The latest film from the Twilight Saga, On the Road, opened in theaters last week to much fanfare and critical acclaim. The film’s trailers were ubiquitous across the media landscape, its blend of humor and heartbreak drawing both praise and heavy debate.

And then there’s Robert Pattinson. While his on-screen presence is commanding and his dialogue natural, behind the scenes he’s emerged as a lightning rod for controversy. He’s frustrated director Rupert Sanders, publicly called out actress Kristen Stewart, and even gotten into a Twitter spat with Conan O’Brien (which you can read about

Since these movies are such big deals, are audiences finally tired of the teen angst and ready to embrace a new kind of leading man?

The Evolution of the Anti-Robert Pattinson Campaign

While On the Road is now playing in theaters across the country, the backlash against Pattinson has been underway for some time. Back in July, Huffington Post ran a piece titled “Why Is Robert Pattinson Under Attack?” noting the multiple controversies surrounding the actor and how they were beginning to pile up. The article also mentioned how the character he plays in the Twilight saga, Edward Cullen, is “perhaps not the most popular character in the book series.”

The article drew a comparison between the growing online hate directed at Pattinson and the similarly themed Gamergate movement, a controversy that arose from the video game community and continued to plague the industry for months. (For more, read this Slatestarcodex overview of the Gamergate controversy.)

Since then, the anti-Pattinson sentiment has continued to roil the Twitterverse. Here’s a short list of some of the most notable incidents and comments.

  • In August, a fake Twitter account called “@rpattz28” tweeted, “If I see one more Rob Pattinson photo I’m gonna hurl.” The tweet was liked nearly 12,000 times and retweeted over 3,400 times.
  • In September, @Rpattz28 tweeted, “I’m not saying I want to kill Rob Pattinson but if he keeps doing what he’s doing, sooner or later someone might just have to.”
  • In February, someone tweeted, “@robertpattinson how do u sleep at night #twilight is one of the biggest cash cows ever created.” The response, “@robertpattinson, no one wants to read your sh*t anymore. Delete your account now.”
  • In March, the account @Pattinson_Rage tweeted, “@robertpattinson if ur gonna be in Ireland next month be respectful of the Irish and their cultural differences.”
  • In June, @Pattinson_Rage tweeted, “Don’t make me come out there and slap that grin off your face @robertpattinson.”
  • In July, Stephen Colbert tweeted, “@robertpattinson your just bitter because the world doesn’t revolve around you.”
  • Last but not least, in August, the Angry Birds movie stole the limelight from the recently opened Twilight Saga film, On the Road. The trailer for the movie included a scene in which a bird named Donald drives a truck off a cliff, accidentally dropping a large sum of money. While some saw the funny side, others took the ‘80s horror movie reference as a sinister omen.

The Rise of the Anti-Pattinson Campaign On Instagram

On-line platforms like Twitter and Instagram have opened a whole new world of opportunities for would-be social media celebs. Platforms like these allow for quick, easy posts that can be accessed by anyone with an internet connection. They’re a great way to get your work seen by a wide audience without having to spend several hours a day maintaining a Facebook page.

Now that his Twitter account is verified and he has thousands of followers, @Rpattz28 has taken advantage of these platforms to launch a relentless anti-Pattinson campaign. His Instagram account is a steady stream of photos and videos of himself posing with various Hollywood celebrities, including Kristen Stewart, who he has called out by name. (You can see his full Instagram profile here.)

This isn’t the first time celebrities have found themselves at the center of an online hate campaign. In the past, we’ve seen our share of hateful Tweets aimed at Will Smith, Jaden Smith, and Miley Cyrus. But these are different times. The internet lets you dig up any info you want in a matter of seconds and provides a wide array of opinions, many of them polarized. And while it’s not always easy to determine whose opinions are rational and whose are fueled by anger or boredom, it’s become much easier to figure out who’s responsible for the vitriol.

And while the celebrities mentioned above mostly keep a low profile, Robert Pattinson has become the target of angry fans for reasons that are more obvious. First, he’s a well-known figurehead of the teen angst generation and, as many have pointed out, teens are often the ones carrying out these campaigns. And next, he’s played Edward Cullen, a central character in arguably the biggest series of books and movies of all time. While it’s only one character and he doesn’t appear in the trailer for On the Road, the backlash is more than enough to suggest that he’s an easy target.

The best thing that could happen for Robert Pattinson right now would be a break-out role in an already established franchise. The more original and ground-breaking the role, the better, in my opinion. He can take a step back from Twitter and Instagram for a while, and when the next big role comes along he’ll have the credentials to nail it.

The Controversy Surrounding Kristen Stewart

When it comes to celebrities and their personal lives, social media has changed the game. If you’re talking to someone a day in advance of a film’s premiere, you’ll inevitably stumble across a personal scandal that someone wants to share. And as previously mentioned, this is often a route to celebrity. (See our previous coverage of the Gamergate controversy for more information.)

On August 18, Stewart posted an Instagram video in which she announced that she was splitting from her husband of two years, French designer Olivier Sarkozy. (For more, read our explainer story about the couple’s split.)

In the video, she revealed that Sarkozy had been unfaithful to her numerous times over the past two years. And while Stewart didn’t name names, she did say that she had caught him in the act with several other women. (For the record, this is not the first time that she’s been cheated on. Back in 2011, she cheated on her then-fiance Nicolas with a French model. He later forgave her.)

While some saw this as a courageous act and a testament to her strength, others saw it as a betrayal. Her fans were quick to express their anger and dismay, and Stewart’s Instagram account soon became a hotbed of hateful comments. Here’s a short list of some of the more notable ones.