What Anne ‘Hathahate’ says about the internet’s empathy gap

What Anne ‘Hathahate’ says about the internet’s empathy gap | Soho House

The slew of hateful discourse around Anne Hathaway says more about our broken relationship with social media than it does about her, says Hanna Flint

Saturday 22 October 2022     By Hanna Flint

Trying to pinpoint the exact moment Anne Hathaway went from Hollywood darling to mass target of internet derision during the early 2010s is difficult, but most would single out 2011 as the year that flipped the switch. It was after she co-hosted the Oscars® with James Franco and the lack of chemistry between the pair soured the night for audiences. By the time she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in Les Misérables in 2013, there was a legion of ‘Hathahaters’ sullying her name while Franco’s was conveniently left out of it – sexist much? 
Suddenly she was branded a too-eager, too-perfect, sauceless musical theatre geek who reminded some haters of the pristine girls they went to school with. That’s the gist of one person’s criticism in a rather unkind 2013 New York Times piece entitled: ‘Do We Really Hate Anne Hathaway?’ That was one of many in the Hathahater discourse that spread from Twitter to Howard Stern to The New Yorker.
‘Ten years ago, I was given an opportunity to look at the language of hatred from a new perspective,’ Hathaway said this week during a speech at ELLE’s 29th Women in Hollywood event. ‘For context – this was a language I had employed with myself since I was 7. And when your self-inflicted pain is suddenly somehow amplified back at you at, say, the full volume of the internet… It’s a thing.’
As someone whose anxiety stems from a combination of imposter syndrome, the need to people please and a low threshold for bad-faith criticism, I can imagine how awful it would be for Hathaway to face such vitriol. Seemingly for the simple mistake of being… good at her job and a nice person?
She gave us millennials some of the best romantic and comedy moments on screen. From The Princess Diaries and The Devil Wears Prada to Becoming Jane and Colossal, her relatable, smart girlies are endearing to watch. Sure, she had cinematic misfires, as most actors do in a long career, but the acclaim she has received is not unearned. She is a fantastic, emotive and steadfast actor able to navigate comedy and drama in equal measure. Reading her speech, I was happy to learn that despite the ridicule, she tuned it all out.
‘When what happened, happened, I realised I had no desire to have anything to do with this line of energy,’ Hathaway said. ‘On any level... Because there is a difference between existence and behaviour. You can judge behaviour. You can forgive behaviour or not. But you do not have the right to judge – and especially not hate – someone for existing. And if you do, you’re not where it’s at.’ 
‘I am of the firm belief that we are born experiencing love and then we form, in a culture of misplaced hate, unhealed hurt, and the toxicity that is the byproduct of both,’ she added. ‘This next point is debatable, and I hope it is not offensive in its optimism, but: I believe the good news about hate being learned is that whoever learned it can learn. There is a brain there. I hope they give themselves a chance to relearn love.’
She’s right. The prevalence of social media has created an empathy gap where people will say the worst, most despicable things about people they do not know, things that they would never dream of saying in person. Of course, hate and fair criticism are not the same things, but Hathaway’s career has never warranted the former cultural backlash.
So, as she continues to serve up some seriously hawt red-carpet looks and lives her life as an unproblematic screen queen, I hope the negative discourse remains a distant memory. Stay winning, Anne Hatha-Slay.
What Anne ‘Hathahate’ says about the internet’s empathy gap | Soho House
What Anne ‘Hathahate’ says about the internet’s empathy gap | Soho House
Party time
Last Sunday saw the closing night gala of the London Film Festival with the presentation of Rian Johnson’s superb follow-up to Knives OutGlass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. I was lucky enough to be in attendance at the Southbank Centre for the European premiere where Janelle Monáe ate up the stage in a decadent Christian Siriano number and matching hat that likely came in handy when the rain descended on London. I certainly wish I had it when I was nipping to 180 House for the afterparty and got caught in the downpour.
After a quick diversion to the loos to dry off with the hand dryers (hairdryers, when? Please and thank you), we grabbed a couple of Glass Onion-themed Picantes, because of course, it wouldn’t be a Soho House party without Picantes. Though I’ve got to hand it to the catering team; the pasta and pizzas doing the rounds had people gathered by the kitchen just to get a bowl or a slice before they ran out. 
Pizza, pasta and Picantes – the three Ps to make a party.
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