Emma Thompson is an acclaimed British actress known for films like Howards End, Sense and Sensibility, and Love Actually. However, despite her success, Thompson has also faced criticism and backlash from some people over the years.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the main reasons why certain groups dislike or “hate” Emma Thompson.
Emma Thompson’s Outspoken Political Views
One of the biggest factors behind animosity towards Thompson is her outspoken progressive political views. Thompson has been very vocal about issues like gender equality, poverty, climate change and Brexit. For example:
- Thompson is a staunch feminist who has condemned sexism and gender discrimination in Hollywood. She called out the industry’s bias against women in a powerful letter in 2018.
- She strongly opposed Brexit and said it made her feel “European” for the first time. Her pro-EU views angered many conservative Brexit supporters.
- Thompson has advocated for higher taxes on the wealthy and action on climate change. Her socialist views clash with more right-wing opinions.
While many appreciate Thompson using her platform for good causes, her unabashed liberal politics have also garnered backlash, especially from conservative circles. Her outspoken nature makes her a polarizing figure.
Criticisms of Thompson’s Activism
Some common criticisms towards Emma Thompson’s activism include:
- Hypocrisy – She campaigns against poverty and climate change despite her own wealth and jet-setting lifestyle.
- Annoying or smug – Some find her “preachy” on issues or too moralistic. Her passion rubs some people the wrong way.
- Anti-patriotic – Her anti-Brexit stance led to accusations of her being unpatriotic and out-of-touch with the “common people.”
- Too political – Some believe celebrities like Thompson should stay out of politics and simply entertain. Her views alienate those who disagree.
Perceived Elitism and Privilege
Another source of criticism towards Emma Thompson is the perception she is an elitist and privileged actress who is out-of-touch with regular people. Some of the reasons for this view include:
- Her prestigious private school background – She attended the elite all-girls school Camden School for Girls, suggesting a privileged upbringing.
- Her lofty connections – Her mother was an actress, her father was an actor and writer, and her sister is a successful actress as well (Sophie Thompson).
- Her posh accent and mannerisms – Thompson has a plummy British accent and refined way of carrying herself that exudes elite privilege to some.
- Her wealth and living situation – She owns luxury homes in London and Scotland. This level of wealth seems unattainable to average people.
Thompson’s cultured background and her current affluent lifestyle fuels a feeling among some critics that she is out-of-touch with the struggles of everyday citizens. Her upper-class privileges make it easy for her to moralize, some argue.
Examples of “Elitist” Behavior
Moments that play into the perceptions of Emma Thompson’s elitism include:
- Making jokes such as “I am available for blackmail on a very large scale” in relation to the Panama Papers leak about off-shore tax havens.
- Seeming to look down on or judge working-class Brexit supporters.
- Advocating for policies like air travel restrictions that may economically hurt regular people more than wealthy celebrities like herself.
- Displaying a refined, snobbish attitude in interviews that some regard as arrogant.
Thompson’s Feminism Creating Backlash
As a high-profile feminist, Emma Thompson’s sometimes extreme views on female empowerment and gender issues have also rubbed some people the wrong way and generated backlash. Some examples include:
- Bashing men – She’s made comments grouping men together as sexist or predatory, which offends men and gains criticism for being overly anti-male.
- Double standards – Her comments calling for women to “unite” against men in the name of equality strike some as hypocritical double standards.
- Unproven allegations – She signed a letter of support for Emma Watson against unnamed threats, which seemed dubious and like celebrity virtue-signaling to critics.
- Hypocrisy – Like other actresses, she has done nude scenes and photo shoots some deemed exploitative, undermining her feminist credentials in those critics’ eyes.
Thompson is unafraid to speak boldly on female empowerment and call out male misbehavior. However, her brash approach draws equal pushback from those who feel she goes too far or fails to live up to her own standards.
Perception Thompson Looks Down on Other Actresses
Thompson has gained a reputation among some for looking down on other actresses who don’t live up to her standards of talent or feminist credentials. Her comments about actresses posing nearly naked and the obsession with looking thin seem targeted at contemporaries she views as less serious.
Specific actresses like Kate Winslet have described feeling insecure around Thompson, as if her talent and intellect made them lesser by comparison. This compounds the elitist image of Thompson and irks those who feel her judgmental attitude is uncalled for.
Even her comments meant to empower women can carry a pretentious, scolding tone that rubs people the wrong way. Her views on female issues don’t always stand up to scrutiny either, undermining her authority on those topics in critics’ eyes.
Decline in Thompson’s Popularity and Success
While acclaimed as an actress earlier in her career, Emma Thompson’s popularity and box office success have waned in recent years. Some factors possibly contributing to this decline include:
- Lack of compelling leading roles – She often cameos in big films now versus compelling lead roles she had before.
- Focus on politics over acting – To some she seems more fixated on political activism than the craft of acting.
- Failure of later films – Many of her recent starring films like Late Night and Men, Women & Children failed to gain traction with audiences and critics.
- Pickiness with roles – She seems very selective about roles, possibly to her detriment. She may have passed on commercially successful parts.
