I totally adore Anne Hathaway, but I can't stand you. I mean, I've never met you, and I don't know anything about you, but you strike me as cheerful and peppy and good and I just hate that: You're such a phony.
Oh, you have talent? I bet you think you're just the bee's ass.
Okay, I didn't really know that I was supposed to hate Anne Hathaway until I woke up to a thousand or so articles telling me just that. Right. I figure all these people must know something that I don't: that she's a raging harridan backstage, or a preening snob, or something grisly that she skillfully suppresses in public.
But no, it seems that she's actually winning and eager and peppy in real life. So what we're expected to hate is this -- that the woman's charming.
Full disclosure: I didn't like her much in Les Mis. There she was trying too hard. The merciless close-ups didn't help: you don't want melodramatic facial contortions twenty feet tall. But that wasn't her issue alone: the entire film featured way too many close-ups of veins throbbing in foreheads like epileptic pythons. It should have been called Les Aneurysms. But that has no bearing on Hathaway the woman.
I'm genuinely trying to figure this out. We're supposed to hate Anne Hathaway, but love Jennifer Lawrence. I guess peppy is out, and awk is in. I happen to think they're both pretty great -- and this doesn't strike me as any kind of deep personal paradox -- but I don't have my finger on the nation's pulsing forehead.
Perhaps it's an absence of proletarian cool. America's going through a phase that defined Britain in the sixties: a working class hero is something to be. Fine. I have no problem with that -- it's a nice antidote to sphincter-clenched elitism. I've always been a cheerleader for hillbilly culture: I'd much rather hear a voice from Appalachia than Harvard.
The truth, however, is that Jennifer Lawrence isn't an echt hillbilly. She's not a coal miner's daughter. She's not Katniss. She wasn't raised gnawing on winter's bone.
Her father was in construction? In Louisville Kentucky? Cool. But he owned a construction business, which is not quite the same thing as standing knee-deep in Southern cement. Sure, Anne Hathaway's the daughter of a lawyer and an actress, which is a bit more glamorous. She's all Montessori and Vassar and NYU. But does this make her unlovable?
I've encountered one damning anecdote. One. It seems that Joseph Gordon-Levitt called her "an insufferable snob". I stress the word "seems". I googled the origins of this widely-quoted single slur, and came up with celebdirtylaundry.com, perezhilton.com, gossiprocks.com -- all impeccable sources really -- until finally celebitchy.com referred me to the sterling print publication that first offered this observation to the world: Star magazine.
A close reading of the passage in Star cannot help but reveal the dependable words: "sources say." Not just one anonymous source, note, but plural: anonymous sources. They're the ones that say. And they say that Joseph said. And celebitchy.com says this, based on what Star says that "sources say" that Joseph said: Anne's a snotty diva.
Color me unconvinced. Given the evidence, sorry: she's probably not a raging bitch on skis. Let's fish elsewhere, then, shall we? Goody two-shoes, right? (Both Prada.) Here we're standing on firm ground: the girl wanted to be a nun. Except that she gave up on that ambition when she found out that her brother was gay. Which is the kind of genuine moral decision that I find admirable -- dunno about you. It doesn't represent ditzy acquiescence to the status quo: it is, in its quiet personal way, a revolutionary act.
Maybe I just don't get it.
Perhaps it really is just a matter of cool. Anne Hathaway isn't. She's about as world-weary as a Labrador retriever. Approximately as cynical as Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz.
And that's perhaps it. Anne Hathaway is the young Judy Garland. Or rather: she's what Judy Garland presented to the public: "Let's put on a show!" The problem with Hathaway is that she's that same persona backstage: she's not a pill-popping train-wreck. If you're going to be cheerful, these days, you better be sitting on tragic. Unfortunately, the closest to tragic that Hathaway gets is to find herself accidentally falling in love with a grifter. And that's genuinely sad, except that she bounced back with determined peppiness.
When she found herself hosting the Oscars with a snoring James Franco, she battled the situation (unsuccessfully) with determined peppiness. She brought a bit too much determined peppiness to the role of Catwoman, but are we required to hate an actress for being miscast?
Eh. I suppose this is just the Age of Unpolished. Don't get me wrong -- I really do admire Jennifer Lawrence -- but not everybody has to faceplant on the way to the microphone.
The latest Hatha-slur? The woman had the temerity to rehearse her acceptance speech at the Oscars. Damn. That's criminal.
Give me a break. Every boy and girl in America has been rehearsing their acceptance speech since the age of nine. That's what they do in front of the mirror before brushing their teeth. (Not me. But I know what I'm going to say when I win the Pritzker and the Nobel.)
Okay, I give in. I'm going to start hating Anne. It's clearly what all the cool kids are doing. But guide me here: who am I supposed to worship? The anti-Anne, I guess. Sure, I can do that. Let's see now...
You know who's the apotheosis of happening, classy American womanhood? Jodi Arias.