Before we proceed into another edition of Gay Icon Nominee, let’s assert something: Clearly Jennifer Lawrence, the 23-year-old three-time Oscar nominee, has achieved a level of “likability” not seen since, like, Grace Kelly. Or Mary Tyler Moore. Or at least Breakaway-era Kelly Clarkson. Whatever. No one is denying that Jennifer Lawrence is rightfully beloved for her talent and unassuming knack for a good soundbite. But achieving Gay Icon status often involves more than proving oneself likable, and it also may take a few years to achieve a true, lasting bond with gay fans. Though gay men tend to defend their favorites for years and years, they pick new favorites sparingly. Has Jennifer Lawrence done enough to enter the pantheon of modern-day gay icons? Let’s count up her greatest gay assets to date.
1. Natalie Portman won the Oscar, but she was the most glamorous Best Actress nominee in 2010.
J-Law was lauded for her starring role in the bleak, eerie Winter’s Bone, but she didn’t make much of a dent in the 2010 Best Actress race until the night of the Oscars themselves. Natalie Portman was destined to win the trophy that year, but the surprise star of the big night’s Best Actress announcement was Lawrence, who unveiled her new look as a scorching ingenue after months of harder red carpet looks and a low-key Oscar campaign. Nothing mobilizes fandom like a shockingly glamorous moment, and here, the radiant Jennifer officially began her ascent to beloved superstar.
2. She referenced Mean Girls in her People’s Choice Awards speech.
Not only did Jennifer Lawrence reference the 10-year-old high school satire in her People’s Choice Award speech for Favorite Movie Actress, but she referenced one of the weirdest, most unintentionally funny parts of it. When Cady (Lindsay Lohan) breaks her Spring Fling crown and tosses the pieces to the thrilled congregation, she’s giving us strange, triumphant, movie-only behavior that doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. It’s funny and great for that reason. For Lawrence to reference that scene (“I wish this was like Mean Girls and I could just break this [award] up and throw it to all of you”) is both savvy, since her biggest fans would certainly know that movie, and cool considering she didn’t pick an obvious moment.
3. She referenced The First Wives Club in her Golden Globes speech.
Mean Girls was merely an amuse bouche, but this is a sumptuous buffet of a pop culture reference if I’ve ever seen one in an awards show speech. Peering at her Golden Globe statuette after she was announced as the winner for Silver Linings Playbook, Lawrence sniffed, “What does it say? ’I beat Meryl!'” Indeed she had beaten Meryl, who was nominated for Hope Springs, but she actually said the line in reference to The First Wives Club, where Bette Midler’s character makes the same joke while peering at a Golden Globe. Just the right irreverence and coolness for the occasion. How can she go up from here? I’m rooting somehow for a reference to Lee Grant’s snappy line delivery of “I’m gonna heat up the lasagna” from Valley of the Dolls. Make it work, Jen.
4. Her photobomb game rivals Tina Fey’s.
Jennifer seems to navigate A-list festivities with a determination to remain self-deprecating at all costs, but she enjoys some bawdier moments that I cherish more. When she photobombed Ryan Seacrest’s interview with Taylor Swift, I whooped. When she stood directly behind Sarah Jessica Parker at the Met Gala and vamped, I clapped. Crashing photos is an art, and Jennifer deserves credit for diffusing the high-pressure red carpet situation with zany, vaudevillian attention-addict efforts.
5. Katniss Everdeen is the most steadfast and honorable heroine since Ellen Ripley.
Katniss Everdeen is an average girl called upon for extraordinary measures in The Hunger Games, and Jennifer Lawrence’s deadpan characterization of “Her,” — a sort-of amplified version of her character in Winter’s Bone — offsets the heroism she’s supposed to dish. Can you imagine what would happen if Katniss ever met Ellen Ripley? Ellen might peek at little Rue and scream at the Games competitors, “Get away from her, you b*tch!” but then J-Law would because she’d not used to studios yet and through the studio and ever scrutinzed mim about bringing up his long anecdote.
6. Her talk show appearances are legitimately weird and worthy of scrutiny.
Like many gay men, I lament the days of stellar talk show guests. I touted Julia Roberts’ wicked rapport with David Letterman recently, and I especially have a fondness for Teri Garr, Amy Sedaris, or Tilda Swinton. Talk show guests should be loved for their candor and mocked based on how boring their stories are, and Jennifer is so embraceable as she complains about the cold, mocks her family, and says whatever the hell she wants. Teri would be proud. I don’t think I have a better compliment or gayer endorsement.
7. She also played the fabbest X-Men character.
MYSTIQUE. YES. Sorry, Rebecca Romijn, but this is how it honestly should’ve been all along. Love her January Jones-esque smile in this photo.
Is J-Law a gay icon? What say you?