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Kristen Stewart Releases Heartbreaking, But Unnecessary Public Apology for Affair

Kristen Stewart
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Today Kristen Stewart released a public apology for cheating on boyfriend Robert Pattinson with her ‘Snow White and the Huntsman‘ director Rupert Sanders, a married man with children. Where’s his apology? Why should she apologize to anyone publicly?

First off, private relationships — whether between friends, family, or celebrities — are not the business of anyone not directly involved in that relationship. Our desire to read about the private lives of celebrities is a direct result of our need to humanize them, which, while understandable, is not the appropriate manner in which to do so. We can humanize celebrities in interviews when they discuss their personal motivations and how those motivations directly influence their choices on screen. We can humanize them by paying attention to the ways in which they choose to use their celebrity for good (see: Christian Bale visits shooting victims of Aurora, Colorado).

We should not, however, humanize them by focusing on their deep personal flaws. Ask yourself how you would feel if there were paparazzi photos plastered on magazine covers of you engaged in very private behavior with a consenting adult. Ask yourself how you would feel if your most painful moment became very public and open to scrutiny.

For your consideration, Kristen Stewart’s apology, via Vulture:

I’m deeply sorry for the hurt and embarrassment I’ve caused to those close to me and everyone this has affected.  This momentary indiscretion has jeopardized the most important thing in my life, the person I love and respect the most, Rob. I love him, I love him, I’m so sorry.

It’s a heartbreaking apology, but would that public apology exist without the tabloids inappropriately making a very private matter very public? While it’s commendable for Stewart to own up to her mistake and apologize to the people this has affected — namely her boyfriend — shouldn’t that apology be private and spoken to him directly? Why is it that not only her affair, but her apology, is our business as well?

Let’s also consider the other adulterer in this situation: Rupert Sanders, a married man with children. Why do we shame Kristen Stewart for the affair and let him off the hook? Setting aside that it is, again, none of our damn business, there were two people involved in this indiscretion, and equal parts to blame. We have a knee-jerk desire to lay blame to the woman and label her with the scarlet letter. We call her a home wrecker, never mind that the man she was having an affair with is married with children, giving him just an extra ounce of responsibility for the indiscretion because while Stewart only has one soul to answer to, he has an entire family that is now drawn into the mire.

Stewart’s apology isn’t directed at the public, but it was release to the public, which almost reads as though she — or someone near her — feels that she must apologize to everyone. She didn’t hurt us. She is a human being and she made a mistake — a mistake that she owns. We should praise Stewart for having the courage to own this mistake and release such a heartbreaking statement, but we shouldn’t have given a damn about her personal life in the first place. We shouldn’t have put her in this position to defend herself to us, even if that defense is cloaked as a direct apology to those she hurt. We are not owed anything from her. And if we’re going to buy into this tabloid nonsense to the point where this talented actress feels compelled to release a very public statement about her private affair, we should also desire that the man who held equal fault in this equation do the same.

By issuing an apology, Stewart is unwittingly nurturing the tabloid machine. She is saying it’s right for us to blame her and invade her privacy, and her lack of acknowledgment of Sanders and his part in this ordeal — while done with tact, grace, and the best of intentions — allows the public to feel justified by neglecting to scrutinize the male half.

Update: Rupert Sanders released this public apology via People:

“I am utterly distraught about the pain I have caused my family. My beautiful wife and heavenly children are all I have in this world. I love them with all my heart. I am praying that we can get through this together.”

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