When news broke earlier this month that Robert Pattinson was dating the mind-blowingly talented FKA twigs, Twihard fans of the couple Formerly Known As Robsten were predictably incensed. For anyone who isn’t aware of the Twihard phenomenon, calmly proceed as follows: 1. Slowly crawl out from whatever rock you’ve been hiding under, and 2. Run as fast and as far as you possibly can (also you should check out The Hunger Games books, they’re actually pretty good).
Twihard mania, an umbrella term that encompasses Robsten worship, is a unique brand of crazy that infects innocent readers and turns them into rabid fans of a fictitious love affair between a NONEXISTENT human, Bella (as played by Kristen Stewart) and an even more NONEXISTENT vampire, Edward (the aforementioned Robert Pattinson). As any jaded teen who turned to sex, drugs, and rock and roll after they learned that Santa wasn’t real can tell you, worshipping the idea of a thing that does not actually exist can lead to earth-shattering, game-changing reckonings—or, as we call them today, Twitter scandals.
It defies logic to think that the blessed union of Robert Pattinson and FKA twigs would lead to any sort of social media eruption, except perhaps the launch of a trending #DreamCelebrityThreesomes hash tag. And yet, the Internet, like Justin Bieber on a good day or Lindsay Lohan on a bad one, has once again shocked us with its ability to make juvenile ignorance and self-centered idiocy into an art form.
According to FKA twig’s Twitter, the singer’s social media account has been inundated with racist, offensive comments from a legion of vigilante Robsten fans—because apparently that’s what you get for dating a guy who starred in a popular YA franchise.
To those of you who argue that these fans aren’t “really” racists, just people who can’t let go of the glorious memory of their favorite kinda-real celebrity couple—I get it. I too suffer from Twihard tendencies—uncontrollable Stephenie Meyer-approved impulses that manifest themselves in furtive re-reading binges and surreptitious glances at the PowerPoint of Robert Pattinson’s abs I once made during a particularly uninspiring computer science class.
Yes, Robsten nation—I gasped with you when Taylor Lautner got stuck in that storm during New Moon and instantly sprouted washboard abs. I shared your anger when the evil mortals at Summit Entertainment sought to steal away our hard-earned baby-sitting money by splitting the final Twilight films into two parts. And, most importantly, I became enamored with the simple story of a boy and a girl falling in love and into forever—minus all that Mormon stuff, and the anti-abortion bits, and those weird knee-length corduroy skirts Stephenie Meyer was always trying to put Bella in.
Twilight is a good story, and the idea of its two cinematic leads falling in love makes it an even better one. That being said, no one has the right to hide behind a screen and parrot recycled forms of virulent racism, even under the guise of fighting on behalf of true love. No woman deserves to become an object of hatred and abuse because of her love life, let alone be singled out and chastised due to her ethnicity or race.
To chalk this entire controversy up to silly, manic adolescent fans jealously trolling on behalf of their favorite stars would be ignoring the story’s core narrative: white man becomes romantically involved with non-white woman, public responds with disgust and racial slurs. Sound familiar? Of course it is—which is why we should be all the more concerned that some of our most disgusting modes of rhetoric and harmful ideological strains are being picked up, modified and modernized by younger and younger generations. Let’s be clear, this isn’t a Robsten problem—it’s a racism one.