Thursday, May 20, 2010

Why do we care about, let alone hate, Megan Fox?

News broke yesterday that Megan Fox would in fact not be a part of Transformers 3, which is set to be released on July 3rd, 2011. Before any real details could be articulated, the media at large jumped on the idea that Fox had been fired by Michael Bay in relation for various statements that Fox had made over the last several months that appeared to criticize Mr. Bay. Needless to say, word soon spread, via HitFlix and People, that Fox had actually chosen not to return to the rampaging-robots franchise of her own accord. I have no idea which version is true, and I imagine we'll know in the coming weeks. But the sheer outpouring of joy that greeted the allegation that Fox had been canned for trashing Michael Bay in public was more than a bit obnoxious. The same geeks and entertainment columnists who called co-star Shia LeBeouf honest and gutsy for criticizing Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) were basically applauding the idea that Fox had been fired for basically doing the same thing. Why do so many people hate Megan Fox? Who do they even care?

What exactly has Megan Fox done to cause so much consternation amongst the American entertainment media, and (if comments pages, Tweets, and Facebook updates are to be believed) the American public in general? She's a 24-year old actress who has been in an allegedly monogamous relationship for several years (with Brian Austin Green), yet she is constantly referred to as a slut. She is constantly viewed as a sex symbol and an object of lust, yet whenever she exploits said pin-up status or discusses it openly, she is derided as an attention whore. Yes, Jennifer's Body aside (where she, Amanda Seyfried, and writer Diablo Cody were left adrift by Karyn Kusama's abysmal direction and pacing), she has yet to really prove herself as more than just a pretty face/hot body. But you could say that about countless famous actresses, including many who are rumored to be replacing Fox in said robot sequel. Why has Megan Fox earned such hatred that millions of people, who arguably have more important things to do and/or worry about, are so pleased at the mere idea that an actress got fired for speaking her mind to the press and criticizing the filmmaker of a movie that most people didn't care for?

As for her various 'outrageous' statements, everything she has said in print regarding her career and the business is pretty much true. Michael Bay is indeed a tyrant on a film shoot. He's pretty proud of this fact and anyone who walks onto his sets unaware has only themselves to blame (same goes for Michael Mann and James Cameron). Her comments comparing him to Hitler were misguided, but only because the proper comparison would have been Joseph Stalin (IE - he basically works you to death while shooting the film). Anyone who honestly thought that Fox was comparing Michael Bay's direction of Transformers to Adolf Hitler's actions as head of Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 1940s is intentionally deluding themselves to justify their own inexplicable hatred of either Fox or Bay. As for her other comments, especially her frank acknowledgments of her role as a young actress in a sexualized motion picture industry, they are merely gaffes. A 'gaffe' is famously defined as an instance when a politician accidentally tells an uncomfortable truth (see - Biden, Joe). In an age when most celebrities give bland and pointless soundbites to the same softball questions, Fox is the rare celebrity whose interviews are always worth reading.

The would-be celebration over Megan Fox's alleged firing is a pretty clear case of 'the bitch got what was coming to her'. It is beyond strange to read various women basically celebrating the rumor that a young female was fired from her job for criticizing her allegedly misogynist boss. It would be easy to classify the mainstream hatred of Megan Fox as a classic virgin/whore dynamic, and it wouldn't be incorrect. Many audiences, especially stereotypical female moviegoers, prefer their leading ladies to be sexually harmless, not terribly opinionated, and completely nonthreatening in that 'girl next door' kind of way. Jennifer Aniston may look fantastic when done up for a magazine shoot, but women are safe in the knowledge that without the fancy Hollywood makeup, she pretty much looks like the rest of us, and those won't be a sexual threat to their boyfriends or husbands. Angelina Jolie, on the other hand, represents a genuine threat. Aside from the fact that she did (allegedly) steal away someone's husband, she represents an unattainable level of beauty and 'hotness'. Most women know that they will never, ever be as lusted after as Ms. Jolie. But Julia Roberts is 'just like us'. The same goes for striking beauties such as Uma Thurman. She may have in fact been as much a victim of marital infidelity as Aniston, but she is a villain in the eyes of too many women. She too represents an unattainable ideal and a threat, and thus she is inexplicably loathed by the very women that she needs to support her more mainstream projects. Because men won't go to see a film because they find the leading lady attractive, even if women will do so for handsome leading men (think the Twilight franchise).

