Celebs we love to hate
Too perky, too pretty, too successful, too smug. . . the stars united by their ability to drive us completely crazy
There's no middle ground with Gwyneth Paltrow. Either you think she drips rainbows and sunshine or you break out in a hot flush of irritation at the sight of her billion-dollar smile.
Lately, she's had both fans and haters in a tizzy. Firstly, Paltrow was voted most annoying celeb in a poll (in front of Kristen Stewart, Jennifer Lopez and 19 places ahead of lovable girlfriend beater Chris Brown).
Then a US glossy declared her the 'world's most beautiful woman', knocking Beyonce off top spot. At 40, she is the oldest star to have received the People magazine accolade.
All of which felt like merely a warm-up for her eye-watering turn on the red carpet at the Iron Man 3 premiere, where she arrived in a see-through Antonio Berardi frock, the better to show off her "22-year-old stripper ass" (her description, not ours).
Of course, Gwyneth's stripper assets are merely the start of her talents. It's All Good, her book of spinach recipes, is top of the American best-seller lists. Some 150,000 subscribers log onto her Goop site every week, where, in addition to cookery and lifestyle tips, you can feast on such Gwynnie zingers as: "I would rather die than let my kid eat Cup-a-Soup." And: "When I pass a flowering zucchini plant in a garden, my heart skips a beat."
"People don't see her as credible; they don't believe that she's an ordinary domestic goddess," was the assessment of one pop culture expert on her love her-or-loathe-her status. "It doesn't tally with her great physique and her good looks. She's trying too hard not to be perceived as aloof. If she wasn't trying to be so normal, people would probably like her more."
Paltrow isn't the only celeb to provoke a strong reaction. Indeed, just as 'hate-watching' awful television has become a quasi-fashionable pursuit (you despise Glee – but it's fun Tweeting your friends how terrible this week's episode is), cultivating a dislike for certain celebs has become quite the amateur pursuit. Here are some of the celebs we love to loathe.
With her big, happy kitten eyes, tractor-beam smile and undeniable actress chops, the Oscar-winning star of Les Miserables seems to live a charmed existence. But she isn't the most beautiful actress in Hollywood – nor is she the most successful or talented. And she's had some personal unhappiness, most notably her relationship with convicted money launderer Raffaello Follieri. So why the global schadenfreude whenever it seems something might go wrong for her?
(Type 'hate Anne Hathaway' and you will receive 28.5 million Google hits). The consensus is that we respond viscerally to her 'always on' perkiness, she 'tries too hard', is the 'eager theatre girl' we all remember from school. "She's always putting on accents and flittering around," Alexis Rhiannon of gossip blog Crushable has observed. "I don't find her perfection charming. I find it annoying."
As with Hathaway, Swift seems blessed with bottomless reserves of perkiness. Throw in the girl-next-door-looks and the fact she appears to have a new boyfriend every 10 minutes and Swift's prominence in the gossip sphere is no surprise. She earned some sympathy after Kanye West bum-rushed her acceptance speech at a 2009 awards ceremony, but even after he apologised she kept on about it, even turning the incident into a cringeful ballad, 'Who You Are Is Not What You Did'.
Then, when Tina Fey and Amy Poehler wise-cracked about her dating habit at the Golden Globes, Swift suffered an epic humour failure, saying there was a "a special place in hell reserved for women who don't help other women". You mean a place where they are forced to listen to your albums all day long, Taylor?
In a previous life, Woods was golf's very own Terminator robot: ice-veined, relentless, without humour, or indeed, any recognisable emotion. Then we found out that, off course, he was cheating on his wife with nearly a dozen women and that his buttoned-down corporate image – the image that had contributed to his outrageous wealth – was a lie. While undoubtedly heartfelt, even his public apologies seemed stagey and forced. If there's one thing we dislike more than a humourless winner, it's a humourless winner who can't keep it in his pants.
Lindsay occupies a singular place in our hearts insofar as we can't decide whether to feel hate or pity for her. Without question, there's a tragic cast to her life. She grew up in a troubled household and was clearly ill-equipped emotionally for fame. However, there's a hardness about the one-time teen star that is difficult to warm to and, really, when a wild child is given as many second chances as Li-Lo, even the most sympathetic onlooker will find their reserves of pity drained.