The credits rolled after the hit 2003 Christmas movie Elf that cold November night at the Southdale AMC. A pimply and awkward 15 year-old girl sat mesmerized, listening to the beautiful & timeless sounding voice of the just-as-awkward blonde haired actress she had admired on screen as Buddy the Elf’s crush, Jovie. From this moment forward, pimply & awkward Katie Dugan (that’s me!) had found her hero.
In the following months, I Googled. I found every piece of information that I possibly could about this actress. Mostly because I so desperately loved her voice and wished upon a star that she would make an album. I got my first iTunes store account & one of my first purchases was, of course, Baby It’s Cold Outside by Leon Redbone & Miss Zo. Still, not much Zooey news came, but my obsession continued as I kept an eye on what indie movie she was doing next and what fabulous outfit she was wearing in her most recent photo shoot. The years went by, I watched Elf 7,652 more times, and then something happened.
It was 2007. The social network MySpace had taken the world by storm. Naturally I had my own customized page and the best Top 8 you could ever imagine. I Googled something like, “Zooey Deschanel, Singing”. AND THERE IT WAS. A result! A real result!
“She & Him on MySpace?” *click* “OMG”.
There was one song, and it was beautiful. I was instantly itching & pining for the album to be released. And, on March 18th of 2008, it was. I kid you not, I listened to nothing else for 3 straight months. It was such a happy album for having so many songs about break-ups and unrequited love. The covers of songs were flawless & unique. I was transfixed. If Elf lit the match of my obsession, Volume I fanned the flame. (Whoa, this is getting creepy already.)
On May 24, 2008 She & Him came to First Avenue. I got there something like 10 hours early and made sure I was front and (almost) center. It was glorious. Zooey was sweet and soft spoken, belting out tunes with that timeless and gorgeous voice of her’s. M. Ward (“Him”) was cool, calm, collected, & absolutely the master of his guitar.
Since then, She & Him has come to town once more (August of 2010, another beautiful show), released Volume II, and a completely glorious Christmas album (aptly named A Very She & Him Christmas) along with a few singles for charity and Starbucks compilations. I own everything and know where to find everything that’s ever been recorded. I’m hearing rumors of Volume III and crossing all my fingers and toes that they’ll come to town again.
Music & Zooey go hand in hand. But, let’s not forget where I first saw her: the big screen. (500) Days of Summer came out in 2009, and that was it. My obsession was a full fledged wild fire! (I really don’t mean to sound this creepy.) I loved so many things about Zooey, and from there on out I was free advertisement for her.
So, Katie, what IS it about Zooey that you love so much? Why all of this obsessive admiration? Now that Zooey is a household name (because of her new television show New Girl) I’ve heard her get cruelly critiqued and criticized. Not for her acting ability, but for her personality and representation of twentysomething women. I can only attribute this to the fact that she is a bigger celebrity now, because (now I’ll sound like a true hipster) I was a fan of her’s for many years before she was majorly popular and, Girl Scout’s honor (alright I only made it to the Jr. rank) I never once heard anyone say anything bad about her. So, I feel the need to tell the world why I love and have loved Zooey for 9+ years.
The Top 5 Reasons I, Katie Dugan, Have a Zoobsession
1. Her Personality
Zo is a girlie girl. She unabashedly wears tights, ballet flats, and flouncy skirts and looks adorable allthedemtime (but we’ll get to her style in a moment). She talks and tweets about kittens and puppies, cupcakes, nail art, and how she “rocks a lot of polka-dots” (in the words of her onscreen likeness, Jess in New Girl.) Even with her awesomely husky voice she still talks like the preteen girl she says she is inside. I’m no feminist, but I love this quote from her:
I can’t be girlie? Why do I need to be defined aesthetically by someone else’s perceptions of what makes me seem like someone who should be taken seriously? I’m going to wear whatever I want to wear, because I’m expressing myself, and I deserve that right. And I like the way that looks. You’re not demeaning yourself by acting girlie. I think the fact that people are associating being girlie with weakness, that needs to be examined. Not me dressing girlie. I don’t think that undermines my power at all.