Megan Fox represents that cliche all-too well. Looking more like a high-class escort than a doe-eyed fairy-tale princess, Fox is someone that has obtained a career around her animalistic sex appeal. Plucked from obscurity and turned into a superstar as a result of the first Transformers picture, she has not gone the way of obscurity that greeted Shia LeBeouf's prior love interests. Despite possibly being better actresses and/or being just as attractive, Margo Harschman (the TV series Even Stevens) has only recently found a niche as a B-movie scream queen, while Sarah Roemer (Disturbia) has simply struggles to stay employed (both starred in the dreadful Fired Up). But Fox has stayed in the limelight as a figure of lust and tabloid frenzy. Her 'controversial' interviews basically amount to her giving straight answers to questions regarding her rather obvious sex appeal. But she now represents the nadir of feared female sexual predator. She is lusted after by countless sons, boyfriends, and husbands (and a few females too). Since she also represents an unattainable standard of beauty and sexual self-confidence, she has been labeled a brainless tramp and a heartless whore despite being no different from any number of young actresses who got a lucky break. Whether or not she can act is irrelevant to this discussion, as most of her attackers have only seen her in the Transformers films (not exactly a James Lipton-type franchise).

Megan Fox may or may not have been fired from Transformers 3. She may have simply declined to appear because she just didn't want to do the picture, perhaps because she had nothing to do in the prior sequel (Bay had allegedly promised her a better role this time around, complete with her own female villain to combat). Bonnie Bedelia famously complained about her lack of material in Die Hard 2: Die Harder and ended up not appearing in Die Hard: With a Vengeance. To this day, we still don't know for sure why Katie Holmes ended up being replaced by Maggie Gyllenhaal in The Dark Knight. But the idea that we should cheer her alleged sacking, a termination that seems to be partially blowback for speaking her mind and giving thoughtful and nuanced press clippings is wrongheaded and contradictory.

Championing independent thought while approving of punishment for saying things that are factually correct (Bay is a madman on set, the Transformers movies aren't acting showcases, being a successful actress is primarily about sex appeal, etc) says something about how cruel and petty we can be. There is no question that society as a whole does not like Megan Fox. Yet we are the ones who constantly talk about her and read her interviews, and download her red-carpet pictures. She has done nothing of note to earn our wrath, or even our interest. We created Megan Fox the superstar. It's not her fault that it occurred before she had the chance to become Megan Fox the actress.

Scott Mendelson

27 comments:

Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist! said...

you pretty much nailed it, dude. women hate her because she's gorgeous and guys feel threatened by her because she's sexy AND outspoken.

society has brainwashed females into hating each other and tearing each other down. it's disgusted me to see so much misogyny and hatred toward Megan Fox who hasn't done anything wrong.

attention to ladies who hate Megan Fox: we get it. You're jealous you'll never be as good looking as her. Get over it and quit being jealous. I'm very confident in my looks and I know I'll never be as hot as Megan Fox, but I know I'm hot and sexy in MY OWN WAY that Megan Fox will never be. See how that works, ladies?

yeah, I don't get why she's called a "slut" either when she's been with that dude for about 4-5 years!

I feel sorry for her sometimes.

Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist! said...

anyway, she has JONAH HEX coming out so I don't think she's in danger of having her career slowing down

Anonymous said...

I applaud your article.

Except, Diablo Cody does not get a pass for 'Jennifer's Body'. no way Jose!

Anonymous said...

