The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

The (Dis)Comfort of Hate

Written by: The CinCitizens

Updated!  3/28!

Hating actors is easy. Loving a film starring an actor you hate … that's the hard part.

Hate is perhaps one of the most complex of all human emotions.  Think about it: when anger, or dislike, or even frustration turns into hate, it consumes us. It takes up our idle thoughts, so that all we think about is the object of our loathing (making it far worse, since the last thing you WANT to do when you hate someone is spend all your time with them on your mind).  We plot, and scheme, and obsess, over everything that person says and does, and every interaction elicits a strong and passionate reaction. (There’s a good reason why love and hate are always so inextricably linked.) Hating someone you know takes WORK.

Which might explain why it’s so convenient, and easy, to hate people we don’t know.

Hating strangers works for so many of us, specifically because the interactions are always fleeting, and completely controlled by the hater. If you want to scream at the car who cut you off in traffic, go right ahead! Shout and swear your head off; there will be no arguments, and no “other sides of the story.” If you think that driver is an asshole, then he is! Want to call him a douchebag? Then so he shall become. It’s that easy.  And the best part is, because that stranger is anonymous, there’s nothing to hang that hate on, and so it leaves as quickly as it arrives, with no psychic scars to weigh us down. The only drawback to this brand of hate is that, because it is linked to strongly to the anonymity of its recipient, it necessarily breaks down if and when that person becomes real. In other words, it’s easy to hate the car, but it’s much harder to hate the driver. If there’s any doubt that this is true, then imagine a situation in which a car cuts you off and nearly causes an accident. Right as the rage builds up, you stop at a red light next to that car, and find out that the driver is your best friend in the world. That same incident that caused such undiluted hatred when it was directed at a stranger, now either has to downgrade immediately into nothing, or risk causing a scene that would jeopardize the friendship. Something has to give.

Because of all this, I think that a great way to let out your hate is on movie stars. It combines the best of both of the above things. They are utterly anonymous to us, and yet we know ever so much about them. We see how childish and spoiled they act all the time, and also see how they are coddled and sucked up to by nearly every person they come into contact with. It’s enough to make you sick. Which is ideal.

When you find an actor on which to take out all your rage, you can vent all of your negative thoughts onto them, swear and scream to your heart’s content, and never worry for a moment that they’ll become your friend one day. As long as your abhorrence never escalates to the point that you’re sending them bloody fingers in the mail, or grudge fucking their pets out of spite, celebrity-hating is the perfect way to express that most nuanced of emotions.

Or, at least, it should be.

No matter how much joy you get in hating a particular actor (or actress, or director, etc.), there is almost always one movie with which they’re involved, that you love. LOVE. And that, my friend, is cognitive dissonance at its worst. How can you love a movie, when someone you hate is in it? Something has to give…but how can it? You can’t help what you love…and you CERTAINLY can’t help who you hate! So what ends up happening is that these films enter into a personal space-time vortex. We still love them, we still hate those in them…and we never discuss it. Until now.

Recently, I offered the following formula to a wide variety of people:

“I hate _____, but I love _____.” The answers are still pouring in. The following is a partial list of those responses, with more on the way (and even more welcome):

  • Kevin Costner: Bull Durhan/Field of Dreams (By Michael Swain, Special to CC2K)

Is there a bigger waste in Hollywood than Kevin Costner? When you consider how many actors spend their entire lives trying in vain to get control over their careers, and then think back on the decisions Costner has made since he gained control of his…how can you not want to punch this guy? There was Robin Hood and the disappearing/reappearing accent, Waterworld (two hours of “We MUST see the map tattooed on the girl’s back!” only to find that the secret was “OH! We need to go SOUTH, not NORTH!”), Wyatt Earp (did ANYONE watch this?), The Postman (Costner getting out-acted by a donkey! This movie was so bad, he put his children in speaking roles just so he would look good by comparison), Tin Cup, 3000 Miles to Graceland, etc. etc. etc. There just isn’t one good performance in the bunch. (I know, I know: What about Dances with Wolves? Okay, that movie was pretty good. But how many of you would honestly say that that movie wouldn’t be a hundred times better with someone else in the lead role who could act?)

And then, there are his baseball movies (except for the  inexorable For Love of the Game). These movies are terrific, and as much as it pains me to say it, he is perfect for those roles. His Crash Davis shows how much he loves baseball, and how much he hates himself for loving it, with a perfect balance that makes you like him all the more. And his Ray Kinsella inspires each of us to follow our passions, and express our love. God I love those movies. In each case, he plays an everyman who’s also a mild failure, and he pulls it off with grace and aplomb. Obviously, that’s the secret; he’s a success at failure, and a huge failure with success.

  • Tom Arnold/True Lies 

Most of the time, when a guy gets caught in bed with a cow, he ends up arrested, or featured on a daytime talk show. In Tom Arnold’s case, it got him a Hollywood career. After hitting the scene as the “guy sleeping with Roseanne Barr,” he soon found himself as the real-life version of Susan Alexander, the actress whom Citizen Kane decides to turn into a huge star, despite the lack of anything approaching talent. Through Roseanne’s production company, there were at least two sitcoms in which he starred, each lasting less than half a year. (In subsequent years, there would even be a third. Two of them had his name in the title. To the best of my knowledge, the only other performers to have at least two shows named after them are Lucille Ball, Bob Newhart, and Bill Cosby. That’s appropriate company, don’t you think?) Then there were a string of movie roles, all playing up his doofus “persona.” Even today, he still shows up in movies and on television all the time, and not once does he elicit a single honest chuckle from the viewers.

But, why, oh WHY, does he have to be so good in True Lies?  He's funny, and convincing, and even – dare I say it – credible as Arnold's buddy/sidekick. That Tom Arnold could turn in a performance that would make people like him more is as stunning a turn of events as having Chris "Get a Life" Elliot show up at the end of The Abyss. Both leave the viewer stunned, silent, and shaking their heads in confusion. But, if that happens on your next True Lies viewing, then be sure to pop in The Stupids immediately afterwards. Your world will be righted again.

  • Kirsten Dunst: Bring it On – (By Chris Kilmer, Special to CC2K)

Kirsten Dunst has always annoyed me. She THINKS she is pretty (I read an interview once where she talked about how hot she is) but she really is kind of heinous. She has corn-cob teeth that reside atop a horse-gummed jaw. She is very pasty. And her body is downright weird. As far as her acting goes, she is rigid and can only convincingly carry one type of character — vapid, bitchy whore. Which brings us to why I like Bring it On. The only good movie she ever made.

Bring it On is a cute film. Has a good message about never giving up, blah blah. But more importantly it's the kind of movie you can just put on and forget about using more than 3 neurons at the same time for a while. The character development is comically superficial. Kirsten Dunst isn't what makes this movie great — what makes this movie watchable is that because the role demands nothing from her, she doesn't stick out like a sore thumb as in all her other "serious" movies where she actually tries to act. This makes her blend in seamlessly with the pleasantly bland performances of her supporting cast.

Bottom line: Bring it On is fun to watch the same way the OC is  fun to watch. Rich spoiled idiot kids running around making fools of themselves. The actors are essentially ballast.