Jennifer Lawrence as Gillian Flynn’s “Cool Girl”

jennifer-lawrence-oscars-press-room-photos-2013-17_zps780f5864I love J-Law; you love J-Law; everybody loves J-Law.  Or so seems to be consensus following last week’s Academy Awards, where she tripped up the stairs, made a self-deprecating speech, performed authenticity and humility without seeming tri-hardy, reacted amazingly to Jack Nicholson in the awards press, and gave the best responses to banal post-award reporter questions in the history of banal post-award reporter questions.  She was, in a word, charismatic.  And she differentiated herself from Anne Hathaway, who seemed, according to whom you ask, calculated, too happy, ingenuous, too performative, etc. etc.

In the week since the awards, the battle between these two types of contemporary female stardom have battled it out in the pop culture opinion blogosphere.  If you’re interested, check here, here, and here.  Posting these arguments to this blog’s Facebook page, I was impressed with the reaction, characterized by a recoil at the idea that both types of stardom, and the negotiation of femininity they represent, can’t co-exist.  TRUTH, READERS, TRUTH.  As several of you pointed out, no one is comparing Daniel Day-Lewis and Christoph Waltz or Ben Affleck and Ang Lee — there’s room for plenty of men at the top.  But when it comes to women, we’ve got to pit them against one another.  There’s a long tradition of this “women against women” strategy: see, for example, the crazy, entirely-press-fueled “war” between Garbo and Dietrich, or, more recently, the enduring attempts to pit Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie, both powerful women in Hollywood, in a fight to the death for Brad’s affections.

To be clear, I have zero problem with articulating one’s dislike or like for a particular star.  When we talk about the stars we like and dislike, we’re associating their images, and what they represent, with ourselves.  The things we like — television shows, music, stars — are signifiers of our own personality.  To like Jennifer Lawrence, to like Anne Hathaway, is to say volumes about the type of contemporary femininity you admire and with which you would like to associate yourself.  With that said, I don’t think that lambasting the person with whom you don’t want to associate yourself is very productive.  Be a fan all you want, and articulate why you don’t like another star, but don’t be an ass, and don’t frame it in terms of “there can only be one!”  There can be many.  The more, the better.  Anne Hathaway’s image is not one to which I do not cotton, but that doesn’t mean that I think she’s a bitch, worthless, or should retire.  In fact, she’s really f-ing talented.  But just like you can admire an argument and not agree with it, I can admire her and not “like” her.

But I do want to unpack the unadulterated affection for Lawrence, whose “star” performance has been framed as wholly natural, authentic, and unperformative.  Hathaway molds her image; Lawrence just is.  In truth, Lawrence, with the help of her publicist and agent (who have been lauded all over the place in the trades) is just good at appearing to not perform.  She shares this attribute with the most enduring stars of old — Cary Grant, Gary Cooper, John Wayne, Katharine Hepburn, early Tom Cruise and Julia Roberts.  In our current moment of hyper-manipulation, we cling even more to those who can seem wholly unmanipulated.  And I’m not trying to be a asshole when I suggest that Lawrence understands that what’s she’s doing, in terms of madcap honesty, will further her career and brand.  She’s smart.  She’s savvy.  I don’t think she’s a conniving, manipulative star, but I do think that she is very much cognizant of what she’s doing.

Lawrence’s particular negotiation of “naturalness,” skill, emotion, and femininity wouldn’t be popular at any given moment in time.  It’s very specific to our current cultural moment, in which the “cool girl” fills a specific ideological function, adhering to a paradoxical understanding of what a woman should and should not be, a peculiar negotiation of feminism and passivity.

The best articulation of the “cool girl” comes from Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl.  I have some serious problems with this book (is Flynn a misogynist? DISCUSS.) but as Mallory Cohn, one of the smart commenters on one of the Facebook posts about this topic, astutely pointed out, Lawrence is the embodiment of the “cool girl” persona perfectly described by Flynn’s heroine.   Here’s the passage in full:

Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.

