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Feminspire | April 24, 2014

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Why Do We Hate Anne Hathaway and Love Jennifer Lawrence?

Why Do We Hate Anne Hathaway and Love Jennifer Lawrence?

| On 06, Mar 2013

I had been unaware that a cult of Anne Hathaway haters existed until a Gawker article on the topic that referenced a Feminspire article by Nicole Del Casale. The fact that celebrities can produce such strong negative emotions in people baffles me, but in Hathaway’s case I was even more confused. As far as I know, she hasn’t done anything particularly offensive (I doubt the majority of people who engage in celebrity gossip would be greatly offended by her remarks on sex work, anyway). She is just an actor starring in movies and going about her job.

While Hathaway haters bombard her with banal critiques about the size of her teeth, another star is showered with nothing but love: Jennifer Lawrence. I am guilty as well, but my recent discovery of the world’s collective disdain for Anne Hathaway has made me feel uneasy about the reasons why everyone loves Jennifer Lawrence. As Slate pointed out, sexism is partly to blame for hatred towards Hathaway. She seemingly faces scrutiny for knowing that her performance in Les Misérables was excellent, a trait that in a male actor may be seen as a healthy dose of self-confidence, but in Hathaway is called “shameless jockeying for critical acclaim.” While Hathaway is criticized for taking herself too seriously, Lawrence is applauded for her attitude of taking herself lightly, and I worry that there is sexism in this, too.

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I want to clarify that I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Lawrence or with the fact that people like her attitude. What I find troubling is the way her carefree demeanor is praised and Hathaway’s more serious attitude is attacked. The audience seems to consider that Lawrence is “being herself” while Hathaway is putting on a character, but I do not understand why it is not possible that Hathaway is “being herself” as well. It just so happens to be that her personality is not as laidback. This dichotomy of loving Lawrence / hating Hathaway sends a message of how we expect women to behave. Being a quirky, lighthearted woman is rewarded, while a woman who recognizes her own accomplishments is punished.

I am sure that Lawrence knows she is a very accomplished woman. A blockbuster hit and an Oscar are no small feat for a young actor. But one of the reasons she is so well-liked is because she behaves as though she were unaware of it. She is praised for her down-to-earth behavior, but hidden in our admiration for her humility could there be the stereotype that women should be self-effacing? I would not question this if it were not for the stark contrast with Hathaway’s detractors, who criticize her acceptance speeches for seeming overly-rehearsed, as though she were expecting an award. What is so terrible about being well-prepared and knowing you’ve done a good job?

Neither Lawrence nor Hathaway is in the wrong. There is no one way a woman should act, so we should not put down one personality in favor of another. Also, few of us actually know Lawrence or Hathaway, so who are we to judge whether they are being natural or putting on an act? We could just as easily speculate that Lawrence is “trying too hard” to be likable, but we don’t since her behavior fits into our expectations of the way a woman behaves. It’s as though the demure stereotype of old has given way to the manic pixie dream girl (not that Lawrence fits into every aspect of the trope, but she definitely has the quirkiness down).

The kind of behavior we celebrate and the kind of behavior we put down in women can be revealing, and I am disappointed that it still seems that women are expected to downplay their accomplishments to appear charming. I want to be able to recognize my accomplishments without being criticized. Knowing that we have done well should not be considered arrogance, it should be considered confidence.

Do you think the way we judge celebrities reveals our internalized constructions of gender? Let us know in the comments!

Written by Sully Moreno

  • http://twitter.com/gtaylorfrogan Taylor B.

    I think you could take the admiration of JLaw one step further. People don’t like her because she’s self-effacing or because she behaves how we want women to behave, but because she seems to exist outside of Hollywood and entirely within it at the same time. People view her as very anti-establishment, but take comfort in the fact that the establishment is charmed by her anyway.

    Hathaway, though, gets flack for all the reasons you pointed out. She is intelligent, poised, confident, eloquent, AND feminine and kind, and that combination threatens the view that women get to be smart OR pretty, confident OR nice, etc.

  • Laura

    I don’t think this is what’s really going on here. I would disagree that Lawrence behaves in the stereotypical way that a woman is expected to act, or that Hathaway particularly averts it. Lawrence is likeable because she’s candid, outspoken, seems naturally funny and down to earth. I don’t think these are qualities common to the stereotypical view of femininity at all, in fact quite the opposite. And regardless, these are qualities that are valued whatever the gender because they are valuable. I would say we do dislike male actors who are pretentious and overtly serious. Daniel Day Lewis and Christian Bale are certainly excellent, talented actors and yet when we read about their method acting ways we might (I certainly am anyway) be inclined to think them a bit of a prat for it.

    Serious achievement takes serious effort and that is admirable and I guess, nice to be acknowledged. But isn’t it just the case (in all walks of life) that it’s more impressive to do something seriously great while keeping it casual and not making a huge song and dance about it. Lawrence seems to me MORE confident, because she doesn’t need to be so serious and heavy about it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1150964496 Morgan Robinette

      I agree Laura-Personally I haven’t seen much of Hathaway’s work to critique and only 2 films of Lawrences’. The Oscar winner of course. This isn’t a draft for Feminism women. These women do NOT have to get inline with other women. Isn’t it wrong to suggest that these 2 talented actresses have to side with 1 group or another or another? Maybe they don’t follow feminism. Maybe they could care less what other people think they should be and enjoy living. Wasn’t Hathaway dating a man who embezzelled a ton of money in the name of charity and kept a diary of it all?

