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Jennifer Lawrence and the Idol of 'Keeping It Real'
Rick Rowell / ABC

Jennifer Lawrence and the Idol of 'Keeping It Real'


Mar 11 2013
Do Christians embrace authenticity too much?

Award season is over. Every last Actor, Globe and Oscar has been handed out, and yet, a debate rages on over this year's big winners. It's not about who got snubbed or who wore it best… it's about who we like more, Jennifer Lawrence or Anne Hathaway.

America has spoken, it seems, and Jennifer Lawrence, with her sassy comebacks and adorkable facial expressions, is winning. She fell up the stairs at the Oscars, and we like her more for it. She's our new BFF. What's not to like? She's silly, relaxed, clumsy even in couture. She talks about fast food on the red carpet. She teases Jack Nicholson. Commentary from Huffington Post to Vanity Fair declares Lawrence as "real," while Hathaway comes off as "rehearsed."

Jennifer Lawrence is "self-effacing and funny. She seems like an excellent party companion," writes Ann Friedman in New York Magazine. "When she jokes about sucking in her stomach on the red carpet or her publicist hating her for eating a Philly cheesesteak, it feels real."

She's the right amount of real, found that sweet spot on the authenticity spectrum. She seems to have taken a page out of John Ortberg's book, nailing "the self-deprecating faux pas (SDFP) designed to show the speaker is normal like everyone else. It has to be vulnerable enough to be embarrassing, but not so vulnerable as to get you kicked out of ministry employment" or Hollywood, as the case may be.

Maybe that's why we are so enamored with her, because we are so enamored with authenticity. Authenticity has become a beloved buzzword in both celebrity culture and Christian conversation. It's got its own topic page here at Christianity Today. As Megan Hill points out, "chances are you know someone who's blogging or talking about being authentic: authentic life, authentic relationships, authentic community, authentic worship."

She's right. It's everywhere. We love it. We root for those we deem "authentic" and those who seem "inauthentic," well… they are mocked, derided for their lack of realness. As far as I can tell, that's the worst charge leveled against poor Anne Hathaway. Her speeches seem rehearsed. Her reactions planned, calculated. She doesn't seem real or authentic. We are annoyed that Anne Hathaway is poised and prepared. She did not trip on the way up the stage as her dreams "came true." She gracefully glided to the podium, and she had the temerity to actually practice her Oscar acceptance speech (gasp).

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