City Paper is not for tourists
Megan Fox, everyone’s least-favorite super-hot chick, gets theNew York Times Magazine treatment this week. We all know Megan Fox as that hot sassy vixen who claims to be female-empowered (“I would eat Robert Pattinson”) as she poses in wet bikinis for men’s magazines. And we know that that combination, uh, usually doesn’t go over so well among feminists. But here’s where things get trippy, you guys: Like, is it all an act? And what does it all mean?
Take one of Fox’s most well-publicized stunts: Publicly comparing Transformers director (and noted wet bikini enthusiast) Michael Bay to Hitler. Could there by a lesson hidden beneath the headline? I’ll bite: Why do feminists spend our time hating on the Megan Foxes of this world instead of focusing their efforts on the Michael Bays? Is dancing in a bikini under a waterfall for Bad Boys II empowering? It was pretty empowering for 15-year-old Megan Fox ($), and it was really empowering for Michael Bay ($$$$$). But it’s probably not so empowering to women. Is projecting all of our hatred of entertainment-industry sexism onto one 23-year-old starlet empowering to other women? Nope, but it is empowering to snarky celebrity bloggers, who squeeze out their own ($) in mean-spirited Fox-based blog posts. Me? I like to empower myself by putting the word “boobies” in the titles of all of my snarky Megan Fox posts ($$$)!
So! On that note, join Sady Doyle of Tiger Beatdown and myself as we embark upon another Sexist Beatdown. This time: What the fuck do we do with Megan Fox, then? Pray that she crashes, burns, and ends up managing a Hooters in Tennessee, even if she’ll never bring Michael Bay down with her? Hope she has the strength to uglify herself just long enough to win an Oscar? Start a campaign to get that girl into some dry bikinis for once? We decide, after the jump!
SADY: megan fox has ARRIVED! PRAISE THE LORD!
AMANDA: and she has fake “boobies”!
SADY: I feel that I am not meant to like Megan Fox, based on this NYTM piece, which is all about how she is clearly (and candidly!) a market-tested persona product in the midst of rebranding. But (a) how many celebrities are not, and (b) how many public PEOPLE are not, and (c) the fact that she talks about the fact that she IS makes her weirdly seem to be less of one than, let’s say, Zac Efron, and (d) BOOBIES! SHE TALKS ABOUT HER FAKE BOOBIES IN FRONT OF THE INTERVIEWER! SHE DEBATES WHETHER OR NOT TO INSERT THEM IN HER BRA! CAPSLOCK! I like this!
AMANDA: i like this, too. but i’m left wondering what the point of this piece is. half of it seems like a disingenuous way to get around the low-brow celebrity scoop on megan fox while still cashing in on that scoop. NYT isn’t going all Us weekly and making the headline “MEGAN FOX USES FAKE BOOBIES,” [Editor’s note: But hey, I’m not above it!] but i’m not sure this form of pseudo-intellectual celebrity gawking is really that different from the tabloid version.
SADY: fair enough: the article does seem to hold her at a weird distance. like, it is supposedly about The Spectacle Of Megan Fox, and how she’s got all this weird projection-based hate and love and whatever around her, but also invites us to take part in that and deplore her for her fake booby usage or frequent anti-“middle-america” statementing.
AMANDA: and her affinity for Hitler jokes.
SADY: she is fond of a hitler joke every now and again! it’s true! but i also thought, after reading stuff like the Rolling Stone cover piece a while back, that it was kind of refreshing to read an interview that was not just asking her whether she drinks human blood during sex or which celebrity penis she’d prefer to keep company with.
AMANDA: yes. i agree, and i don’t think this piece is bad. i just think it’s barely there in terms of transcending the tabloid thing. but one thing i found really interesting in this piece was the idea of Fox manufacturing a persona of “female empowerment” for men’s magazines. it’s an old trick to give an interview to a men’s magazine next to photos in your undies that talks about how you want to eat Robert Pattison, and how you’re an empowered woman, and how using your body in Hollywood and being frank about it is better than the alternative, but it’s interesting to see her quote at the end that, actually, she doesn’t like men looking at her body.
SADY: well, i am kind of unclear on megan fox’s personal philosophy of female empowerment. like, it seems to be not that well-defined! projecting myself into the head of megan fox, which i know only through interviews, and in which (as you note) she is always only saying what she has chosen to convey to the world at large, i THINK she thinks that being all sexy boy-eatery is not in and of itself the empowerment? that using that image to your own benefit and being a canny manipulator of that image is the empowerment? BUT, as you say, she does seem pretty sick of it and is maybe kind of trapped by that image to a greater extent than she once expected to be. in the Golden Years! when she put her underage self in a bikini and did a waterfall dance for Michael Bay’s cinematic vision and got a whole FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS in extra pay for so doing!
AMANDA: yeah, and more than that, she fucking loved it! she felt that she belonged dancing in the waterfall.
SADY: like a bikini-clad nymph dancing in the fountain of Underage Youth.
AMANDA: but, since you are perhaps a more studied Fox scholar: is Fox’s version of female empowerment any different from Joanna Krupa’s statement that posing for Playboy is feminist? That, because this activity makes one super hot woman super rich, that means it’s empowering?
SADY: well, that’s the thing, right? that’s the reason we get all pissy about this? because this is actually the divide that I most frequently fall into and die a thousand intrablogular deaths. there’s one school of thought that is like, “no, it is not actually empowering,” and another school of thought that is like, “no, it is not empowering, and also any woman who participates in it is BRINGING FEMINISM DOWN and must immediately run straight to the consoling zombie arms of andrea dworkin and claim that she was brainwashed into doing it whether or not this was actually the case.” and i am of the “no, it is not empowering” school myself. i think the only people who think it is empowering are people who don’t get structure, and are kind of libertariany and weird.
