Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Ravishing of Rob Pattinson


In a recent survey of 130,000 women by iVillage Entertainment, 87% said they would trade their husband for British actor Robert Pattinson. Clearly, some of them were kidding. The rest will just have to accept that the 23-year-old Mr. Pattinson, like the romantic vampire Edward Cullen he embodies in the "Twilight" movie series, is unlikely ever to cross their paths outside the realm of dreams.

Until now, most of those dreams were sweet or at least private ones. Yet as Mr. Pattinson made the rounds in New York this week to promote his new, nonvampire movie, "Remember Me," the spectacle of his sexploitation—how else to put it?—was grotesque. What's being wrecked is the essence of his appeal, and he's really not old enough to safeguard it.

Whatever Pattinson-appreciation is built on, the gateway drug for most women (and fewer men) is Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight," a classic saga of young love. The twist is that Edward hasn't been human since he was bitten by a vampire in 1918, and yet he soulfully strives to protect Bella, the ordinary girl who returns his affection, from his own monstrous fate.

A beautiful man with the will and strength to maintain eternal devotion? A few joyless types missed the big picture and veered off on tangents about stalking and other tedious subjects. But most girls got it instantly, and adult women perked up as if from a torpor—even if they could only sneak off to and other Web sites after the children and a resentful husband or boyfriend were asleep. Then, they talk about Mr. Pattinson as if he were their own personal brand of heroin. "I'm addicted," a mother of four laments. "When will it end?" "O.M.G. When will we wake up?" types someone else. "When he's 40? 50?"

After more than a year of mainstream-culture derision aimed at so-called twitards, vindication of a kind arrived in the March issue of a trendy men's magazine, Details. There, a headline finally asks the $64,000 question: "So the Woman You Love Has the Hots for a Vampire. What Does That Say About You?" Nothing good. But the worm turns again elsewhere in the same issue, in a creepy photo spread where Mr. Pattinson appears fully clad but looking dwarfed and diminished by a towering phalanx of naked female models.

Of this demeaning experience, Mr. Pattinson later had the insouciance to remark that it was made bearable by a hangover. The fangs are out for him, however. As one woman blogged about the Details shoot, he is now "the most objectified young man of modern times." Throw in the sexual catcalling and increasingly smutty questions from interviewers, and he probably "spends half his life having femininity (for good or bad) thrust in his face."

Jimmy Fallon, bless him, put his guest up a tree for a funny skit Monday. Back in the studio, though, the banshees wailed so crazily that both men looked wary and Mr. Pattinson said: "Help."

Fat chance. On ABC's "The View" Tuesday, even the presence of Mr. Pattinson's parents and sisters in the audience could not prevent the lady interviewers of a certain age from instigating talk of intimate body parts, male and female.

All this, and worse, is now rushing toward a man whose greatest asset has been not just a handsome face, but an apparent abundance of youthful innocence. It has allowed young girls to imagine a happy future, and moved older women to tears with the memory of a happier past.

Now that Mr. Pattinson is a bona fide Hollywood commodity, a maw is opening to devour him. Even Edward Cullen couldn't stop that


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