The Authenticity Face-Off: Jennifer Lawrence or Anne Hathaway?

Have we over-rated, over-valued and in the process, over-simplified authenticity?

Authenticity. This word has become a beloved buzzword in both celebrity culture and Christian conversation: authentic life, authentic relationships, authentic community, authentic worship. We root for those we deem “authentic” and deride those who seem fake, polished, artificial, perfect, professional…

Is this the way it’s supposed to be?

This question came to mind as I read an article in Christianity Today (here). Just compare the two Hollywood darlings at the moment. On the one hand, Jennifer Lawrence is viewed as silly, relaxed, clumsy. She trips on the way to the podium and then talks about fast food on the red carpet. On the other hand, Anne Hathaway comes off as rehearsed, planned, calculated. Her responses don’t seem real or authentic. We are annoyed that Anne Hathaway didn’t trip on the way up the stage as her dreams “came true.” And we are disturbed that she even had the temerity to actually practice her Oscar acceptance speech (gasp!)

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We love Jennifer Lawrence because she points out her own imperfections. Anne Hathaway annoys because she keeps them private. Yet both women deserved our unreserved congratulations. And neither should be tasked with making us feel better about our reality by giving us something “real” to compare ourselves to. This is because none of us is perfect, and that’s because of our sin and nothing else; in comparison to God and no one else. We shouldn’t need a starlet to fall down the stairs to make us feel better about our ‘real’ selves, to remind us that she is fallen (literally and theologically), and that we are both so very far from our perfect God.

Yes, no one is perfect. But it isn’t for me to point out their imperfections. Or feel better about myself by assuming that others’ public personas are too polished. Or require others to share some flaws before I give my stamp of approval (“good job for being authentic!”) or friendship (“if you don’t tell me your deepest darkest secrets, you are not being real to me and therefore we can’t be friends”)

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating that we all hide our weaknesses and ditch authenticity. I believe that authenticity is important for real Christian growth and community. Yet, it can, like other things, become a badge that we wear on our sleeves to show how spiritual or real we are. And ff we are not careful, we may end up desiring a particular kind of authenticity that can, ironically, turn out to be fake and rehearsed too.

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~ by irwin on March 12, 2013.

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