I don’t need to tell you that the Twilight Saga was one of the biggest cultural phenomenons of the past decade. In fact, if you’re reading this you probably know exactly what I’m talking about. For those who aren’t familiar, the Twilight Saga follows the lives of Bella, an ordinary teenage girl, and her unusual, supernatural connection with vampire-esque creatures known as vampires. The Twilight Saga has become such a cultural touchstone that it’s now been referenced in everything from television shows to movies to songs. Fans of the series have even started an informal society called the “Twilighted” community. While it’s been fascinating to watch the saga unfold it’s also been slightly disheartening to see it become such a phenomenon, largely due to the fact that it was completely made up of a series of marketing ploys by a huge company. That company, of course, is Disney, which owns Marvel and Lucasfilm as well as the future site of the premiere of the Twilight Saga – the movies’ distributor, Universal, runs HBO. So, while I will never stop loving the Twilight Saga or the wonderful world of fiction that it created, it would be nice if it didn’t keep getting capitalised on by the corporations who helped create it in the first place.
What are you talking about, corporate appropriation? Isn’t that what social media is for? To share the things you love with the world?!
Here’s the thing: as much as I loved The Twilight Saga, it wouldn’t be fair to say that I didn’t see where it ended up. After six movies and an untold amount of merchandise, I have a feeling that Disney’s got their hands on something that belongs to me. And it’s not a nice feeling.
The Verge got in touch with me regarding the above photo that went viral earlier this year and asked me about my thoughts. In the photo, Robert Pattinson, star of the recently released festival film Belated Birthday and known for his work in the Twilight Saga as well as a series of other films, is seen with his face partially obscured by a crack ship model. The model, which is made completely from cardboard, is from the game Cossacks, and is signed by the artist who made it.
I have three questions for you regarding this photo and what it means:
1. Does this photo break some sort of photoshop ‘rule’ that forbids a celebrity from wearing a t-shirt advertising a movie that they were in?
2. Does this mean that Robert Pattinson supports the Black Lives Matter movement?
3. What movie does he want to be remembered for?
Is He Breaking A Photoshopping Rule?
First of all, let’s get one thing straight: wearing a product’s t-shirt does not mean that you endorse the company or its products. To imply that is completely asinine.
But let’s get back to the photo. If we look at the rules of photoshopping we’ll see that it’s not against the law for a celebrity to wear a movie t-shirt. That’s not even a question.
So that’s not breaking any rules. What IS breaking a rule, however, is using Photoshop to digitally alter a photo so that a celebrity looks like they’re sporting a product. In this specific case, the product in question is a crack ship model, and digital alteration was used to make it appear that Robert Pattinson was wearing the model. The problem is that the model has a face on it. And if you look close enough, you can actually see that it’s signed by the artist who made it.
According to Photoshop documentation, the tool allows for the insertion of digital images into existing photographs. While it is usually used to retouch or enhance pictures, it can also be used to ‘hide’ objects or people from view. So, in theory, Robert Pattinson could have worn any t-shirt he wanted and Photoshop could have helped him conceal the fact that he was wearing an unofficial shirt from a film he made years ago.
As much as I would like to believe that this specific image did not suffer from any digital intervention, it’s a bit too much of a coincidence that the photo was posted mere hours after the premiere of his new movie, Belated Birthday, in which he plays Quentin Tarantulinu, a celebrated WWII photographer.
We know that Disney owns Marvel and Lucasfilm, among many other properties, so it would not be a huge surprise if they also owned a piece of software like Photoshop. To be clear, this does not mean that Disney or anyone else involved in the photo shoot sponsored or approved the use of Photoshop to alter the image. That’s not how this type of software works. So, while this may not technically be a crime, it’s definitely an ethical grey area.
Is He Supporting The Black Lives Matter Movement?
Once again, let’s get one thing straight: wearing a celebrity’s t-shirt does not mean that you agree with everything the celebrity endorses. In this case, however, the question is: is Robert Pattinson endorsing the Black Lives Matter movement?
Here’s the answer: while he may not have given it much thought, Robert Pattinson is most certainly supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. Why? Because as much as he may love Marvel and The Twilight Saga, he’s still a person first and foremost. And what’s more, he’s a person of colour. So, in theory, everything he endorses is a form of self-expression through fashion and, in this particular case, a way of protesting against racism and inequality. One quick Google search reveals that there are already people campaigning for him to don the BLM shirt and prove his support for the movement. A petition on Change.org, for example, states: “We want to see Robert Pattinson’s face fully exposed so that we know exactly what we’re supporting. Sign this petition and help us show the world exactly who the REAL superstar is.”
While this may not be a publicity stunt, it’s clear that Robert Pattinson is consciously choosing to associate himself with a cause that he feels strongly about. And that, my friends, is a celebrity endorsement. Not bad for a guy who once said that he didn’t want to be famous.
It’s also interesting to note the timing of his support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Just two days before this photo was posted, he made a statement in an interview with Cosmo Goodman at the Venice Film Festival, saying: “I think we have enough celebrities jumping on the bandwagon and saying the right thing without having to think about what they’re going to say. I think it’s better if they keep their mouths shut and their heads down.” So, he’s definitely not afraid to voice his opinion on socially relevant issues, even if it means ruffling a few feathers along the way.
What Movie Does He Want To Be Remembered For?
Finally, the last question I want to ask you about this photo: what movie does Robert Pattinson want to be remembered for?
Here’s a hint: it involves a lot of fur and it has a cat as a main character.
If you’ve seen any of the Twilight Saga movies, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Otherwise, it’s best if I remind you: in Carlotta, the cat protagonist is named Kit who is played by Beyoncé’s black cat, Matilda. In the first Twilight novel, however, the main character’s name is Carlotta and she is a tortoiseshell cat (hence the fur). So, clearly, the answer is Matilda, the black cat, and it’s been immortalised in a rather apt meme: “Matilda, the black cat that ate the burger.”
The problem, of course, is that Matilda isn’t actually a black cat. According to Matilda’s biography on Beyoncé’s official website, her hair and skin is actually a dark chocolate brown. But that’s beside the point. Cats have black fur for a reason. That’s what they’re supposed to look like. It’s not like anyone forced Matilda to go au naturelle or anything. It was a marketing choice. And that’s why, while she may not technically be black, she most certainly belongs to the black community.
Now, back to you.