Why Everyone Hates Anne Hathaway

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013 Movies

Since the Oscars there have been dozens of articles I’ve noticed links to, and some I’ve skimmed or read, in different kinds of publications, about how “everyone” (or “EVERY WOMAN ON THE INTERNET”) can’t stand Anne Hathaway, and I haven’t been able to make heads or tails of it. (See The New York Times, Huffington Post, Slate, The Daily Beast, Express, CNN, and Salon for just a few of the elaborate theories.) Usually, offscreen shortcomings of movie stars don’t really affect my judgment of their work (or, more important, of their onscreen personae, which is a far more ephemeral, elusive, valuable, indefinable quality); I didn’t stop liking Woody Allen 15 years ago when we all learned that the real man wasn’t the moral paragon he played (and wrote) onscreen, and I don’t have any problem enjoying Tom Cruise or Arnold Schwarzenegger or Mel Gibson or Bruce Willis movies. (It’s true that Willis isn’t as egregious an example as those other three but he just seems like he’s generally kind of a jerk and the Kevin Smith anecdotes about directing him seem to bear this out.) I have no problem enjoying Clint Eastwood’s onscreen presence even though he supported Ross Perot and talks to furniture on TV.

But this is different. I’m in the same boat: she drives me nuts. And I haven’t seen most of her movies, which usually makes me suspend judgment, and I thought she was totally fantastic in The Dark Knight Rises (after her very first scene, I whispered to my friend, “I rescind all criticism.”) And the clip of her singing that big song seemed very good to me (and I generally don’t go in for staggeringly consequential Broadway numbers); I was fascinated by the “live singing” gimmick and actually came very close to going ahead and seeing the movie, before I came to my senses. Even Joan Rivers let me down: I thought she, if anyone, could nail it, however crassly; could put her finger on what nobody seems able to define, and I listend with bated breath when she was asked what she thought of Hathaway. But Rivers whiffed it, and just made gagging noises; even the queen of horrible putdowns (who, I remember, called Mondale and Ferraro “Fritz and tits” 29 years ago) came up empty.

But last night, I finally figured out what’s wrong with Hathaway: it comes down to one word. I gave in and followed a link to another think piece about Hathaway’s Oscar night behavior, wherein she’s quoted as responding to a question about getting married and then winning the Academy Award. And she said it was “the cherry on top of a wonderful, wonderful dish of vegan ice cream.”

And that’s it—that one word explains the whole thing. Not “a dish of ice cream,” which is a fairly straightforward conclusion to the frequently-used “cherry” metaphor: the cherry is something extra, the better thing after the (more important) good thing. (Olympic athletes talk this way; everybody understands.) And not just a “wonderful, wonderful” dish of ice cream, denoting excitement, breathlessness, winsomeness, and other good things that we like to see when people win things and are charmingly flustered. Vegan ice cream.

Because Anne Hathaway is a vegan, and she’s going to make sure that, while she’s on television, she’ll use the opportunity to proselytize for her cause. (Which I have nothing against, either in terms of form or content: I had no trouble with Marlon Brando’s stunt with Sacheen Littlefeather or, especially, Michael Moore’s challenge to George W. Bush. I like it when the Oscars are “politicized.”) But look what she did: she stuck that carefully-considered word—totally unnecessary for her simile: it’s ice cream; it tastes good and you put cherries on it no matter what kind it is—into the middle of a sentence that was supposed to be so natural and off-the-cuff that she said “wonderful” twice. She’s “gushing,” but she’s also making a point.

And that’s the whole ball game; that’s what’s wrong with her. Not only is she condescending to me and everyone listening (because she figures that this is an appropriate opportunity to advertise and to advocate her dietary preferences); she’s insulting us (mildly insulting us, admittedly) because, like somebody who “accidentally” name-drops their school or their job title or salary, she thinks we won’t notice what she’s doing; she genuinely believes that it will come across as an inadvertent nuance in her excited word-flow, and not as a carefully placed node of self-aggrandizement or advocacy.

I don’t know about you but I hate people who do that: brag or lecture in a way that I’m not supposed to notice. So that’s what’s wrong with Anne Hathaway; the subject is now closed.