If you’ve ever wondered how many various websites, books, movies, blogs, Twitter pages, and fan sites have spawned since the Twilight Saga hit the bookshelves and theaters, I have an answer for you: WAY TOO MANY. There are so many of what we could call “rhetorical artifacts” that have been inspired by Twilight…so many ways that people have tried to direct the conversations surrounding vampires and werewolves and teen romance. One of the many interesting rhetorical artifacts that I found recently while perusing the internet was a blog titled “Letters to Rob.” This blog is an ode to Robert Pattinson, the actor who plays the sultry and mysterious vampire Edward Cullen in the Twilight films. Two female fans admittedly created this page in order to express their “love/obsession/devotion/respect” for Mr. Pattinson.
What’s interesting about this page is what it reveals about our culture at large. Using a fantasy theme rhetorical criticism method (a form of rhetorical criticism coined by Ernest Bormann that looks at pieces of rhetorical based on what they reveal about a culture’s norms, values, fantasies, etc.) I looked more closely at “Letters to Rob” and found that even simple fan letters reveal a lot about what our culture values and admires.
First, I think that “Letters to Rob” is an example of our society’s devotion to celebrity culture. Americans, especially those on the west coast, are obsessed with the Hollywood lifestyle. We therefore try and find ways to communicate with those celebrities that we admire and lust after so much, even if we can only manage to do so only indirectly. This is exactly what this blog’s creators “Themoonisdown” and “Unintended Choice” have done. Whether contributors are critiquing Pattinson’s shoes, pining over his relationship with Kristen Stewart, or reminiscing on the first time they first “met” or saw Pattinson in some film or other, they have this space to participate in and comment on his life. They have created a forum in which they and eventually others like them could reach out and have a piece of that celebrity culture. Robert Pattinson may never read their blog, nor have any idea of its existence for that matter, but nonetheless it serves as a means through which the potential exists for these girls and their blog’s contributors to get a little closer to the man they admire.
Next, let’s take a moment to recognize that this website is dedicated to a man whose career is based on his smoldering looks and ability to impersonate a vampire. And this is one of hundreds…maybe thousands of websites dedicated to this man. His rise to fame is based on his LOOKS. That’s right, I admit it, as females in Western (particularly zeroing in on southern Californian) culture, we come to expect that no man is a good man unless he has model good looks. Take, for example, a quote I pulled from one of Mr. Pattinson’s fans on “Letters to Rob”:
Last month I was getting hot and heavy on the couch with a very eligible young bachelor, but cut him off cold and sent him packing halfway through because I wanted to watch you on my grainy, dodgy version of Twilight that I stole from my housemate who bought it off the black market whilst in Fiji.
I have turned down two dates from very handsome young men in the last month because I felt that neither of them could live up to the incredibly high physical standards I now expect in a man, as set by yourself.
WHOA. Taking lust and obsession with physical appearances to a whole new level here. But clearly, as shallow and silly and possible facetious as this statement is it reveals the
importance we place on looks. In our fantasy themes, good looks equal success. Our culture has this fantasy of the tall, handsome, mysterious man who whisks the lonely misfit girl off her feet.
We can take this a step further and say that let’s face it…romance sells in our society. Twilight is proof of that. What Edward and Bella as a couple do is perpetuate the fairytale in which the lonely damsel in distress is saved by the strong and handsome man who promises to protect her from harm and love her unconditionally. The fairytale romance is one of the biggest fantasy themes of our society and sends us running back to the box office every time Katherine Heigl, Ryan Reynolds, or Robert Pattinson put their name on a film.
So how effective is this blog at perpetuating the fantasy themes our society holds dear such as the fairytale romance, the admiration of the Hollywood lifestyle, or the obsession with appearances? 100% effective…at least for those who watched/read/enjoyed Twilight in any of its forms. This blog is the ultimate tool for perpetuating some of society’s most shallow fantasy themes – obsessions with celebrity culture, good looks, and the fairytale romance. It’s all done in good fun, of course, but I believe that unknowingly the creators of this site are catering to the shallow rhetoric that already exists out there. They reveal some of our most unflattering fantasy themes, in my opinion.