Last week, the American gossip magazine Star printed its “Most Hated Celebrities In Hollywood” list – an action no doubt triggered by spring’s vernal promise. There’s nothing like the pooling of primrose-coloured sunlight on your face to make a body want to pour a coffee, open a fresh Word document and type “Gwyneth Paltrow is a bitch”.
Some weeks behind on my Two Minutes Hate ration, I perused Star’s list with interest. Which performing artists had, in the past 12 months, behaved so appallingly that I could now spend a pleasant five minutes imagining dropping them down a well, then listening to their terrified ululations as they gradually wrinkled to death in an aquifer?
To be fair, there was R’n’B star Chris Brown at No 20 – a truly worthy target of, as customer satisfaction surveys put it, “strong dislike”. Chris Brown is the man who hospitalised Rihanna when he was going out with her – biting her, then strangling her. I’ll happily see Chris Brown on any list of “Scientifically Proven Ass-Hats”. So far, Star, so good.
But as I stared at the rest of the list, I became increasingly confused. Most of the men on it seemed to be there for shagging around – Jesse James had cuckolded Sandra Bullock; Ashton Kutcher had done the same to Demi Moore; John Mayer had broken the hearts of Katy Perry, Taylor Swift and Jennifer Aniston.
If this aimed to be a list put together by purse-lipped priests decrying sexual incontinence, it was proceeding swimmingly – although perhaps not wholly accurately. “Most Sated Celebrities in Hollywood” would have been a more appropriate title.
On turning to the women, however – making 13 of the Twenty of Hate – the criteria seemed to change drastically.
Madonna, for instance, was at No 7 – 13 places higher than the wife-beater Chris Brown. I wracked my brain to think what Madonna had done that was worse than putting someone in hospital. Some friends who attended her Hyde Park gig in the summer said she hadn’t done Borderline, which they were quite angry about. Also the queues for the toilets had been “lengthy” – although that was almost certainly not a problem directly caused by Madonna. Other than that – nothing. This appeared to be a hate alchemised out of nothing but the passing of time, or continued existence.
Similarly confusing was the entry of Jennifer Lopez. Lopez has had a pretty quiet decade. All I could find for 2012 was the information that she had voiced Shira, a sabre-toothed tiger, in Ice Age: Continental Drift. Obviously it’s an important franchise, but however much Lopez might have screwed it up, it seems harsh to put her at No 3, on a list that contains no dictators, murderers or tax-avoiders.
Then I looked at the rest of the list and it all made sense. Katherine Heigl – the woman who starred in Knocked Up, then dared to point out that its plot was “quite sexist”. Anne Hathaway, who responded to a globally reproduced pap-shot of her accidentally revealed genitals with a clear-eyed and dignified, “I’m sad we live in an age where someone takes a picture of someone in a vulnerable moment and sells it. And I’m sorry we live in a culture that commodifies [the] sexuality of unwilling participants.” Gwyneth Paltrow – notoriously private. Angelina Jolie – ditto.
All the women on the list – save Lindsay Lohan, the unhappy addict – were there because they were powerful enough to do their own thing. Or had – like Kim Kardashian, at No 11, with her reality show franchise and social networking power – found a new way to monetise their fame, outside the old system of studios, films and controlled PR. “Hollywood’s Most Hated” meant just that: the machine of Hollywood; the accepted process of on-message PR and buying pap-shots of genitals, which magazines like Star piggyback on.
Look at No 2, Kristen Stewart – star of the Twilight franchise – who has long been a regular of “Most Hated” lists: described as “sulky”, “saturnine”, “ungrateful”, because, at the age of 23, she doesn’t dance down every red carpet like all the other dancing-horse sparkle-ponies, screaming, “I LOVE having my picture taken with strangers! Please – ask me a million questions about my private life!”
And of course, that makes celebrity-dependent magazines like Star hate her – but not on my behalf. As a human being, I’m delighted that one of my daughters’ generation’s biggest stars simply wants to do her job – ie, act – rather than spend her whole life waving and smiling like a lobotomised competition winner.
Whenever I see a woman whom absolutely no one can force to smile, I see a woman who’s powerful enough to ignore the rules. All the women on this list are simply powerful enough to ignore the rules. I put them on my “Most Rated” list. Yeah, Star. In your face.
Moranthology by Caitlin Moran is out now in paperback (Ebury, £8.99)
Article from May 4 thetimes.co.uk
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