Opinion: In defense of Anne Hathaway



Rex Santus

Rex Santus

Rex Santus is a senior news major and assigning editor for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

There’s something about young, talented, beautiful women that makes them worth attacking. At least, that’s what it seems like with my peers.

Anne Hathaway, the Oscar-nominated actress everybody knows and apparently hates, is having a flagship year. She was great as Selina Kyle in “The Dark Knight Rises,” and her role in the upcoming “Les Misérables” is the early favorite to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

So why all the contempt? I was supposed to be studying with a friend earlier this week, but we wound up discussing “Les Miz” instead. We both agreed the musical film will probably be awesome — before the topic turned to Hathaway’s polarized popularity.

“My roommates hate Anne Hathaway,” she said. “They think she’s so ugly and that there’s something wrong with her mouth. They were so mad that she was Catwoman.”

First of all, what is wrong with her mouth? It looks pretty ordinary to me, and it’s responsible for a lovely rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream.” Secondly, I think we’re painting with some broad strokes when referring to Ms. Hathaway as “ugly.”

Then I realized: This Hathaway problem is a limitation for many people I’ve encountered, as if there’s some gene that disables Hathaway-liking. She’s either ugly or annoying, and if there’s anything to her beyond that, the detractors neither know nor care what it is.

For example, I seem to have dodged my family’s hereditary Hathaway loathing. “I don’t get Anne Hathaway; I think she’s butt-ugly,” my brother said a few Thanksgivings back.

“Me either,” my sister chimed in. “She is so hyper and — I don’t know — annoying.”

That must be it. There’s no merit to an actress other than her physical beauty, apparently, and if she isn’t demure, which Hathaway admittedly isn’t, then she is certainly the most irritating creature with a face.

This general hatred worsened with the announcement of Hathaway’s role in “The Dark Knight Rises.” An Esquire blog called her “goofiness” more “doglike than catlike” and said she was an ill fit for the jewel burglar. Twitter became a cauldron of Hathaway vitriol. I even received a direct tweet, which, from memory, reads something like: “i cant believe anne hathaway is catwoman though #ugh #pissed.”

Then she went on to astonish most critics by becoming the smartest and funniest aspect of the long-anticipated conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. With one muttering of the word “Oops,” Hathaway’s Selina Kyle owns that movie. Even President Barack Obama said she was the film’s greatest asset, not that our president’s opinion should decide your own. But that’s still not good enough for her decriers.

It could be rooted, I’m told, in Hathaway’s first major acting gig: Disney’s “The Princess Diaries.” No matter how many nude scenes or risks she takes as a thespian, people will always see her as the teenage heiress of Genovia. Why? She was far more affecting, funny and memorable as a recovering drug addict in “Rachel Getting Married.”

By this point, you’re probably thinking I’m going to crown Hathaway queen of the universe. She is by no means my favorite actress, and I too have my baseless celebrity handicaps: Leonardo DiCaprio, the lead singer of Mumford and Sons and the entire cast of “The Big Bang Theory,” to name a few. After Hathaway collects her golden statuette next year, people will still complain about her, and I will still complain about people complaining about her.

I’m just asking that you go into “Les Miz” — perhaps Hathaway’s buzziest role ever — without preconceived notions of her appearance and demeanor. She might surprise you.