My mother always told me that there are three things you should never talk about at a party: religion, politics, and money. I think that my dear mother is going to have to add a fourth thing to that list: Anne Hathaway. If you want to divide a room, just bring up the actress' name and watch the venom fly. People do not like Anne Hathaway. They use the word "hate" a lot when they talk about her. And their hatred is vehement, like Itchy's for Scratchy, like the Hatfields' for the McCoys, and Taylor Swift's for every man who she has ever talked to since her 15th birthday.
But just where does this Anne Hatha-hate come from? I never quite understood it. I always thought she was quite lovely — I love The Devil Wears Prada, and the one time I ran into her in a Manhattan gay bar (she's been known to hang out with her gay brother and his gaggle), she was quite charming. So where does all the vitriol come from?
"She's got this theater kid thing where she adopts the mood of every situation she's in — rude and bawdy on Chelsea Lately, poised and 'classy' at the Oscars, etc — but wildly overcompensates every time," says Richard Lawson, a friend and former colleague who now covers entertainment for The Atlantic Wire, who adds that his feelings stop short of "hate." "She always seems like she's performing, and her favorite act is this overstated humility and graciousness. I've known theater kids my whole life. I was a theater kid my whole life. She is the epitome of the bad kind of theater kid."
The "theater kid" sentiment was the reason I got from a majority of people I talked to about why they loathe this particular girl. (I found numerous willing subjects through a Twitter dragnet, most of which are just average Joes and not media or entertainment professionals.) Tommy, 28, from Brooklyn says, "She is the epitome of the annoying high school drama dork. An air of self importance masking all that boring." Megan, 30, also from Brooklyn, says, "Anne Hathaway is a theatre kid whose enthusiasm and earnestness was never reined in, and now she has an international stage from which to project from her diaphragm."
But what is so wrong with being a theater kid? Isn't Hollywood full of people who have wanted to become actors from a young age? What makes Anne specifically hatable? "I should have clarified that it's not just that she was a theater nerd," Abbey, 27, from Dallas says. "I know plenty of people who were into theater that I would be thrilled for them if they made it. Anne just has something that makes her unlikeable to me. I liked her in Devil Wears Prada and I did think she did a good job in Les Mis, but I did not care for her in other roles. I think she is miscast a lot."
I asked what the difference between Anne and another notorious "theater kid," Lea Michele, was and my coworker Anna Brand quipped, "A spray tan." ZING! Lawson sees it as something a bit more measured. "Anne Hathaway is better at hiding her blind, show-kid ambition," he says. "It's still there, but she's pretty practiced at covering it up. Whereas it oozes out of Lea Michele, probably because she's been playing a version of herself on TV for the past four years."
NEXT: Is Anne just too boring?
So maybe it has little to do with the sort of activities Hathaway enjoyed before her 17th birthday after all. "I think she's 100 percent inauthentic and insincere. Nothing she says or does feels real to me," says Sarah, 32, from New York. "And if it is real, she's even worse because she comes across as entitled, boring, and the last person I would ever want to share a meal with." Now, that's two people who think she is boring.
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But being a wet rag is the least of Ms. Hathaway's problems. Time and again, people raised questions about her authenticity. Either she seems like she's too enthusiastic or not enthusiastic at all, she's too humble and boring or she only pretends to be humble and boring, she's too much of a theater kid or she's trying to hide that she is. It all boils down to the fact that people don't seem to believe her. They don't trust the persona that she is putting out in public.
It seems like awards shows are doing her no favors. When asked what Anne's worst moment was, many Hathahaters named her performance at the Golden Globes (maybe because it was still fresh in their memories). "The Golden Globes speech takes the cake. Like, seriously? We should all be making fun of her," says Hollis, 36, from New York. Megan also agrees that the speech was awful. "I didn't buy it and she was incredibly annoying. I wanted her to stop ... and secretly kept hoping the music would play her out sooner."
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One of the common gripes about Hathaway is that she makes everything all about her, even when trying to come off as sweet and humble. And that was certainly present at the Globes when she got up on stage with the rest of the cast for Les Mis' big win and used the time to continue her acceptance speech. And during her Best Supporting Actress acceptance speech, she did herself no favors by calling the award a "lovely blunt object that I will forevermore use as a weapon against self-doubt." The rehearsed self-depreciation just drips off that phrase like an ice cream cone in July.
