Megan Fox has regained some semblance of It Girl status as of late, albeit a gentler, less abusive type. In the wake of the #MeToo movement and over a decade of cultural growth, we’ve finally come around to an uncomfortable and frankly horrifying truth.
We all did Megan Fox SO dirty.
Not only Fox, but Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and the rest of the young women whom we chewed up and spit out during the Size Zero era of the aughts (and beyond); a time of trashy tabloids, tasteless celebrity blogs, and rampant, invasive, gleeful sexism.
Now is the time for our mea culpas.
Spears has been enjoying a tremendous groundswell of support in her fight against a tyrannical, 13-year-long conservatorship—the #FreeBritney movement has gained many new members (and a few significant legal victories) over the past year. Hilton’s YouTube Original documentary This Is Paris has provided the embattled reality star and revenge porn survivor a platform to finally share her truth, and its emotional journey has struck a chord with fans and former naysayers alike. And Fox, of course, has been embraced with open arms by Instagram fans and columnists eager to celebrate her new relationship with rocker/actor Machine Gun Kelly and ruminate on the misogynistic abuses committed against the actress during a time when she was so young and vulnerable.
The Megan Fox renaissance has coincided with the tenth anniversary of 2009’s Jennifer’s Body, a film which suffered a similar fate to the star herself. Misunderstood and derided, it was considered a flop at the time of its release, despite being a brilliant, nuanced, and hilariously subversive exploration of gender (and genre) politics.
Frederick Blichert’s Extra Salty: Jennifer’s Body (ECW Press) seeks to right the wrongs inflicted upon Jennifer’s Body by clueless studio executives and a wildly sexist society, and offers a cogent, well-researched, and passionate argument that proves that Jennifer’s Body should not be, in the words of the boy-eating cheerleader herself, “crossed out.”
A compact tome (104 pages long and practically small enough to fit into a fanny pack), Blichert’s exploration of Karyn Kusama and Diablo Cody’s cult classic fairly crackles with energy and empathy. Blichert provides more than just an insightful analysis of the film itself; the book also addresses how the cultural moment in which it was released contributed to its (temporary) downfall, and why its current re-examination by critics and viewers alike has been long overdue.
A great deal of ground is concisely and incisively covered in its four chapters, introduction, and conclusion, including the disconnect between Cody and Kusama’s creative vision and that of the woefully out-of-touch studio suits; the interplay between Fox’s real-life persona, her representation in popular media, and her performance in the film; the film’s overlooked and undeniable queer subtext; the links between exploitation and trauma, and monstrosity and femininity; and the recent reassessment of value of Jennifer’s Body.
Accessibly written, whip-smart, and sympathetic, Extra Salty is a book about film and pop culture that will satisfy both cinéastes and casual viewers alike.
Score: 10 out of 10 extra salty morsels.
ECW Press is a Canadian indie publisher. Their Pop Classics line offers short books that pack a big punch, with titles focusing on pop culture phenomena such as The Bachelor, Twin Peaks, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Extra Salty: Jennifer’s Body is now available for purchase.