Ummmm...Shia Labeouf criticized the finished product, shouldered responsibility (in the case of Indy), and then said the next one will be better. He didn't personally attack Michael Bay. Totally different.
And as a girl, I would just like to say I don't like Megan Fox but not because I think she's a slut or outspoken. She comes off as disingenuous and trying too hard to create a public character than be herself. But mostly, have you ever read her quotes about women/girls in general? She plays up the "women are catty and can't get along" card every time, which is precisely the stereotype that every girl on this planet spends a lifetime combatting.

Eve Montana said...

@anonymous: unless you know Megan Fox personally, you don't know if she is being disingenuous.

She plays up the "women are catty and can't get along" card every time, which is precisely the stereotype that every girl on this planet spends a lifetime combatting.

Every girl on this planet? Not really. Some, not all. There is truth that women are their own worst enemies. Even feminist-wanna be sites like Jezebel have featured comments about Fox that make you blush.

My only problem with Fox is her lack of talent. Even the great ones shine in horrible movies. Like Jessica Alba, there hasn't been a scene for me where she's shown that there is something more to the eye. In my opinion, she doesn't have that intangible "it" that makes her movies worth seeing.

Some College Girl said...

"Audiences, especially women, prefer their leading ladies to be sexually harmless, not terribly opinionated, and completely nonthreatening in that 'girl next door' kind of way."

Actually, I prefer leading ladies to be sexually provocative, very opinionated, and have a girl next door approach all into one. Ala Michelle Monaghan in Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang or the Samantha Jones power provocateur type in Sex and the City- BUT OH THATS JUST ME.

It's ridiculous to say that women want that kind of NON THREATENING leading lady when our only "gender specific" options at multiplexes are pathetic chick flicks that paint us as suffering specimens that need to be saved by the love of some dime a dozen hunk. Hollywood only gives us so many options. Transformers has crossover appeal for women, mind you, just like every other Hollywood blockbuster. But men don't see chick flicks unless they're "dragged", which is why the biggest blockbusters are all about male desires (ahem, read some Mulvey). I like knowing that Meagan Fox has a good relationship with BAG off-screen and is a good step-almost mom to his son. But please. Wake me up when she does a film with Nicole Holofcener or some other male or female filmmaker who actually makes movies about women that don't revolve around modern hetero romantic bullshit. Then I'll care about her acting chops and the things her publicist will tell her to say in the press to attract audiences to her work.

Razorgeist said...

@Anonymous

"Ummmm...Shia Labeouf criticized the finished product, shouldered responsibility (in the case of Indy), and then said the next one will be better. He didn't personally attack Michael Bay. Totally different."

Umm neither was she. The Hitler remark while not the words I would have used were refering to Micheal Bay's controlling nature on set. Now its been a while since Ive read Shia's comments I dont remember him claiming any responsibility for the faults of both movies. As a matter of fact he waited until the dust had cleared from both movies before saying anything (she just had the kutzpah to say it sooner).

Great article Scott I was hoping you'd comment on this whole thing. The one thing that bothers me about this whole affair is the rampant Misogyny going on. Some of the other "actresses" who's names have popped up withe exception of Gemma Arterton have just as much if not less experiance than her and are just former models. I guess we can see where Bay and his cronies thought process is going. As you pointed out yeah she's not perfect (though I should point out Roger Ebert liked her in Jennifer's Body) but lets name a bunch of other actresses who are just as bad yet receive non of the scorn.

Scott Mendelson said...

Some College Girl -

Usually when I discuss demographics in broad, general, possibly stereotypical terms, I make a note of that in the proper place. I failed to do so this time. I've slightly altered the sentence in question so it makes it clear that I'm not referring to every single female moviegoer as a matter of gender. Thanks for catching that.

The rest of your comment is dead-on accurate, and I've written about such things (the lie that women only like action movies for romance, the truth that men generally won't see fem-driven films) in prior posts. Welcome to the site, I hope you'll stick around.

Troy said...