Okay, now even I'm starting to understand it. When Anne Hathaway is smiling next to (a stoned?) James Franco hosting the Oscars, she does not come across as someone with a lot of self-doubt. So when she says something like that (or "blergh," which many people also thought was her trying too hard), she seems false. But maybe that's just us projecting? Maybe we're thinking that someone talented and beautiful and rich can't have so much self-doubt — can she? She would like you to think she does.
RELATED: For Your Consideration: This Hilarious Anne Hathaway 'Les Mis' Parody Video
Not only is this Anne-amosity unstoppable, but it seems there is nothing that Ms. Hathaway can do (short of getting a new face, new voice, and new personality) to sway it. Ameya, 30, from New York has a rehabilitation plan for her image that he says would make his hatred go away, "She needs to lay low for a while (pull a Gwyneth Paltrow), grow her hair out, maybe start popping out kids with the new husband, take some great paparazzi shots to show us she's human/normal. I'd love for her to come back on the scene with a killer role and surprise us."
Like most intense emotions, hatred of Ms. Hathaway is nonsensical and will probably change with time. Maybe she can wait it out like a bad thunderstorm passing over a boat. But there is one thing that is certain: when she inevitably wins her Best Supporting Actress statue (and haters would lead you to believe that she's already dusting off a place on her mantle), the fury will erupt all over again.
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
[Photo Credit: Hollywood.com Illustration]
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The story of the most dominant racehorse of all time does not easily fit into the standard inspirational sports flick mold. Such films typically require its protagonists to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles be they competitive (Hoosiers) personal (The Natural) societal (Ali) or some combination of all three (Remember the Titans). But by all accounts the greatest challenges to Secretariat capturing of the 1973 Triple Crown were not rival horses — indeed Secretariat had no true rival — but a pair of slow starts and an abscess. And abscesses — apologies to dermatologists — simply aren’t all that effective as dramatic devices.
Lacking most of the vital ingredients of the traditional underdog movie formula Disney’s Secretariat is forced to synthesize them. Its screenplay written by Mike Rich and based rather loosely on the book Secretariat: The Making of a Champion by William Nack adopts a conventional save-the-farm framework: When her parents pass away within months of each other Denver housewife Penny Tweedy (Diane Lane) is advised to sell off her family’s Virginia-based Meadow Stables a beautiful but unprofitable horse-breeding enterprise in order to pay the onerous inheritance taxes levied by the state. But Penny her deceased father’s hackneyed horse-inspired counsel fresh in her mind (“You’ve got to run your own race ” etc. etc.) is loath to depart with such a cherished heirloom. So she concocts a scheme just idiotic enough to work betting the farm — literally — that her new horse Big Red in whom she has an almost Messianic faith will win the Kentucky Derby Preakness and Belmont races in succession.
Of course Big Red under the stage name Secretariat goes on to do just that but only after the film subjects us to nearly two hours of manufactured melodrama. Lane grasping all-too conspicuously for awards consideration treats every line as if it were the St. Crispin’s Day speech. Her character Penny exhibits a hair-trigger sensitivity to the sounds of skeptics and naysayers bursting forth with a polite rebuke and a stern sermon for anyone who dares doubt her crusade from the trash-talking owner of a rival horse to her annoyingly pragmatic husband (Dylan Walsh).
Lane isn’t alone in her grandiosity. The entire production reeks of it as director Randall Wallace lines the story with fetid chunks of overwrought Oscar bait like so many droppings in an untended stable even using Old Testament quotations and gospel music to endow Penny’s quest with biblical significance. John Malkovich is kind enough to inject some mirth into the heavy-handed proceedings hamming it up as Secretariat’s trainer Lucien Laurin a French-Canadian curmudgeon with an odd sartorial palette. It’s not enough however to alleviate the discomfort of witnessing the film's quasi-Sambo depiction of Secretariat’s famed groom Eddie Sweat (Nelsan Ellis) which reaches its cringeworthy zenith when Sweat runs out to the track on the eve of the Belmont Stakes and exclaims to no one in particular that “Big Red done eat his breakfast this mornin’!!!” Bagger Vance would be proud. Whether or not Ellis’ portrayal of Sweat’s cadence and mannerisms is accurate (and for all I know it may well be) the character is too thinly drawn to register as anything more than an amiable simple-minded servant.
Animal lovers will be happy to know that the horses in Secretariat come off looking far better than their human counterparts and not just because they’re alloted the best dialogue. In the training and racing sequences Wallace effectively conveys the strength and majesty of the fearsome animals drawing us into the action and creating a strong element of suspense even though the final result is a fait accompli. It's too bad the rest of the film never makes it out of the gate.