The complex symbiotic relationship between gay men and female stars is as old as time. What would Cleopatra have been without a cadre of queens around? After all, you don't become a legend all on your own. Someone has to walk into your life and say, "Girl, we're going to roll you up in a rug. And it'll be fabulous!" This notion has reached a fever pitch in our modern era with gorgeous women rolling up red carpets. And all around are the gay men who pull it together and tear it apart.
Recently, I tried to dissect why gay men don't love Anne Hathaway (and I wasn't alone). I thought her performance in Les Miserables might turn things around, but apparently shaving your head and caterwauling (so effective for Britney Spears at the height of her public tragedies) has left Anne Hathaway with an Academy Award and little else. At least, Anne can find comfort in not being alone, especially among recent Oscar winners. Gwyneth Paltrow is a veteran of this particular gay minefield where every innocent step, from baby-naming to recipe-selecting, is fraught with peril.
I thought Natalie Portman might be able to pull it together. Her debut in The Professional featured an adorable Louise Brooks bob and worldliness beyond her years. And Black Swan showcased the kind of crazy bitch energy that I assume is the driving force (second only to sex in the steam room) that propels gay men to the gym. But then Thor happened and it all fell apart.
In the first film, it seemed they ran out of money digitally constructing Thor's home world of Asgard, leaving Natalie to spend most of the movie standing around a cardboard set looking bewildered. Honey, me too. That she was playing a physicist that graduated cum laude from the same university that brought us Denise Richards' Christmas Jones from The World Is Not Enough didn't help either.
Maybe it's some kind of hands-off-he's-mine jealousy talking, but Natalie Portman and Chris Hemsworth go together like fingers and chainsaws. He has his pick of women in the nine realms and he chooses the mildly interesting girl whose best attribute seems to be that she can eat lots of cereal and have salon-quality hair at the same time. Perhaps this is supposed to appeal to female audiences, like how Bella in the Twilight movies has no personality or outside interests allowing young girls to overlay themselves onto her without reservation. That a sexy vampire or hunky Norse God that has lived for generations would be interested in such a person seems immaterial.
But then Jennifer Lawrence walked into our lives and all was forgiven. I assume other women throughout Hollywood have secret rooms filled with crossed out photos of her, plastered with a serial killer's enthusiasm around a lighted mirror upon which to reflect. Her candor at press conferences feels fresh and revelatory. Even her missteps are glorious. When she tripped at the Oscars, it was as if she fell into our collective arms. In her hilarious Oscar night recap for Vanity Fair, Michelle Collins (herself a gorgeous Venus fruit fly trap of a woman) derided Anne Hathaway as "Earnest Hemingway" and lovingly inserted Ms. Lawrence's collapsed frame into a famous Andrew Wyeth painting. Truly, we are all living in Jennifer's World now.
Months later, the girl on fire burns as brightly as ever. It didn't seem possible for Jennifer Lawrence to surpass her stellar heights but then the London premiere of the new Hunger Games movie happened and she moved so far over the rainbow she might actually be living on Asgard now. She looked gorgeous on the red carpet, of course, but then she literally stopped the presses to take a moment to connect with a visibly upset fan on the other side of the barricade. Your heart will truly need to be two sizes too small to not be touched by this lovely, impromptu gesture.
There is no rhyme or reason to how this all works. I have no advice for Natalie Portman or Gwyneth Paltrow or Anne Hathaway or any of the myriad other actresses who might hope to attain this kind of good will so easily. It is just inside you, like Cleopatra in that rug. I am reminded of something notorious gay icon Joan Crawford said to Shelley Winters backstage one night: "You were very powerful and had the entire audience weeping, but if I had a role with a drug-addicted husband, was seven months pregnant, and had a broken leg, I could have made the entire audience faint." What can I say, ladies, most of you make us weep, but Jennifer makes us faint.