I must have missed the memo, but apparently we all hate Anne Hathaway. She’s dripping in acting awards, sports Audrey Hepburn eyes, supports an admirable charity, and even totes the baggage of a Hollywood heartbreak, but “we” hate her. And, poor girl, she knows it, which is why all the gossipmongers are laughing at the rumor that she “practiced her Oscar speech” so that she would sound “likable.”
And why do we hate her? There is a litany of excuses.
“Her shameless jockeying for critical acclaim and awards consideration in her role in ‘Les Misérables,’” says this Shine! fashion editor. ”There’s no way you haven’t heard by now that Hathaway lost 25 pounds eating one oatmeal square a day, cut off her hair, sang her own songs, and forced her agent to get her the audition.”
So, in other words … she’s a serious actress? I don’t see anyone berating Christian Bale for touting his role-immersion tactics.
(Other evidentiary complaints from that post: “she’s a dork, but not a cool dork,” she’s always smiling, and “she tries too hard.” Man, sure sounds like a waste of space to me.)
Moments after Hathaway’s Oscar acceptance speech, which was prefaced with a breathy “It came true!” Twitter summarily ran rampant with (okay, admittedly hilarious) reactions like these:
In essence, though, it all comes back to what we perceive as the “neediness” factor.
Maybe it’s because I can relate. I once installed an “Unfriend Finder” Firefox plug-in on my Facebook account, for goodness sake. And how self-defeatingly helpful was that? So I could obsess over each person who unfriended me, wondering why they didn’t like me enough to stay connected? Retrace my steps so I could try to narrow down exactly which status update had perhaps offended them? Ridiculous.
And kind of smacks of what Hathaway is doing.
In every subject and arena of humanity, we are conditioned to look for what’s wrong. The negative. We seek out the bad even when perhaps none exists, because it is a basic survival trait that helped us evade animal predators. Take science, for instance, where “critical thinking” and “critical evaluation of theory and ideas” integrate heavily into everyday critical evaluation in order to “ask knowledgeable people to poke holes in what we’ve produced.” Is the experiment designed correctly? Were appropriate methods used to collect and analyze data? Are the results accurate?
In some ways, that seems to be what drives the Internet hate of Hathaway. We’re looking for what’s wrong, because something tips us off that she’s trying. We don’t like “trying,” I guess. We like “natural.”
Contrast that with Jennifer Lawrence, who doesn’t seem to be trying at all. She makes awkward off-the-cuff remarks and she trips on the Oscar stage on her way to her acceptance speech, but still “we” love her.
Because we only like people who are “naturally” “likable,” and if you aren’t innately adorable, resign yourself to being an unlovable misfit for the rest of your days.
Oh, wait, Kristen Stewart already cornered the market on that. But “we” still hate her, too.
Also, Lawrence flirted with Jack Nicholson, and we adoringly made a gif out of it. A gif!
… I’m sure the unfairness of this dichotomy is not lost on Hathaway, if she does indeed aspire so desperately to be likable. Particularly because a significant proportion of our population suffers from this exact fear.
So many of our updates to Facebook, Twitter, etc., scream, “Love me! Validate me! Tell me I’m important! Tell me I’m beautiful/handsome/talented/successful! Show everyone how lovable I am by how many favorites/retweets/likes this tiny, minute update in my life garners!”
Research shows this phenomenon of social media-motivated self-validation has promoted an increasing prevalence of narcissistic disorder within both the virtual realm and outside.
There’s hypocrisy in this post, because I fall prey and still struggle with the same malaise. I was in a relationship once where my boyfriend told me, “Look how many more ‘likes’ the picture of us got than theirs did. We are so much more attractive as a couple.”
As if that was the most important thing.
And sometimes, it really feels like it is. Even though it shouldn’t.
A lethal blend of irrelevant reality shows and social media has mired us in a microcosm of compliment-fishing and back-patting, where we become the stars of our own little shows. (And it sometimes produces travesties of Internet confessionals like this. Don’t ask, no one knows).
Yet when we recognize this trait in an actress like Hathaway, we uniformly condemn it.
Do we simply hate those vices which we most despise in ourselves? The ones we truly don’t want to admit, in the darkest corners of our soul? So much so that we vilify the people who really are in our corner?
It’s especially depressing when one reflects that the majority of the people railing on about Hathaway hate are women. Something that new it-girl and “Girls” creator Lena Dunham pointed out on Twitter, to the delighted mass favoriting and retweets of many.
… gotta say, I think Lena Dunham has it right. Wait. “We” like her, right? I’d better establish that first.