It's funny you've written this article. Just tonight at work (I work at a video rental store) a girl derided me for putting a recommended star on Jennifer's Body (put simply I thought it was a lot of fun). I believe her words were "I can't believe you liked Jennifer's Body, it's totally just because Megan Fox is hot!" I tried to explain why I actually liked it, and she wouldn't have a bar of it. Not only that, she actually admitted to not having seen the movie, only hearing that it had a lesbian kissing scene it... After reading your article this small altercation makes all the more sense.

Anonymous said...

I personally hope Megan Fox's career doesn't sink and disappear.

And I'll miss her in the next Transformers. There wasn't any depth to her role, but as sexy eye candy she was amazing.

Anonymous said...

Ok. All of your assumptions in paragraph 4 are completely wrong. But, since you are a guy, how can anyone expect you to know anything about women.

R.L. Shaffer said...

"Ok. All of your assumptions in paragraph 4 are completely wrong. But, since you are a guy, how can anyone expect you to know anything about women."

Wow. The irony of this statement actually floored me. Regardless, I hope you enjoy being single with that narrow-minded mindset. If you aren't single, I honestly feel bad for whomever you are with...

Anonymous said...

Well said. Does the public realize that the reason Bay never refuted or condoned her "Hitler" comment was probably because he knows that he IS "Hitler" on set. Yes, bad analogy but anyone with knowledge in the film industry knows that she's referring to him as an extreme tyrannical director - not a crazy genocidal maniac. And for that, I believe she did decline from being in Transformers 3 b/c many people would chose not to work in that type of environment even if that meant sacrificing a sh*tload of money. And plus, it's Transformers 3. It's going to be bad. The first one was bad, the 2nd one was worse. There's no hope for the third... unless they kill of Shia. **crossing fingers**

Maggie said...

Well I guess I must be the exception to the rule if, in fact, most women really do hate her. The fact is, I got a kick out of her performances in the Transformer movies and when she hosted SNL. I think she's hot and funny and, while she may be a bit immature and not wise in the ways of managing press and publicity, I think she is quite poised and confident and comfortable in the limelight. She has a bit of a tongue-in-cheek cockiness about her and her sexuality that had me cracking up through most of the Transformer movies. I hope her career does continue on a more positive path so we can see what she is capable of as a maturing actress.

Thanks for another great article, Scott!

KadyCakes said...

I understand your viewpoint, and it may be true. People don't like her because not only is she beautiful, rich and famous, but she's complaining. There is a way to say whatever you want and still be graceful and humble. All the things she said came off like she was a spoiled brat that was actually expected to work hard. The everyday person is reveling in the fact that she got replaced, the same way they would, for talking shit about her boss. If only she could learn to disagree politely and stop complaining the world would love her and she might still have a job.

Some College Girl said...

Scott, thank you. :)

I've never read your writings before- you're bookmarked now.

Some College Girl said...

Okay Scott. One more bone to pick, now that you've edited your blogging...

It's still pretty offensive to say that women are threatened and worried about Jennifer Aniston with makeup on. Women aren't worried about about actresses with or without makeup- it's what Hollywood is saying when they put someone LIKE Megan Fox out in the media as a representation of an ideal to men. The threat isn't in the individual actress, its in how Hollywood represents women and sexuality- obviously because Bay needs a new sex object for the next Transformers film, we'll get another Megan Fox-a-like. It won't matter if she can act and read her lines correctly. It won't matter if she even has an opinion. She will exist in the film to be objectified by Bay and his lens flare- to give male audiences a boner downstairs while they drool over their shiny oversized childhood toys blowin' shit up. Angelina Jolie is sexy and can act. She's done her share of films being provocative and has an Oscar under her belt, but that brand of woman paired with her sexuality is definitely not the same as the cheap soft core type that Bay is going for.

Scott Mendelson said...

Some College Girl -

Fair enough. It's always a risk trying to explain social behavior of the masses, as you'll likely end up generalizing just enough to piss off members of said group. That said, much of what I said in the fourth paragraph is stuff that stems from the question I've wondered for years - Why do otherwise reasonable women that I know have a genuine dislike of Uma Thurman? I believe it plays into the ideas I've discussed (she certainly has not been as media-drenched as Fox or Jolie), but in the end they are purely my opinions. There is no law saying I have to be right, and that's what the comment sections are for.