Men actually think this girl exists. Maybe they’re fooled because so many women are willing to pretend to be this girl. For a long time Cool Girl offended me. I used to see men – friends, coworkers, strangers – giddy over these awful pretender women, and I’d want to sit these men down and calmly say: You are not dating a woman, you are dating a woman who has watched too many movies written by socially awkward men who’d like to believe that this kind of woman exists and might kiss them. I’d want to grab the poor guy by his lapels or messenger bag and say: The bitch doesn’t really love chili dogs that much – no one loves chili dogs that much! And the Cool Girls are even more pathetic: They’re not even pretending to be the woman they want to be, they’re pretending to be the woman a man wants them to be. Oh, and if you’re not a Cool Girl, I beg you not to believe that your man doesn’t want the Cool Girl. It may be a slightly different version – maybe he’s a vegetarian, so Cool Girl loves seitan and is great with dogs; or maybe he’s a hipster artist, so Cool Girl is a tattooed, bespectacled nerd who loves comics. There are variations to the window dressing, but believe me, he wants Cool Girl, who is basically the girl who likes every fucking thing he likes and doesn’t ever complain. (How do you know you’re not Cool Girl? Because he says things like: “I like strong women.” If he says that to you, he will at some point fuck someone else. Because “I like strong women” is code for “I hate strong women.”)”

Again, I’m unsure if Flynn hates women or if this protagonist hates all women, but the outlines of this “cool girl” resonate, do they not?  That’s because it’s a product of ideology, and ideology is always super contradictory and falls apart under inspection.  The cool girl is a guy’s girl who also loves sex.  She’s masculine yet super feminine.  She’s all the “good things” (read: amendable to contemporary patriarchy) about girls and none of the “bad things” (read: ball busting, interested in her own destiny, willing to advocate for her own rights).  But that’s how the media, and more specifically, stars, work: they provide us with examples of “real people” who are proof positive that images like “cool girl” exist.

Lawrence is a powerful, beautiful woman who also thought that Seth McFarland was “great.”  This infuriates me, but it works perfectly with her image: she’s no ball-busting feminist.  She’s chill.  She can take a joke.  She is, as People Magazine recently declared, the woman that all women want to be like and all men love.  She’s the effing cool girl.  Only time will tell if she has to hew to that image or breaks out of it entirely.  For now, however, we need to think about what our adoration of that image represents — and complicate our unadulterated affection.  I still love her, but I need to continue to think about why.

42 Responses to “Jennifer Lawrence as Gillian Flynn’s “Cool Girl””

  1. Hope says:

    That Gillian Flynn quote encapsulates so much of contemporary American culture in terms of mixed messages about how we behave as women. It also makes me feel a little queasy. I think she’s ID’d an ongoing issue and yet, I hate that it seems true. I don’t want it to be true. Off the top of my head, the other Hollywood “cool girls” are Cameron Diaz and Olivia Munn, right? Yes, they’re “cool,” sure, but are they respected? As successful as the “cool” guys? I’d say not.

    But I think there are deeper roots to this idea–I’m reading Susan Douglas’ “Where the Girls Are”—and these themes of conformity vs. cool bubbled up in her childhood, too. 60s-era American girls got Donna Reed, of course, but they were also told rebellion and sexuality were cool. But “cool” sexuality is impossible for women to maintain because female sexuality often (always?) has a price in our culture. Know any 45-year old “cool girls”?

    • Shenee says:

      I totally agree about Olivia Munn. That is the first person I thought of when I was reading it.

      • Hope says:

        Thanks, Shenee!

        Have you read the Tigerbeatdown coverage of Munn and the Daily Show? I linked to it on the Celebrity Gossip FB post for this article.

        I have to admit, that Cool Girl passage is intense and scary. It bothers me that Flynn may have spotted something real there; I haven’t read “Gone Girl,” so I can’t make a judgment on Flynn’s misogyny, but that fragment is just…. painful.

        I think it’s going to bother/haunt me for awhile, but that probably means something about the ‘cool girl’ and what she represents is important (I’m reminded of one of my favorite theory books, Avery F. Gordon’s “Ghostly Matters;” Gordon is a sociologist who argues that literature is often able to express, via haunting and haunted characters, truths that aren’t included in the historical record because of longterm inequality. Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” is one of her major examples).

      • Rebecca says:

        I was wondering why Olivia Munn made me feel so conflicted. This nails it!

    • Sara says:

      When I think of Hollywood “cool girls” I’m more inclined to think of actresses who’ve been in comedies.

