By Comic Relief
Clearly a lot of people were confused when, “Kristen Stewart Lashes out at Teachers, Says They Failed Her” the title of an article published by the Huffington Post.com based on a British GQ interview. Many probably wondered, “How could an actress as successful as Stewart find anything wrong with any aspect of her upbringing?”
For our non-U.S. audience, you may have heard but education in the United States isn’t what it used to be. The country is very large and the quality of education is frequently uneven for many who live in both rural areas and urban areas. Graduates from these public schools often complain how educational levels have plummeted in the last thirty or forty years; using their educations as evidence.
As documentaries like “Waiting for Superman”  illustrate: though governmental and cultural officials know about this problem, real solutions never appear. Yet obviously not all celebrities agree entirely. When celebrity actor Matt Damon tells an assembly of teachers “…we will always have your back” he is expressing gratitude for the same education that Stewart is complaining about .
Clearly like many contested political issues the public sphere, these controversies are hard to understand. Though many in the U.S. lament the lack of effectiveness of the system even though we have great individuals who left our adult institutions of higher learning like Bill Gates, Woody Allen, and Madonna and paradoxically went on to be enormous successes. That said I think we should still pity anyone who feels undermined by the US educational system. Frequently these people just don’t know how or can’t develop the know how to just teach and educate themselves independently.
I believe some of the best evidence for how one may have adapted to this potential challenge is how they conduct themselves after the formal educational event. Some professions like artists demand almost constant learning. In fact I’ve never heard of an Actor being penalized or criticized for playing too many characters. An artist’s portfolio can demonstrate just how much diversity of learning is evident.
Below is my assessment of most of actress Kristin Stewart’s film portfolio, (most work occurring after she was an adult or legal voting age).
- 2010/Welcome to the Rileys/Allison,”Mallory”/=teen stripper & prostitute
- 2012/Snow White and the Huntsman/Snow White/=warrior maiden
How should anyone evaluate this portfolio? Because values seem to be different in the two places, I’m going to be sensitive to both perspectives. Given her age, I think anyone from the American “heartland” or the Midwest might consider this portfolio shocking or depraved. People from more urban areas might think she was just pounding the keys too hard. Do I think this is a bad choice of characters? No, 90% of these characters are historical personalities that anyone might know, read about in books, drive next to on the highway, or see at the mall. In fact Oscar winning actresses like Julianne Moore has played many similar characters, she just did it over a career that has spanned 20 years and also featured many more conventional gender and sexual statements.
Though the characters are different, the tone and attitude is exactly the same. Given this disparity in presented learning, I think we might agree with her that the educational system could have failed her. But given her young age, I don’t think it’s the end of the story. Given her fame and her fan appreciation, she has a tremendous opportunity to grow and improve. In terms of the diversity of the roles; in 20 years Kristen Stewart may show she wasn’t adversely hurt by the school system. In terms of the current limited range of her roles I don’t believe anyone could make that argument now.
Please join us for a discussion Tuesday 10/18/2011@7pmE
 Waiting for Superman trailer at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKTfaro96dg