by: Shelby Fawn Mongan
Written on behalf of the quirk community.
It hurts me to write this letter, but I feel like I can’t turn a blind eye anymore. Up until this point, my community and I have accepted you as one of our own. We’ve watched you grow in fame. We’ve seen your mishaps and missteps and just ignored them. We’ve cheered at your victories and defended you from criticism. We are proud to stand by one of our own, but dammit, Zooey, it’s gone too far. We’re running to our windows, throwing back our dinosaur-and-gingham-printed curtains, and yelling to the world, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take it anymore!”
You’re making the quirk community look bad.
We as a group have gotten along perfectly well so far. The quirk community survives and thrives thanks to the way we love. Authenticity is our rallying cry. The truly quirky don’t play strange instruments or have strange pets because they want attention. A card-carrying quirky person will play ukulele to their hedgehog named Ned because it brings them joy. Their preferred mode of travel may be vintage roller skates, a neon pink bike, or even a unicycle, and they use it simply because it makes them happy. I proudly claim a place in this community. My walls are covered in various styles of bunting that I made myself, I type in a particular font because I think the designer’s life was interesting, and I basically treat “Amelie” like a manual for my life. These are all genuine interests of mine; all of them came to be from sincere pursuits. We quirky folk do what we do because of the love and passion we have, not because of the way they make us look.
The ladies and gentlemen of the Quirk community may not have worked hard to maintain their image, but they are proud of who they are. As a proud member of this community, I cannot stand idle as our name is disgraced, as our core values are sacrificed, as one of our own betrays us on such a large scale.
We had such faith in you at the beginning. With your vintage sensibilities, your varied interests, and your distaste for traditional fame, you seemed like one of us. There is a real sense of camaraderie that forms between we quirky folk. We’ve become accustomed to defending the other so-called “weirdos,” explaining how there is nothing wrong with a fierce love for crocheted television character dolls, vegan baking, or handmade kites, so long as the love is sincere. While all of our interests may not line up 100%, we defend each other. We step up for our other community members because we’re all in this together. That’s why we stepped up for you–and that’s why we aren’t going to anymore.
You started out like us. You really seemed to love quirky things and you loved them for their own sake. Nowadays, though, it’s all an act. Quirks have now become marketable. Being “indie” and “adorkable” (the most offensive of all Quirk slurs) now sells shows and albums. What at first seemed like positive acceptance for our community has turned into a cash grab that sacrifices all but the superficial level of what it means to be quirky. You could have fought against that, Zooey. You could have kept on loving what you loved and doing what you did. Instead, you helped to turn quirkiness into a stereotype. You used it to nab roles. We in the community are human beings who have quirks; you are a quirky cartoon character with no substance. Thanks in large part to you, a quirky person is no better than a manic pixie dream girl. We cannot let you continue to taint our name.
I wish that I had kinder words for you. I wish that I could commend you for a path you’ve paved for the rest of us, for bravely helping to make quirks acceptable. Maybe one day you’ll come back around, you’ll reconnect with your sincerity and remember what it truly means to be quirky. When that day comes, we will welcome you with open arms. Until then, you need to turn in your badge and glue gun.
Yours truly and quirkily,
Shelby Mongan is an undergrad student of Catholic Studies and Philosophy at DePaul University, a freelance writer and photographer, and an adopted Chicagoian. She is a staff writer and photographer at Sock Monkey Sound, a music and culture blog based out of Rockford, IL, and has also been featured on HEAVEmedia. She has a tendency towards obsession (which she chalks up to being passionate), speaks nerd fluently, and loves sloths more than she loves most humans. Her day to day life can be found at feelingphiloslothical.tumblr.com.