As a woman of a certain age (mid-twenties), there's been an oh-so-pressing debate taking place in Hollywood recently that I just can't seem to let go of: Taylor Swift versus Tiny Fey and Amy Poehler. Not to mention the pop culture pitting of Anne Hathaway versus Jennifer Lawrence.
Sure, it's light, fluffy, US Weekly stuff. Taylor Swift, the over-coiffed 23-year old millionaire, accusing the affable Tina Fey and Amy Poehler of belonging in a special place in hell for making a lighthearted joke at her expense, in a very public Vanity Fair magazine article. Long story short, at the Golden Globes, Amy and Tina made a lighthearted joke about Swift, serial dater extraordinaire, about staying away from Michael J. Fox's young son.
Sure. Fine. If you can't take a joke Tay, you can't take a joke. But as someone who is just a touch older than Ms. Swift, I wonder, why is it that young women in Hollywood, those who work so diligently to be in the limelight, why must they fit into one mold or another? In other words, she makes millions singing about lost love and all of the studly companions she's takes on her arm, but anyone throws her some (lighthearted, funny) shade and suddenly the accused are not helping the feminist cause. The persona she adapts in order to make her money is all well and good, but in the face of criticism, she insists she is something else.
Also take, for example, the oft-made comparison between Oscar season belles of the ball, Jennifer Lawrence and Anne Hathaway. In more succinct terms, it's the case of the cool kid versus the prissy princess. I'm going to be painfully honest for a second...I'm a bit more Anne Hathaway than Jennifer Lawrence. I'm cutesy, I'm a former theatre kid, I wouldn't classify myself as the coolest cucumber on the block (a la J-Law). But still, when I read this article about Anne Hathaway being "The Happy Girl", it gave me a great deal of pause.
"The Happy Girl"...according to the above article by Sasha Weiss featured in The New Yorker, is an idea that manifests itself a little something like this: "There's generally only a small window of time when girls have that mien of utter at-homeness in the world-it gets snuffed out in many of them by age twelve or thirteen, when their glance turns inward, scrutinizing. Anne has somehow managed to retain that bright look, and many people would like to wipe it off her face."
Interesting, huh? Also, where have all the happy girls gone? And is this an overreaching or justified defense? So many questions, so little time. Firstly, I think the comparison between Jennifer Lawrence and Anne Hathaway is unfair in suggesting that women can either be one thing or the other. In this isolated instance, either one is annoying, or one is awesome or so it seems to me, a casual observer of media articles and reports.
Yet another question I had for Weiss and others in defense of "The Happy Girl"...is anyone who doesn't fit into this mold, you know, sad? Outward attitudes like "The Happy Girl" could be potentially little more than facades. However, if it's truthfully this possession of interior well-being, an essential welling up of happiness, feeling comfortable enough to be outwardly effervescent, that's quite a virtue. I want to be a happy girl, don't you? But that's the point; it's up to you, if you are indeed a happy girl.
It's easy to say if something isn't this, it must be that. If Anne Hathaway is cloying, her competition, who possesses a different personality, demeanor and is nearly a decade younger, must be our best friend. That's all well and good (to be fair, J-Law does seem pretty darn cool), but, as a 20-something still working to figure it all out, what sort of personality type is it acceptable to be? At the core, I think that's what I find most troubling about this pop culture craziness: it's not enough to be shown images of razor thin models; that trapping of fame and fortune is often, often discussed. Now, we must contend with being either "happy" or cool, and the potential ramifications. Sure, these sassy singers and actresses live out their lives in the limelight, and who knows what really goes on behind the scenes. But in a world where every public event generates a thousand articles by a wide variety of publications with different agendas, I can't help but wonder...in this day and age, can't the dynamic, animated, talented twentyish (or thirtyish) something be as multi-faceted as she (or he...c'mon now!) wants to be?