Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Honestique – The Jennifer Lawrence Cult

The post in which I break my promise to talk about Obama’s fatherhood and talk about why I don’t like Jennifer Lawrence instead.

It’s no secret that the entertainment gossip industry goes through celebrity obsessions faster than this part-time blogger’s mockery can keep up; one day they’re sucking up to child molester Woody Allen and all those performers shameless enough to work with him, next they’re gushing over whatever awards dress the slave movie actress is wearing, and then they’re practically bowling themselves over to obtain an interview with the Marvel superhero’s on-screen girlfriend, but the last two years have largely seen these gaseous sycophants returning to one person over and over again.  The media have since informed me that Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence, embarrassingly identified in some circles as J. Law*, is officially the new – how do you say? – “it girl” in Hollywood, which basically means that celebrity idolaters across the spectrum are dutifully standing by, like dogs before their master, to answer her every beck and call, disseminate her every off-hand comment, and generally swoon before her every public appearance.

You’ve probably heard the clichés before.  Aside from being beautiful, talented, and committed to her work, Jennifer Lawrence also happens to be the most eminently relatable actress in the business, reeling in such well-deserved descriptors as “honest”, “authentic”, “real”, “a breath of fresh air”, and “down-to-earth”.  In fact, her acknowledged reputation for non-fakeness and realness was exactly the impetus I needed to sit down and write this post many months ago, at which point I had accidently initiated a conversation with some friends that ended up treading all these same talking points.  Fortunately enough, my decision to postpone this article’s publication until the present has given me a much broader repository of Jennifer Lawrence nonsense to draw from and also enabled me to opportunistically mine the hype surrounding the new X-men movie directed, appropriately enough, by the X-rated party animal Bryan Singer.

At first I’d thought that this Jennifer Lawrence cult – and I’m not even the first to call it that, judging by a quick web search – was a disconnected and mostly trivial affair, rooted in nothing more than manic though transient Hunger Games hype, but now I see that this conjecture sorely underestimates its true significance.  More than just a passing, movie-dependent fad, the Lawrence Cult is symptomatic of a greater cultural malaise, the much more dangerous cult that we shall for the moment call the Spontaneous Identity Movement.  The Spontaneous Identity Movement holds as a key tenet that society as a whole is better off when people are truest to their core selves, i.e. when they live in accordance with whatever their impulses and whims tell them to do at any particular moment.  Spontaneous Identity ideology rejects all forms of self-control and standards of social propriety as deceitful and inconsistent with a person’s inner being; as in Lois Lowry’s dystopian universe of The Giver, anyone who attempts to repress or hide whatever random, indecent thoughts and cravings he may experience is committing the penultimate sins of lying by omission and not-sharing, where the first sin is that of rational judgmentalism.  And so it is that Jennifer Lawrence, in all her honesty, down-to-earthness, and unadulterated vulgarity, claims her rightful throne as champion of this movement, withholding nothing from the press and treating no ground as sacred.  As a perennially single, problematically picky, and admittedly delusional male Youtube watcher, I admire Lawrence’s honesty especially for giving us a portrait of what true honesty is not or need not be, and for demonstrating that honesty removed from dignity and class is about as valuable and useful as a needle without a thread.

I don’t like that Jennifer Lawrence pretends to espouse a positive, empowering view of female body image while putting her own body through the very rigorous and unnecessary makeovers that she condemns for everybody else.  In a sense, she verily typifies the left-wing Hollywood elitist in that she continually prods her fans to present themselves a certain way but never abides by this advice herself. Lawrence is always running her mouth on how women should take pride in their figure no matter how people on television or in magazines tell them they should look.  Airbrushed images of women on fashion covers promote a harmful message for America’s youth by inbreeding false expectations of how “real women”, presumably overweight ones like Lawrence, are shaped.  One big hole in this, obviously, is that Lawrence herself is one of those people on television and in magazines who’s telling fellow women how they should try to look. Another is that Lawrence, despite her numerous self-deprecating protests to the contrary, is neither relatively fat nor physically unattractive, but frequently gets caught airbrushing herself as if she was, proving she doesn’t believe the very simple message she preaches enough to practice it in her own life. Most egregiously, though, Lawrence never attends an interview or event unless she’s caked in makeup, a product that women use solely with the intent to make their bodies look ‘better’ than nature’s design. Whether you call this enhancing natural beauty or masking it doesn’t change the final cause of makeup – the same one shared by digital airbrushing –, which is to make something ‘deficient’ look more like something else that it is not, to subvert what “real women” look like in favor of some social standard of femininity sponsored by people on television and in magazines, i.e. by people like Lawrence, who urges girls to love themselves for “who they are” while at the same time doing everything within her capacity to change who she herself is.  This is what’s normally called being a hypocrite – a real and authentic hypocrite, perhaps, but a hypocrite all the same, and no more real or authentic than the celebrity who doesn’t practice hypocrisy.

