Erin posted an unusual item on Facebook today: Gemma Alridge’s Irish Mirror article, “Twilight Fan Marries Cardboard Cut-out of Robert Pattinson in £2,000 Las Vegas Wedding” (September 10, 2014, 11:18).
It opened with something that sounded like a joke; something representative of the decay of Western civilisation:
Sitting next to her husband in a bar, Lauren orders a gin and tonic.
She nods towards Edward and tells the barman: “He’ll have a beer.”
The barman looks at her as if she has gone completely mad because the “man” next to her is made of cardboard.
Lauren Adkins, 25, is married to a life-size cut-out of vampire Edward Cullen from the Twilight movies, played by Robert Pattinson.
My immediate thought after reading the rest? “I really hope this is a joke or an elaborate prank…” As it turns out, I wasn’t too far off.
It must’ve been a slow news day at the Irish Mirror, because some light Googling would’ve turned up some interesting background on Adkins’ wedding.
Though Alridge’s article depicts Adkins as a lovelorn, desperate-and-dateless type—”As Lauren grew older she became a fan of teen romantic comedies and expected to meet the man of her dreams on Prom Night”—she must’ve been having her leg pulled:
Lauren, from Las Vegas, says: “It was different from any love story I’d seen before – after all, the leading character was as likely to suck your blood as open the door for you. I was obsessed.
“Leading man Edward was quiet and mysterious, yet superhuman and invincible. And so sexy.
“I tore through the books and I queued outside the cinema when the film was released, desperate for my first glimpse of Edward.
“And when Robert Pattinson appeared on screen at midnight, he was perfect. I knew that very minute I wanted to marry him.”
You see, news articles written at the time of the wedding announcement paint a totally different picture. Here’s an extract from one Richard Lake wrote for Las Vegas Review-Journal, “UNLV Student to Marry Cardboard Cutout of ‘Twilight’ Star,” Las Vegas Review-Journal (December 3, 2012, 2:01 a.m.):
“Edward Cullen is really tied to the idea of Vegas for me,” says Adkins, 24, who is staging the wedding as her thesis project for her master’s degree at UNLV [University of Nevada, Las Vegas]. “The fantasy behind it can never be achieved. It’s the ultimate facade.”
Adkins has already got the Viva Las Vegas wedding chapel booked for Jan. 26. She is picking out a wedding dress. Planning a bachelorette party. A cake, even. There will be photos and a wedding reception, just like there would be if she were marrying a real person instead of a flimsy paper version of a fictional character.
Of course it’s ridiculous. That’s the whole point.
Lake’s article goes on to say:
Adkins did not set out to become an Internet sensation.
But the tabloids in Great Britain got wind of her plans. She doesn’t know how. She agreed to an interview, anyway. Monitoring the reaction to what she’s doing is part of her plan.
“Obsessive ‘Twilight’ fan to marry cardboard image of Edward Cullen,” a typical headline screamed. They ignored the art of it. Of course they did.
That “typical headline” was actually Sam Smith’s article for Metro (November 18, 2012, 11:22 p.m.)—and sure enough, it said nothing about her art project.
In fact, Smith’s lack of disclosure—and the subsequent commentary his article received—were specifically called out in Kristen Peterson’s Las Vegas Weekly article, “Local Artist Marrying Edward Cullen Cutout (Go Ahead and Hate)” (December 1, 2012, 8:08 a.m.):
Comments on the Facebook page for Metro (U.K.), the tabloid that wrote the story, ranges from “mental slut” and “freak” to “twisted silly girl” and, of course, the old reliable, “She must b fat and ugly can’t get a real man has to marry a cardboard cutout how pathetic is that.”
[. . .]
That’s because the November 18 Metro article headlined, “Obsessive Twilight fan to marry cardboard image of Edward Cullen” failed to mention that the wedding is the thesis for the MFA student at UNLV, one that explores gender, fantasy and the expectations Hollywood places on relationships.
Oops! That’s why a little disclosure goes a long way. That said, Metro can only take the heat so far: after all, they can’t be held personally accountable for idiotic Facebook commentary. However, they’re certainly culpable for making the story more than it was—and quotes from Adkins in the article show she was playing along with the ruse.
Kristen Peterson went onto cover the wedding in another Las Vegas Weekly article, “Artist Lauren Adkins Finally Weds ‘Twilight’ Cardboard Cutout at Vegas Chapel” (January 30, 2013, 3:37 p.m.), being sure to mention it “was a success—a Vegas themed, Hollywood romance-inspired MFA project of art imitating (and commenting on) life, a carefully crafted illusion of happily ever after with a nonexistent someone.”
