Kate Bosworth vs. Keira Knightley
Battle of the Grating It Girls
Starlets and other celebrities are always trying to convince us, in their myriad talk-show appearances and People profiles, that there's no such thing as becoming famous "overnight." We don't entirely believe that. Given the countless forums for entertainment press coverage across multiple mass media, there are plenty of people of whom it's the case that we've never heard of them Monday, we're blitzed with stories on them Tuesday, we're pretty much over them by Wednesday, and then assaulted with the anti-backlash (frontlash?) movement to rehabilitate them with the public on Thursday. (How many times has Gwyneth Paltrow lived through the cycle by now?) The point is, it doesn't take long for the freshest young things to find themselves on the wrong side of their "Best Before" dates -- often before their careers have really begun in earnest.
Really, all of this is by way of saying we'd really like it if Keira Knightley and Kate Bosworth would leave us alone.
Doesn't it seem like they became famous, like, instantaneously? They must each employ a passel of publicists who work in teams around the clock, sending out press releases and brand-new photos and calculatedly "adorable" quotes everywhere there are humans writing about famous people (or, in the case of In Touch Weekly, run-down robots) (and in the case of Us Weekly, succubi and other demons), via fax and email and text message and courier and pony express; we swear we saw a carrier pigeon last week, winging in the direction of the Toronto Star, with a Win a Date With Tad Hamilton! press kit clutched in its tiny claws.
And the most unfortunate thing about all this effort's being expended on Bosworth's and Knightley's behalves is that they've hardly got two dozen significant credits under their belts and we're already sick of them. We first became aware of Bosworth, actually, a fairly long time ago -- way back in the summer of 2000, when she briefly played Bella in The WB's teen melodrama Young Americans. (You may remember that one -- if you remember it at all -- as the show Coke more or less produced and packed with product placement; it's less likely that you'd remember the story arc involving a boy named Scout falling in love with Bella, even as he started to suspect that she might be his half-sister. Yes, really.) Anyway, back then we didn't think she'd amount to much (we still kind of don't, in case that wasn't already clear), but now she's much more famous than anyone who got her start on a WB drama has any right to be. (With the exception of Leslie Grossman. What the hell ever happened to her?) Under the skillful direction of John Stockwell, Bosworth managed not to be too irritating in the girly surfing confection Blue Crush, but Robert Luketic apparently lacks so discerning an eye and let her simper and mug her way through Hamilton! on the assumption that she would charm us effortlessly, merely by being blonde and virginal and lisping phonily. He really, really assumed wrong.
We will allow that Knightley seems less annoying in her real life than does Bosworth; there's something about British girls that makes them seem -- seem, we must stress -- more genuine and endearingly goofy than their American It Girl counterparts. But that doesn't excuse the fact that we had to see Knightley being "irresistible" in three movies last year (well, two and a half, since she didn't end up getting the guy in Bend It Like Beckham), not to mention playing a legendarily desirable object of desire in this year's King Arthur. Because here's the thing about Knightley: she's kind of not really that cute. She's got a face like a frying pan, unsettlingly pointy fangs, and a body like...well, like her extremely skinny and unsexy Beckham co-star Jonathan Rhys-Meyers. Seriously, put them both in spangly handkerchief tops and hip-huggers and shoot them from behind, and you will just not be able to tell them apart. Knightley's homeliness would be a non-issue if, either, she were a great actress, or she was not presented to us as a universally beloved babe. But she's neither talented or cute enough to pull off the persona her publicists have created for her. She's just so pleased with herself. She bugs.
And, lest there be any doubt that Bosworth and Knightley are really in competition with each other, chew on this: Orlando Bloom -- Knightley's once and future Pirates of the Caribbean co-star -- just got himself engaged to Bosworth. Now, there's a man who loves him some boring, overrated blondes.
Advantage: Knightley, knarrowley.