When Socially Awkward Stops Being Endearing: The Zooey Deschanel Complex (Or: Why I Hate Zooey Deschanel)

Anthea Fisher Guest Writer A few nights ago, my social awkwardness hit its lowest point. I got up from a chair only to knock over what remained of my Diet Coke (insert Bunger joke about addiction here). I picked it up, but at the wrong end, pouring it all over myself. After the humiliation subsided slightly, I got a new can to replace my drained one, only to have it slip from my caffeine-addled hands and spray any person unfortunate enough to stand near me. In this intense moment of embarrassment, I motioned to my mother that it was time to leave. She was too busy monopolizing the free shrimp cocktail to care, and I was stuck in this uncomfortable situation for what seemed like forever. This is my life. Now, this may be shaping up to be a total #firstworldproblems story, but I promise it’s taking a very different –although possibly equally as obnoxious– route. As a Latin student, I’ve experienced our often-understated weirdness and general acceptance of those who may be a little quirkier than others. The majority of students at our school actually do have some sort of weirdness to them even if they don’t show it. But despite this, the majority of people at our school –myself included–try very hard to seem as normal and as awesome as possible (understandable). So when in the past few years being eccentric started to become “cool” (see: hipster), I became very curious as to how many people were actually socially awkward, how many people try to hide it, and why anybody in their right mind would want to exploit it. And then I saw this TV show. A few months ago I saw my first episode of a show called New Girl. Following the show’s premiere, all I heard about it was how “cute” and “adorably awkward” Zooey Deschanel’s character is. Girls who have spent the majority of their lives trying to embody “Betches Love This” and the like suddenly began to “identify” with what they thought was a real depiction of social awkwardness (have I used enough quotation marks yet?). I’m sure that the two people that are ever going to read this know what it is, but with the odd chance that you don’t, I’ll elucidate. New Girl stars Zooey Deschanel as Jess Day, an elementary school teacher who moves in with three well-meaning but conveniently amusing 30 year old guys after a nasty breakup with her longtime boyfriend. Yes, a pretty young girl moving in with three 30-year-old guys is a premise that could work for both a comedy show and a Lifetime Original Movie about being murdered by your stepson/cyber-husband/pregnant teen, but that’s beside the point. The point is that Jess moves into this apartment and becomes a “guy’s girl.” She has bangs and wears polka dots and probably plays the ukulele in her free time, all while wearing thick-rimmed glasses and making immature jokes. The guys come to accept Jess’s quirky sense of humor and generally endearing weirdness, and this is where my point comes to fruition: this is not real life. If my Diet Coke incident had happened to Zooey Deschanel, millions of Americans would have laughed at her adorable efforts to assimilate with society and seemingly genuine desire to please those around her. But it happened to me, and instead of laughter and adoration a girl in a dress shot me an angry look for spraying aspartame and caramel color no. 2 on her shoes. So this is where the idea of a Zooey Deschanel complex comes in: are people, or maybe just girls like me, misrepresented by Zooey Deschanel? Do some of us see her positive depiction of the weird we try to repress, and subconsciously want to attain it? And at what point does socially awkward stop being endearing and start being, well, awkward? Answers: no, no, and it doesn’t. Elaboration: It doesn’t stop being endearing and start being awkward because it was never endearing in the first place. Yes, New Girl is a popular show about a humorous and seemingly strange young woman who just so happens to be attractive, but like I said before, it’s not real life. In real life, socially awkward girls aren’t adored by millions. In real life, I try to suppress my clumsiness and lack of social skills in order to be perceived as “normal”. In real life, Zooey Deschanel is a rich, beautiful celebrity, and Jess Day is fictional. After realizing this, I finally came to the conclusion that Zooey Deschanel doesn’t and can’t misrepresent “weird” or awkward girls because, well, she isn’t one. Zooey Deschanel and her “quirkiness” are a character and an affectation. Zooey may actually enjoy playing the ukulele and having 50% of her face covered by bangs, but she is in no way living a weird or awkward life dotted by incidents like my Diet Coke debacle. So where does this leave us? With reality: if you are like me and have discovered that you have some serious communicational ineptitude and an extreme lack of coordination, there isn’t much hope. Luckily, if you’re the one person who doesn’t work on The Forum who’s reading this, you probably go to Latin and are surrounded by other people who will most likely embrace your weirdness if they aren’t the type to have crushed your spirit already. You will never become Zooey Deschanel or Michael Cera (never mind, no one actually wants to be Michael Cera) and you just have to rely on the fact that you’ll probably grow out of it (let us pray). And that, everyone, is where my Zooey Deschanel complex ended.