Alas, you're correct. Bay has recast Fox with a model, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, with no acting credits to her name. I believe the girlfriend of Jason Statham, which immediately brings up images of a coke-fueled Chev Chelios doing battle with giant robots (if ya stop, Optimus, ya die!). This would have all been worth it if Bay had been a little creative (Jodie Foster, Judy Greer, Dakota Fanning, Tina Fey), or at least given the spotlight to someone who could use the exposure (think Krysten Ritter).

Some College Girl said...

Steve,

I can't believe you know women who hate Uma Thurman. She's a decent actress who has unfortunately had a very bad streak post-Kill Bill.

There's jealously out there, sure, but I totally think (from my experience as a 20-something) that any sort of dislike of actresses and actors, from men and women, does mostly deep down come from what they represent. I know I can only take so many Us Weekly covers of Heidi Montag- though granted, she isn't famous for anything except her obsession with fame. Thurman dislike is interesting and puzzling to me. And all in all, I probably know more men who dislike Megan Fox than women. Blah.

I don't think Bay has officially cast Rosie Huntington-Whiteley yet though- probably just a rumor (though I wouldn't be surprised if she was cast) spurned from the fact she's a Victoria's Secret model and Bay directed one of their commercials recently... Bay 'splosions and Bras. What a combo. Don't even get me started on what those commercials are saying about women.

:)

Razorgeist said...

"Alas, you're correct. Bay has recast Fox with a model, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, with no acting credits to her name."

I mentioned that too and I knew I'd be correct. I heard the other 2 candidates were Bar Rafaeli and Brooklyn Decker. And yet I'd be willing to bet they wouldn't get the same reaction as Megan Fox.

Jeff Winbush said...

Never having seen any film Megan Fox has appeared in (and not feeling like I've missed much) I have no idea whether she can act or not. That wasn't a requirement of the Transformers flicks and every review I read of Jennifer's Body led me to believe she couldn't fake a fart with conviction. The trailer I've seen for Jonah Hex gives no indication she's going to do anything else but serve as talking eye candy.

I guess she's disliked so much to several self-absorbed comments and allegations that she's no fun to work with. Who knows? I just think she hasn't had a role yet that gives her anything more to do than stand there and look sexy. I don't feel sorry for her, but then she hasn't done anything to make me think of her as anything but yet another talent-challenged starlet.

Scott Mendelson said...

Some College Girl -

Fair enough. It's always a risk trying to explain social behavior of the masses, as you'll likely end up generalizing just enough to piss off members of said group. That said, much of what I said in the fourth paragraph is stuff that stems from the question I've wondered for years - Why do otherwise reasonable women that I know have a genuine dislike of Uma Thurman? I believe it plays into the ideas I've discussed (she certainly has not been as media-drenched as Fox or Jolie), but in the end they are purely my opinions. There is no law saying I have to be right, and that's what the comment sections are for.

Alas, you're correct. Bay has recast Fox with a model, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, with no acting credits to her name. I believe the girlfriend of Jason Statham, which immediately brings up images of a coke-fueled Chev Chelios doing battle with giant robots (if ya stop, Optimus, ya die!). This would have all been worth it if Bay had been a little creative (Jodie Foster, Judy Greer, Dakota Fanning, Tina Fey), or at least given the spotlight to someone who could use the exposure (think Krysten Ritter).

Troy said...

It's funny you've written this article. Just tonight at work (I work at a video rental store) a girl derided me for putting a recommended star on Jennifer's Body (put simply I thought it was a lot of fun). I believe her words were "I can't believe you liked Jennifer's Body, it's totally just because Megan Fox is hot!" I tried to explain why I actually liked it, and she wouldn't have a bar of it. Not only that, she actually admitted to not having seen the movie, only hearing that it had a lesbian kissing scene it... After reading your article this small altercation makes all the more sense.

