In the last few weeks, Anne Hathaway has been popping up more than usual in the various feeds that I’m medically addicted to scrolling through, wearing outfits described as “fire” and “a slay.” The uptick in public appearances is, in part, due to her promoting her new film, Armageddon Time. But almost a decade ago, in a considerably large corner of the internet, Hathaway was...not being praised by anyone, to put it lightly, and her career in many ways seemed to be over. The viral #Hathahate crusade spawned a New York Times piece that asked, “Do We Really Hate Anne Hathaway?” And a 2013 New Yorker essay “in defense” of her opened with this:
Oh, Anne! With your small head and pert nose and oversized, ready smile and glossy pixie cut and squeakily tuneful speaking voice, uttering lines like “It came true!” as you gaze at your newly won Oscar with moistened doe-eyes, wearing a powder-pink Prada gown adorned with diamonds and bows: Why are you so annoying?
At the Elle Women in Hollywood event earlier this week, Hathaway, who was being honored, took time to address those years when no one seemed to like her. She explained that in order to move past the hate, she would “no longer hold space for it, live in fear of it, nor speak its language for any reason.” She’s held a similar perspective for a while now, telling Jezebel in 2017, “How the world feels about me has nothing to do with me.” Looking back at the at anti-Anne crusade, it’s clear that our aggregated animosity towards this woman said a lot more about us and our juvenile relationship with social media discourse than anything she was really doing. What’s that my therapist always tells me when I’m angry? Look inward, don’t spew outward? Huh!
For anyone who either missed the collective 2013 dunking on Hathaway or has had that part of their memory removed Eternal Sunshine-style, here’s the quick recap: Hathaway’s incredibly earnest Best Supporting Actress acceptance speech for Les Miserables combined with her poorly received (and paired) 2011 Oscars’ hosting gig filled the public with spite for the actress. Specifically, people found her really, really annoying. How dare this woman be so….so earnest? So saccharine and sincere?
Remember, this was a time when “Gangnam Style” topped the charts, and asinine six-second Vine videos chipped away at our attention spans. A lithe and bashful brunette sweetly tearing up at her dream of fame and success “coming true” hit a sour spot on the palate of the zeitgeist. Not to sound like a boomer, but the Internet really was a different place back then. The outsized contempt for Hathaway was less about actually finding her annoying as it was about the discovered delight in being able to talk shit about a person or certain type of person with millions of strangers—a kind of gossip that had previously been relegated to IRL conversations. “It’s not really Anne Hathaway I ‘hate,’” writer Sarah Nicole Prickett said, articulating the #Hathahate phenomenon to the Times. “It’s all the lesser, real-life Anne Hathaways I have known—princessy, theater-schooled girls who have no game and no sex appeal and eat raisins for dessert.”
Hateful hashtags were novel enough, at the time, that I don’t believe we fully comprehended their ability to reach their subject. In the 2017 interview with Jezebel, Hathaway said she had to stop reading our site “because I would just be reading about something totally unrelated to me and [see] a headline about me and how much your site dislikes me or whoever was writing it dislikes me would come up,” she said. “That would catch me off-guard.” I don’t blame her. I can only imagine how confusing it is to receive the same amount of hate actual bad people receive, but just for having theater kid energy.
But tastes change, and the court of public opinion’s attention span is comparable to that of a goldfish. Hathaway kept her head down for the most part and didn’t engage with the drama or fan the flames of hate with ever more annoying attention-grabs. She just persevered in doing her job well, continuing to be cast and shine in a litany of projects. Hollywood’s inability to actually punish “the canceled,” luckily for Hathaway, also makes way for the comebacks of people who were written off for simply rubbing people the wrong way.
Hathaways’ successful rebound is largely due to the fact that she’s an incredibly talented actor. At the end of the day, someone with theater kid energy has submerged themselves in the art of theater. She’s walked the walk. Ultimately, time has shown the egg to be on our face, not hers. As the praiseful tweets and TikToks have showcased, she is booked, busy, and looking fantastic, while the chorus of online haters, are still, well, online and hating!