Oh, the curious case of Blake Lively: You either love her or you hate her.
She’s one of those actresses who sparks a very strong visceral reaction in people, no matter what even if she doesn’t do anything that exciting.
It’s truly a mystery but we do know for certain that Lively, who stars in shark drama The Shallows, out this weekend in the UAE, is here to stay.
As MTV News recently put it in an excellent piece analysing Lively’s “pleasant blankness,” the 28-year-old actress is “the physical embodiment of all things blonde, sun-kissed, American, white, and happy she’s not true neutral so much as she’s an advertiser’s dream of neutral.”
So why does someone who seems so bland provoke so many mixed feelings? Here are a few theories about why people feel so passionately one way or another:
People really love The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants.
We’d bet that lots of people underestimate how much young women care about The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, the 2005 film based on the beloved, bestselling young adult book series.
While the movie made a decent $42 million (and the sequel made a little more in 2008), there are still many rabid fans of the series; and Lively first endeared herself to the fan base as Bridget, the carefree teenage athlete who fell for her football coach.
It helps that she is still best friends with her co-stars (Alexis Bledel, Amber Tamblyn and America Ferrera), and a mere Instagram photo of the four of them together can send the internet into a frenzy.
Lively can be … extremely tone-deaf.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Lively can do controversial, offensive things and not really acknowledge it.
Last month, her infamous “L.A. face with an Oakland booty” Instagram caption at the Cannes Film Festival did not go over well, as many found her appropriation of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s song offensive.
“The star immediately came under fire for her insensitive usage of a racially charged lyric that casts white beauty and class (Los Angeles) in opposition to the raw sexuality of women of colour (Oakland),” the Daily Beast wrote, pointing out that it was especially upsetting given that Lively also got married on a plantation; and once posted a breezy photo collection called Allure of Antebellum for her defunct lifestyle web site, Preserve.
While doing press for The Shallows this week, Lively waved off the criticism of quoting Baby Got Back, saying she “only meant love and respect and celebration for my body and the feminine body and quoting a song that people had a lot of fun with for a long time.”
People really love Gossip Girl.
And people really love to hate Gossip Girl, of which Lively was the star from 2007 to 2012. She played Serena van der Woodsen, a socialite from an absurdly wealthy Manhattan family, and got mixed up in all kinds of drama.
A lot of it stemmed from the fact that every man she met couldn’t help falling in love with her on the spot, and she was always the centre of attention.
This infuriated characters on the show, as well as viewers, who were generally amazed and annoyed by Serena’s antics.
But nostalgia for the cult-favourite CW show runs deep, and no matter how you felt about Serena, Lively was a major part of that glorious, ridiculous hour of television — you have to begrudgingly admire her either way.
The Ryan Reynolds factor.
Like her husband, Lively is one of those stunning Hollywood people who just gets endless chances.
As Teo Bugbee’s MTV News story pointed out, Lively seems to escape any consequences of starring in various bombs (Green Lantern, The Savages) and continues to get movie roles: “The day is 24-hours long; water freezes into ice when cooled; 1+1=2; and Blake Lively will be insanely, incredibly, wildly famous forever,” Bugbee wrote.
It’s true: Regardless of how much criticism she receives, or how many times she stars in a box-office disaster, Lively will just get another role, unscathed. And unsurprisingly, that strikes a lot of people as quite unfair.
This is probably especially confusing to the Lively haters — her chipper attitude may be annoying to some, but is it possible that Lively has … an actual sense of humour? She does weird things like star in the Lonely Island’s I Just Had Sex music video, and tells surprisingly hilarious stories about being on a plane with her baby daughter, James, and seeing other passengers watch risque scenes of her husband inDeadpool.
If there’s one thing that’s annoying when you can’t stand a celebrity, it’s finding out that they actually have a very likeable personality.