Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Zooey Deschanel's alright:

By Anči

Like most American women, i've long held an (admittedly, one way) grudge with the  quirky and loveable Zooey Deschanel. Also like most women, i've never been able to explain why.

So here we are, tackling the zany phenomenon that is Zooey Deschanel-- aka the pain in our collective feminist babymakers.

Known for sporting thick, 'childish' bangs, that stop just above her baby blue eyes, Ms. Deschanel has flawlessly managed to  straddle the ambiguous line between cute and soulful. (Nobody even knew that line existed, until she showed up!)  On top of that, the beautiful actress/singer projects a kind of childish sincerity, which she plays up with her girlish getups, and that ridiculous(ly sweet) ukulele she hauls around. Then there's that voice! Raspy and low, and haunting.

Get that? she's beautiful, cute, ethereal...and  the star of a successful sitcom. It's enough to turn any self-possessed woman green. And i'm starting to suspect that that unflattering effect has a lot more to do with the feminist daggers pointed her way, than any accusations of sexism being leveled at her. And what are those accusations? Namely that she's a woman in her thirties who irresponsibly projects an infantile image of women.
Okay, so she likes to be cute..but why is she suddenly being tasked with representing all women? Another question we should be asking is what makes her image so threatening in the first place?
Consider Mindy Kaling, who routinely affects a baby voice to soften her  rudeness, and petty behavior.  When she  bats her eyes and brags about how cute and successful she is, it comes off as manipulative, and (rightfully) undermines her likability.
Zooey on the other hand, is an undeniably warm person. We may not approve of her obsession with  kittens, but unless she's caught trafficking in kitty fur, we should admit that we have no case against her,  and that our problems with Zooey are just that: Our problems with Zooey.

When you analyze the anti-zooey backlash, you realize its actually steeped in sexist bias. Again, take her number one criticism: She's childish, and offensive to women! But how? Who decided that in order to appear  well adjusted, one has  to renounce all enthusiastic impulses?  Or that a  hyperfeminine aesthetic was an indicator of immaturity? Remember that Zooey's a successful, working woman who sings in a band, and stars in her own show -- what part of that screams "dependency?"

She's articulated this point herself, in a recent interview, stating:  "It’s sexist to think that [I] can’t act in a girly way or speak the way I want to speak or to assume that I’m not a strong and intelligent woman because of my appearance.” And if that wasn't awesome enough, she's also been quoted raging: "I want to be a fucking feminist and wear a fucking Peter Pan collar. So fucking what?""

That's right. So fucking what.

But If only that were the end of it! Other objections to Zooey  include the oft-cited charge that she's faking her entire persona: (meaning the 'adorkable' character she LITERALLY portrays on her TV show "New Girl." )  'You guys, she's not really that goofy!'  accuses the blogosphere, while collectively ignoring the fact that SHE'S ALSO ACTING.

In an article entitled "The Case against Zooey Deschanel,"  blogger Eric Garneau echoes this very position:
"it's that she tries way, way too hard to convince the world that she's awkwardly cute, that she's… ugh… adorkable, when this is clearly not the case. Guys, she's tricking us all."
Hear  that? We've been deceived! Next he'll be telling us Natalie Portman isn't really a deranged ballerina!
 Garneau continues: "After all, for many people, awkwardness isn't a personality trait that's chosen for reasons of fashion… it's something to be overcome. Awkwardness can, in extreme cases, be completely socially crippling, and while lots of comedians can mine material from awkward situations, we laugh at stuff like that because it rings true and we wish it didn't."

Ladies and gentlemen, the official spokesperson for awkward folk everywhere! Except,  as a member of the awkward community, I don't recall voting this dude into office: And while he's right  that awkwardness can in extreme cases be socially crippling, isn't in possible that  Zooey's alter-ego (Jessica Day) is simply not one of those cases? And why shouldn't the star be 'mining material' from her character's quirks?? Once a personality has been established, it's officially subject to the spoofing and ridicule required of all TV archetypes. (Haven't you seen FRIENDS?)

Also keep in mind, that unlike Mindy Kaling, (who plays 'Mindy' on her TV show) Zooey's not portraying a version of herself, nor does she write her own lines. That's why it's unfair to attribute any of Jess's antics to the giant-eyed fairy-princess who plays her.

What do you think? Is this woman playing us all, or is she just trying to have some fun?

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