Last month my favourite, Taffy Brodesser-Akner, who writes for GQ, was photographed with Tom Hiddleston and when those pictures came out, I posted that I couldn’t wait, couldn’t f-cking wait, to read the article. As always, Taffy delivers. Like I almost don’t want to say anything more about this piece because it’s such a scream. Practically every word is pure delight. Even the punctuation is pure delight!
Because… EXCLAMATION POINTS!
If you’ve been reading my blog a few years, you know that Tom Hiddleston + exclamation points comes up often. The exclamation points come up for Taffy too, although she addresses them so much more cleverly. You know what else comes up? The impressions. It’s not just that Tom Hiddleston is ready to give you an impression even when you didn’t really ask for one, it’s that in the performance of that impression, he is actually not honouring the person he’s impersonating but rather his own ability to impersonate the person – which Taffy deftly describes:
And here Hiddleston does a brief impression of Tom Hanks (he does very good impressions of everyone, including me after a day) that is hard to describe, except to say that it summons Tom Hanks in a very profound way. Its only flaw is also part of its charm: While he does the impression, he’s also looking at you to see how much you’re enjoying it, and then he can’t stop smiling when he sees that you are, so ultimately what you get is an impression of Tom Hiddleston enjoying himself doing a Tom Hanks impression.
The point is that Tom Hiddleston tries so hard. The defence – valiantly mounted by Taffy – is that, as we too have argued over the years, there is nothing wrong with TRYING. It is always better to try and be uncool than to not try and play cool (Anne Hathaway and James Franco co-hosting the Oscars). Taffy declares here that Tom Hiddleston’s TRY makes him very UNCOOL. And …what’s wrong with that?
What’s wrong with monologue-ing your meal? He’s that guy, so uncool that he’ll monologue the act of taking food from your plate when you’re having dinner with him:
We’re at a pub he likes in Hampstead Heath called The Bull & Last—evening, day two—eating steak and broccoli. He does an impression of David Attenborough’s voice-over for Planet Earth II, which we’d watch a bit of after dinner, only Hiddleston’s narration is about him eating a bite of my meal (“…the male must dine on his companion’s steak…”).
(See? Didn’t I tell you this entire article is a scream???)
So… have we been unfairly hard on Tom Hiddleston? Harder on him than we have been on other nerds? Like Lin-Manuel Miranda?
Perhaps. Perhaps we have been. But, to be honest, I’m only really considering it out of credit to Taffy. I admire her so much that I want to believe what she tells me I should believe. What’s brilliant about Taffy though is that, very subtly, she’s also telling you that she doesn’t know what to believe. Because with all the exclamation points, and the impressions, and the monologue-ing, and especially the way he comes BACK TO HER even though it had pretty much been made clear that he’d given her enough, that she had more than enough to write her piece, that she, the journalist, had NO MORE QUESTIONS, still, there he is, knocking on the door of her hotel room – at 6 o’clock in the morning!!! – Taffy, in her time with Tom Hiddleston, may have actually discovered that she now has something in common with Taylor Swift:
Tom Hiddleston exhaustion!
Remember when you found it hard to believe that SHE would actually break up with HIM?
And then he got up on stage at the Globes and talked about his TV series was a salve to the people of Sudan? And then you were like, hmmm…umm… maybe she DID break up with him?
Well. That. Multiplied by 100 in this article.
So, no, the problem isn’t that Tom Hiddleston is uncool. It’s that his, alleged, uncoolness is so …pleading. It’s uncoolness so obvious that it becomes performative. Which negatives the charm of whatever uncoolness he may have had. Tom Hiddleston could very well be uncool, as Taffy posits. But the fact that he needs to explain it so much undermines the authenticity of it. Uncoolness isn’t just cool on its own. What makes uncoolness cool is that the wearer of the uncoolness is comfortable in his or her own uncoolness. And when you read this profile of Tom Hiddleston, do you get the sense that he’s comfortable with being uncool?
Click here for Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s article on Tom Hiddleston and to see more photos.