JANET STREET-PORTER: Why is Emma Watson so deeply irritating?

JANET STREET-PORTER: Thanks to Harry Potter Emma Watson has a magical life most young women would kill for, so why is she so deeply irritating?

I hardly remember turning 30, it was no big deal. I was on my second marriage, my TV career was starting to go well – but I’d worked my arse off for the preceding 12 years to get on. There wasn’t time to worry about another birthday.

For multi-millionaire actress Emma Watson, though, facing up to the big three-o next April is fraught with ‘stress’ and an ‘incredible amount of anxiety’.

FOR GOD’S SAKE, what’s stressful about already having enough money for the rest of your life, being blessed with a first rate brain, perfect features, a cut glass accent (great for getting a good job and roles) and benefiting from unswerving support from middle class parents?

Where’s the stress in forging a non-stop career from the age of nine, one which has brought you worldwide fame and given you access to world leaders, pop stars and anyone famous who’s a Harry Potter fan?

Talking to Vogue magazine, Emma Watson revealed that she has suffered from ‘incredible anxiety’ about having not married or started a family by the time she reaches 30 next April (she is pictured on the cover of the December issue of British Vogue) 

Left, Emma Watson cuddles up to then-boyfriend Will Adamovicz in California in 2012. Right, Emma Watson seen passionately kissing a mystery man while out for lunch in London earlier this month 

Somehow, in spite of all her good points and natural assets, Emma Watson manages to be one of the most annoying people around. She uses every public forum to give us a little manifesto, telling other women how to think, what we should be doing to save the planet, how to stop injustices and bring about equality for all. Even nice Lorraine Kelly has admitted she finds Emma ‘just a wee bit irritating’ – which says it all.

In her latest interview (in British Vogue) Emma has (once again) come up with terminology so pretentious it could have come from the mouth of Gwyneth Paltrow, that other self-appointed spokesperson for global womankind.

Emma describes herself as ‘self-partnered’, ie single. Using the word single is just too crass and low rent for a quasi-intellectual like this one, who studied at Brown University in the US and Oxford.

Emma is stressed (it seems) because of ‘subliminal messaging…if you do not have a husband, if you do not have a baby, and you are turning 30, and you’re not in some incredibly secure, stable place in your career, or you’re just figuring things out…there’s this incredible amount of anxiety’.

In spite of being photographed with a steady stream of very eligible men she says: ‘I’m very happy (being single). I call it self-partnered’. For some shallow people (like me) self-partnering sounds like an exotic form of masturbation, but nothing that low rent would cross this paragon’s mind.

With unerring regularity, Emma turns every chat into a baffling discourse on her brand of modern feminism. Talking about her role in the new Hollywood movie of Little Women alongside Laura Dern and Meryl Streep, she says ‘we met in activist spaces, so we had this allyship and solidarity as activists that had been part of a certain movement before we ever worked together’.

Emma Watson and her then boyfriend attend the Florida Panthers game against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on November 21, 2009 in New York City

Emma Watson out with then-boyfriend William Mack Knight in London in June 2016

Pass the sickbag, they probably swapped a tweet. Dern and Streep were strong empowered and inspirational women long before Emma became Hermione Granger. Unfortunately, after years playing the character, Emma has morphed into Hermione; brainy and well-meaning, but a little bit odd. She probably finds it strange that other women from different backgrounds and cultures might find her a bit patronising and inauthentic. Every role isn’t just a job but a chance for Emma to spread her self-regarding gospel. Apparently her Little Women character (Meg March) is really ‘a feminist’, because she has made the choice to be a wife and homemaker.

When she played Belle in Disney’s remake of Beauty and the Beast in 2017, Emma claimed she wasn’t just portraying a beautiful pliant woman in a big frock, trapped by a rich weirdo who has decided to turn his back on the world, but an ‘inventor’.

The role might have been ground-breaking if Belle had not been white. Emma posted pictures of her promotional tour for the film on social media in a series of incredibly glamorous eco-friendly dresses which must have cost a fortune. She posed for the cover of Vanity Fair wearing a semi-transparent top revealing a fair bit of her breasts. Nothing wrong in that – except that a couple of years earlier Emma admitted she was ‘conflicted’ about Beyonce’s use of blatantly sexual imagery. The fact that Beyonce had posed in front of a sign saying FEMINIST at the Grammys in 2014 seemed to have passed Hermione/Emma by.

JANET STREET-PORTER (pictured): With unerring regularity, Emma turns every chat into a baffling discourse on her brand of modern feminism

In 2017, Emma – considered by critics to be a ‘competent’ actress – accepted the first gender-neutral MTV Music and Film award for best actor for playing Belle, and announced she was proud ‘to be part of a film which celebrates diversity, literacy, inclusion and joy’. And I expect you thought it was just a fairy story!

Another small faux pas occurred at the 2018 Academy Awards, when ‘wannabe edgy’ Emma sported a temporary tattoo reading TIMES UP, showing solidarity with the MeToo activists, but sadly her makeup artist forgot the apostrophe (as in Time’s Up) and she was forced to make a joke on social media. BTW isn’t having a temporary tattoo (when it’s not Hallowe’en) just a little bit pathetic and middle class?

Emma has founded an online book club, featuring inspirational books (including the Vagina Monologues) by female authors. She is a passionate reader who ‘hides’ books around London for commuters to discover. With all her cash, why doesn’t Emma pay to reopen the dozens of former libraries in London, so children can enjoy the delights of reading for nothing?

Dolly Parton, whose parents couldn’t read, is just as passionate as Emma about inequality – in her case, the damage caused by illiteracy. She founded the Imagination Library in Tennessee in 1995, offering free books to children under the age of 5- her charity has spread across the US, to Canada, Australia, Ireland and now the UK.

Is Emma Watson in touch with today’s young women? Am I being unfair when she means so well? In this situation, I always ask my hairdresser (female, 39 and also ‘self-partnered’) what she thinks.

Her reaction to Miss Perfect’s brand of feminism would be two words – get lost.

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