I don’t like that Jennifer Lawrence resorts to using bawdy, anatomical humor in order to characterize herself with interviewers.  Apparently the new Hollywood thinks it’s cool for women to court attention by making the crudest physical jokes they can come up with, but no amount of New-Age Feminist balderdash will ever convince this Author that vomit, urine, or genitalia jokes are at all becoming or acceptable of a lady – or anybody else, for that matter.  I would repost some of Lawrence’s finer (in the sense that Caligula made a very fine emperor or Saul Alinsky a very fine community-organizer) off-the-cuff wisecracks here to prove my point, but none of them are even funny enough to qualify under the Files’ lowest comedic standards.  If we were sincerely going to debase our website’s upstanding reputation with a lazy boob joke, then we’d at least be sure to pick something of a higher caliber than Lawrence’s all-too-bloated stock of boob jokes.  In any case, Lawrence comes forward with a new viral obscenity regularly enough that you’ll probably run into one of them sooner or later without even looking, just like I have.  The whole alleged “rape scream” joke at Cannes that popped up a few days ago wasn’t even her best gag in the big picture, even though it’s garnered possibly the most coverage.  Or would it be worst gag in the big picture?  Whatever you call it, it was a bad idea – a real and authentic bad idea, perhaps, but a bad idea all the same, and no more real or authentic than an idea that another celebrity actually thought through carefully before sharing with everybody else.

I don’t like that Jennifer Lawrence has attended and spoken at the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation awards ceremony along with limousine liberal Harvey Weinstein and sexual pervert Bill Clinton. GLAAD is an extreme, anti-American, fascist fringe group that actively tries to usurp the leadership and undermine the sovereignty of private organizations that don’t relentlessly lobby for their homosexual agenda.  GLAAD is notorious for bullying, demeaning, and attempting to silence anyone who diverges from their singular, close-minded worldview on homosexuality.  Oddly enough, there is no room for ideological dissension within their diversitopia, as evidenced by their assaults on Phil Robertson and other conservatives who denounce the media-abetted normalization of sexual offenses; in fact, GLAAD goes so far as to issue an annual evaluation of television networks’ overall gayness, a report which they call the “Network Responsibility Index”, implying thus that televised content providers have a moral and social obligation to incorporate a certain, arbitrarily decided quota of homosexual and transgender “representatives” in their work.  Thus they allot Fox a “Good” grade for filling a merely adequate 42% of its primetime hours with gayness while reprimanding TBS and History channel with a “Fail” for declining to drum audiences over the head with a certain sexual lifestyle.  This is no less akin to censorship than the FCC’s since revoked Fairness Doctrine, which unlawfully strong-armed broadcasters into fairly representing all the sides of any sufficiently divisive issue they might cover.  Even the since-fired MSNBC ass Alec Baldwin has had enough sense to savage GLAAD as the “fundamentalist wing of gay advocacy”.  GLAAD is a sworn and open enemy of anyone who truly supports freedom of religion, association, or speech, especially in film, which one would think that Lawrence holds particularly dear.  The only credible circumstances under which one can support GLAAD are bigotry, devotion to some Secular theocracy, or intentional ignorance – one could be a real and authentic ignoramus, perhaps, but an ignoramus all the same, and no less real or authentic than those who carefully research a political action group’s history before lending it their approval.

