Friday, May 3, 2013

On Hathahating ...

Wherefore the Hathahating?
As I pass ads for Gwyneth Paltrow's new released cookbook It's all good I shudder a little. Why does she irk me so? She used to generate (perhaps still does) such animosity amongst women in particular. Exhibit A: Katrina Onstad's recent snooty "review" in the Globe. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy Onstad's writing but this is the sort of response that Paltrow routinely provokes in women. But why? Paltrow's attractive, smart, seemingly a devoted wife and mother, a very good actress, seemingly a lovely person. It's that phrase It's all good ... I can't help thinking: everything ... is ... just ... perfect ... for ... Gwynnie. 

Now, luckily for Paltrow, and unfortunately for Anne Hathaway, she has been replaced in a phenomenon that I will describe as "the general enmity of the public towards high profile people whom we will never meet and dislike for no discernible reason ..."

But the two women have very similar qualities in the public perception and when I saw the book I finally figured out why (at least in my mind). They remind me of woman I know, S, a friend of a friend, who once looked me in the eye at a party and, speaking of her child care arrangements cooed, "I have the perfect life!" You can't point to any one quality and say she's a bad person or an evil person and yet, in our crowd, she elicits the same sort of animosity - S is a phony, S is unbearable, S is insufferable to listen to. You want to run shrieking from the room when you see her enter it.

How can I explain how annoying this sort of comment is ...  the phoniness of the "good girl" for whom everything is perfect, ideal, wonderful, great, fabulous! It's all good ... how I loathe that phrase!

Firstly, because it is a lie. Nothing is perfect especially in domestic situations. Especially for women. There's always a wrinkle, a problem, an issue. Especially if there are children and family involved. Why pretend otherwise - can you not fathom that this would annoy other women who struggle with these issues daily? The caregiver who didn't show up. The kid with the ADS. The husband who works too hard (or not enough) and is not fully engaged with the family. The failing student. The aging parent one must care for. The restricted household budget.

And so it is with Hathaway who appears to lead a charmed life except for that unfortunate Italian boyfriend who ended up in jail, he who shall not be named ...

Hathaway, too, is attractive, smart, articulate, talented, worthy of praise, award winning, a good role model for young women. But the facade is seemingly so thin and so brittle ... She appears so tightly wound. It's as if, if she revealed a true negative emotion or real fact about her life the whole edifice  would come  tumbling down in a torrid avalanche of Maybelline, glitter and pink lipstick.

And I always think, scratch at the surface of a "good girl" and you will find something else. Not a bad person but ... a dishonest person, a rigid person, who has very high expectations of herself and others and doesn't like to be thwarted or challenged.

Or ... maybe I am just a bad, bad girl and can't stand seeing anyone else be happy. Yeah, that must be it.
No it's not Gwynnie, no it's really not ...


Caterina said...

You have articulated our resentment so well. With Gwynthe - it has something to do with her having been so privileged and not acknowledging that. (Spielberg her godfather etc.)
There are so many wonderful actresses, who don't have such connections. And Hollywood is all about conenctions.
Our cousin Caterina Scorsone - a Sicilian-Canadian from Toronto - is an astonishing actress. (WAtch the intervention episode of "Private Practice).
She just lost a job - because she wasn't enough of a name.
As for Anne H, the attitude towards her from other actors - including my source who worked with her - is that she tries to stay in control of each scene or situation.

Cheryl said...

Perfection is not natural. Gwyneth irks me because she is unnatural.

As for Anne, I agree, she looks like she is about to shatter into a million pieces all the time. It's stressful just to watch her. I felt like my ears were bleeding during her part of Les Mis!!!

A Lit Chick said...

I generally don't like to criticize women whom I think are basically decent people (like these two women). However, the fantasy of the "good girl" is a particularly invidious image that I would like to see disappear.