In the last 24 hours, the Internet’s collective laughter and boos have come together to form a coherent mass of derision. No longer safe for work, the video of Robert Pattinson attempting to masturbate in an office bathroom has been removed from YouTube. While intended as a satire of the male ego’s obsession with sex and self-image, the stunt went viral in the process making it the Internet’s most embarrassing thing.
Let’s examine how and why this happened; the basics of what was seen and the growing backlash it has triggered.
On Tuesday, July 10, the YouTube channel Good Tryz posted a video titled ‘Robert Pattinson – Masturbation Practice’. The video shows the British actor attempting to masturbate in front of the camera in a bathroom of a high-end apartment building in London. In the video, he makes an effort to be professional and compose himself while masturbating but quickly finds himself struggling to keep his boner under control.
The narrator of the video explains that Robert Pattinson is known for his “wild antics and eccentric behavior,” and that this particular masturbation video was intended to be funny. The video’s caption also reads, “Get[ting] a rise out of [Robert Pattinson] is all you need.”
Matching The Ego
Although the video is probably the most controversial and damaging thing the actor has ever done, it is not the first time he has tried to shock the world with his exhibitionism. The Guardian reports that Robert Pattinson has ‘a history of pranks and stunts that have gained a cult following on the internet.’
In 2014, the actor uploaded a video to YouTube titled simply ‘Egotist’, in which he dressed up in a devil costume and cavorted about the apartment he was sitting in, surrounded by cardboard cut-outs of famous people. According to the Huffington Post, the video was intended as a commentary on celebrity and the media’s infatuation with fame. If you’ve never heard of Robert Pattinson, it is likely that you’ve seen one of his pranks.
Since the video’s release, YouTube commenters have taken the opportunity to deride and dismiss Robert Pattinson. The video’s peak earning moment came when the actor’s struggled to achieve an erection while trying to masturbate went viral, bringing in over $1.5 million in a single day.
“How does it feel to be the hub of Internet culture…in a room full of empty chairs,” one commenter quipped. Many commenters were quick to compare the actor to Charlie Sheen, whose own similar attempt at a one-man show resulted in a multimillion-dollar payout. But there was a clear difference in the way the two situations were handled; while Charlie Sheen made no effort to conceal his attempt to shock, Robert Pattinson was acting in a very calculated manner. This is evident in the way he composed himself while masturbating, sitting still and remaining silent as he pleasured himself. Despite this, many commenters still considered the video to be ‘funny’.
Nowadays, the video has been removed from YouTube but copies have resurfaced on the corners of the Internet. As of this writing, it still has over 500,000 views on Reddit and over 200,000 views on Twitter. The New York Times reports that the video was taken down from YouTube after it offended both audiences, and that other platforms will ban the video if they see fit.
Although some viewers found it funny, others were disgusted. On social media, fans of the Twilight Saga have come together, comparing notes on what happened on Tuesday, July 10th and denouncing the actor and his antics. This includes fans of both Twilight and The Great Gatsby, who couldn’t help but notice the uncanny parallels between the two storylines. The Hollywood Reporter published an article detailing how this could affect Robert Pattinson’s career.
“[T]his could be devastating to [Robert Pattinson’s] career. If people aren’t into him anymore, it could be hard for him to get work,” an entertainment industry insider told THR. “He’s not going to be able to promote films if he doesn’t have any. He could lose a significant amount of money.”
Even people who consider themselves to be Robert Pattinson fans were left appalled. In a now-deleted tweet, user @sara_brooke wrote, “I love rob pattinson and all but when will he grow up. This is so embarrassing”. User @dazzled_by_dave articulated their frustration, writing “[Robert Pattinson] is a talented, funny guy. But if he doesn’t start taking himself seriously, this is going to be such a shame. He’s making a fool out of himself and it’s not even funny.” While many commenters focused on Robert Pattinson’s lack of professionalism, what struck audiences more was his apparent lack of self-awareness. In a statement to Daily Mail, a representative for the actor said, “This was a private moment for me and my manager, Ryan – we were trying to make a funny video. We certainly didn’t expect it to go viral.”
Although it’s unlikely that anything about Robert Pattinson is going to remain private from now on, the fallout from this particular stunt will most likely die down. The actor will return to his usual antics and the Internet will continue to chuckle at the absurdity of it all.