What’s Our Problem with Anne Hathaway?

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?

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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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