Look, I feel like a lot of people want to say that they don’t like Zooey Deschanel because they want to prove that they are smart, and love smart-people things.
Zooey Deschanel seems to be all about squealing with delight over simple pleasures like giggles and kittens. I think a lot of people are afraid of admitting that they like incredibly ordinary pleasures, like, oh, say, cupcake frosting and cuddling and tearing wrapping paper, because to do so would be to admit that they were unsophisticated chumps.
I’m completely okay with being an unsophisticated chump about, more or less, half the things I enjoy. I still watch Gossip Girl. Not ironically. Because I care about the emotional problems of the characters. I have the entire soundtrack to Evita on my phone. I really can’t stress the extent to which I’m a chump, though if I were trying to, I feel lik those examples would prove my point pretty well.
And frankly, I always think Zooey Deschanel is someone who, if I met her, I would love. I mean, we could make some baked goods and sing some show tunes and just have a giddy time. Oh. I think she’s a raw foodist. Well, maybe we could make baked goods for other people. I’d love doing those things. I also feel like we are somehow spiritual siblings, because, in 500 Days of Summer, she wore an outfit that I also wear, styled the same way I style it. It’s this incredibly generic outfit that was no doubt selected by a stylist:
And sometimes, I feel like Zooey Deschanel has a great handle on her persona, and knows that loving simplistic things does not mean that you are only a chump. Take this speech that her character gives on New Girl when she’s told by her roommate’s lawyer girlfriend that she’s doing some sort of big eyed, baby talking affected “thing”:
“I brake for birds. I rock a lot of polka dots. I have touched glitter in the last 24 hours. I spend my entire day talking to children. And I find it fundamentally strange that you’re not a dessert person. It freaks me out. I’m sorry that I don’t talk like Murphy Brown. And I hate your pants suit. I wish it had ribbons on it, or something just to make it slightly cuter, but that doesn’t mean I’m not smart and tough and strong.”
I think this is a great argument. I think you can be a strong, empowered, smart woman and still like simple, charming, delightful things. This is the basis for my enduring fondness for Legally Blonde – which featured a character who seemed able to pull her act together without ever slipping into Murphy Brown vernacular.
But then I take a step back and remember that Zooey Deschanel’s character is 27 and doesn’t know how to dress to go out to a restaurant. This interchange takes place because she is hitting a girl up for free legal advice, because she couldn’t pay a traffic ticket on time.
And this is the thing that kills me, because, while I firmly believe that you can like fashion and dessert and ribbons and not be foolish, Zooey Deschanel keeps seeming to give in to the notion that the two go hand in hand. I could love the characters she played so much, if only there were more demonstrations of the instances in which they were tough and competent and strong, instead of being perennial temps trying to find themselves and…exist. Exist in the real world. [tagbox tag="Zooey Deschanel"]
And Zooey Deschanel, the actual person, probably couldn’t be as successful as she is, and have a website, and a TV show, and several movie roles, if she didn’t know how to pull things together and get shit done. I can’t buy that in her soul she just wears an elf costume and sings loudly to herself in malls, because, if that were the case, she’d be wearing an elf costume and singing loudly to herself in malls.
Which is to say, the thing that makes me think that I could really love Zooey Deschanel – the underlying competence that she must have in order to succeed over a prolonged period – never seems to be on display. And I wish it were! The fact that it’s not is the only thing that prevents me from having full on, Elle-Woods style love for her! But then, maybe it is too much to ask for people to be all things. Maybe that would just make her characters insufferable (to everyone except me). Maybe they need to stay a little bit incompetent, and I need to be a little bit sad.
Though that makes me a bit sad.
I still think she looks really great in argyle, though, so there’s that.