The Impact of Kristen Stewart on Pop Culture


Written by:

Kristen Stewart is having quite the success with her latest film Spencer. Starring as Diana Spencer herself, it has earned critical acclaim and built up an enthusiastic fan base.

At just 23, she gained international prominence playing Bella Swan in the Twilight franchise. Since then, she’s gone on to star in literary adaptations with directors such as Kelly Reichardt and Olivier Assayas – among many others.

The Twilight Saga

As soon as the first Twilight film hit theaters in 2008, it quickly became an insurgent cultural force. Its vibrant vampires and werewolves won the hearts of young women everywhere and created an avid cult following. Stewart became one of Hollywood’s breakout stars while it also established itself as more than just a love story between Bella Swan and Edward Cullen.

Stewart began acting at just 8 years old. Starting off her film career in small roles for movies such as Panic Room (2002) and Catch That Kid (2004), Stewart later appeared in feature films like Into the Wild (2007) and Zathura. Though her roles proved moderate successes at box offices around the world, it wasn’t until Twilight that audiences really took note.

Stewart earned herself the BAFTA Rising Star award and achieved worldwide renown from this five-film saga, earning her global fame. Following its completion in 2012, she went on to star in smaller budget films like Camp X-Ray, Still Alice, Equals, Come Swim as well as direct short film Come Swim herself in 2017. Since then, Stewart has continued landing big movie roles, such as 2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman and 2019’s Charlie’s Angels reboot as well as writing/producing credits like Netflix drama Moxie (coming of age drama).

The Runaways

If the name “The Runaways” sounds familiar, it might be because Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning are playing band members in a new film with that same name. Though set for limited release this week, the wider release will occur next weekend; expect all the rock ‘n’ roll drama that characterizes genre films such as this.

The original Runaways were an early iteration of riot grrrl bands and comprised four teenage girls with an intense passion for music and an unconventional spirit that rebelled against 1970s popular culture. Their all-girl sound bridged punk, glam and metal with songs about drugs, sex and general defiance that made them more than just another all-female groupie band.

The band quickly found themselves associated with the growing punk scene, touring worldwide. Queens of Noise was released as their second album and quickly became hugely popular in Japan. By 1977’s end however, lead singer Cherie Currie and bassist Jackie Fox parted ways, leaving Joan Jett to take their places for their last shows.

Lita Ford, Sandy West and guitarist/vocalist Joan Jett eventually went on to have successful solo careers after leaving the band in 1978. While some reports indicate they may have already left, Jett has sold millions of albums since leaving.

On the Road

Jack Kerouac’s On the Road was first published in 1957 to varying reactions. Newspapers like The Village Voice and New York Times expressed excitement, while literary establishment members responded with doubt and distrust. Today however, its significance as an American cultural icon cannot be denied; many young people have found comfort and guidance through its freedom-rich narrative that provides inspiration to pursue bohemian lifestyles on open road adventures.

This book details a series of frenetic journeys across America by a group of penniless hippies in love with life, beauty, jazz, drugs, sex and mysticism who disdain alarm clocks, timetables, maps mortgages or rewards traditionally awarded for hard work in America. This novel became one of the hallmarks of Beat literary movement and had great impact on subsequent counterculture movements.

Stewart stars as Marylou in On the Road, an emotionally liberated young woman who meets Dean on a cross-country road trip and forms an unlikely romance with him. While its plot may be simple, its drama comes from how each character interacts with one another – earning Stewart critical acclaim and earning her nomination for a Golden Globe Award nomination for her performance alongside Garrett Hedlund and Sam Riley in On the Road’s Cannes premiere, now opening at AFI Fest 2012. This role marks Stewart’s final role before finishing up Twilight films!

Snow White and the Huntsman

Stewart made her mark as a lip-biting teenage heartthrob in Twilight before expanding her repertoire into darker material, appearing in literary adaptations like On the Road with acclaimed directors like Olivier Assayas and Kelly Reichardt. Most recently she appeared in Snow White and the Huntsman, an atmospheric adaptation of Grimm’s fairytale featuring an ominous atmosphere.

The story revolves around Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron), an evil sorceress who marries/kills King Stefan and holds Snow White captive in order to maintain her beauty through eating maidens’ life force – so when Snow escapes into a forest filled with ghosts she sends out huntsman.

Stewart gives an outstanding performance, physically showcasing her range. She plays Princess Aurora with grace while not shying away from getting dirty in scenes such as wading through a sewer and audibly gagging; wandering through haunted forest; reacting when biting poison apple; as well as showing her more sexual side by kicking, flipping and crashing anonymous goons with an energetic enthusiasm that comes across well on screen.

Snow White and the Huntsman fails to live up to its high-concept trailer. Instead, this film comes across as a backlash against feminist-themed retellings of classic stories that depict women as antagonists, like NBC’s “Once Upon a Time” or “Mirror Mirror.” However, Stewart is an engaging presence as her character makes for a strong female lead; unfortunately however, her emotional drive doesn’t allow for connections with fantasy fans.

Charlie’s Angels

Charlie’s Angels, a post-MeToo remake of 2000 film Full Throttle and its sequels, marks Kristen Stewart as its star in this iconic franchise reboot. While this fun, silly romp boasts eye candy and wire work action galore, it is also starkly genderist; with its camp aesthetic and emphasis on female empowerment that may seem off-putting when juxtaposed against more boundary-pushing shows or films like Buffy that had long since dismantled patriarchy and male privilege.

Both the original TV series and its initial two movies featured three strong female leads in Kate Jackson (Sabrina Duncan); Farrah Fawcett-Majors (Jill Munroe); and Jaclyn Smith (Kelly Garrett). These talented actors made for an unstoppable trio even though most scripts failed them miserably.

Charlie’s Angels movies from the 2000s–starring Drew Barrymore as snarky operative Natalie, Cameron Diaz as smarty pants agent Alex, and Lucy Liu as seductive operative Dylan–were more successful at fulfilling their promise of empowering women in action roles. Director McG’s no-holds barred style–inspired heavily by Yuen Woo-Ping’s frenetic action choreography–was an audience pleaser, providing an ideal platform for these three actresses’ talents to show their chemistry together while making some pointed observations about patriarchy such as how beautiful women tend to go unappreciated; it took men seven times longer for men perceive them as potential threats etc.


Stewart takes an unexpected dramatic turn away from her Twilight role to play a detective investigating an oceanic disaster. After an earthquake destroys their equipment, Stewart and her fellow researchers become trapped at a research facility on the sea floor – struggling for oxygen as time runs out before finding that something else lurks below them – with oxygen running low; only then do they realize a creature has made itself known to them in its dark depths.

Though the film had only modest box office success, critics were highly complimentary of Stewart’s performance as Norah, an independent and resilient character unlike her Bella character in Twilight. Stewart showed her acting range by doing more than simply goofing off or crying during movies.

Stewart continued to build her acting resume through the years that followed, appearing in such dramatic works as Speak (2005, based on true events) Zathura (2006 with more mainstream script), and Fierce People (2006). Most notably in 2015 she made her theatrical debut in Clouds of Sils Maria which garnered both critical and popular acclaim.

Stewart finished 2016 strong by appearing in Woody Allen’s Cafe Society (2016) and the critically-acclaimed biopic Lizzie (2018), before returning to her roots with the revival of Charlie’s Angels in 2019.