The Myth of Jennifer Lawrence
You know Jennifer Lawrence, right? Of course you do.
If you don’t for some inexplicable, unheard of reason, let me just try and sum her up for you: She’s a 23-year-old actress from Louisville, Kentucky who, for all intents and purposes, has yet to make a career misstep. She’s known for her work in films such as Winter’s Bone (for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress), Silver Linings Playbook (for which she won an Academy Award for Best Actress), American Hustle (for which she has been nominated – and will probably win – an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress), and the Hunger Games series of films (through which she has cemented herself into science fiction fanboy/girl nerd-dom lore). She’s also really, really good looking.
But that’s only scraping the surface of Lawrence’s appeal. She is not lauded only for her talents as an actress. In fact, such a talent only accounts for only a small part of her reverence. She is mostly praised for her personality, her style – her “aura.”
Lawrence has constantly been described by the media – and by the general viral public – as quite possibly the most relatable female celebrity on the planet. The throngs and throngs and throngs (and throngs) of Buzzfeed listicles highlighting her awkwardness, her laundry list of public gaffes, her willingness to discuss her tastes for unhealthy foods, and her general Zooey Deschanelian quirk1 all point to this relatability – Lawrence is “real.” She isn’t afraid to be herself, to show us that celebrities aren’t flawless like we think they are, to demonstrate that, hey, young American, you’re just like me, see? See how similar we are all in this crazy, media-saturated world? It looks like you’ve finally found a perfect role model, haven’t you?
In the next 1,000 words, I’m going to show you why this is complete bullshit.
We don’t know that the Jennifer Lawrence that is force-fed to us through Buzzfeed and that trips at the Academy Awards is the “real” Jennifer Lawrence. We have no clue. Yeah, we all see that stuff – she says those things, plain as day, and we nod and high-five our girlfriends and say “that, that is a real woman, ((your girlfriend’s name)), that is why she is so awesome. I love her.”
But do we really know? Is there any way that we can honestly, truly say that the “Jennifer Lawrence” that Jennifer Lawrence presents to the public isn’t just a façade, a mirage, a hollow persona?
I realize I’ve started to sound like a conspiracy theorist. So let me back up and try to actually argue this in a logical, non-vitriolic way.
First of all, what does Jennifer Lawrence do for a living? She’s an actress. What do actresses do? They are paid – in Lawrence’s case, millions of dollars – to read a script, read a character, digest that character, and then breathe life into that character in the way they see fit. The character isn’t real, their words and emotions shown to us, the viewer, are not real – it’s all make-believe. It’s pretend.
An actor’s job is to play pretend. Jennifer Lawrence is a successful actor. Therefore, she is very good at playing pretend.
We know this. All you have to do is watch Winter’s Bone and it becomes pretty apparent. Girl can act. Like, really well. So who’s to say that, just as she fooled us into feeling feelings where no real feelings actually exist (i.e., in a manufactured, Hollywood script), that she also fooled us outside of that script – that the character we see on the Red Carpet, on Letterman and Fallon and whoever else and wherever else, is just as manufactured, is just as unreal – is just as fake?