You know Kristen Stewart is my #1 girlcrush, so take the following with a grain of salt. I’m not exactly impartial.
The Twilight: Breaking Dawn part 1 press machine is ramping up and Stewart is on the cover of a couple magazines this month (last month she covered W in a pleasing, retro-sex kitten photoshoot). The first cover is for Glamour and it’s a pretty photoshoot with largely uninteresting fashion. I do like the lace booty shorts but overall I find the styling to be functional and uninspiring. Ditto for the interview that was conducted by Twilight author Stephenie Meyer. Of course, anyone looking to Glamour and Stephenie Meyer for an in-depth interview has a screw loose, so for what the magazine is, I find Stewart’s appearance to be par for the course. She does look very pretty and has some excellent hair-wind working in the photos.
The one I really want to discuss is her cover appearance for British GQ. All year (and really, going back much further, but this year marks the first real “push”), Stewart has been subtly adjusting her public persona. It’s no secret that she has struggled with her spotlight. Some people condemn her for this, others don’t care. I fall into the “don’t care” category. I don’t give a shit if a celebrity is exciting or boring or a good interview or a bad interview or a tart or a saint or fun or weepy. My particular interests in the industry lie in the business and marketing direction. What I care about affects those things. My criteria for judging a celebrity are things like “don’t lie in the press” and “don’t be a pill on set” and “be a good worker for your product”. Kristen Stewart might struggle with her fame, but she is never a pill on set, she doesn’t lie in the press and she is a good worker for her product—at this point we know this isn’t easy for her yet she keeps her chin up and keeps going. That’s enough for me.
That said, there’s a clear and concerted effort to mature and soften her image going on right now. It’s a good call on her management team’s part. I like how Stewart (and by extension her team), are managing this growth process. They’ve been building toward this for years and are now positioned to introduce Kristen Stewart 2.0: the grown-up, adult KStew. Stewart was 18 when she was introduced to the world stage. She’s 21 now and Twilight is winding down. She’s moving on to other things and it’s time for her image to do so, too. Despite the publicity struggles—and to an extent I think Stewart will always struggle with her public persona since she just doesn’t have a personality tailor-made for being famous—I generally like how Stewart’s reps manage her. The only real “blunder” I lay at their door is not insisting she go through media training back in 2008. Stewart, and Robert Pattinson, famously “dropped out” of media training, but judging by Stewart’s remarks in GQ, I think she recognizes that was a mistake in retrospect. Hindsight, oh la.
I really love the GQ interview. As a fan, I love it and think it’s the best she’s ever done. As an industry-watcher, I like what it signals about where Stewart is heading professionally. Her tone is thoughtful yet retains quirks of her “no BS” style, she comes across as having gained some maturity and perspective, and I especially like that she seems able to laugh at her younger self (for example, the anecdote about finding an old backpack and eye-rolling the Anarchy stickers). The accompanying photoshoot, done by Norman Jean Roy, is also really good. Like W it casts Stewart in a retro role, going for classic bikinis and Old Hollywood vamp. I really adore the underwater shot—it’s a beautiful photograph of a beautiful person. Tapping into this old-school glamour seems part of softening Stewart’s image and I think it’s a look that really works for her. I’d love to see her on a red carpet working some finger-waves and bee stung lips.
What Stewart’s new image says to me is, “I will never spoon feed you my personal life but I’m not going to act like it’s not happening either”—she mentions her “English boyfriend” and acknowledges that anyone who cares about her personal life can easily find the details on Google. But she also reiterates that she considers that stuff out-of-bounds and she won’t contribute to the file o’facts. Where I see a sticking point, though, comes from that exact lack of enthusiasm for talking about herself—you could, if you wanted to, read that as ungrateful or ungracious. At this point, I think people are entrenched on the topic of Kristen Stewart. Either you like her or you don’t. If you like her, nothing she does will bother you. If you don’t like her, nothing she does will ever change your mind, so she might as well not talk about her private life because it won’t matter either way.
I’m pleased with this iteration of Stewart’s public persona. I don’t need her to be tabloid fodder—there are plenty of other starlets happy to fling themselves before the tabloids’ cannons for our amusement. What I expect from Stewart are movies I want to see and opportunities to admire/discuss her fashion and style. Stewart is Good For Gossip in the sense that no matter what she’s doing people are going to talk about it. Everyone has an opinion on Kristen Stewart and few are shy about sharing, good or bad. But she isn’t Good For Gossip in that her personal life isn’t very interesting (I can’t get excited about the “English boyfriend” comment because it’s been patently obvious, to me, for two years that she and Pattinson are together) and she will do little to change that. But I’m okay with that. It’s enough to observe her transformation from child star to one of the most powerful young actresses in Hollywood.