- Ageism – As with many actresses, the lack of quality roles offered to her may reflect the ageism of Hollywood that is beyond her control.
While still capable of great performances, Thompson’s limited number of memorable acting roles of late has corresponded with her diminished public image. This decline has made her an easier target for frustration.
Comparisons to Past Success
Wistful nostalgia for her earlier acclaimed performances highlights Emma Thompson’s lack of comparable recent roles:
- Howard’s End (1992) – She won Best Actress Oscar for this literary period drama.
- Much Ado About Nothing (1993) – She stood out in this Shakespeare adaptation directed by Kenneth Branagh, her husband at the time.
- Sense and Sensibility (1995) – She won Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for starring in and adapting this Jane Austen film.
- Love Actually (2003) – Her subtle and heartbreaking portrayal of a wife discovering her husband’s infidelity was a standout.
These kinds of interesting leading parts seem absent from Thompson’s current roles, reflecting her lessened star power.
Perceived Hypocrisy or Bad Behavior
Thompson has also faced some backlash over personal behavior that seems hypocritical or contrary to her feminist principles, including:
- Leaving her husband for a co-star – She began a relationship with Sense and Sensibility co-star Greg Wise while still married to Branagh, which seemed scandalous.
- Pushing her daughter into acting – She’s been criticized for letting her daughter Gaia Romilly Wise follow her into acting at a young age.
- Body image issues – She pressed Gaia about losing weight for a film role when she was 16, which she has admitted left her daughter distressed.
- Diva behavior – Tales of Thompson being demanding or distancing herself from co-stars paint her as unpleasantly entitled.
- Ungraceful aging – Obsession over her looks fading feeds into criticism that she only champions women’s empowerment when it suits her image.
These perceived hypocrisies poke holes in Thompson’s principled public image. While arguably overblown, they still influence some people’s negative perceptions of the acclaimed actress.
In summary, while an undeniably talented performer, Emma Thompson’s outspoken political opinions, privilege, preachiness about gender issues, and recent decline in successful roles have made her a polarizing figure prone to public criticism.
Her push for female empowerment and social justice has been undermined by charges of hypocrisy and elitist behavior. However, most critiques of Thompson ultimately seem overblown or unreasonable. She is likely held to higher standards than male actors and still delivers excellent performances when given the opportunity.
Though not perfect, her progressive stances and fight for women’s equality remain admirable and valuable. The backlash Thompson has received reflects wider gender biases and harsh judgment of women in positions of fame or power who dare to speak out.
While her privilege and imperfections are fair to examine, the intense animosity she provokes also warrants scrutiny. Thompson remains one of the most compelling and courageous actresses of her generation.
Frequently Asked Questions About Emma Thompson Backlash
Why do some people consider Emma Thompson a hypocrite?
Some view Thompson as a hypocrite for advocating socialist policies or climate action as an elite wealthy celebrity herself. She critiques gender issues in Hollywood while appearing nude or allowing her daughter into acting. Her personal behavior like leaving her husband is also seen as clashing with her feminism by critics.
What movies is Emma Thompson best known for?
Thompson’s best known films include acclaimed performances in Howards End, The Remains of the Day, In the Name of the Father, Sense and Sensibility, Primary Colors, Love Actually, and Saving Mr. Banks. Her starring roles from the 90s remain her most iconic.
Why did Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh divorce?
Thompson and Branagh divorced in 1995 after she allegedly had an affair with actor Greg Wise, whom she later married. The scandal especially hurt Branagh’s image, though Thompson was also criticized for hypocrisy after so publicly championing female empowerment.
What outspoken political views has Emma Thompson expressed?
Thompson is a vocal feminist, socialist, and climate activist. She has condemned Hollywood sexism & Brexit, criticized the wealthy, and advocated for refugee rights. Her progressive activism has made her a target of anger from conservatives.
Did Emma Thompson win any Oscars?
Yes, Emma Thompson won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1993 for Howards End. She also won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay in 1996 for adapting Sense and Sensibility. Overall, she has been nominated for 5 Oscars.
Is Emma Thompson friends with other actresses?
Thompson is friends with some actresses like Helena Bonham Carter. But she has admitted struggles bonding with female co-stars, sometimes attributed to jealousy of her talent. Kate Winslet in particular described Thompson unintentionally making her feel bad about herself on sets.
Why did Emma Thompson’s career decline?
Factors cited in Thompson’s lessened star power include a lack of compelling leading roles, a focus on activism over acting, flopped films, rejecting roles, and Hollywood’s ageism. The quality of her parts has diminished despite her skills.
What mistakes has Emma Thompson made?
Thompson has faced backlash for an alleged affair with Greg Wise, seeming like an elitist, making hypocritical choices, looking down on other actresses, pushing her daughter into acting too young, obsessing over looks, and displaying rude diva behavior on sets according to some accounts.
Is Emma Thompson still acting?
Yes, Thompson is still acting, though in smaller supporting roles lately versus the starring parts she had at her 90s peak. Her most recent credits are the films Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical, and the TV series The Climb.