I don’t like that Jennifer Lawrence makes statements that have no logical coherency to them whatsoever. Take, for example, the interview with Barbara Walters in which she said with a straight face, “I just think it should be illegal to call somebody fat on TV.  I mean, if we’re regulating cigarettes and sex and cuss words because of the effect they have on our younger generation, why aren’t we regulating things like calling people fat?”  Granted that making any interview involving Bawbawa sound logically coherent is a Herculean labor in and of itself, Lawrence is both factually incorrect and structurally nonsensical.  Unless you bundle ‘n____r’ and ‘fag’ with the common stock of obscenities, nobody is “regulating” swear words except for the FCC, and then only on networks.  Likewise, the only real, major sense in which the United States regulates consensual sexual activity is by protecting children below a legal age of consent from predators; in point of fact, public schools across the country and especially in urban centers like New York City encourage children to sexually experiment with one another and even provide class tutorials on how to do so most safely and pleasurably, complete in many cases with free birth control packages for the students to practice what they’ve learned.  But let’s pretend for the sake of argument that our government really has enlisted a nightmarish squadron of bedroom police for the moral enrichment of our children. Even if the religious right has succeeded in clamping down on Americans’ single most important human right (sex), what justification is that for further encroaching on our liberty by annulling a significantly less popular but still fundamental human right to express opinions that possibly hurt the feelings of others?  Lawrence’s syllogistic reasoning must read either as:

A) We rightly regulate things that are good.
B) We don’t regulate things that are bad.
C) Therefore, we should regulate things that are bad.

or as

A) We rightly regulate things that are bad.
B ) We don’t regulate things that are worse.
C ) Therefore, we should regulate those things that are worse.

Neither is structurally valid and each is based on premises which Lawrence apparently doesn’t hold as truth.  If her conclusion that we should restrict freedom of speech in so far as it offends fat people and corrupts the youth is predicated on the government’s just suppression of drugs and promiscuity and curse words, then one would think that Lawrence might take her role as model to young fans in these areas more seriously.  And yet she’s always swearing in interviews, making crude references to certain body parts, smoking in public, and jokingly recounting drunken anecdotes, all the while swearing that “as long as [she’s] Katniss [she’s] making conscious decisions” to be a good example for her female admirers.  As far as we can distinguish from this “role model’s” behavior, regulatory actions pertaining to the three aforementioned objects have nothing to do with a negative influence on the younger generation’s character, thereby mitigating Lawrence’s diagnosis that there’s an urgent need to criminalize comments about weight under the same rationale.  Lawrence goes on to ask Walters, “Why is humiliating people funny?” as if our 1st amendment rights are contingent upon our aptitude for being funny, which admittedly is a little funny for epitomizing the thought process of a blithering idiot – a real and authentic idiot, but an idiot all the same, and no more real or authentic than a celebrity who doesn’t speak like an idiot.

In spite of all that criticism, I must confess that I’ve fallen dreadfully short of Ms. Lawrence in this post, this woefully dishonest, inauthentic, unreal, up-from-earth excuse to take advantage of a superhero se-prequel. Contrary to the misleading prelude, I really do like Jennifer Lawrence, in the same respect that I like Steven Spielberg or Stephen King or Tom Hanks or Tom Cruise.  Each of them gets his job done at the end of the day, nutcase or not, and Lawrence does her job better than most everybody else.  Whether or not her spontaneous, untempered, and utterly brutal honesty makes her a good role model for young Katniss Everdeen wannabes and whether she exemplifies all that I respect in women is a wholly different question. I suppose I could write a follow-up entry in adulation of whichever lady does the latter, but then I’m sure I already have…
That little, red-haired girl.

* Get it?  It’s like J.Lo, but with an Aw at the end instead of an O?  Ah!  That’s just so cute… in a stupid, humiliating kind of way.

Post-script: As if I didn’t already have enough reasons to sneer at the J.Law cult, now it turns out that Lawrence is a devout agnostic, and not even an “I cannot comprehend the mysteries of the universe” sort of agnostic but an “I just throw all the religions of the world into a melting pot and worship everybody” sort of agnostic.  From her June interview with Marie Claire:

“I was brought up very religious, and then I let go of everything that I had been taught and started with what felt right to me.  I just kind of grew up and, for lack of a better term, grew out of it.  I don’t know whose beliefs are right or wrong, so I just believe in everything, and I don’t believe in anything.  When I’m worried about something, like if Nick or anybody in my family is on a plane, I’ll say a prayer.  It just makes me feel better to throw it out there to anyone—whether it’s to God, to the universe, to Allah—just please keep them safe.”

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