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Sep 18 2019

10th Anniversary of Jennifer's Body

By Spencer Coile

Jennifer's Bodywas never meant to find mainstream success.A film about women,made by women,and starring women - a campy flick about a possessed teenage girl who kills men after she seduces them,no less - was somehow expected to fulfill every man's fantasy.At long last,we would finally witness Megan Fox naked on-screen.Rejoice,for she would also be kissing her co-star,Amanda Seyfried,for our enjoyment.Indeed,the male gaze was directed firmly atJennifer's Body,waiting to see if it would disappoint.

And sure enough,it did.Critics were quick to call it empty and vapid,hardly anyone bothered to see it,andJennifer's Bodywas quickly forgotten.But is any of this surprising?Despite their undeniable cultural cache in 2009,both Megan Fox and screenwriter Diablo Cody were experiencing an ongoing backlash that reeked of sexism.And quite plainly: many weren't ready to see,let alone enjoy,a film about male fear controlled entirely by female sexuality.

But perhaps for those same reasons,Jennifer's Bodyis claiming the cult status it was always destined to have.

Let's make something abundantly clear:Jennifer's Bodywas never meant to fulfill men's fantasies.Directed by Karyn Kusama,written by Cody,and starring Fox and Seyfried,the film is instead much more interested in exploring the interior of its complex female characters.The first line of dialogue is a voiceover of Seyfried's Anita,or Needy,very bluntly conveying:

Hell is a teenage girl.

And for Needy,that is certainly the case.Her friendship with the beautiful,popular cheerleader Jennifer (Fox) has been lifelong,built on secrets and trust,but also resentment and deep seeded jealousy.When they go see an indie band at a local bar,their friendship is altered when a fire breaks out,and chaos erupts.Needy goes home,but Jennifer rides off with the band in the back of their van.

Jennifer's Bodywas advertised through its sex appeal,and Megan Fox certainly brings that to her role as Jennifer.But the role isn't inherently a sexy one.When Jennifer shows up at Needy's house later that night,after driving off with the band,she is bloody and bruised.She is practically feral,eating a rotisserie chicken off the floor,before spewing a prickly black venom all over Needy's kitchen floor.A far cry from the "bombshell"Fox was marketed as.Which makes sense,considering Jennifer is now possessed by a demon,one who is only satiated by the flesh of human boys.And it doesn't take Needy long to uncover this and try to thwart her best friend.

On its surface,the film tells a relatively straightforward tale of female friendships;as prickly and as deadly as they might be.Diablo Cody herself evensaid:

This movie is a commentary on girl-on-girl hatred…

And this could not be more evident through Jennifer and Needy's friendship.The love they have for one another is both genuinely affectionate and sinister.However,dig deeper and the film offers a narrative even more layered,something a passive viewing couldn't possibly achieve.It's about reclaiming power from those who stole it in the first place.

We don't learn what happened to Jennifer in the back of the van until much later in the movie.She eventually informs Needy the band took her to the middle of nowhere,tied her up,and sacrificed her to Satan - all for the chance at becoming rich and famous.Yet because Jennifer wasn't a virgin,the sacrifice didn't totally work,leaving her possessed and hungry.Sure,logic is somewhat abandoned by this point,but it's eventually eclipsed by the righteous anger we might feel as the band mocks Jennifer's torment before they sacrifice her.They forget her name,laugh at her when she begs for mercy,eerily serenade her with a rendition of "867-5309/Jenny Jenny"before finally plunging a knife into her heart.

Now,Jennifer is exacting revenge on the male species as a whole;a response to the pain she suffered.It is a reclamation of her narrative,one that was previously upended by the men who flirted with her,enticed her,and inevitably harmed her.Only now,she is in control.She lures men to secret hideaways,makes them feel special,and then rips them limb-from-limb.And it's only once she feasts on her male specimen that she returns to her objectively beautiful self;with glowing skin,flowy hair,and a confident disposition.In other words,she mutilates men to maintain their scintillating perception of her.

Of course,that isn't exactly the sexy horror flick audiences were offered through the trailers and posters.And it definitely didn't stop many (notably male) critics from decrying the overall "unsexiness"of the story,with one evenclaiming:

Just because something looks delicious doesn't mean the taste won't be rancid.

And perhaps that is true.Perhaps we were advertised a harmless fun time at the movies withJennifer's Body.Perhaps we wanted to see a topless Megan Fox (spoiler: we don't).And perhaps we wanted to see Fox and Seyfried kiss (spoiler: we do,but it's fueled mostly by their own confusion and desperation).Or perhaps we weren't ready to swallow the bitter pill thatJennifer's Bodyhad to offer.It's a particularly potent tale about women - those who have suffered and those who inflict suffering - uncovering and reclaiming their power,a tale that resonates better 10 years later.

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Reader Comments (1)

It was OK but nothing great as I don't think Megan Fox has anything to offer as an actress other than just be pretty.She doesn't have much range to really carry a film.

September 18,2019 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

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