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Jennifer Lopez and the Awkward Sexy

March 31, 2010

I know the bulk of good pop culture news and commentary is online (e.g. here), but I still rely on my Entertainment Weekly subscription to keep me updated on basics that escape my notice.  I never read the features — they are generally boring and redundant — I just catch all the small bits of news, the lists, the reviews, etc. and this week’s issue with Katherine Heigl on the cover has a smaller story with 5 suggestions on how Jennifer Lopez could revive her career, where I learned that she’s currently considering starring in a remake of Overboard.  I approve.

I really like Jennifer Lopez.  I don’t know why.  It is somewhat new.  By which I mean, my affection for her seems to grow inverse proportionally to her waning popularity.  J-Lo was the queen of the late 90s and early 00s, and I was neither a fan or a hater.  Soderbergh’s Out of Sight?  Yeah, that was pretty good.  The infamous green Versace dress?  I guess that was kinda sexy.  Roger Evert’s raving about her performance in The Cell?  It makes for a pretty good silent film while stoned.    Her pop songs during this heyday were really all I cared about — I still like to bust out of the front door of a building on a sunny day to the opening strings and timpani of “My Love Don’t Cost a Thing” on my headphones — but it’s not like I own all her albums or anything.

At the time of her popularity I knew people who could write dissertations on the politics of her presence, her body, what her popularity meant for latina women and mainstream acceptance or stereotyping, but the real question is, why would I read all all of these things now, years later?  Why do I still care?  I think it was an ex-lover who first mentioned their attraction to Jennifer Lopez and I was quite surprised; J-Lo didn’t seem to fit into their taste, she is too popular, too traditionally attractive.  When asked to explain, they replied, “have you seen The Wedding Planner?  She plays a real awkward character.  I find that incredibly sexy.”  We then deconstructed what exactly falls in line as both awkward and sexy.

I hadn’t seen that movie at the time (I was in a snooty phase about rom-coms), but this definition and acknowledgment of Awkward Sexy, a phenomenon I felt but had never articulated, intrigued me.  I began watching Jennifer Lopez in the string of romantic comedies that followed at the theaters, and my favorite of them all is the most awkward of them all:  Monster-in-Law.

Why do people hate on this movie?  It is meant to be campy and terrible and awesome!  It is old-school slapstick and I find it brilliant.  And it makes me want to do dirty things with Jennifer Lopez way more than any low cut dress.  I’ve started to think about other awkward sexy people I like.  The key to Awkward Sexy is that the person is generally traditionally attractive/sexy (which I find generally boring), but then they reveal a streak of awkward about them, an obvious vulnerability that counters the pretty face, and suddenly they have my attention.  (In contrast to “Sexy Awkward”, where a person is primarily awkward, and that in and of itself is what you find appealing.)

Last season’s Bachelor Jake Pavelka also falls into this category.  When he was on The Bachelorette last summer, I found him too boring and well-constructed in his chiseled looks, dreamy pilot job, and chivalrous demeanor.  But over the course of watching him this past season, I’ve learned he’s pretty much a total earnest dork — and so now I have a crush on him.  Here is a clip of an ultimate awkward sexy move, performing on Dancing with the Stars.  The producers must have picked up on the same feeling as me, as they selected the song “Hip to Be Square”.  Frankly, this performance is just awkward to me, but you get the general idea of the scope of the man:

My ultimate Awkward Sexy dream is Jack Donaghy on 30 Rock.  Alec Baldwin has been the hunk of many others’ dreams, but not mine, I had no strong opinion of the man other than enjoying many of his movies.  It wasn’t until halfway through season one of 30 Rock, when his neediness started to emerge did I really start to dream of meeting this man on a bearskin rug in front of the fire with a bottle of beaujolais.

Now that I think of it, Pierce Brosnan is moving into this category as well.  Who else is Awkward Sexy?