      Emma Stone is the best example of a cool girl, and she started out in a raunchy comedy (Superbad) and then transitioned to “movie star” in things like Easy A (how much “cooler” can you get in male eyes than pretending to have sex with them to make them seem cooler?), Crazy Stupid Love (she gets to be with Ryan Gosling so guys want to date her, girls want to be her), and The Amazing Superman (pretty “cool” to be the heroine in a superhero movie).

  2. Zack says:

    Not much to say about Lawrence–I think you nailed it–but the accusation that Flynn is a misogynist is interesting. I don’t know enough of her work to say one way or the other, but in the context of Gone Girl (SPOILERS, NATURALLY), it’s troubling how much the book seems to side with the male lead, even while playing the “Oh, they’re both assholes” card. It bothered me because it’s bad writing, failing to live up to writing’s structural ingenuity by drawing attention to the falseness of one narrative (ie, the fake trail the heroine leaves in the first half that sets up the hero as her killer), but not giving the other “true-er” narratives more depth. But that falseness could also be some kind of misogynistic, or at the very least sexist, bias, because it makes all the hateful junk the guy spews (which we’re nominally supposed to distrust because he’s potentially unreliable, and also because it’s self-serving crap) somehow more legitimate. Like, it looked like he was just a douchebag, but it turns out his wife is even crazier–she’s a killer, even–so maybe he isn’t such a douchebag after all. The surface intention is that we’re supposed to think they deserve each other, but it doesn’t quite balance out that way. (/SPOILERS)

    Anyway, as always, your commentary on star image is, as ever, excellent.

    • Lyn says:

      Interesting analysis of Gone Girl! I didn’t have quite the same reaction as you – I thought the unreliable narration was skillful at drawing out the doucheness of the male protagonist and developing some sympathy for the unbelievable horrid female protagonist (I mean, she is an unremitting sociopath but I was still cheering her takedown of the “cool girl” quoted above), at least until the unbelievably over-the-top ending where the whole thing fell apart for me.

      Great article, AHP!

  3. Sara says:

    I’ve been waiting for you to discuss Anne Hathaway and/or Jennifer Lawrence. And this is certainly interesting. I adore Jennifer Lawrence, but when you present it all like this I question the reasons why, just the same as you.

    Lawrence certainly does seem cool, although you can only gather so much from media interviews. She talks consistently about her lack of media training and so I’m inclined to think she could actually be a cool girl, although not to the extent of artificiality that the passage in Gone Girl (which I loved, simply for the pulpy twistiness) purports. And anyway, could a lack of media training be a type of media training anyway? I think in this age, where the calculated behavior of celebrities is never more evident, it’s kind of refreshing to see someone without a filter (or at least with less of a filter), and I think this would be true whether the celebrity was a man or a woman.

    As for Anne Hathaway, I thought the hatred directed toward her was kind of shocking and also fascinating. I never realized “Hathahate” was a “thing” before this awards cycle, but the media’s proclivity to tear her down in order to lift up Lawrence was decidedly not cool. I think Hathaway is kind of over-eager and awkward in front of large groups of people, but rather charming in one-on-one scenarios. There’s certainly nothing wrong with wanting to win something, but as a society–from sports to awards like these–we really don’t like when people outwardly show it. (I’m reminded of the pre-season rally the Miami Heat held after Lebron James joined the team when he went on about how many championships they’d win: “Not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven…” And for the rest of that season he was viewed as villain, rooted against.)

    • Jennifer says:

      Exactly. The reason why like J.Law is that she lets it all hang out there, no matter how silly/kinda inappropriate/funny/possibly rude it is. I tend to love the celebrities that do that–Pattinson, Mayer, Megan Fox (yeah, I know)–but then they end up being shamed into shutting up for good. I hate to wait for J.Law to have that happen to her, but it probably will. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy her while she’s still honest and not giving a fuck.

      And I am on both Jennifer and Anne’s teams. I think we need to back the hell off of Anne, really. Nothing wrong with her, and she also tends to be fairly honest. So she gets my support.

  4. Shenee says:

    I also have MAJOR problems with Gone Girl but that passage gave me chills because it felt so freakin’ true. I also will admit being that girl staring at another girl doing that and rolling my eyes so far back into my head I looked like Beetlejuice.

