Dear Zooey Deschanel: Don’t Want To Be Called Quirky? Then Stop Being So Darn Quirky!


Zooey Deschanel covers the new issue of Lucky Magazine, where she grins in a whimsically patterned frilly dress. In her interview, she discusses sunglasses, dressing up in Renaissance garb, and her love of heart-shaped hair pins. She also talks about her hatred of being called “quirky.”

“It’s an annoying word. ‘Quirky’ is like a nice way of saying weird.”

First of all, Zooey Deschanel complaining about being called quirky is like Zooey biting the hand that feeds her, using the blood she draws as lipstick, then grinning coyly to reign in the next hand that comes her way. (What? We’re quirky too!) This is because Zooey isn’t just another quirky actress — rather she defines the very term. “Quirky” has become a cinematic genre unto itself this past decade, and when remembering those flicks no one comes to mind faster than the pig-tailed and doe-eyed Zooey. Almost Famous, All the Real Girls, Elf, Weeds, 500 Days of Summer: How many roles has she gotten because the word “quirky” was actually used in their descriptions? We’d venture to say more than a few. To her credit, Zooey Deschanel popularized an archetype. To her discredit, it’s a pretty darn annoying archetype.

Compare the characters she’s played: In Almost Famous she’s a flighty flight attendant who serves as the movie’s central metaphor; in All The Real Girls she “had a dream that you grew a garden on the trampoline and I was so happy that I invented peanut butter!”; in Elf, she saves the day by singing Christmas carols; in 500 Days of Summer, she’s a secretary-for-life who kicks ass at karaoke. In each of these instances, her character’s inner life is merely a facsimile of personality and emotion — and it’s hard to see the public persona of Zooey Deschanel as being much different. From her tumblr:

If your friend is feeling down, you could play him a really, really sad sack song, and say, “hey man, THIS ONE is for you.” After you do that he will probably be sufficiently offended, or even angry, then you can say, “I GUESS you weren’t so sad AFTER ALL.” and maybe, “wow, your face is really red!” or “you look really stabby, calm down.” Then, run don’t walk, because he is probably indeed, really stabby. If he doesn’t become offended, sit and enjoy the sad sack music until you reach the age of 22, or until you stop enjoying this music, whichever comes first.

What, exactly, is Zooey saying here? There’s nothing substantive in that post, just cutesy words in infantilized language. And then there are her lyrics — here’s a selection from She and Him’s “Brand New Shoes”:

I had some brand-new shoes/They were all red, but they gave me the blues/And they’re running away, they left me a letter/It’s just like you told me it’d be/It’s nothing, nothing, nothing/Nothing at all/We are all made of air/There’s stars in my eyes, and there’s sun in my hair

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