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18 Comments leave one →
  1. March 31, 2010 4:13 pm

    My feelings on J-Lo are similar. I long loved the “idea” of her but didn’t much care beyond that. But over the years, she I’ve grown to love her music – except that terrible Carly Simon cover – and her fashion and her Pearl Bailey-esque combo of sweetness and divaliciousness. Plus I want her and Marc to make it. I love them as a couple. I think they make the other better in ways I can’t quite articulate, but I know they do.

  2. araymondjohnson permalink
    March 31, 2010 4:15 pm

    omg, I forgot to include her cover of You Belong to Me as another reason why I started to like her. It is a stellar karaoke performance that sounds a little sad in the sober cold light of day. Stars — they’re just like us!

  3. March 31, 2010 4:30 pm

    Please tell me she and Marc are doing Overboard together and she’ll remake that song!

  4. March 31, 2010 4:32 pm

    I wasn’t too big a fan of Jennifer Lopez back in her “Jenny from the block” days. But as she’s gotten older she’s grown on me. I agree about her combo of sweetness and divaliciousness.

  5. evmaroon permalink
    March 31, 2010 4:45 pm

    I totally have an awkward sexy crush on this one particular character actress whose name I can’t recall. I just spent 10 minutes combing through IMDB on 6 Feet Under because I thought she was on for a few episodes, but I can’t find her, and no WAY am I going to trudge through all of the Law & Order SVU seasons to locate her. But I’ll say that she looks a bit like Allison Janney, with sadder, rounder eyes, and she’s got a whiney voice on her that Fran Drescher would love.

  6. March 31, 2010 4:50 pm

    ev, was it her?

  7. evmaroon permalink
    March 31, 2010 5:10 pm

    Nope. She’s brunette, usually wears shoulder length straight hair, and I think she played an overworked social worker on some random SVU episode. I thought I also saw her on Grey’s Anatomy, but I looked through that cast list and didn’t see her there, either. Sigh. But thanks for trying!

  8. March 31, 2010 5:34 pm

    what did she do on SFU>

  9. hsofia permalink
    March 31, 2010 6:12 pm

    Evmaroon – are you talking about … god, what is her name? Ilana something? Something like Ilana or Alana. I can’t remember her name but she’s in a lot of things. And she was in a movie with that guy … whose name I also can’t remember. He is kind of short and has blondish hair and he’s often in a comedic role as the numbskull …. hmmm.

  10. hsofia permalink
    March 31, 2010 6:14 pm

    Okay … got it. Steve Zahn was the comedic guy. Illeana Douglas? I thought she was in Nurse Betty, but no, Allison Janney was in Nurse Betty (ha!). Douglas was in a few episodes of Six Feet Under.

  11. hsofia permalink
    March 31, 2010 6:17 pm

    Hmm … you make a good pitch, but I’m still very meh about Ms. Lopez. She was hot in that Janet Jackson video, though. She is beautiful, but occasionally she looks too much like Jennifer Aniston, which is … bizarre.

  12. March 31, 2010 6:51 pm

    yeah that’s who it sounds like.

  13. evmaroon permalink
    March 31, 2010 7:30 pm

    YES! Brilliance, thank both of you!! Ileana Douglas, that’s who it is. Whew. I have a crush on her awkward sexy.

    http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001152/

  14. msjacks permalink
    March 31, 2010 8:03 pm

    OMG I was OBSESSED with her in like 2002 and I seriously bought her perfume, which was the first in that slew of “celebrity perfumes”. So hilarious. She was also one of the first celebs to do a plus-size line, which was called J Lo Lovelies. It was mostly velour sweatsuits, but hey- that was the thing back in the day!

  15. msjacks permalink
    March 31, 2010 8:04 pm

    I should also explain that I am 30 now, not like 23 or 24, so when I was obsessing over J Lo and buying her perfume I was a good 22 years old. Pitiful.

  16. April 1, 2010 2:03 am

    I have it on good authority that Alec’s a MadDog 2o/2o man.

  17. September 3, 2010 11:57 am

    I admire jennifer lopez, she’s is talented and perfectly beautiful,i always buy from her trend,perfumes and purses and clothes and people say i look like her.

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