Anne Hathaway, Ourselves


Do you remember how Jennifer Lawrence responded when Jack Nicholson flirted with her at the Oscars? There was a moment when he said, “You look like an old girlfriend,” and Jennifer Lawrence, without missing a beat — without missing a beat! — turned in her Dior gown to look at him and joked, “Really? Do I look like a new one?”

Now spend a moment trying to determine how you would have reacted. Me? I would not have responded like Jennifer Lawrence. I wish I could say I would, but if I’m going to be honest, at best I might have mumbled, “Well, I hope she was a nice person.” At worst, I would have said something like, “You are a very respected actor but this exchange is awkward for me.” There is an equally strong chance I would have chosen to communicate that sentiment entirely without words, opting instead for flailing hand gestures.

I would, in short, have responded exactly like Anne Hathaway. Surely I’m not the only one.

I feel for Anne Hathaway, who nervously rehearses her speeches beforehand to make herself “more likeable.” This accomplished actress, seemingly unaware of what human beings like to see at awards shows, gives endlessly long speeches thanking her team and everyone she has ever met while cradling and mumbling to her Oscar. When asked to respond off the cuff, she replies that meeting her “soul mate” and being at the Oscars is a “the cherry on top of a wonderful, wonderful dish of vegan ice cream.” That is a statement to which one can only think, “Anne, you should have rehearsed harder.”

No wonder on the night of the Oscars, Jack Moore of Buzzfeed tweeted, “What the Onion missed is that it’s Anne Hathaway who’s the real cunt. Right EVERY WOMAN ON THE INTERNET?”

Every woman on the Internet did not respond to that capslock call to arms, but it struck enough of a chord to indicate that women largely didn’t like Anne Hathaway.

Over at The Cut, Ann Friedman wrote:

Does EVERY WOMAN ON THE INTERNET baselessly hate Anne Hathaway? I took a quick straw poll. ‘She is that theater kid with good intentions but secretly annoys the shit out of you,’ said one friend, adding, ‘You want to be excited for her and you are but deep down you are kind of rolling your eyes.’ Another replied, ‘I think someone told her she was America’s sweetheart and she believed it.’ One friend placed her in the category of ‘really affected drama queens,’ saying, ‘I can imagine her non-ironically yelling Acting!’ In other words, she’s always onstage, always calculated — not someone with whom you’d want to party or share your deepest secrets.

They don’t like her. They really don’t like her.

Perhaps we are so adamant in our current dislike because, not such a long time ago, we really did like Anne Hathaway. Remember when she brilliantly responded to Matt Lauer’s question about her crotch shot, expertly tying the conversation back to Les Miserables by saying, “I’m sorry that we live in a culture that commodifies the sexuality of unwilling participants, which brings us back to Les Mis . . .” Gosh, that was a good moment. And remember when President Obama said she was the best thing in The Dark Knight Rises?

We certainly did like her, then. That was only about seven months ago.

Then, somehow, women seem to have decided to hate her. Perhaps because it feels like she betrayed us. We liked her before she lived on two squares of oatmeal paste a day to lose a massive amount of weight. And before every interview seemed to revolve around her weight loss. That was also before she began actively and obviously trying to make herself more “likable.”

We liked Anne, basically, when she behaved exactly the way a lot of us would if we were one of the most well-known celebrities in the world.

We hate her, in short, because we know, deep in our hearts, that if we were as famous, we’d act exactly the same.

We like to believe we wouldn’t. It’s much nicer to believe that we’d be just like Jennifer Lawrence, laughing about how dieting sucks and falling on the stairs without really worrying about it. Being awesome, basically. We like to believe that we would spend every second of every day being effortlessly off-the-cuff cool and funny, just like Jennifer Lawrence.

We wouldn’t.

Expecting celebrities to be relaxed and entertaining authentic is expecting a lot with no additional pressures. They’re under huge scrutiny as is and, if they are remotely intelligent, they’re well aware that everything they do is going to be replayed — and replayed, and replayed — afterwards. In my life I’ve known a handful of people who legitimately seem cool and utterly in the moment 90% of the time. I’ve known many more who have assertively stated that they are a go-with-the-flow kind of person when they are actually…the exact opposite. That’s okay. Being cool requires a level of comfort in one’s own skin that is rare. That level of comfort is even more elusive when you are dealing with a group of people who have sought out a profession that demands they pretend to be someone else much of the time.

Let’s be honest: Most people are more Anne Hathaway than Jennifer Lawrence. That is to say that we are good at preparation. We make intelligent choices. We probably even promote causes we believe in, as Hathaway does with her anti-violence organization. We work hard at tasks assigned to us. And, even if we try not to care, we do want people to like us. (Not to say Jennifer Lawrence isn’t any of these things; it’s just that Anne more proactively is.)

These are attributes that lend themselves well to most occupations and interactions in daily life. They do not, however, necessarily guarantee one’s ability to be funny and charming if cameras are thrust in front of our faces. I feel fairly certain that if I were in Hollywood and being photographed at random times, it would take about a week before I started dieting. It would take two weeks before I started preparing everything I said. Everything. I would begin drafting speeches to greet the barrista at Starbucks in the morning.

Still, even as I realize that, I want Anne Hathaway to seem cooler.

Perhaps that is because we want our stars to represent the best of us. For all the endless articles reminding us that celebrities are “just like us”, we actually want and expect them to be better. We’d like them to be very cool. Someone to emulate. After all, if a person is going to be given countless riches simply for going to work, we want to feel that we have picked someone exceedingly special — not someone who is dorky, and awkward, and exactly like ourselves.

Anne Hathaway truly is just like us.

And Jennifer Lawrence? Well, Jennifer Lawrence is like the coolest girl in high school who also happens to be the nicest. She’s the kind of star who is sparkling and bright and totally removed from the majority of human beings. And that dazzling quality will last until the moment when she messes up and says or does something ridiculous in front of a reporter. Since that happens to everyone eventually, I’d give it about seven more months.

Jennifer Wright is the editor of The Gloss. Follow her on Twitter at @JenAshleyWright.

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