Jennifer Lawrence v. Zooey Deschanel: The Age of Adorkable


Hollywood has crowned a new “Queen of Quirk,” and her name is Jennifer Lawrence. Whether she is making us laugh with her candid and unpredictable interviews, playfully giving a press room full of reporters the finger , spilling mints at a press conference or playing a badass teen huntress, the 23-year-old actress has won both hearts, and accolades. Last year, Ms. Lawrence snagged the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role as Tiffany Maxwell in “Silver Linings Playbook,” and subsequently cemented her place as the darling “Awkward Girl” of Hollywood when she took a now infamous spill up the stairs on her way to accept the award at the televised ceremony. Since winning her Oscar, Lawrence has starred in two more hit movies, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” and “American Hustle,” won a Golden Globe and been nominated for yet another Academy Award for her role in “American Hustle.”  She was also voted as one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world and ELLE Magazine named her the most powerful woman in the entertainment business in 2013.

The success of Jennifer Lawrence and all of her charming, at times klutzy, idiosyncrasies brings to mind another beautiful, talented but slightly peculiar individual–Zooey Deschanel. Deschanel rose to notoriety as the pensive, but always loveable female supporting character in movies like “500 Days of Summer,” “Yes Man“ and “She and Him.” She now enjoys fame as the star of the NBC comedy “New Girl.” But despite, or possibly because of her popularity, Zooey Deschanel’s unique personality has put her on the receiving end of doubt, criticism and occasional backlash. Her numerous roles as the archetypal manic-pixie-dream girl were seen as anti feminist by some critics including one writer for The Gloss who admonished Zooey Deschanel’s type of manic-pixie-dream girl as possessing a “childlike sense of wonder that is cunningly disguised as idiocy.” Ouch! The foibles that Deschanel seems to possess both on and off screen have also come under fire. In an article for Pink Nightmare, Cherie Jamison said, “I have a bone to pick with Zooey Deschanel–There’s this trend right now with girls where they try to be so unique/quirky/different that it becomes both pathetic and obnoxious. I think that Zooey Deschanel is a big part of that problem.” In the same vein, Anna Holmes wrote in an article for Jezebel that Deschanel’s “stubborn quirkiness is starting to make us wish she’d find a narcotic to abuse.” Again, ouch!

The backlash against Deschanel gives the impression that adorkable doesn’t have the greatest shelf life, and one can only wonder if the current reigning champion of all that is awkward but sweet, Jennifer Lawrence, will suffer the same criticism and questioning that her predecessor Ms. Deschanel has.  We got a brief taste of this hostility after her Oscars fall when some media outlets including MTV and Perez Hilton questioned if Lawrence had tripped on purpose, and other publications, like TNT Magazine flat out accused the actress of faking the moment that made so many pity her. However, this buzz died down fairly quickly. On the whole, Lawrence has managed mostly to avoid the accusations of fakeness and fault-finding that Zooey Deschanel has been subjected to and there may a good reason for this. Despite both girls coming off as candid and off-beat, a distinct difference between the two actresses can be found firstly,  in the types of characters they play. While Zooey Deschanel has pretty much been relegated into the role of the eccentric girl-next-door, in the past 3 years, we have seen Jennifer Lawrence play a teenager in a post apocalyptic dystopia, a mutant shape shifter, a troubled former sex-addict and the wife of a philandering con artist. This variety helps audiences to see Jennifer Lawrence as something other than a funny everywoman, and may ultimately keep them from growing weary of her personality because it does not dominate her both on and off-screen.

In addition to her movie characters having more variety, J Law's image as everyone's celebrity BFF doesn't seem to permeate other areas of her career,  making it appear to be more of her own personality, and less of a savvy business maneuver. One of the many criticisms made against the authenticiy of Zooey Deschanel's "awkward girl" image was how she seemingly took it and ran with it, turning it into a very successful  ad campaign for the iPhone 4S. One article on Death and Taxes  described the commercial as "idiotic" and said, "Is it an effective commercial? Possibly – if you’re swayed by 'cute' women doing 'impossibly cute' things – But if you’re one of the increasing number of people who are wondering just when the Adorable Train is finally going to arrive at its logical destination – that she might one day stop with the Pollyanna routine – this is kind of a slap in the face." By contrast, Jennifer Lawrence's recent stint as the face of Miss Dior has shown her ability to be sultry, a couture queen or a natural, bare-faced beauty, and she has been nothing but graceful the whole way, despite her offscreen appearance. The ads have received praise from media outlets like The Huffington Post, New York Daily News and, with the only complaint being that the pictures were allegedly Photoshopped–something that J Law readily admitted to and expressed gratitude for, according to The Telegraph.

So, maybe all celebrities who are considered loveable, or unconventional don't have an expiration date stamped on their foreheads. It would seem that the lesson to be learned here is that everything should be done in moderation. There is clearly a time and place for everything, and the reactions that the public has had to the various wacky moments that both Zooey Deschanel and Jennifer Lawrence have had prove just that. While both girls have unmistakable talent, Jennifer Lawrence’s ability to separate her offscreen and onscreen/camera images may mean that she and her charismatic quirks are here to stay; but only time will tell.


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