    My favorite part:

    The bitch doesn’t really love chili dogs that much – no one loves chili dogs that much!

    YES.

    I love J-Law but I also hate that people don’t think she isn’t doing what Anne Hathaway is doing but in a way that people like.

    It seems a little unfair that Anne gets blasted for “acting” and J-law gets celebrated for being so real.

    I also wonder if we will all turn on J like we did with Anne. There has been a little talk of her doing it on purpose, putting on a show and/or not caring about this big thing she just won. You don’t hear it much. It’s kind of like saying you don’t like Beyonce. You wouldn’t DARE say that too loud for anyone to hear. SHE’S AMAZING, right?

    Who knows!

    I feel like there was a time when people really liked Anne.

  5. Eleanor says:

    Yes, oh lord, yes. I’ve been shrieking to myself about this since the, oh, 81st thing I read about how Hathaway is calculating but J-Law is “so natural.”

    As for the Gillian Flynn-misogyny thing–her other books beg the question even more, IMO. Especially Sharp Objects, which has a weird victim-blame-y tinge at points but I can never decide, like with Gone Girl, if she’s lambasting the culture that’s created this milieu or the women/girls themselves.

  6. Caitie says:

    I loved this article – it touches nicely on how everyone has been reacting to our new BFF – even the way the media couches it in BFF terminology so often. As though we are all 15 year olds getting ready for the best sleepover ever, and maybe we’ll go egg that bitch Anne’s house, because she’s sooooo stuck up. When she’s possibly shy/awkward/tries too hard to be a “grown up.”

    (And, uh, it’s MacFarlane. Sorry!)

  7. Selma says:

    It is quite inevitable that the media and the people will turn on Jennifer Lawrence eventually. And I do too believe that all the “coolness” isn’t that real but I do think that some of it is. She is trying too hard sometimes but I wouldn’t compare her to Cameron Diaz or Olivia Munn, especially not Olivia Munn. I believe that the thing that separates her from them is her talent. I’m not a fan of Jennifer’s but I cannot pretend like she doesn’t have talent. Winter’s Bone was amazing and she made that movie what it is. She is also respected by her peers a lot. The most ridiculous part of this whole thing is the media. If people keep writing stupid articles about Anne and Jennifer people will turn on them no matter what. I don’t have a problem with Anne, never have and never will, but at the level of “talent”, she is not that much better or worse than Jennifer. The only thing is that she can sing too.

    This article is doing exactly what every other article is doing. Pitting them against each other. Favoring another starlet. Unbelievable.

  8. tatiana.larina says:

    SPOILERS AHOY

    I must say that I disagree with the allegations of misogyny against “Gone Girl” (I don’t know Flynn’s other books), although I see where they’re coming from. I am reminded of what Roger Ebert wrote reviewing “Dr T and women” (not Altman’s best): “We have had countless films about men abusing women…, but let there be one film in which women suffer from affluence, idleness and too much love, and it is an attack on the sex.” Not exactly the situation in the book, but I also find it weird that books/movies about victimized women should be pro-feminist, while a book about a woman who is a freaking crime genius should be misogynist. I must admit that when reading the book I was for a disconcertingly long time rooting for Amy, even after the big reveal in the second part. Maybe it means I am a sociopath and misogynist too.

    • gg says:

      good point.

    • Rebecca says:

      Count me in as a sociopath, too. I was rooting for Amy for at least 3/4 of the book! Ha!

    • Lexa says:

      Thank you for this. I have to admit I found the comments about Flynn’s “misogyny” troubling. While “Sharp Objects” was far from a perfect novel and floundered at the end, what I loved about it was that it illustrated how dark and disturbed women can be, especially during the adolescent years. I relished how twisted the “Amazing Amy” character in GG turned out to be. I don’t find any of it misogynistic, but rather empowering.

      But the bottom line is that fictional character rarely adhere to ideologies–even the ones you fervently believe. They run away from you (the author) and do a lot of crazy stupid shit. It’s the nature of fiction.