The question is, how did Smith find out about the wedding in the first place? Mangala Dilip’s International Business Times article, “‘Twilight’ Wedding: Woman Marries Robert Pattinson Cut-Out in Las Vegas [PHOTOS]” (September 11, 2014 14:17 IST) provides a clue: “Adkins had reportedly raised over $1,235 by crowd-funding on the website indiegogo for her “Twilight” Wedding.”
A cursory reading of Adkins’ Indiegogo campaign page for the event would’ve given the game away and saved a lot of trouble:
My name is Lauren Adkins, and I’m an artist living in Las Vegas.
I need your help to fund my Master of Fine Arts final thesis exhibition, which will culminate in several performative [sic] events.
The main performance will be a wedding ceremony in which I will marry the main love interest from the Twilight Saga, Edward Cullen, in the form of a cardboard cut-out in a real Las Vegas chapel.
And yes, it finished with $1,235USD worth of pledges from 37 funders (out of $2,500USD originally requested). The commencement and conclusion of Adkins’ program—”This campaign started on Sep 23 and closed on October 23, 2012 (11:59pm PT)”—gave Smith ample time to check his source.
Though it isn’t usually held in high regard, even PerezHilton.com was savvy enough to cover the art project angle in “Las Vegas Woman Raises Over $1200 to MARRY Edward Cullen…In Cardboard Cut-Out Form!” (December 12, 2012 9:02 a.m. ET), mentioning “a Las Vegas woman named Lauren Adkins has reportedly raised $1,235 on the crowdfunding website indiegogo to pay for her upcoming WEDDING ceremony to a cardboard cut-out of Robert Pattinson’s character in Twilight, Edward Cullen!”, adding:
Now, before you explode into a thousand tiny sparkles of rage, jealousy, or any other emotion that may come be seeping through you right now, get this: it’s all part of a performance art installation for her MFA thesis, as her focus of study is on ideas of love perpetuated through pop culture and how they affect our own expectations!
The latest spate of news coverage for Adkins’ wedding follows directly from Gemma Alridge’s Mirror article (though the link Erin shared was for the Irish Mirror, that seems to be a simulcast of the English version). For instance, Rebecca Merriman’s EntertainmentWise article, “Twilight Fan Marries Robert Pattinson Cardboard Cut Out in Las Vegas” (September 10, 2014), features a quote from it:
She told the Sunday People: “I walked down the aisle in January in the white wedding dress I’ve always dreamt of. I held the reception at an art gallery and ordered champagne and a five-tier cake to share with my 50 guests. The day cost £2,000 but I didn’t care – I wanted to do it properly.
As Wikipedia notes, Sunday People is “published by the Trinity Mirror Group, and shares website with the Mirror papers.” I’m not sure if it was actually published in Sunday People, though, as the article was published online on September 10—a Wednesday. Merriman may have confused the source.
Another recent article—Nesta Matthews’ “Robert Pattinson Married??“, 102.3 Clear FM Winnipeg (September 11, 2014) cites the Alridge’s Mirror article and at least bothered to do more research than Merriman’s piece:
She told the Daily Mirror : “A friend who thought I was going mad said one night: ‘If you love him so much why don’t you marry him?’ Her words rang in my ears. She was right. Why didn’t I?”
To help pay for the wedding, Laura raised over $1,235 crowd-funding on the website indiegogo. And before you judge her and the people who donated you should know the wedding was also her Master of Fine Arts final thesis exhibition, focusing on the female escapist fantasy in popular forms, especially in finding true love.
It’s more than can be said for the story’s appearance as “Fan Marries Twilight Star Cut-Out” (Independent.ie, September 11, 2014, 12:16), “Twilight Fan Married Card Board Cut Out of Robert Pattinson” (Big News Live, September 11, 2014) and “Woman Marries Cardboard Cut-Out of Robert Pattinson” (Daily Nation, September 11, 2014)—none of which reveal the wedding’s art project origins.
Don’t get me wrong, though: I’m not letting Adkins off the hook that easily. It’s clear she’s been “playing” the media, herself—except she’s an artist, not a journalist. I’m not even a journalist, and it took me a few seconds to find out the story’s a sham. That’s far more disturbing than someone marrying a cardboard cut-out.
I’d like to thank Erin for drawing my attention to the Mirror article via my Facebook group, “The Vampirologist.” She’s also inspired me to dig into other news stories, too—like that Chinese vampire café. Here’s what I found out about that.