by Kia Matthews
Wait, the vaguely Asian-looking werewolf kid from that gay vampire movie is hosting Saturday Night Live?, asked the small percentage of America watching TV on Saturday night. As ridiculous as the Twilight phenomenon is, it’s no secret that teenage consumers and their Orange Julius and baby-sitting paychecks are fueling the entertainment industry these days. And yet, Twilight’s two main stars are about the world’s least-accessible actors. Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart could give a fuck about anything besides skinny jeans, vintage band t-shirts and looking so over it. Both are highly uninteresting and seem to be teetering on the edge of a fame-induced nervous breakdown. So as “obscure” as 17 year-old Taylor Lautner may seem, it was pretty smart of NBC to get in on some of that Twilight action with him, rather than his future overdose victim coworkers.
Unlike Pattinson and Stewart, Taylor is quite charming (and highly bangable). Totally one of those kids who were blessed with crazily straight and white teeth, that did all the local mall modeling gigs and took acting lessons and lived for giving speeches in class.
Despite this, I was nervous to watch him on the show-his charm can very easily slip into the corny territory and a bad performance would poorly reflect on me as an enthusiast, right? Luckily it was the writing, as usual, that mostly sucked, not Tay-tay. And I have to give it up for a 17-year-old dude who’s willing to rock a denim skirt and purple leggings on national TV.
The thing I really love about this kid (aside from the obvious) is that he seems aware of the role he’s playing in pop culture and he’s handling it quite well. I’m sure it can be a bit overwhelming for him at 17, but don’t they say Hollywood 17 is like regular-people 25? He knows he’s a sex symbol. He’s switched on the hormone turbine in teen girls (and boys) across the globe and has driven many 20 (and 30) somethings to an uncomfortable place-the Pedo Zone.
Even before all this Twilight nonsense, I’d always thought he was a cute kid with that wolfy, piggy face of his. But when baby boy started mainlining Creatine shakes and getting jacked for his role in New Moon, it went from “awww” to “awww yeah.”
But how could I sleep at night knowing that I was writing blog posts about eating food off the belly of a 17-year-old? A minor! I would be vilified by the Internet Feminist Gestapo if I were a 27 year-old man writing about “taking the train to bone city” with Miley Cry-us.
Remember the Olsen Twins? Back in 2003, Rolling Stone put them on the cover, calling the underage duo “America’s favorite fantasy,” due in part to the infamous Olsen Twins Countdown Clock, which counted down the days until they were legally lust-after-able.
On Dec 10, Rolling Stone gave Taylor got the same cover treatment-except they put him in a see-through wet t-shirt.
I suppose in theory I may have been once or twice conflicted by sexualizing a minor, but really, it’s not my fault. It’s not me who’s marketing the kid as an ever-shirtless hunk who just wants to be there for me and love me and maybe give me tips on how to strengthen my core. I’m just consuming the product that Summit Entertainment is trying to sell me.
Whether or not Tay-tay knows it, that body of his-and the women and girls perving out over it-are a part of an important conversation. Excuse the grad school jargon, but I’m all about reversing the Male Gaze. The only real way to combat the never-ending sexualization and objectification of young women is to reflect the Male Gaze and do it in a way that is both consistent and conspicuous in order to shift the balance of power and create a uniquely female Gaze, ultimately SUBVERTING THE PATRIARCHYÃ¢â€žÂ¢.
The soapbox has been dismounted. I can attempt to justify this with all the feminist blah blah blahing in the world, but ultimately it comes down to one thing:
Whether or not it’s ideal, leveling the playing field at least feels fair. I will do my part in the struggle by continuing to appreciate the fuck out of those abs. Besides, 17 is legal in D.C.
Kia Matthews feels a little weird about her thing for Taylor but not so weird that she’s giving it up.