      When I read the “Cool Girls” chapter of “Gone Girl,” I felt like I could breathe. This was the feminine ideal I always thought I was supposed to strive to be in my post adolescent 20′s. It made me want to kill myself. I especially loved the line about the hipster version of the Cool Girl, the “self-satisfied Willimasburg bitch, all tattoos and Bettie Page bangs.” To me, that was the brilliance of “Gone Girl,” a cringe-inducing thriller, where I was chuckling along the way.

  9. st says:

    Suspecting that Flynn might be a misogynist or hate women because of Gone Girl makes as much sense as suspecting that Mario Puzo was pro-murder because Sonny Corleone got offed in The Godfather.

  10. Billy says:

    Maybe Jennifer Lawrence thought Seth McFarlane was “great” because – gasp – she thought we was “great”? Maybe she didn’t read the manifesto that every female was required to be offended? (Disclosure: I’m not an SM fan, nor was I impressed with his “performance.” But I celebrate differences of opinion.)

    I love Flynn’s book and that it dares to open the can of worms conversation about gender assumptions and issues in our culture, a conversation that most including myself fear having because the instant we engage, we’re doomed to be reminded of how stupid and ignorant we are. (And yes, if you’re a man and dare to have an “honest” discussion about gender issues, it feels like you’re walking through a landmine-infested war zone.)

    Why is Amy any more or less about womanhood than Vic Mackey or Jax Teller or Walter White are about masculinity? Why aren’t they all just great and fascinating anti-heroes? (And why don’t we have more of these kinds of roles for women on TV? Is it because they’re doomed to be criticized for making some kind of flawed approach to feminism, ala Gillian Flynn? Is it easier to create an anti-hero male because there’s no chance for political/philosophical blowback? Nevermind. I’ve read the reviews of “GIRLS,” so yeah, leading women characters with flaws are doomed to higher scrutiny, usually by women.)

    I don’t think Jennifer Lawrence is “The Cool Girl”; I think she’s 22. She’s refreshing because she seems to have maintained, thus far, a sense of perspective about what she is and what she is accomplishing and how little she knows, which is supposedly a sign of intelligence. If this is an “act,” well then that’s too bad, and I’ve been snowed. It wouldn’t be the first time, via Hollywood or via real life.

    As for Anne Hathaway, I think of her as the real-life version of Lea Michele’s character from GLEE… which I find amusing and sad, because neither of them deserve the level of animosity they engender.

  11. carrie says:

    I touched on Jennifer Lawrence as a “cool girl” briefly in a piece I wrote this weekend, if you want to take a look: http://www.blisstree.com/2013/03/02/beauty-shopping/jennifer-lawrence-without-makeup-is-not-news/ (It’s a rant of another kind, though)

    But I agree with above commenters who say that the media is going to eventually turn on her. No one can engender that much goodwill for too long. I found the pitting of Hathaway against Lawrence post-Oscars to be very weird—-they weren’t up for the same award, they’re not that close to the same age, they seem to exist in different Hollywood niches except for that the fact that they are famous and they have vaginas and they are critically-acclaimed. For the record, I’ve disliked Anne Hathaway for a long time, since way before this awards season. Its’ been interesting to see the backlash against her as well as the thinkpieces trying to puzzle out WHY there is a backlash. To me, she seems like a goody-goody, end of story.

    I HATED Gone Girl. If I didn’t have to finish it for a book club I was in, I wouldn’t have. I see what she attempted to do, but I think the book fell flat. Literally, it made my skin crawl.

    Maybe I’m naive but something about JL’s “cool girl” ness feels more real to me. It’s not as artificial as what Gillian Flynn is describing, although it certainly does echo it, at least a bit. I don’t know, I think maybe her comments about body image and weight etc make me think she’s trying less to appeal to men and more trying, as a millenial (she was born in 1990) to just wade through and live with and negotiate the dual cultural messages of BE SEXY and GIRLS CAN DO ANYTHING she’s been given her whole life.

