Jennifer Lawrence is missing. Or rather, she is missing from pop culture. Aside from some political posts on Facebook, the Oscar winning actress has been largely out of the spotlight in 2017—a move that seems like a purposeful and Taylor Swiftian means of subverting celebrity fatigue.
Lawrence's break comes after several media mis-fires. There was the time she called out that reporter for being on his phone. And the time she had to apologize for comments about a sacred rock in Hawaii. Then there was the starring role in Passengers, a film which was quickly labeled "problematic." Eventually, think pieces like "We Have Reached Peak Jennifer Lawrence" and "Jennifer Lawrence and the Problem with It Girls" started rolling in. Headlines transitioned from "Jennifer Lawrence Is All of Us" to "Jared Leto Throws Shade at Jennifer Lawrence's Oscars Fall: 'I'm Starting to Wonder If It's All an Act.'"
The internet was over it.
Is this fair? No. Is it sexist? Probably. But regardless: Lawrence seems to have caught wind of pop culture's growing fatigue and retreated—presumably learning a lesson from the rise of Hatha-hating, a much-analyzed phenomenon in which the internet inexplicably decided that Anne Hathaway was too self-aware, too relatable, and too nice—and therefore needed to be taken down. Ironically, Hathaway defended Lawrence after she herself detected tell-tale signs of the phenomenon happening to her friend:
By avoiding the spotlight immediately after sensing the warning signs of Hatha-hatred, Lawrence is ingeniously refusing to let pop culture's systemic sexism rip her apart. The #JenniferLawrenceIsOverParty will never happen, because Jennifer Lawrence will remain out of the spotlight until the internet stops resenting her for the very same things they used to like her for: being relatable.
As Taylor Swift noted in a recording released by Kim Kardashian, overexposure is a real problem in Hollywood (direct quote: "I'm like *this* close to overexposure"). Much like Lawrence, Swift's spent the past several months in "hiding" to recover from it, and will likely stage a comeback right when the public's moved on from spamming her with snake emojis.
Like Swift, Lawrence's avoidance of the spotlight is a well-timed and brilliantly planned palate-cleanser for her fans—which speaks to her self-awareness about pop culture's fickle nature and extreme tear-down tendencies. But we're already getting the first hint at her return: the poster for October 2017's Mother!, a sure-to-slay film directed by her boyfriend Darren Aronofsky. It's a clever means to whet our appetite with something once-removed from Lawrence herself—it's not a photo of her, but a creepy drawing that signals the arrival of something very different from what we're used to.
Lawrence's return (presumably planned for this fall) will be an interesting study in how to balance on the precipice of being real but not too real, which is apparently the only way we like our stars.
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Mehera Bonner is a celebrity and entertainment news writer who enjoys Bravo and Antiques Roadshow with equal enthusiasm. She was previously entertainment editor at Marie Claire and has covered pop culture for over a decade.
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