Which would you say is worse? Telling the details of a private conversation to a reporter, or making it clear that you want to keep this conversation private… It’s private?
Anne Hathaway chose the latter, and it seems that this makes her “sassy”.
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In an interview that resurfaced from October 2022, a reporter asked Hathaway if she and Anna Wintour had talked about “The Devil Wears Prada” featuring a character (Miranda Priestley) known to be inspired by Wintour.
(Hathaway recently donned an outfit similar to that of her character, Andy, in the aforementioned film, and sat next to Wintour at the Michael Kors show at New York Fashion Week last month.)
“Yes,” Hathaway replied plainly. Then the reporter asked what Wintour “shared”.
“Why am I going to tell you?!” Hathaway replied, before bursting into (what seemed to me) warm, jovial laughter. The reporter replied, “Because I like it, and I should know.” “But you weren’t there,” Hathaway reminded her.
That’s it. This is it literally. This small exchange in which Hathaway made it clear she wouldn’t gossip or compromise Wintour’s privacy – got the actress labeled “sassy”, demonized as “passive aggressive” and exuding “mean girl energy”.
I have one word in response: irony. Actually, I have a lot of words – but I’ll start with sarcasm. “Sassy,” “passive-aggressive,” and “mean girl energy” are all adjectives that could be used about the toxic, sexist hatred Hathaway experienced a decade ago—a hate that has become so pathological and ubiquitous, and has given it its own nickname: “Hatha-Hite.” (Hatha hated).
The satire of Hathaway was pouring steadily in the build-up to the 2013 awards season (when Hathaway was receiving critical acclaim for her breakout performance as Fantine in Les Misérables), with one of the most notable quotes from critic Richard Lawson in an essay titled “Why Everyone Hates Anne”. Hathaway?
“She always seems to be performing and her favorite thing to do is this exaggerated humility and generosity,” said Lawson. “She’s the epitome of the bad kind of stage boy.”
But when Hathaway kicked off her 2013 Academy Award acceptance speech for her role in Les Misérables, she famously muttered “It came true” — and the #Hatha-Height storm became a hurricane. As journalist Meg Walters wrote last year: “Her seriousness on screen and off screen was apparently annoying. It was rubbing us all the wrong way.”
It was an ugly time, especially because #Hatha-Hite was more misogynistic than anything Hathaway did to win the torrents of bitterness thrown her way.
Christabel Hastings put it well for Stylist: “It is clear that Hathaway was simply the victim of an age-old tradition, one in which a talented, beautiful, and famous woman wields like a punching bag”— Kyle Buchanan’s #Hatha-Hight article in Vulture sums it up. “When it comes to female ambition, there is no acceptable situation: Any feeling you bring out can and will be used against you,” she said.
Fortunately, #hatha-hit has faded in recent years. Since then, the subject has been broached by Hathaway — ironically, at the same event in October 2022 at which she gave the resurfacing interview that now made her consider slutty.
“10 years ago, I had the opportunity to look at the language of hate in a new light,” she said in her speech at the event, adding, “You don’t have the right to judge – especially hate – someone just because they exist.” Amen.
But as we’ve seen today, #Hatha-Height hasn’t completely dissipated. Instead, he lurked quietly, ready to resurface at any opportunity he saw. Last October, Hathaway refused to share details of a private conversation, and now she appears to be a “mean girl.”
Want to know what real “mean girls” do? I went to a girls’ boarding school, I know firsthand.
Real sluts “mean girls”. They spread rumors and gossip behind people’s backs. They say one thing in front of you and another to their friends in a conversation based on whispers and shrieks of intense laughter.
In my time, in addition to being a victim of “mean girl” energy, I was a perpetrator of it…and I can safely say that Anne Hathaway is not.
“Mean Girls” aren’t as reserved in a Hathaway way. They don’t have your back, as was the case with Hathaway and Wintour.
They don’t break out into genuine laughter like Hathaway did, they just let the corners of their lips twitch and their eyes turn to the side in a way to make it clear that you are the joke, all while pretending to keep a straight face in its normal position.
They don’t make their intentions and values clear like the way Hathaway promoted them. They keep you guessing, because they want to make you feel insulted and small. They are, in short, rude.
Hathaway was not rude. It was a spirit of discretion, without pretense of piety or holiness. She gave direct answers and made it clear, through laughter and smiles, that her disapproval of gossip wasn’t because it was too far-fetched. And that there were no hard feelings about the question asked.
The last time I checked, discretion was supposed to be a good thing. Discreetness signifies integrity, respect for others, and self-control that many of us (myself included) often lack.
It is exactly the quality that, surely, leads people to the pinnacle of a profession like Hollywood, where secrets made public can seriously damage a film or creative project (or, in fact, a career). Hathaway’s response to the reporter’s question was not “passive aggressive,” a reaction we can be proud of.
And last thing — that viral clip of Hathaway being “slut” is part of a broader interview. In it, Hathaway is unquestionably warm, generous, and kind—to the reporter and her colleagues alike. When she declined to share details of any conversations she had with Wintour, the reporter said, “I respect that” — to which Hathaway replied, truthfully, “Thank you.”
I’m fighting for Hathaway, as long as she doesn’t say or do something rude, passive aggressive, or truly mean. But I don’t think she will. She doesn’t have it in her.