Thursday, March 10, 2016

Hated stars who are actually really nice people

When your life is on display for all the world to see, it's inevitable that someone will find a reason to hate you. Sometimes it's more than one, and occasionally it's a boatload. Here are a few stars who attract jeers and jibes at every turn—but who may not deserve it as much as we might think.

Russell Crowe

There's no denying that Russell Crowe has given the world good reason to dislike him. The Internet is full of examples of his angry, invective-strewn attacks on reporters, fans, interviewers, other actors… and he's so well known for starting fights that South Park made an episode about it. He stormed out of a Golden Globes award ceremony when it didn't go his way, and even on-set he's drawn criticism: look up any list of hard-to-work-with actors, and he'll probably be there.

On the flip side we have public statements from his record company (he's in a band called 30 Odd Foot of Grunts) declaring him to be polite and good natured. And Jane Fonda describes him as friendly, smart, and thoughtful. Despite separating from his wife of nine years, their interactions through the press appear to show no bitterness, and they continue to talk about each other kindly.

When you look more closely at Crowe's infractions there's usually a common theme: criticisms of his acting and uninvited intrusions into his private life. Crowe seems to have a chip on his shoulder that's part ego and part insecurity. Identifying as a stereotypical Australian man's man, idolizing sportsmen, and drinking beer, he struggles to reconcile his acting career with that self-image. So when someone criticises his acting, it strikes at the source of his ego, and reinforces his insecurity. He also sees himself as a man of the people, and so rejects the trappings and affectations of Hollywood, and with it any obligation to the media and the fans. Ironically, this image is rejected by his fans, who want to take his photo or get his autograph, and are willing to invade his space and privacy to get them.

Kristen Stewart

Kristen Stewart is a victim of her own success. Cast at a young age in a popular movie franchise, she had the misfortune to portray Bella Swan, girlfriend of Edward Cullen, played by Robert Pattinson, who is the source of many a tween-girl fantasy. That relationship was repeated off-screen, and despite their efforts to keep it on the DL, the truth came out. As a result, Stewart is often despised by Pattinson's adoring fans. Another part of her problem is a simple case of teenage awkwardness and a serious case of RBF (Resting B**** Face). Being catapulted to stardom at the age of 18 left her little room to grow into her fame, and consequently she stumbles and pauses her way through interviews, and drops her awards while saying thank you. Couple this with a natural facial expression that says "get lost and die" and you have a recipe for hate.

It's unreasonable to expect that a young actress can be thrust into the media spotlight and instantly develop public speaking skills. And who cares what a bunch of jealous teenagers think? That has nothing to do with Stewart, and everything to do with hormones. Stewart has received critical acclaim for her acting, and is guilty of nothing more than being a teenager. We should all cut this totally nice person a break.

Kanye West

The 2009 MTV Music Awards were a pretty good example of Kanye being Kanye. It's the epitome of his personality: he jumped on-stage and interrupted Taylor Swift to tell the world why Beyoncé should have won instead. Here's a man who has no filter, which is actually pretty common among human beings. But there's a big difference between a barista with no filter, and a Kanye with no filter. He's a famous egomaniac and narcissist. He portrays himself as Jesus on his album covers. The list goes on.

But there's a twist: in virtually every situation where he is described as being rude, you could argue instead that he's just being honest with bad timing. The man is undeniably gifted. And like many other successful gifted people, he knows it: it's why he's successful. There are plenty of unsuccessful gifted people out there who would benefit from having just a fraction of Kanye's self-confidence. Self-confidence isn't a crime. When you consider Kanye the person instead of Kanye the star, the story is different. Kanye-the-person is generous with his time to people Kanye-the-star might be expected to ignore. He is kind, funny, and sincere. He was childishly excited to meet Michael Jackson. And childishly shy when he met Steve Wozniak.

If you ask him his opinion, he'll give it to you, good or bad, because you asked and he has no filter. But if he likes you, he will praise you. If he thinks you were wronged, he will defend you. He is passionate about music to a fault, especially his own. And he will overreact: that's Kanye being Kanye.

Mel Gibson

The following is true: Mel Gibson is accused of being an anti-semite and a racist. He was tried for domestic abuse, and was allegedly recorded saying vile things to his ex-girlfriend over the phone. He is persona non grata in Hollywood since an infamous 2006 traffic stop where he drunkenly ranted about Jews in Hollywood, saying "the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world."

What is also true is that he has struggled with alcoholism his whole life. He has since gone to great lengths to make amends by engaging with the Jewish community to learn more about the religion, and attempted to make a film about Judah Maccabee, an important Jewish historical figure, which unfortunately fell through. He counts among his defenders Sean Bean, Robert Downey Jr, Whoopi Goldberg, and Jodie Foster who said "Mel is honest, loyal, kind, but alcoholism has been a lifelong struggle for him and his family."

A common theme in this list is one of behavior caught in the media spotlight. Gibson is the best example of how bad behavior or poor choices can be highlighted and thrown back at you. Without the media highlight, bad behavior like this can eventually be forgiven after a lot of hard work. While it's not possible to condone any of his well-publicized actions, it should be possible to consider that when he's off the drink, he might just be a nice guy.

Anne Hathaway

Anne Hathaway is unique in that her haters actually have a collective name: Hathahaters. Hathaway is also the least offensive person on this list by a long way, and yet her haters are so prominent that they earned a nickname. The hate for Hathaway seems to boil down to a case of psychological whiplash. She is beautiful, talented, and eager to please. But instead of making her supremely popular, it seems these qualities hit a mental barrier and bounce opinion right back in the other direction. All discussion of this phenomena includes accusations of trying too hard, being affected, or being inauthentic. Alternate explanations for all the hate are that she simply makes people feel inadequate, or that there is some sort of high school bonding ritual taking place that involves picking on the good girl.

All of this can be summed up as some sort of leftover teenage psychology that should have been abandoned long ago (unless you're actually a teenager, in which case feel free to hate—but make sure you grow out of it). Hathaway is a victim of juvenile groupthink. Leave her alone!


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