The R-Patz Effect


Since first-thing on Monday morning, my colleagues and I have observed an all-too-familiar occurrence taking place outside our building.  It started with just a couple of sleeping-bagged teenagers.  Then, the following day, there were about 20 of them.  Fast forward on to tonight and, by the time I left work, there were literally thousands of teenage girls gathered in eager anticipation for the arrival of Robert Pattinson (R-Patz, if you will) and the rest of the Twilight cast.


Being based in Leicester Square, me and my colleagues often share our little patch of London with all sorts of famous people, none more so than when a film premiere is taking place.  And this week, the hype around the Twilight premiere, which took place a few hours ago, has been ridiculous.  As I looked outside the window next to my desk this afternoon, I saw a sea of young girls – typically aged about 13 or 14 – many of whom had literally been there for days.


It got me thinking: is this kind of thing healthy?  And would we, as parents, seriously consider schlepping up to some cinema with our kids, camping out in the freezing cold, just to ensure they could catch a glimpse of some vampire sweetheart?  


We were chatting about this in the office (it was mainly along the lines of “Look at that woman who’s fallen asleep in the fold-up chair!  LOOK AT HER!  She’s the one who’s been here with her daughter since SUNDAY NIGHT!”) and most parents seemed to agree that there’s no way we’d ever be in that crowd.  But I’m not so sure. 


It’s all too easy, when our kids are really little, to smugly pronounce that they won’t be into that sort of thing – but it’s often the opposite of what happens.  My two children are aged four and two at the moment – so they’re still fairly controllable when it comes to the books, TV shows and films that come before their little eyes.  But, give it ten years, and I’ll no longer be the one in permanent control of the remote.  They’ll be able to watch what they want, to become obsessed with whoever they’re meant to be obsessed with – and there’ll be very little I can do about it.


Being a teenager is a fairly miserable experience at times and, although I can say for certain that I’d draw the line at having a sleepover on the pavement, I can’t say that I won’t ever end up in a similar situation to the woman on the fold-up chair.  I want to show my kids positive role models, to prove that they don’t need to define themselves by celebrity culture, and so on – but that won’t necessarily stop them having a huge crush on some teen star or other.  Which is a rather scary thought, to be honest.


I left work tonight before the Twilight premiere got going – but I really hope Robert Pattinson stopped for the two girls right at the front.  After all, they were holding a huge homemade sign that said R-PATZ!!! WE’VE TRAVELLED FROM TAIWAN!! – and if they don’t even get so much as a glance in their direction, it’ll be a bit of shame (and a little bit funny, too…).

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