Sitting across from actor Robert Pattinson in the VIP section of a Hollywood nightclub, you’d never know that half an hour earlier he had been filming the latest installment in the Fifty Shades movie series. With his arm wrapped protectively around girlfriend Bella Hadid while sipping champagne, it’s clear he’s trying to keep the mood light as he talks about what was arguably the worst week of his life.
But if you were there, you’d know exactly what he’s talking about.
Seven days earlier, news broke that actor and musician Harry Styles had allegedly strangled his wife, Annabelle, to death. Styles had been touring Australia at the time of the incident and was charged with the crime two days later.
Styles’ gruesome crime gripped the country and dominated the news cycles for days. But it was Pattinson’s involvement that attracted the most attention: Days after Styles’ arrest, photos of the actor holding a knife to the throat of a naked man surfaced. With his arm still wrapped around Hadid, it was clear the photos were a set up. But they didn’t stop there.
Just as it looked like the Australian scandal wasn’t going to die down, Pattinson was accused of sexually assaulting a photographer at a party in New York City. On Tuesday this week, he was arrested and charged with misdemeanor sexual assault in relation to the incident.
Styles and Pattinson are not the only members of the British royal family to have been embroiled in controversies surrounding the murder of a spouse. Just last year, Meghan Markle was forced to apologize for suggesting that Kate Middleton was “duping” her father into presenting her with the Duchess of Cambridge. As with Harry and Annabelle Styles, the suggestion stemmed from a twisted sense of jealousy. In this case, it was spurred by the fact that Kate had just given birth to a baby girl.
So what’s going on here? Why are these famous men—even those who are still relatively young—suddenly finding themselves at the center of a maelstrom of rumors and intrigue? Is it just a coincidence that two of the most influential men in British royalty have suffered such violent crimes against them? Or is something more nefarious at work? Let’s take a closer look.
The Dark Undertones Of The Royal Families’ Scandals
As with all good things, the royal families’ scandals have their ups and downs, mostly downs. For the past decade, the story of the British royal family has been dominated by a bitter rivalry between the Duchess of Cambridge and her sister, the Duchess of Sussex. The conflict reached a head in 2018, when the Sussexes pulled off an epic public relations coup: They revealed that Meghan had been offered a role in the most recent season of Game of Thrones despite having never even watched the show. In the months that followed, the media attention and interest in the Sussexes’ story skyrocketed. So too did their legal bills. They had to hire famed lawyer Claudia Simmons to handle their legal matters. And with good reason: The Duchess of Sussex is now facing multiple accusations of rape and sexual assault.
It wasn’t just the media that latched onto the story, however. As with all good things, the interest in the Duchess of Sussex and the spotlight that followed got the better of Harry. He began to experience symptoms of addiction, which he initially masked with prescription drugs. But his problems weren’t limited to his personal life: The British government announced in October 2019 that it would be investigating allegations of wrongdoing by the singer following a leaked report from Australia’s National Audit Office that suggested he may have failed to pay tax in the country.
The Strange Career Of Robert Pattinson
Actors, musicians, and other celebrities often find themselves drawn to crimes against humanity. The world of entertainment is littered with stories of famous faces embroiled in controversy: Roman Polanski, Jack Nicholson, and Woody Allen are just a few of the major names linked to historical sex offenses. In many cases, these individuals go on to have successful and productive careers afterwards. Even those who are convicted of such crimes often end up serving only a fraction of their sentence. Research has suggested that having a famous father can make it easier for a son to get access to certain privileges and opportunities that might otherwise seem out of reach. Could this be what’s motivating Robert Pattinson? Could Harry Styles’ celebrity and status have afforded him easy access to the type of people and situations that led him to kill his wife?
The Robert Pattinson Effect
The world seems to have gotten the better of Harry Styles and Robert Pattinson. As scandal after scandal continues to rock the celebrity world, fans and observers alike are pointing to these men as examples of how fame can become a license to behave violently. The cases of Styles and Pattinson represent a dangerous trend that should be of great concern to all of us. For centuries, violent crime was considered to be the domain of the poor and uneducated. That stereotype no longer holds true. As with all other aspects of modern life, the stigma surrounding violent behavior has been eroded to the point where anyone can develop an addiction to violence and commit a violent crime.
Do They Have A Motto?
Whether or not they’re motivated by a lust for fame and fortune, these men have definitely found themselves in the public spotlight, and not for the first time. As a matter of course, celebrities and famous individuals are subjected to intense media scrutiny. But what’s markedly different about these men is the kind of attention they’re attracting: the ugly kind. Perhaps the most famous example of this phenomenon is Weinstein, who was catapulted to international fame as the producer of some of Hollywood’s most iconic films (including The Avengers and Shakespeare in Love). But his career spanned decades and was marred by a series of accusations that he sexually assaulted and harassed a string of women. In the weeks that followed, a number of his peers found themselves embroiled in similar controversies.
A Tale Of Two Cities
Weinstein’s sexual misconduct was just one instance of a wider trend that has seen sexual harassment and assault become a common complaint among those who work in the entertainment industry. While the number of sexual harassment and assault allegations leveled against celebrities in the media has more than doubled in the past year, it still only accounts for a small proportion of the total number of allegations. The bulk of unreported incidences of sexual violence and harassment remain hidden from public view.
Lessons From The Past
It’s important to acknowledge that all of this is not news to us. Sadly, we’ve seen this kind of thing before. In 2014, the news broke that Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein had allegedly sexually assaulted multiple women. The following year, several other men in the industry were accused of similar crimes. Since then, a string of men in prominent positions have been discredited, exposed, and even arrested for sexual misconduct.
While the Weinstein affair attracted international headlines, it was the other big news story that captivated the English-speaking world in 2017: the #MeToo movement and the allegations leveled against disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. For those seeking justice, the hashtag provided a rallying point. For those seeking personal redemption, it presented an opportunity to set the record straight about their own experiences.
But #MeToo was also a double-edged sword. In addition to inspiring those who used it to expose their abusers, the movement provided a platform for other, less justifiable grievances. As with all social movements, there were those who used the momentum to promote their own agendas: white supremacy, anti-Semitism, and anti-feminism are just a few examples of this. The result was a backlash that encouraged further victim-blaming and the sidelining of those who opposed these agendas. The men discussed here might not be the sole cause of this backlash, but they’re certainly responsible for its extreme forms. And perhaps this is the real ‘Robert Pattinson effect’: his royal scandals have provoked a culture war in which old prejudices are being openly endorsed and even encouraged.
Why This Time Is Different
On one hand, we have to acknowledge that this time is very different. Even before the Weinstein debacle, celebrities and famous individuals were always drawn to scandals. It’s a trend that will no doubt continue as long as the entertainment industry continues to grow and prosper. But now that we’re aware of the dangers of celebrity corruption, we should be doing everything in our power to prevent and expose those who abuse their public trust. As with any other addictive behavior, the more we expose these men to the glare of the media, the greater the chance that they’ll stumble and fall.