I’m reeling here. I’m stunned. I’m looking about for some hope for the world.
In connection with a comment I was responding to today, I went looking for when I’d written about repealing the 17th Amendment not being such a crazy idea, and there I found a link to a Christopher Hitchens piece from early 2011, which I followed for nostalgic reasons, and noted there a link to the cover of the current edition of Vanity Fair, and there I saw the thing that shocked me.
What I saw (accompanied by a photo in which she demonstrated that, however much money you spend on a glamour shoot, there are some people you can’t MAKE glamorous, because their facial expression will drag the whole thing down) was a mention of Kristen Stewart — she’s the notably underwhelming star of the “Twilight” movies — in the same breath as Jack Kerouac. I saw her name in connection with a coming movie adaptation of On the Road. In a connection that was crafted as though she were starring in it or something:
As the Twilight-series finale approaches, Kristen Stewart is also starring in this month’s Snow White & the Huntsman,followed by an adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. Ingrid Sischy finds her on the run, in Paris. Photographs by Mario Testino.
See? They even used the actual word, starring! Well, first, I had to think, so is she Dean Moriarty or Sal Paradise? Or Carlo Marx? And if so, how does that work? OK, so she’s Marylou. Well, I have to admit I don’t have as clear an image in my mind of Marylou as I do the others, except for this: I can’t imagine the wild jailkid Dean, the quintessential Mad One who burns, burns, burns across the American landscape, going for anyone remotely like Kristen Stewart. There is no way you envision her as a character produced by a brain writing on a continuous roll of butcher paper under the influence of benzedrine. (OK, so she’s based on a real-life person, but you know what I mean.)
Now, I’ve seen other people say less than kind things about this actress, and I was like, Aw, leave the kid alone, but when you start talking about putting her anywhere near the centerpiece of anything as iconic as On the Road, well you’ve gone to messin’. Near as I can tell, there’s a reason why she was the star of the Twilight movies. It’s because she was so painfully ordinary and unremarkable that teenage girls everywhere could project themselves onto her, and identify.
That’s not a quality I connect with Kerouac.
Also… one expects a Kerouac project to have a bit of an alternative feel to it, and not be cast according to mundane box office considerations.
OK, that’s about all I’m going to say, except to say that this is a little bit personal for me. Kerouac introduced me to my wife. OK, not personally, because he was dead at the time. What I mean to say is, we met at this party she threw for a mutual friend, and she was reading a Kerouac biography at the time, and I was reading On the Road for the first time, and we realized it and started talking about that, and connected in a powerful way, and started dating seriously about a week later, and were married a year after that.
So, you know… it seems like whoever was in charge of casting would have checked with me or something…