Some College Girl said...

"Audiences, especially women, prefer their leading ladies to be sexually harmless, not terribly opinionated, and completely nonthreatening in that 'girl next door' kind of way."

Actually, I prefer leading ladies to be sexually provocative, very opinionated, and have a girl next door approach all into one. Ala Michelle Monaghan in Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang or the Samantha Jones power provocateur type in Sex and the City- BUT OH THATS JUST ME.

It's ridiculous to say that women want that kind of NON THREATENING leading lady when our only "gender specific" options at multiplexes are pathetic chick flicks that paint us as suffering specimens that need to be saved by the love of some dime a dozen hunk. Hollywood only gives us so many options. Transformers has crossover appeal for women, mind you, just like every other Hollywood blockbuster. But men don't see chick flicks unless they're "dragged", which is why the biggest blockbusters are all about male desires (ahem, read some Mulvey). I like knowing that Meagan Fox has a good relationship with BAG off-screen and is a good step-almost mom to his son. But please. Wake me up when she does a film with Nicole Holofcener or some other male or female filmmaker who actually makes movies about women that don't revolve around modern hetero romantic bullshit. Then I'll care about her acting chops and the things her publicist will tell her to say in the press to attract audiences to her work.

Razorgeist said...

@Anonymous

"Ummmm...Shia Labeouf criticized the finished product, shouldered responsibility (in the case of Indy), and then said the next one will be better. He didn't personally attack Michael Bay. Totally different."

Umm neither was she. The Hitler remark while not the words I would have used were refering to Micheal Bay's controlling nature on set. Now its been a while since Ive read Shia's comments I dont remember him claiming any responsibility for the faults of both movies. As a matter of fact he waited until the dust had cleared from both movies before saying anything (she just had the kutzpah to say it sooner).

Great article Scott I was hoping you'd comment on this whole thing. The one thing that bothers me about this whole affair is the rampant Misogyny going on. Some of the other "actresses" who's names have popped up withe exception of Gemma Arterton have just as much if not less experiance than her and are just former models. I guess we can see where Bay and his cronies thought process is going. As you pointed out yeah she's not perfect (though I should point out Roger Ebert liked her in Jennifer's Body) but lets name a bunch of other actresses who are just as bad yet receive non of the scorn.

Some College Girl said...

Okay Scott. One more bone to pick, now that you've edited your blogging...

It's still pretty offensive to say that women are threatened and worried about Jennifer Aniston with makeup on. Women aren't worried about about actresses with or without makeup- it's what Hollywood is saying when they put someone LIKE Megan Fox out in the media as a representation of an ideal to men. The threat isn't in the individual actress, its in how Hollywood represents women and sexuality- obviously because Bay needs a new sex object for the next Transformers film, we'll get another Megan Fox-a-like. It won't matter if she can act and read her lines correctly. It won't matter if she even has an opinion. She will exist in the film to be objectified by Bay and his lens flare- to give male audiences a boner downstairs while they drool over their shiny oversized childhood toys blowin' shit up. Angelina Jolie is sexy and can act. She's done her share of films being provocative and has an Oscar under her belt, but that brand of woman paired with her sexuality is definitely not the same as the cheap soft core type that Bay is going for.

Eve Montana said...

@anonymous: unless you know Megan Fox personally, you don't know if she is being disingenuous.

She plays up the "women are catty and can't get along" card every time, which is precisely the stereotype that every girl on this planet spends a lifetime combatting.

Every girl on this planet? Not really. Some, not all. There is truth that women are their own worst enemies. Even feminist-wanna be sites like Jezebel have featured comments about Fox that make you blush.

My only problem with Fox is her lack of talent. Even the great ones shine in horrible movies. Like Jessica Alba, there hasn't been a scene for me where she's shown that there is something more to the eye. In my opinion, she doesn't have that intangible "it" that makes her movies worth seeing.

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