While some of us were sleeping, a major event happened. Late on Tuesday night, April 25, Robert Pattinson, heartthrob actor and romantic partner of actress and animal rights activist Livia, tweeted his support for the Dark Knight, adding a new wrinkle to an already fascinating story.
Pattinson’s tweet came after an account tweeted a picture of a sign with the logo for Joker, a character from the movie Arthur that stars Joaquin Phoenix, with the message: “I stand with Batman.” The tweet was later removed, but it didn’t take long for people to notice and speculate over its meaning. It also caught the attention of the account @RealRobertPattinson, which is run by the actor’s friends and fans. They quickly started using the hashtag #IBelieveInBatman. So, what does all this mean? Let’s take a closer look.
Robert Pattinson’s Pro-Batman Tweets
The British-born actor began to weigh in on the Gotham City crime scene with a series of tweets on Wednesday, April 26. “I never thought I’d see something like this in my lifetime,” he wrote. “But then again, I never thought I’d see @RealRobertPattinson support Batman. I #IBelieveInBatman.”
He went on to say that he “didn’t sign up” for fame but that he understands why the public feels the way they do about him. “I never asked for this,” he wrote. “It’s crazy—and yet, I understand why everyone cares. It’s a crazy world we live in.”
Perhaps most interestingly, he revealed that he’s been thinking about whether or not to play Batman. “For many years, I’ve been attached to a role that I never talked about,” he wrote. “It’s been an amazing responsibility doing what I love, but I’ve also been bound to a persona I never wanted. At some point, I just had to say no more. I’m not doing this anymore.”
Pattinson then went on to thank a fan, @fantomlady07, for giving him the courage to be true to himself. “I hope you feel proud of me for this,” he wrote. “Sometimes you just have to be brave.”
The Sign And Its Context
Now, it’s important to remember that the Joker’s tweet was not directed at Robby. Rather, it was aimed at the Dark Knight. However, the reference to Arthur was inevitable, as Joker is the clownish archenemy of Batman. So, while it was a completely new development for Pattinson to express any interest in playing Batman, it wasn’t exactly a shock to see him show up in court tomorrow (May 2) to face an assault charge for allegedly throwing a water bottle at a paparazzi photographer. (Update: Pattinson was officially charged with one count of misdemeanor assault on Thursday, May 1. He pleaded not guilty in court on May 2 and was released on $50,000 bail.)
The incident took place in London last December, but it wasn’t until this week that it became public knowledge. According to TMZ, the photographer told police that he was hit by a “large bottle” filled with water. It was then that the alleged assault on the photographer became a thing. (Police say the case will likely be resolved in court since there was no evidence of malicious intent. However, the photographer’s lawyers are reportedly planning to plead his case in the media.)
So, what does any of this have to do with Robby and Batman? Well, it turns out that the Joker’s tweet, Arthur’s sign, and the court case have a lot in common. All are references to Arthur, the eccentric billionaire who wants to be rid of the millionaire Bruce Wayne and go live in a monastic solitude, where he can dedicate himself to good works. Arthur even goes so far as to construct a “People’s Court,” where he plans to try and convict Wayne for his “crimes” against society. (For more on Arthur, see my column on him in today’s [April 29] New York Times.)
Pattinson’s support for Batman is significant because it suggests that he might be willing to don the cape and cowl. So, if you’re a Batman fan, this is good news. Also, because we know he’s been offered the part on multiple occasions, this may mean that the actor finally listened to reason. (He turned down the role in 2006, then reconsidered and said yes in 2008, but eventually turned it down again soon after that.)
Of course, for those of us who have been waiting patiently (as eagerly as the next guy) for Batman to show up on Robby’s radar, the part may still be out of reach. But the fact that he toyed with the idea, even for a second, is indeed a good sign.
The Impact Of Social Media
In the last few years, social media platforms like Twitter have given people with celebrity a new way to engage with their fans. Those with enough celebrity can now use these platforms to make announcements about their careers, engage with their audience, and even advocate on behalf of social causes. (In fact, some celebrity users have turned these platforms into their own mini-app ecosystems that often collide with the mainstream platforms like Twitter and Instagram.)
For someone like Robert Pattinson, who has always maintained a very private life, this is a world that he has never been a part of. And so, it’s not entirely surprising that he didn’t see the need to get involved in a conflict that he felt had absolutely no impact on his life. (At least, not directly. The fact that Arthur is loosely based on him probably didn’t help either.)
But while it’s easy to scoff at something that doesn’t affect you, the truth is that it can affect everyone around you. Imagine if someone you know has been accused of a crime they didn’t commit. Would you defend them? (Hint: If the answer is yes, you might want to rethink some of your political views.)
People with money and power can still get away with murder, as the saying goes. And that’s true in real life as well as online. The only difference is that now, with the internet and social media, the information about those crimes can spread like wildfire, changing the social landscape of anyone who cares to look. (Who knew that a fight over the garbage cans at a Beverly Hills mansion could cause such controversy? That’s what I love about LA—it makes the normal seem crazy.)
So, in the end, it’s not just a matter of whether or not you believe in Batman. It’s a matter of whether or not you believe in justice. (Although, one could argue that Batman kind of has a justice network at his disposal. But you get the point.) In a world where celebrities have the ability to change the course of global events with the press of a button, it’s important to remember that everyone else has the same power. If you see something unjust, then you have the ability to bring it to the attention of the world. You could even go a step further and help change things for the better. (Yes, even a billionaire like Arthur deserves to be remembered for good works.)
And so, even if Robert Pattinson doesn’t end up donning the cape and cowl, we should all be glad that he considered the part for a second. It means that even the most unlikely of heroes can have a change of heart, especially now that they have the ability to harness the power of the internet, Twitter, and Instagram for good. (Although, maybe make sure that they have someone standing by in case they get swarmed by fans while they’re trying to sleep. In that way, they might have a change of heart after all…)