If you’re a fashion-related website or a magazine, chances are you’ve heard of Robert Pattinson. Fresh off the big screen debut of his latest movie, Beautiful Beggar, the British actor now has his eyes set on fashion. With Hollywood’s elite taking note of his style choices – from his vintage AirPods collection to his bespoke Suits – it’s clear that the 26-year-old is setting the fashion world alight.
But while we’re enamoured of his style, it’s hard to escape the fact that Pattinson is currently embroiled in a highly public battle with the Dark Knight. As the actor’s management team revealed to Vogue last month, the two have been exchanging words on social media – much to the delight of – you guessed it – trolls.
Bathing in Conflict with Batman is the nickname given to the clash between Pattinson and the Dark Knight over the past few months. The hashtag was first used by a Twitter user who described the actor as a “modern day renaissance man” before urging his followers to “step forward”. While it’s unclear who exactly is – or if – @RTZacktheKnight is referring to when the hashtag first began, it’s evident that he (or she) is having fun with the whole thing.
Since then, the Bathing in Conflict with Batman hashtag has been used to chronicle various tweets criticizing Pattinson, with numerous celebrities weighing in on the controversy. The feud between the actor and Batman is now one of the most talked-about topics on social media, with many users speculating that it’s part of a marketing ploy designed to drive foot traffic to Pattinson’s brand. Is this speculation true? Let’s take a closer look.
Why Are They Fights? What’s The Root Of The Problem?
While it may be fun to engage with the banter between two of Hollywood’s most famous feuding duos, the root of the fight between Batman and Pattinson should not be overlooked. Indeed, if you ask most people who follow fashion and celebrity closely, they’ll tell you that these two are not really meant to be together. And it’s easy to see why. Behind the scenes, both Batman and Pattinson have had an eventful relationship. In 2017, it was revealed that the actor had cheated on his fiancee, FKA Twigs, with actress Deepika Padukone. (Their affair was later made public.) Then, last month, it was revealed that Pattinson had cheated on FKA Twigs as well.
While the pair worked together on the set of the movie Beautiful Beggar, they’ve been known to clash over creative differences. In an interview last year, Pattinson revealed that part of what he enjoys most about working with Kate Winslet is that “she’s so different from [him],” adding that “in some ways, it’s like working with a child.” Similarly, while promoting her movie The House of Gucci, Winslet said of Pattinson, “He’s so adorable, but he’s like a baby who needs changing every two hours.”
There’s also the issue of money. It isn’t exactly a secret that Hollywood’s richest and most powerful men have an interest in the fashion industry. From Channing Tatum to Tom Ford, many billionaires have built their fortunes in part on the backs of some of the most famous fashion houses in the world. (Channing Tatum, in fact, was one of the earliest investors in Tom Ford’s company.) In this context, it’s not a surprise that these two would butting heads over fashion. (And remember, Ford is also one of the designers who named this conflict after himself. “I call it the Robert Pattinson Bathing in Conflict with Batman,” Ford said. “We’ll have to see how long it lasts.”)
A Cautionary Tale For Other Celebs
Pattinson may be used to clashing with powerful men and women, having played Lewis Trueman, a member of the wealthy and influential Trueman clan, in the 2011 miniseries The King’s Speech. (The actor reprised the character in the film adaptation, also starring Michael Cane, which was released earlier this year.) But while he’s used to dealing with the rich and famous, it’s not exactly been a smooth sailing career for the young star. In fact, the last few years have been extremely stressful. While he remains engaged to Twigs and has continued to work steadily, the stress of being famous has taken its toll.
So, for other celebrities who might be tempted to engage with the banter between Batman and Pattinson, it’s important to remember that this is not a simple case of two famous individuals clashing over creative differences or even money. (Though, in the case of Ford, this may be true as well.) Instead, this is two stars, often at odds with one another, battling for control of the narrative around a highly public issue that holds great personal significance for them.
This is not to say that celebrity feuds are a new phenomenon. For decades, Hollywood has been embroiled in – what else – celebrity feuds. From the Judy Garland versus Barbra Streisand smackdown to the fight between Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly, these spats have been an important part of celebrity in Hollywood. (This year will mark the 80th anniversary of the legendary feud between Elizabeth Taylor and her sister, Grace.)
That being said, the scale of these battles has changed in recent years, with increased scrutiny of the effect that social media – and, more specifically, Twitter – has had on modern day celebrity. (Indeed, many of these feuds were started or reignited on Twitter. The most prominent example would be the beef between Taylor and Kelly. The Queen Bee tweeted about her sister throughout the duration of their feud, often criticizing her for “not doing enough.”) While these feuds may never really go away, they may no longer be the exclusive property of Hollywood’s most famous stars. Even “regular” people, perhaps feeling empowered by the viral success of social media, are now engaging in battles of their own, with many using Twitter to air their grievances and take their disputes into the digital sphere.
Who Is The Real Winner Here?
Ultimately, as entertaining and, at times, eye-opening as these feuds between famous individuals can be, it’s important to remember that the root of the problem is not Twitter. It’s not even Hollywood. It’s the celebrity industry itself. And, in some ways, the internet. (It would be easy to see this as a battle between the old and new media, with the former holding greater sway over the latter.)
There are those who would argue that, since the beginning of time, men and women have always worked together, happily supporting each other and battling alongside each other, if necessary. While this may be true, it is important to note that, in the digital age, this collaboration can take the form of a relationship that is largely built on – and sometimes even dominated by – social media.
To be clear, collaboration is not a bad thing. It’s important to remember that, even in the offline world, many of the tasks that we now perform, from paying our bills to ordering our meals, are the result of teamwork. (It was not always this way. In fact, the workplace battles and clashes that we frequently see depicted in movies, aside from being a source of entertainment, are often a reflection of the reality of professional life today. This is particularly true in – what else – tech companies, where employees are often pitted against each other in a fight for survival, with no clear line of authority.)
The Downside Of Twitter
Of course, in addition to the entertainment value that these Twitter feuds can provide, there are much more serious implications for those who choose to get involved. As we’ve established, this is not a platform that is known for its moderation and monitoring of content. Which is why, even if you choose to remain anonymous, you may find that your words, no matter how amusing or thought-provoking, may be misconstrued by those who are not familiar with your background. (Think, Jackie Onassis against Hillary Clinton. Or, more recently, Charlie Munger against the world.)