Kristen Stewart is a terrible actress. Or rather, she is at this point in her career, at least. There. I had to get that off my chest. I had to get that off my chest because her acting is so bad at times that, yes, it gives me chest troubles. Also, I had to get that off my chest because, in an astonishing reaffirmation that life is indeed stranger than fiction, she has written a poem that 1) is not entirely as awful as her acting, 2) demonstrates legit poetic promise, and 3) makes me want to give her kudos. But for now, back to what I don’t like about her.
I don’t like that for Kristen Stewart’s Bella, the birth of Renesmee (by the way, how dare you, Stephanie Myers) and her breakup with Edward both manifest the same way on her face. In fact, I don’t like her face, or the “blah” pipe with which it seems to have been hit. I don’t like her limited tonal register, or how the intersection of generic teenage angst and grandiose, supernatural conflict within the movie forces her to exhaust the one or two emotional notes within its range. I don’t like (and this is as much Stephanie Myer’s writing of the character as it is Kristen Stewart’s portrayal of her) the pasty fantasies she perpetuates–the notion that a person can 1) be so lame and still so desirable, 2) despite their vacuousness, course with magical drug-blood that reduces sparkly vampires and eight-packed werewolves to love-tremors, and 3) after having lived a completely unremarkable life, awaken to a new life of superpower and immortality. I don’t like that it’s hard to distinguish Kristen Stewart as an actress from Bella as a character–that, indeed, given her acting ability, the role seems to have been made for her. I don’t like that through her portrayal, she somehow manages to make Bella even lamer. I don’t like that her performances sometimes trigger flashbacks of the thought-fog that the seven-brand pharmaceutical cocktails I had to take as a teenager put me in. I don’t like that I dislike her acting so intensly I feel compelled to write all this about it.
I also don’t like the fact that I’m about to give her props. I don’t like that I read an article in Indiewire titled “Must Read: Kristen Stewart’s Embarrassing Poem ‘My Heart is a Wiffle Ball/Freedom Pole,” and that I was simultaneously horrified and titillated by the ridiculous, yet strangely endearing title of her poem. I don’t like that I started reading the poem expecting to think it was total garbage, and that, by the end of it, I found myself questioning the promise of what I was writing in my early twenties. I don’t like that the poem is, in many ways, comically flawed, but is all the more compelling for it. I don’t like that I didn’t come up with a neologism as goofy and novel as “kismetly,” despite the unlikelihood that I would ever want to do so. I don’t like that as I read, I found myself trying to pry free from the grip of some of the poem’s genuinely striking lines “…I’ll suck the bones pretty,” or “Devil’s not done digging/He’s speaking in tongues all along the pan handle.” I don’t like that the poem’s abundance of problems at the syntactic, semantic, formal, sonic, and imagistic levels (as exemplified by lines like “Something Whilst the crackling stare down sun snuck”), do not, at least for me, entirely undermine its merits or potential. I don’t like that I find myself disagreeing with much of the negative feedback flooding the comments sections of the forums on which the poem is posted. I don’t like that I found the poem compelling enough to seek out what people were saying about it. I don’t like that Kristen Stewart, if she chooses to commit herself, could write some decent poetry in the conceivable future. And especially I don’t like–hater that I am–that despite everything I have to say about her performances, if I were to try to become an actor, she’d still be Wallace Stevens to my Robert Hillyer.