  • Alexandra

    I have a love hate with Jennifer Lawrence. I dig that she’s laid back and relate-able, I do, but she’s got a lot of internalized sexism going on. An interview with Rolling Stone reveals, “Lawrence was a total tomboy: field hockey, softball, basketball on an all-boys team. “I was so dykey,” says Lawrence.” #1 rule of not being sexist, you don’t put down other women by calling them dykes. In addition, speaking on her character Katniss, she said quote, “…She kind of grows into it. And she’s strong, like a male hero with a vagina.” Making it seem that Jennifer thinks that if you’re a woman, you can’t be strong, unless you mirror a man. Possibly not what she meant, but certainly how she made it seem.

    On the other hand, I don’t care what the media says about Hathaway’s teeth. I care that after the paparazzi snapped photos of her crotch while she was underwear-less, and in an interview with Matt Lauer, Hathaway said, “Well, it was obviously an unfortunate incident … It kind of made me sad on two accounts. One was that I was very sad that we live in an age when someone takes a picture of another person in a vulnerable moment, and rather than delete it and do the decent thing, sells it. And I’m sorry that we live in a culture that commodifies sexuality of unwilling participants…” I also care that when reporter Jerry Penacoli asked Hathaway how she got in shape for her role as Catwoman (instead of asking her intriguing questions about the film as Penacoli did to her male co-star), Hathaway replied “Are you trying to fit into a catsuit?”

    I’ve never found anything particularly wrong with Anne Hathaway, especially in the realm of feminism. Jennifer Lawrence is a bit of a different story. It’s hard to blame her though. She hasn’t gone above and beyond saying ridiculously sexist things. Identifying with the term feminist, myself, I still catch myself thinking sexist things and correcting myself by realizing that they’re wrong. I would, however, like to see Lawerence become more involved with the movement because not only does she have very high influence in media, but she has a very high influence in media targeting young women.

  • http://www.facebook.com/charles.clymer Charles Clymer

    You know, it’s strange… I was going to note that you’re right because it would be the opposite for men: well-rehearsed would be fine and down-to-earth would be weak.

    But actually, neither would be strange for men. Both would be acceptable. I mean, Quentin Tarantino got up there and acted like a jackass… and little was said. Daniel Day-Lewis got up there and gave (what I feel) was a somewhat rehearsed speech, and nothing was said. Ben Affleck was a tad bit awkward in his speech for Best Picture… and little was said.

    In fact, the most “controversial” speeches for men in the last 20 years happened on the same night: Michael Moore attacking Bush and Adrien Brody lip-locking with Halle Berry. But those were still both seen as powerful.

  • Liane Graham

    Urgh. I don’t get the Anne Hathaway haters. I love her. She’s incredibly talented and does her job well and THAT IS ACTUALLY ALL THAT MATTERS THE END.

  • http://reliablyryan.com/ Ryan L Waterman

    Anne Hathaway is one of five actresses who I hate. I don’t hate her as a person because I don’t know her. I just don’t think she’s a great actress. I’ll never be a fan, but I really have tried. I’ve seen many of her films and I actually really loved The Devil Wears Prada. Anne Hathaway just doesn’t do it for me.

    • Castiel

      And that’s okay. Hating someone’s acting is completely fine. Hating someone for stupid reasons is not fine. :)

      • http://reliablyryan.com/ Ryan L Waterman

        I agree. I’ve found that the five actresses I hate have each redeemed themselves in one movie each where I adore them. This tells me they can’t be terrible people, but I question their acting ability. With Anne Hathaway, especially, I have given her a ton of chances to win me over. It just doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1150964496 Morgan Robinette

    Women hate each other because they are competing for the same piece of meat whether it be for control, power or wealth. Reminds me of kindergarten when one girl would say to the other “I am prettier than you are”. It’s immaturity. Women don’t need to get together as 1 group, they just need to get along with there gender.

  • Lord Voldemort

    Claiming that Jennifer Lawrence is only loved for her easy-going attitude (which is plenty of reason to love her in itself) is doing a discredit to all of the amazing things about Jennifer. For example, the fact that one of her best friends is a boy with down syndrome whom she has been friends with since middle school, or the fact that she refuses to lose weight because she doesn’t want to negatively influence young girls. Jennifer Lawrence fans love her because she ISN’T the stereotypical Hollywood woman; not at all. She isn’t afraid to be herself and do what she wants without caring what people think. She seems like a real person you could be friends with, not a fake Hollywood personality. That’s what sets her apart from other celebrities, and that’s why so many people love her.

    • Jl260000

      I’m a huge Jennifer fan but you have to look at her refusing to lose weight more closely. Say if it was Melissa McCarthy for example saying she refuses to lose weight it wouldn’t be as highly recognized as it is for Jennifer. There are little things like that you have to realize about her personality that does seem a bit fake.

  • Darlaevans

    Well personally I don’t like Anne H because of her exagerated campaign for oscar “oh I lost sooo much wait and I cut my hair for the role youhou look at me” was basically in every interview.Plus the sweet girl play with the hug at the golden globes and widening her eyes like a deer when a camera focus on her.