  12. Kristina says:

    Well…shit. As a “tattooed, bespectacled nerd who loves comics”, I’m kind of like, simmer down now. Some people actually like themselves some damn chili dogs (not me though). I feel like this perfectly apt and timely commentary on the unattainability of a persona that is at its heart a variation on the MPDG (uuuuuuuugh I know) is undermined by the fact that it’s voiced by someone so repellant and straight up evil. I genuinely NEEDED that book to end in a murder-suicide. (If they want to do the book any kind of justice, they’ll rewrite the ending, also make it a black comedy.)(I have a litany of problems with that book, starting with a female character taking “manipulative” to a literally insane level, and ending with the use of pregnancy (…spoiler alert?) to trap a guy in a marriage.)
    Back to Jennifer and Anne – I felt like they were both laying it on awfully thick at the Oscars, so I’ll be happy not hearing about or from either of them for a while. But if I went by what they say in interviews (which…is kind of the point, when it comes to stardom, right?) then I’m actually Team Anne, despite her rather manichean view of prostitution, because she’s not straight repping rednecks and for all intents and purposes playing like she’s dumber than she is like Jennifer Lawrence has been doing lately. (Though I DO respect the lowering of others’ expectations for one’s own benefits and I learned that move from Calvin & Hobbes so…yeah.)

    This is incoherent but it’s Monday.

  13. Rebecca says:

    OMG. So much to think on! I disagree with you entirely on this one.

    1. I think Gillian Flynn hates men SO MUCH. At least as portrayed in that one book I read of hers. I think Crazy Amy’s oddly clear-eyed manipulations are because men are basically simpletons–at least her husband is one in her eyes! I have a long spoiler-y essay in me about how Amy and Nick embody the patriarchy because she is femininity as a disguise taken to its darkest conclusion and Nick is the embodiment of current patriarchal entitlement.

    2. I think the key pieces missing in this assessment are J.Law’s sexuality and her acting as the “exception”.

    Lawrence hasn’t really exploited her sexuality for approval–except at the Oscars and what was she supposed to be say? “I thought Seth MacFarlane was a tool and I was trying to be a good sport but when I saw the final product I was like: What a shit show, you know?” Sure, that would seal my eternal love for her but it would also make her seem like a mean-spirited bitch who didn’t get that she’s supposed to be a good sport while being objectified? Few woman, particularly in their early 20s and working in a field that is based entirely on objectification would be able to say that, let alone not face huge backlash (see: Katherine Heigl on Knocked Up and how Seth Rogen got to “forgive her” for speaking her mind; and then try to wrap your brain around her movie choices).

    The idea of an “exception” to the rule of women is the crux of the The Cool Girl, IMO. She’s Not Like Other Girls because she likes to fuck, eat hotdogs, laugh at your dirty jokes, and suck dick like a champ. The Cool Girl is not a girl most women want to befriend. She’s Jenny McCarthy. Jennifer Lawrence is a long way from Jenny McCarthy.

    Also? All the Anne vs. Jennifer thoughts are so gross I can’t. And I don’t even like Anne’s persona!

  14. Yvonne says:

    I don’t know what kind of men Flynn knows, but that description about I love strong women being code for I hate strong women, and all those blanket generalizations about how men and women behave, doesn’t resonate with me at all. She sounds like she is bitter and hanging around with jerks.

  15. Winston says:

    This is a good example of the dangers of criticism without biography. Lawrence has been the same person since she first appeared. Go and watch her earliest interviews. Heck go watch her recent acceptance speech at the LA Film awards. If that is an act then she is the greatest actor that ever walked the earth.
    This is also an example of over analysis. Maybe she is just a normal, unaffected person. She has nerves and jitters. She has moments of arkwardness. And she has incredible screen presence and can act like the wind.
    Also, never dispense career advice. I liked McFarlane and the ratings agreed. We are too uptight as a culture. But the idea that Jennifer at 22 was supposed to do anything but show professional courtesy when asked is insane. Was she supposed to say something like “to tell you the truth I thought he was horrible and the Academy should be ashamed of itself”? That would have gone over well. How about asking Meryl Streep for her opinion? Or Hathaway? At least give Jennifer a few years before you urge her to ruin her career.

  16. pippen says:

    This is really a veiled attempt at bashing. The basic idea is to argue that Jennifer is somehow behaving according to a vague cultural stereotype. Once categorized this way, any affection towards her will be dismissed as a secret form of patriarchy or something.
    Then again, sometimes a cool girl is just a cool girl.