AMANDA: yeah. “i do something, and i am a woman, so that thing is empowering for women” doesn’t really make sense
SADY: but i also don’t think yelling at the actual women who participate in it is kind of weird, because: as a person without a steady paycheck, I get that you do what you have to do in order to get by. and one of the options open, if you look even vaguely Fox-like, is to do the Hot Girl thing.
AMANDA: and on the other hand, “i wear bikinis and hang out around cars” is not empowering to women, but “i wear bikinis and hang out around cars and point out what a skeevy hack michael bay is, and how weird it is that this is my job” is better, i think. and that’s something Joanna Krup totally fails to recognize.
SADY: yeah, exactly. i mean, fuck the michael bays of the world. who come in many forms and at many pay levels. i’ve known girls whose main source of employment was dressing up in kind of sexy outfits and going to bars and convincing dudes there that this one specific kind of beer was superior to all others. the michael bays of marketing! but, yeah, obviously, part of our fantasy around those women is that they’re totally thrilled and turned on by jobs that are about selling their sexuality – compliance is the biggest part of the fantasy, like that policy at hooters that you have to engage in “friendly banter” that is most likely about your titular Hooters – and so when girls complain, you know, they’re subversive. and subject to the typical blowback. even if they’re only doing what everyone else in the world does, which is bitching about the uncomfortable aspects of their jobs. sorry, SPEECHIFYING.
AMANDA: THATS OK. so, moving on to the virgin-whore aspect to all of this … i think it’s really interesting that Fox has been able to be in more control of her tabloid stories because of the fact that she dates boring Brian Austin Green and they’ve been boringly dating for five years. all the tabloid stories are like, “megan fox SAID THIS,” not “megan fox fucked some dude.”
SADY: yeah. BRIAN AUSTIN GREEN. a compellingly boring choice! because if she were out actually having actual sex, she’d be portrayed as a train-wreck.
AMANDA: it’s really sad.
SADY: yeah, but it’s another part of the narrative about Hot Girls: that they’re out behaving like trollops and possibly crazy and messed-up and lost and blah blah whatever. like, female sexuality can’t exist without us feeling the need to punish it, or see it punished. and i don’t think women feel that need to the same extent that a lot of men do, or in the same ways, but i think it’s disingenuous to say that a lot of us don’t feel it. basically, I am using the word “lot” a lot, in an attempt to parse this. but Fox can always fall back on the old, “I have a BOYFRIEND! My sexy sexiness is merely an ACT” thing. which brings us to this whole Meta Fox level where admitting that something is an act may in fact be part of another, overarching act.
AMANDA: METAFOX. well, it’s interesting, because we all know that the Jennifer Aniston Act about her being a hopeless spinster who can’t find love is created by the tabloids. and we know that the Jessica Simpson Is A Stupid Bitch act is created by the tabloids. But whether or not those narratives are based in truth, those celebrities will not be able to escape it, no matter what, so it doesn’t matter. with Megan Fox setting herself up from the get-go as being entirely fake, it may give her some more power to control that fakeness later on.
SADY: yeah. i mean, i think that coming from someone who was basically hired as a cinematic boner dispenser before she was even old enough to vote, and who really hasn’t been hired for jobs outside of that context, she seems remarkably in-control.
SADY: but i do question how in-control anyone hired to be a cinematic boner dispenser actually is, in the long run. i mean, the weight of The Patriarchy and all of its various Deep-Rooted And Contradictory Sex Issues does not rest lightly on one’s shoulders.
AMANDA: that’s certainly true, but at the same time—-and i really don’t mean to insult megan fox here, because i don’t know what she’s capable of—-what is she going to do, become a senator? be a mid-level manager? write? she has always wanted to be an actress, she says, and she’s noted that the only reason she can do that is because she’s hot. Fox isn’t going to be getting many Oscar-bait roles (although Jennifer’s Body was an improvement), but does she have to do that kind of acting in order for her to be acceptable?
SADY: uh, probably? i mean, i’m trying to think of someone else who’s made this kind of transition. and, weirdly, the only people i can think of who have made the transition from Object of Desire to Serious Actor are men. like: johnny depp! he was once a mere hot dude! or brad pitt! he was that also! or george clooney! those dudes all started out being valued primarily for their hotness, and then later we were like, “oh, ACTING!” marilyn monroe tried it, but it didn’t really happen. angelina jolie, maybe? oh, hey, here’s an option for megan fox: retire at the age of thirty-four, and spend your entire life rolling around on a bed of cash money.
AMANDA: right. marry someone more successful than brian austin green. is it mean that i keep making fun of brian austin green?
SADY: uh, NO. fox needs someone with an eye for investments, and fewer anecdotes about that time he was on “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.” it got CANCELLED! it was AWESOME!
AMANDA: it sounds awesome. but some women do do that. Halle Berry did that, and then she just kind of receded back into the boobie rolls. there’s a short window of opportunity for Hot Girls to be Oscar-Worthy Hot Girls, and then they must retreat to the Elder Hot Girl Processing Area. I know what it is! Megan Fox hasn’t gotten to her “purposefully ugly” stage yet. then she can really be an Actress
SADY: right? she needs to talk to Mariah Carey’s people! they can de-Glitter her! i just used the phrase “talk to [X]’s people.” without shame. that is a sad thing i did. i think i must leave now, and contemplate my sins.
AMANDA: haha. well i need to go put on my knee-pad leggings myself. dont tell the blogs about that one