Batman, Robert Pattinson, and Body Dysmorphia

Batman, Robert Pattinson, and Body Dysmorphia June 2, 2019
Source: pexels.com

Escaping the world and its horrors has always been on my purview of things that have kept my mental health safe; right now, more than ever, I think we need to dive back into fantasy.

Today, this escape will take place in one of my favorite mythos: the Dark Knight, a.k.a. Batman.

There is some exciting news today for those in the fandom: we are getting a new Batman–another name and face to add to the array of other names who have donned the sculpted bat mask, to fight crime in Gotham with nothing but a utility belt, a hella nice car, and one damn strong will of mind and body.

*drum roll please*

Robert Pattinson, most well-known for his role as Edward Cullen in the Twilight Series, has been officially offered the role.

And no doubt will accept it. Who wouldn’t? It’s the role of a lifetime. Even the actors who did terrible jobs playing campy Batmen (I’m looking at you, George Clooney) can’t be blamed for the fandom over the character.

That isn’t enough justification, however, for people. Even when there were whispers of Pattinson being offered the role, there was a collective outcry from people (who apparently have nothing better to do) that the sparkly vampire from the abhorrent series by Stephenie Meyer couldn’t possibly have what was needed to play Batman.

Okay, hold the Batphone.

Rami Malek, now best known for his Academy Award winning role of Freddie Mercury in the hit film Bohemian Rhapsody, was also in the Twilight Series.

It’s as though it’s somehow possible for an actor, whose entire course of work is to live the lives of other people as their craft, to separate themselves from the roles they play. What a thought.

This may surprise you, but similar talk happened about Harrison Ford between Spielberg and Lucas when casting for Indiana Jones. Lucas was afraid the movie-going public wouldn’t be able to separate Ford from his role as Han Solo enough to watch him as the adventure-going archaeologist. Thank goodness he conceded because I know I can’t imagine anyone else playing Indiana.

Robert Pattinson seems to be at the worse end of this though–for some reason or other people don’t bother to educate themselves enough to know that he has played in MANY other roles since Twilight. Here’s a list.

Not only that, it is completely unfair on multiple levels to hold any sort of fault or guilt against Pattinson for accepting the role of Edward.

People are so quick to jump on the track to attack him for playing the vampire, they apparently forget just what a worldwide sensation Twilight was. It would have been creative suicide for his career if Robert Pattinson hadn’t accepted the role of the melodramatic, sparkly vampire.

This isn’t a defense of the Twilight series; one of the many future things on my blog to-do list is to publish reviews I’ve written of the books (they’re not kind, trust me). Rather, this is a defense of one man’s choice in taking a role that put him on the map in ways only a handful of other roles in film history have ever done so quickly.

What’s more, there have been people bewailing the lack of physique that Robert Pattinson sports. There is a scene in New Moon where Edward removes his shirt and steps into the sunlight in order to expose himself as a vampire and be killed (the circumstances surrounding this are far too convoluted to go into here, but any basic internet search will answer your questions).

Here is the scene from the film that people are seething at the mouth over:

No, he’s not a chiseled Greek god as the character is described in the books, but believe me, with what Pattinson was given to work with, he did a fantastic job with Edward, lack of sculpted pecks or six-pack notwithstanding. (Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think he looks that bad; but I like the skinny ones :P).

In the wake of these incessant cries against Pattinson’s casting as Batman (and especially using the excuse of his physique), a meme has circulated that inspired me to write this post in the first place. Normally I would just reference it, but I want you to get the full effect. Here is what it says:

Robert Pattinson’s casting as Batman

I think he’s perfect for the role, but if you don’t, just shut the fuck up about his body.

He’s had body issues forever since he was being constantly picked-apart by Twilight fans. Here’s a quote from one of his interviews:

“Body dysmorphia, overall tremendous anxiety. I suppose it’s because of these tremendous insecurities that I never found a way to become egotistical. I don’t have a six-pack and I hate going to the gym. I’ve been like that my whole life. I never want to take my shirt off. I’d prefer to get drunk.”

He has also said he would never going to get a six pack. And yet.

Over the past year, Robert has been spotted working out religiously. He’s doing what he hates most, what gives him horrible anxiety, all for a role he’s probably always dreamed of. And you people are still out here trying to verbally abuse and critique his appearance. It’s like 2007 all over again.

If you honestly think he’s not a good choice, fine, but leave his body out of it. Body-shaming men is just as bad as body-shaming women and it’s just fucked up that he has to go through this again.

When I first started this post, I posted on my writer page on Facebook for crowd-sourcing specifically from men who had experiences suffering from body dysmorphia.

The responses I received were heartbreaking:

“I weigh 400 lbs. Let me tell you about life as The Incredible Bulk.”

“[S]hort guy here. While recognizing it’s nothing like discrimination people of color go through, or the gender-wage gap, I have often wondered if I’m passed over for things because of my height.”

“Tons of self-consciousness in high school and middle school locker rooms about when one hit puberty in particular. Lots of shame around being skinny at times, but chubby at others. I generally feel terrible about how I look.”

“I will never be enough and I loathe myself for it.”

The next response is a bit longer, but I feel it’s necessary to understand the inherent issues with what is going on with Robert Pattinson; it is much larger, and more damaging, than just jackass adults freaking out over a character casting:

[E]ver since I was little I have had a super fast metabolism. I could eat all day and not put on weight. Like it was really hard. When we lived in Germany the doctors almost took me away from my mom because they were afraid I was not eating. I was always told I needed to “eat meat and potatoes”. Or I was “so skinny” and we can “see your ribs”.
I went through a phase where I worked out and got pretty buff. Everyone was like “finally you are filling out!” Then I stopped working out but I was still eating a lot so I have a little tummy now. But it feels like it’s really big because the same people are like, “Oh watch out you don’t want to get fat!” Or, “I see you have a bit of a belly now!” The problem is, in my mind I went from skinny to buff to fat, but when I asked a close friend he looked at me like I was crazy. What I was worried about you could not really tell the difference. But in my mind, because everyone made a big deal of it, it really shaped how I see myself.
As a kid, I really could not process body image and when I was always told to eat eat eat. It’s like everyone has this ideal image of how you should look. And I do understand my mom wanting me to gain weight because she was afraid they would take me away. But at the same time when she tells me now, “Oh I see you have a bit of a gut…” It’s like really? After you have tried to fatten me up my whole life?
I know a lot of guys who are affected by this and don’t even realize it. And then that also translates to how they view women or even their kids.
[F]or years I didn’t really know how damaged I was and just hid all my problems under humor. I was like Tony Stark in the first [Avengers] movie and now I am more like him in the last movie. I guess that’s the best way to describe it. I think that’s why movies and art are so important.
That last response was unsolicited–this dear friend of mine didn’t know that I was writing about Robert Pattinson or the superhero genre, making it all the more striking.
Allowing Robert Pattinson the opportunity to don the fabled cape and mask, to show his worth as an actor beyond his previous vampiric role or his physique, is one step forward in allowing men as a whole to be comfortable in their own bodies, as themselves, to face the world and prove their worth as they are.
Image source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/topless-man-facing-mirror-2065809/
About Jennifer Riley
Jennifer Riley is our co-leader. She’s an emotional writer, engulfing people in her tidal wave of life experiences and interpretations. She’s a bad Catholic, a good sinner, and a pernicious writer who tries to find who she is to herself and to God through her words. You can find her writer page at www.facebook.com/spectersink. You can read more about the author here.
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