  17. cool girl all growed up says:

    Ok – let’s all remember. This person is just past the legal age to drink. She’s paid an outrageous salary and has no clue what the real world is like. So to compare her to anyone is really ludicris.

  18. Jenny Smith says:

    I admire Jennifer Lawrence particularly for her work in Winter’s Bone. Stunning.

    Your critique is really interesting Annie and seems more about fans than about Lawrence.

  19. Whitney says:

    What I find so interesting about this discussion is that even those espousing pro-female opinions, you’re clinging to judgments one way or another. Why can’t a girl like things that girls aren’t supposed to like according to gender stereotypes? I would go out on a limb and claim that women are unequivocally more complicated than men in most ways; why can that not extend to enjoying couture and swearing? Liking $250 a plate dinners as much as street meat? I think true feminism is letting women be as they want to be, which for me includes all of the above, and for Jennifer Lawrence includes getting excited about Dance Moms and reverting to colloquialisms like “does a bear shit in the woods?” I think Jennifer Lawrence is striking chords with women across America because she can be both of those things and rubbing other women the wrong way because they wish they could, too.

  20. Joanne says:

    A new “Cool Girl”? http://www.vulture.com/2013/03/mila-kunis-jennifer-lawrence-are-americas-best-friend.html

    Comments get pretty heated in parts, I didn’t read through them all, but some similar points are brought up

  21. [...]  The always on-form Anne Helen Petersen wonders if charming, self-deprecating Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence is the living embodiment of Gillian Flynn’s ‘Cool Girl’: [...]

  22. Melanie says:

    Oh, wow. I’m writing a review of a SXSW movie I saw over the weekend and came on here to grab a quote from the “cool girl” fragment to describe the female character in the film. And guess who plays her? Olivia Munn. I hadn’t even read the comments here yet when I made the connection between her character in the film and your analysis. Wow.

  23. Melanie says:

    Wait, no, it’s Olivia Wilde. But she’s still playing a Cool Girl.

  24. Cathy says:

    I don’t know about all this. I mean part of what makes it hard being female is the expectation to be perfect. Pretty and smart and funny and nurturing and all that. Jennifer is 22 I think. Isn’t it enough that she’s a great actress. Whatever media training she’s had she’s obviously naturally funny too. That exchange with Jack Nicholson was hilarious and totally off the cuff. You can’t teach somebody that. Anne Hathaway is maybe a bit annoying but that’s okay too. They’re both really young and have achieved a lot and when they’re not going out of their way to be offensive shouldn’t we just leave them alone? I know for sure at 22 I wasn’t winning oscars while being the perfect feminist icon. Why would we expect someone else to be more? I don’t think guys put each other under this scrutiny. For them someone is good at what they do and that’s enough. We’re just putting pressure on ourselves expecting everyone to be all things at all times.

  25. LateToTheParty says:

    If people really look at JLaw’s public appearances as a whole it’s pretty easy to conclude that she’s calculating. At least to a certain extent. She’s always comparing herself favorably to her peers when it comes to body type (calling them “scarecrows”, playing up how much she likes to eat, etc…), and she’ll tailor her responses to the outlet she’s speaking to. For example, she told a men’s magazine that she ate squirrel and said “F–k Peta”. She took a I-don’t-know-her-name jab at Kim Kardashian when profiled at a snooty fashion mag.

    I’m indifferent to Jennifer Lawrence in general but it’s hard not to be annoyed with people who worship at her altar proclaiming her “authentic” when she’s no less calculating than Anne Hathaway is. Hathaway may even be the more authentic of the two, in her own “jazz hands” theater geek kind of way.

    Another annoying thing is that an actress can be considered subversive and anti-hollywood for being “normal” rather than for, you know, actually being subversive, actually having something to say. But I guess you can’t stay the “cool girl” by actually having opinions about things. And if that’s true then isn’t it utterly meaningless? Why does it matter if someone has influence if they never use it?

  26. H as in Hollywood says:

    I just thought it was crazy that JLaw was put into that ridiculously cumbersome Dior dress that was the cause of her tripping up the stairs to accept her Oscar. No harm done as she charmed everyone and came across as so “human” but since she was expected to likely win the award, her team should have her in a dress that is easy to walk up the steps with!! god only know what kind of shoes she was wearing.