Robert Pattinson — best known for his role as the seriously sparkly Edward Cullen — is now descending into the shadows of Gotham City as DC’s newest Batman. Before his latest role that threw him back into the mainstream, however, Pattinson had strayed away from his “Twilight” days, shedding the teenage heartthrob look for something with more substance.
From his role as a suave and shady con artist in “Good Time,” to a deranged lighthouse keeper in Robert Eggers’ 2019 film, “The Lighthouse,” Pattinson has molded a razor-sharp repertoire that has amassed a cult-like following. But it’s not just his dedication to his craft or the unbothered approach he brings to his roles that have attracted millions of fans. From casually lying during interviews to going on dates with fans “out of boredom,” his truly aloof and possibly “unhinged” personality has immortalized him as a pop culture icon. This has also prompted others to be just as weird in a world that is built on a cheap foundation that values aesthetics and fame over everything else.
With his most recent photoshoot for the March cover story of GQ, Pattinson caused quite a shock on social media. He was pictured bleaching his own hair, getting a tattoo and having a bloody tooth extracted — catching the seconds-sharp attention of the Internet and reviving his unhinged status. However, in comparison to the other out-of-pocket things that Pattinson has done in the past — such as suggesting that Edward “be gay” in the next Twilight film or speaking explicitly about a rather NSFW scene from “The Lighthouse” — having pictures taken that evoke the duality found in his movie “The Batman” is far from crazy.
By definition, the word unhinged means to be mentally unbalanced or deranged. Such a definition by itself could be considered quite a stretch when applied to the British actor’s stability — which of course, is only speculation. With synonyms like demented and crazed, the word holds quite a negative connotation. Since 2019, the word unhinged has seen a dramatic leap in usage, becoming popular not only in fandom spaces but also in everyday slang. Such a trend prompts many questions, the first being — why would everyday people want to be associated with a term that indicates a decline in mental health and a questionable state of mind? The second — why is being weird suddenly so cool?
The answer is simply that on the internet, almost everyone is desperate. For attention, fame, or just to hear an echo from the void, people want to be noticed. In an age where everyone tries to stand out with some sort of gimmick — a joke that borderlines on offensive, or live-tweeting a manic decision to cut bangs at 3 a.m. — being weird is the way to go. When you’re online, everything is a spectacle, a cry for attention, or a desire to be seen and consumed. If you aren’t making a spectacle of yourself, you’ll be forgotten and tossed into the trash with all of the other trends that withered and died. However, by intentionally doing things that would be considered crazy or just stupid, and by actively trying to be weird, you lose authenticity.
The absolute hypocrisy is humorous. Most people often find weird people, well — weird. They disrupt the flow of things, make others roll their eyes, and are not commercialized or packaged neatly in nice little headlines the way Pattinson is. Internet subgroups that aren’t mainstream, like furries or people who write fan fiction, are labeled cringeworthy or annoying — when, really, they’re just being themselves. Social media turns everything into an aesthetic or a joke or a personality that needs to be digested and torn apart. There is no reality in the weirdness that many people find appealing online because it simply does not exist. Just like everything else on the internet, the need to be unhinged is yet another trend — mimicry on a larger, flimsier scale. The problem many face is how to break free from such performances. While many have tried to take on an abnormal level of weirdness by being utterly unhinged, many have ultimately failed.
But taking back such a word with its realistic definition in mind, you can ultimately live a life with the most freedom, breaking free of all the meaningless rules of politeness that exist within society, leaving nothing left for you to do wrong. Put simply — you can be human. By letting himself be perceived as someone with no filter, or even just by being consistently unbelievable, he gives up any sort of leverage the media may have against him as he throws his fame to the wind like the wild card he is. By being so utterly bizarre, like saying he “probably hadn’t washed his hair in 6 weeks” while on a Twilight press junket in 2009, or claiming to be a drug dealer, he lends himself the luxury of privacy.
So, perhaps the solution is clear. It doesn’t matter, at the end of the day, what’s presently considered cool or trendy. Ultimately, how you interact with yourself and with others is the biggest factor determining whether you’re hinged or not. By being candid, original, or maybe even once in a while saying something that might make someone think twice, you’ll be left alone. In the never-ending whirlpool that we are sucked into, where we feel the need to catalog every aspect of our lives and personalities on the internet, the key to not going insane is to act perfectly normal.