What’s Our Problem with Anne Hathaway?

| February 27, 2013
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Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Jason Merritt/Getty Images

By guest contributor Tony Bravo

What’s our problem with Anne Hathaway? Something happened around the Golden Globes when the culture turned against the actress. That first major win of the awards season settled it: her excitement at her victory and laundry list of thank you acknowledgements made us see her as an over eager teacher’s pet that was out to make the rest of us look bad. I’m saying this equally to both sexes so listen up guys that complain about her haircut making her less “bang-able” and girls that vaguely have some feeling that she’s kind of stuck-up. Why can’t we be happy for her when she was so recently in our collective good graces?

The snark on the blogosphere has been epic with each win, culminating Sunday night at the Academy Awards when she took home the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance in Les Miserable. The complaints all season that her acceptance speeches were too earnest and gushy continued as did the criticism that she was too “actressy” and overeager. No wonder there’s rumors she practiced the speech in the days leading up to the ceremony. It wasn’t the most polished speech of the night but was the universal eye roll on Twitter to her remarks (even the reference to the tragedy of prostitution) really necessary? Even her BREATHING was critiqued as being asthmatic and labored. Then there were the wardrobe critiques. On the topic of her pink Prada gown I’ll be the first to say it: the dress had problems. I don’t know if those were actually darts making an unfortunately nippular effect on her dress like the official story goes or an unexpected Beverly Hills cold front as was speculated but let’s put the blame on the stylist where it belongs.

The nastiness over the unfortunate effect was one of the evening’s social media low points. What is this moment in our culture where we seem to be universally gunning for an actress we’ve kept employed in films for a decade? Remember how we all rushed to her defense after the James Franco hosting debacle at the Academy Awards two years ago? We enjoyed her as recently as the summer when she was restoring our vision of Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises, what happened?

Is it the Best Supporting Actress Curse? It has been noted, for certain winners, the Best Supporting Actress Oscar brings an ill career wind. Sure, the Cate Blanchetts and Judi Denchs don’t seem to have suffered but for every Penelope Cruz there’s a Marissa Tomei whose career stalled for much of the ’90s after a backlash against her win for My Cousin Vinnie. There’s also Mira Sorvino, last seen on Lifetime, and speaking of “last seen” where did Melissa Leo and her maligned potty-mouth go? Let’s not forgot Mo’Nique (although feature films seem to) and other than those Weight Watchers commercials, her song from Dreamgirls on Sunday was the first time we’ve seen Jennifer Hudson in a while. With her win seen as an inevitability, did the bad best supporting actress juju hit early?

Over the years we’ve watched Hathaway make the transition from Disney royalty in the Princess Diaries movies to an actress entrusted with prestige projects. There was no snark when she was nominated in 2009 for Best Actress for her performance in Rachel Getting Married but Rachel was a small independent feature with a relatively low profile. Besides, in 2009 Hathaway was seen as a long-shot against winner Kate Winslet in The Reader; it’s easy to be happy for someone you’re pretty sure isn’t going to win. Has the Everygirl’s success alienated her? Since Anne Hathaway came to us first in the guise of a high school girl perhaps we see her in the same light as our high school friends: we want her to be happy, but not too happy. It’s okay if she’s successful but she shouldn’t be so successful that our faces are rubbed in it. There’s nothing wrong with the kid voted “most likely to succeed” fulfilling that prophecy but it sure does piss us off.

Some are complaining of Hathaway Fatigue due to overexposure. She has had a benchmark year between The Dark Knight Rises, her autumn wedding, Les Miserables and her near sweep of award season and yet she seems no more exposed than best actress winner Jennifer Lawrence, who’s also starring in two blockbuster franchises (the X-Men reboot and The Hunger Games) in addition to her role in Silver Linings Playbook. Hathaway’s media presence is hardly Kardashian in scale; before we complain about her very real accomplishments making news, can’t we think first of anyone on a show with Housewives in the title? Speaking of Lawrence, she and Hathaway have had almost polar opposite experiences with the fans this award season. Lawrence is seen as casual and good humored in her red carpet persona and acceptance speeches: Hathaway is damned if she seems surprised and damned if she seems too rehearsed. Lawrence’s “I beat Meryl” comment at the Golden Globes went by mostly without critique (although it struck us as one of the evening’s less gracious moments): Hathaway’s “it came true” remark on Sunday was seen as cutesy and another sign of the actress’s artificiality. In the award season dynamic Lawrence got to play the girl we love to love: Hathaway was cast as the girl we love to loathe.

