Among the thick rustle of silk and ego at the Oscars on Sunday, a question surfaced: why does everyone hate Anne Hathaway so much?
She just won an Oscar, which makes it hard to feel sorry for her, but she’s also become Hollywood’s most polarizing star.
There is no lack of Hathaway hate. The women’s interest blog Crushable is not shy in its creepily whimsical critique of her, stating, “My my, what a large beautiful mouth. I don’t like it. Look at those dark beautiful eyes. I don’t like them.” Twitter chronicles the worst things about her and wherever I walk, people seem to be vehemently arguing her worth.
But really, how can you ever truly win, when your downfall is that you are too beautiful, your smile too utterly Julia Roberts?
No, women shouldn’t be absolved from artistic critique. But the discussion surrounding Anne Hathaway is hardly judicious — it’s more just a classic trope of baseless hate. Because Hathaway is too successful, too smart; she tries to fill too many roles.
She wasn’t the only youngish woman to win an Oscar on Sunday. Jennifer Lawrence also did, which began another Jolie-Aniston round of comparing brunette to blonde — dramatic theater kid to the girl who (presumably) watches football in sweatpants. An apocryphal choice is constructed between the two actresses — as in some Hunger Games contest — as if there is only so much success to go around.
This isn’t really a critique of the big bad misogynistic media though. It’s far more interesting to ask why we still buy into this set of choices, as if feminine achievement is something that needs to be economized. The cultural myth is that we need to pick a particular genre of womanhood, and then neutralize it by not making the Hathaway mistake of being “too much” and instead, find a way to be “just enough.” It’s a delicate, completely arbitrary balance.
Online dating websites, in some retro throwback to the first days of Facebook, put pictures of people’s faces beside each other and ask people to choose one. And this is the world we enter; one in which a preoccupation with the physical forces us into artificial binaries.
Perhaps the dislike of Hathaway is just another baseless celebrity love-to-hate trope. But at least one thing I’ve learned in college — and which I’ll continue to keep learning — is that hating other women is ultimately unproductive. I’m tired of feeling like something is taken from me as a result of someone else’s success.
We become not a casualty of the media, but of whatever psychological impulse asks us to keep taking other people down.
It shouldn’t have to be that way. There doesn’t have to be a cap on success, a given quotient of beauty or intelligence in the world. We don’t have to impose a free-market ethos on the possibility of achievement. Let Anne Hathaway have her trophy, then.
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