he has the power to shape their viewing experience. In his defense, Pattinson stated, “I don’t necessarily agree with that [viewer’s] interpretation. I think it’s kind of an ambiguous movie. I think that people can find their own interpretation, and I think that it’s a great way to talk about issues that are relevant today.”
The director also responded to the controversy surrounding his collaboration with Twilight co-writer and star, Stephanie Meyers. He stated, “I don’t see it as a fight for me to say that I don’t feel that [Bella’s love for Edward Cullen] is objectified… I wasn’t aware of any of that stuff before, so I have no idea where that came from.”
It is clear that, for Pattinson, this is a passionate issue. But, as one of the film’s directors, is he really in a position to dictate how viewers should interpret Bella’s and Edward’s relationship? This is a question that has been raised by many who believe that the director is trying to avoid controversy by keeping tight control over the franchise’s narrative. While there is no question that the films’ central relationship is highly questionable, it is nonetheless a romance that many viewers have found engaging. Director Pattinson does not seem to see it that way, and neither do many fans who signed the petition.
How Does This Affect the Future of the Franchise?
If the directors of Twilight want to ensure that their vision for the franchise is not clouded by controversy, it may be wise to remove Robert Pattinson from the title role. This cannot happen until after the premiere of the film, but it would certainly be a smart move for the studio to consider. Moreover, it may be wise to recast the role, or at least offer it to a lesser known actor. Perhaps they could even focus more on the story line involving the Volturi, the group of vampires who seek to make Bella their prisoner.
The petition is problematic precisely because it puts the blame for Bella’s abusive relationship squarely on the character’s shoulders. Moreover, it suggests that the director and the studio are trying to limit or prevent a “conversation” about abuse. It is an issue that the franchise tackles head on, and one that the studio will undoubtedly be forced to respond to.