It’s one of the uglier parts of the American cycle: building to tear down. Hathaway has been accused of having a quality of needing to win approval and be liked: do we need to deny her that approval as payback for her success? Whether she succumbs to any best supporting actress curse or our collective schadenfreude remains to be seen. What is known is that our griping will not take away any of her accomplishments of this past year.

Whatever unnameable quality of annoyance we’ve found in her was not shared by her peers in Hollywood who rewarded her work. Guys, her hair will grow out and girls, if she seems a little stuck up maybe it’s because she just won an Oscar, not a Twitter war. No matter how many people complain that her shock when her name was called by Christopher Plummer as best supporting actress on Sunday looked fake she still gets to keep her Oscar. I promise you: you’ll get over being mad at her for those reasons you can’t quite explain. Anne Hathaway will continue to work and you’ll find someone else to be the object of your snark. We will get over our Hathaway hate when another target presents itself.

For example, you may love Jennifer Lawrence this award season but what are you going to do in a year when she starts to seem a little too big for her britches?

 

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About the Author ()

KQED Pop is a daily blog edited by Emmanuel Hapsis that critically examines the social and cultural impact of music, movies, television, advertisements, fashion, the internet and all the other collective experiences that make us laugh, cringe and cry. We focus on local, national and international experiences with a Bay Area lens. We don’t do reviews.
  • http://www.facebook.com/miles.howard.9 Miles Howard

    Here’s my take on the animosity.

    While hugely disproportionate, I think it comes from an age-old aversion to people who intensely buy into the status-quo. Anne Hathaway is a gorgeous and talented actress; no question. But she does come off as desperate for validation of her talent through classic Hollywood means, such as an Academy Award. Just look at the two acceptance speeches by Hathaway and Jennifer Lawrence at this year’s show. Hathaway was shaking from the emotion, as though she had just received the Nobel Peace Prize, while Lawrence seemed touched but also humble.

    Hathaway often reminds me of an overeager theater student, and I have to admit – speaking from my own preference – I find Lawrence’s humored detachment a lot more attractive. Because Hollywood has been losing touch with its audiences for decades, and most people don’t take the Oscars all that seriously anymore. “Best Picture” or “Best Actress” doesn’t mean what it once did, before the proliferation of independent and foreign cinema. So when I see Hathaway coveting one of these awards, I almost feel sorry for her.

    My prediction is – provided the award win doesn’t go to her head – Lawrence will be the one who keeps popping up in challenging roles. .

  • DubN

    “I beat Meryl” is from the First Wives Club. This has been discussed on like EVERY Talk Show Every since the Golden Globes

  • Victoria

    People need to get over hating on Anne – since the social networking explosion everyone feels that they need to air their opinion which is oh-so important (this post included). It shouldn’t matter that because Lawrence is perceived as ‘cool’ and Anne is perceived as ‘eager’, we should like more one than the other – she won a freakin’ Oscar, who wouldn’t get excited and emotional? Get over it – Anne is talented. As the article rightly mentions – hatred is bred from jealously and insecurity in oneself.

    • http://twitter.com/ceebeemp christopher baldwin

      thank you voice of reason

  • http://twitter.com/ceebeemp christopher baldwin

    snarky hatefull rant you are the source of such as you speak Im no fan of hers but the things you attack her for are not only foolish but I think made up by press like you and not feelings held by the ppl who go to see her who can not do what she does and accept the fact that she is an” ACTRESS ” .you get no brownie points/badges whatever for trying to throw dirt on her dress. she had a soaring career a hot new husband and a but load of money so get off her ass! be glad she is not on crack pills or booze,or would you rather see that sad old show yet again would that give you a real reason to write clearly you had not found one when you went after her. I thought it might have held some merit as I read your tripe and was forced to respond as it became clear I had fallen down a shit hole in the forest . I hope you will receive this comment in the same way you wrote your own showing of bad taste and ill will. I pity the ppl who must endure your,what is clearly shallow and unenlightened sad view of life

  • SashaBee

    I never much cared for her acting. That’s all, I’m no “Hathahater.” But she was wonderful as Maggie in “Love & Other Drugs.” That’s the most raw I have ever seen her. But also, I actually don’t think she’s that aesthetically beautiful. Her features are huge on a relatively narrow face. I do LOVE her pixie cut, though. Fuck the men who are insecure with their sexuality and prefer long hair on women. Seriously, get with it. Apart from that, I don’t have anything to say on her character. I think she’s the girl next door who made it big, and girls are very envious of that. She isn’t untouchable and classically gorgeous like other movie stars that don’t seem human.