Is it still controversial that actor Rob Pattinson wore blackface on multiple occasions? Is he still being attacked for his “racist” costumes?

After a Twitter mob stormed his house, alleging he assaulted a man in a mental hospital days earlier, the “BFFs” (best friends forever) of the 26-year-old actor have come forth to defend him and say he’s not a racist at all. They also said he was defending himself from the man who allegedly attacked him, explaining that they had just witnessed the altercation. This is yet another instance in which Rob allegedly assaulted a man, this time in a mental hospital.

The Multiple Occasions Of Blackface

We need to address the elephant in the room: Rob has worn blackface multiple times, often portraying Jamaican or African-American characters. He’s even gone so far as to impersonate rappers like Jay Z and Snoop Dogg. While it’s not impossible for someone to misunderstand or misjudge the intentions of an actor, especially one as popular as Rob, these instances still appear to be more than just “bad judgment.” Why is that?

First and foremost, blackface is wrong, plain and simple. It is a racist practice that was originally meant to ridicule blacks and make them appear funny or stupid. When white people wore blackface, they were not portraying blacks, they were degrading and hurting black people. Even if you disagree with that mindset, it is still not a good look.

Additionally, there is no doubt that the majority of the characters Rob portrays are not meant to be taken seriously. They are usually goofy or satirical in nature; that’s how he portrays them, but it does not mean that the characterizations are any less insulting.

No Excuses

When the backlash first started, Rob’s representatives claimed that he was “mortified” by these incidents and that he was “sickened” by the allegations. But perhaps the most telling moment came from Rob himself, when he finally addressed the controversy head-on.

“I feel really bad about the fact that this has become such a massive issue. I genuinely feel like I’m being misrepresented,” he said. “I’ve never intended to hurt anyone with my costume choices. I think that sometimes we can all get a little carried away with fashion and identity and forget that we’re acting.”

He went on to apologize for the perceived “offense” that these costumes might cause and said that he takes “responsibility for the hurt that [he] may have caused.” He also said that he will not wear blackface again and will continue to grow as a person and a voice for social justice.

The Mental Hospital Incident

The most recent controversy surrounding Rob involves a mental hospital where he allegedly assaulted a man in a wheelchair. According to police, the altercation began when a nurse accidentally bumped into the man, causing him to fall out of his wheelchair. When the man, identified as John Crawford, tried to get up, police say Rob punched him in the face, breaking his nose. Witnesses said Crawford appeared to be the instigator of the altercation, with Rob acting in self-defense.

Because Rob is a celebrity, the incident made global headlines. But while most of us were likely shocked that this happened, this was not a completely new revelation. People had known about Rob’s temper for years, as his rants and outbursts have made him a polarizing figure in the entertainment industry. They also made him a magnet for controversy, as he has been involved in multiple physical altercations over the years. While it’s not unusual for famous people to get into fights, it is often considered poor form when they do. Especially when you’re famous for embodying controversial figures or making statements that upset people.

No Apology

In the wake of the John Crawford incident, Rob’s representatives released a statement apologizing for what happened. But they also took a subtle jab at Crawford, calling him a “mentally ill man” and saying that they believed he was “medicated for schizophrenia.”

While it is commendable that Rob’s team offered an apology for what happened and has taken steps to avoid further controversy, the wording of the statement felt like an excuse. And when he continued to refuse to apologize or discuss the backlash he received over this latest incident, he left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. Especially considering that he has already admitted to breaking Crawford’s nose. If he is truly remorseful for what happened, why won’t he accept responsibility?

Even after all these years, people are still outraged that Rob has worn blackface multiple times. It’s not just that he is a racist, although we have seen enough evidence to suggest that he is. It’s that he has continued to wear this costume, even after learning of its history and the fact that it is “offensive” to people of colour. Is he too intelligent to understand why this is such a problem? Is he afraid that speaking out against this might hurt his career?

It seems like he’s picked up on this notion, as he has not appeared in a film since 2016’s Beauty and the Beast. When the movie was released, it was met with widespread disapproval, with many calling out Rob for wearing blackface. Even the actress Emma Watson, who played Belle, criticized the actor, writing on social media that he had “made [her] ashamed to be a part of the #bttb community” and that she was “disappointed” in him.

Why Does This Still Matter?

People’s memories are long, particularly when it comes to celebrity scandals. As much as we’d like to believe that Rob’s fans have moved on and accepted him for what he is, the fact is that they have not. This incident will always be in the back of their minds whenever they see him, especially considering that he has not truly addressed it. And it would not be surprising if more controversies are waiting to be unearthed.

It is one thing to be passionate about a cause or issue. It is another to be famous for being passionate about something. While it is easy for us to condemn Rob because of what he has done in the past, it would be unfair to do so without considering that society has valued his notoriety and used it for their own purposes. The more we learn about Rob, the more we see that he is not a simple man, but a person with a complicated past and identity. This is also made evident in the fact that he publicly identifies as male and female, using he/him and she/her pronouns, depending on the context. But perhaps nothing is more revealing than his decision to remove all of his social media accounts.

After years of living his life in the spotlight, Rob has finally chosen to be private. Is this an indication that he has grown and matured? Or is it because he knows that he cannot control how people will react and that he does not want to fuel the outrage machine one more time? Only time will tell, but it is clear that there is more to Rob than meets the eye, particularly when it comes to his reputation.