—Zooey Deschanel, New York Magazine
I love the way she defends her girlish charm & style. I think she’s really smart. Ask the question, “Is being girly undermining women?” to a lot of the young female stars of today and you’ll probably either get a deer-in-headlights-Miss-Teen-South-Carolina answer or an angry tirade on men.
Also, she is funny. Here are some more quotes from the same NY Magazine article:
She doesn’t like being seen as an indie boy’s dream girl. “I don’t think of myself like that; that would be weird. I’m flattered. But, I mean, anyone can get a good haircut.”
…an earwiglike bug we named Edwin that Deschanel was worried would crawl on her (“Oh, he’s creepin’! He’s making progress!”). When the waiter offered to kill Edwin for us, she objected strenuously. “Now he’s a character in our story. I’d feel bad if he, like, perished at our tea.”
2. Her Kindness
Zooey’s adorable mom Mary Jo once Tweeted: “So happy I have two kind daughters. They have many other virtues, but kindness is so important in our world.” (Zooey’s sister is Emily Deschanel, star of Bones, if you didn’t know.) I love it because it means Zooey was RAISED to be kind. A lot of interviews I’ve read start out with saying how nice Zooey was and how she was interested in other people, asking questions and genuinely interested in the people around her. I think that’s saying something when it comes to a celebrity.
I found this adorable blog post from a girl who met Zooey after a She & Him concert. How cute is this autograph she signed?!:
Her handwriting is as sweet as her heart!
3. Her Voice & Musical Taste
You’re like, “OK, you already raved about this!” But, you don’t understand. You do NOT understand. Zooey has FORMED my musical taste, you guys. Not only did she introduce me to the amazing music of “Him”, M. Ward, but she has given me an insatiable hunger for the oldies & the goodies. Because of her I have a much deeper appreciation for the likes of The Beach Boys, The Eagles, and Ella Fitzgerald. She introduced me to the songs of Linda Ronstadt, The Everly Brothers, NRQB, Skeeter Davis, Patsy Cline, The Louvin Brothers, The Zombies, and just countless others. Honestly, just look for interviews where she talks about music. You will be blown away by how amazing her taste is — and she really does have a wide range of interest.
It’s also because of her that I asked for a Ukulele for Christmas. She uses it in a lot of her songs on tour, and, oh that sound. When I play I feel as if I’m strummin’ my worries away.
4. Her Style
Do I even need to elaborate on this? Honestly. EVERYONE loves her style, as far as I
am concerned know. It’s indie meets 60’s go-go meets 50’s housewife meets school girl meets hippie meets Heaven. And there’s no denying her dark wavy hair, bangs, and big blue eyes are just, like, completely iconic. (But I really and truly loved her as a blonde as well.)
Pictures say a thousand words, don’t they?
5. Her awkwardness: She’s just like me!
Zooey makes me feel better about how awkward I am in, let’s face it, every situation I encounter. “Adorkable” is a made up word just to describe who Zooey is – dorky, awkward, but, you know what? It’s OK. It’s even adorable. I love her interviews because when I watch them I think, “That is is exactly how I would be in an interview!” Strange obtuse conversations, awkward laughs and high-fives. Zooey said about her interviews (from the same NYM article I quoted earlier – I’m like a real modern reporter, only using one source!):
“I do cringe when I watch myself, like, ‘Oh, ahhh! No! Ugh, shut up!’”
I say that to myself after every interaction I have with a human!
Now, I understand idolizing a person isn’t healthy. I’m sure me and Zooey don’t see eye to eye on many political and moral matters. However, I do think it is nice for every young person to have someone in the world of fame to look up to and admire. Someone with poise, style, and humble confidence who a young awkward girl, like myself, can look to and say, “I’d like to be like that. That fits my personality.” or “They’re just like me! It’s OK that I’m weird and still don’t understand how to function socially!” or “Being kind is always the right thing to do, look at her!”
Just ignore all the times I’ve Tweeted how I want to actually become Zooey and that’s not a hypocritical statement at all.
Bonus: I have a Pinterest board dedicated entirely to Zooey. Go there for all of my favorite photos and interviews of her.