Sunday, November 29, 2009

How The Corporate Machine Screwed Up Jennifer's Body


I admit it, I'm not a huge fan of Diablo Cody's take on the American Teen.  I think she spends too much time trying to come up with hip slang and not enough time actually building the characters.  And yet, I still liked JUNO, The United States of Tara is still one of my favorite shows on TV, and I loved Jennifer's Body.

When I first saw the previews and read the hype, I thought, like most of America, that it was going to be just another vehicle for a young starlet (Megan Fox) to show off her breasts.  Just another Boy Meets Girl, Girl Eats Boy tale of woe.  With maybe some added spice from the aforementioned Diablo Cody.  Why did I think that?  Because that's how it was marketed.  The promoters for the movie were shameless about shoving Fox's chest in your face.  Turns out, she's not even the main character.

That's because the marketing department got it wrong.  Jennifer's Body, as it turns out, happens to be, in my opinion, one of the most pro-feminist movies of the decade.

If you haven't seen the movie, don't read any further.  You've been warned.

Here's the plot in a nutshell.  Jennifer and Needy are best friends.  Jennifer is the pretty one and Needy is the homely one.  But their friendship defies the odds.  Needy follows Jennifer around like a puppy (much to the dismay of Needy's boyfriend, Chip).  One night an indie band comes to their small town, and sets off a fire in the small club (which by the way was too reminiscent of the club fire set off by Great White in RI).  The band then lures Jennifer (believing she's a virgin) into their van and sacrifices her to Satan in exchange for greatness.  The problem is that Jennifer is NOT a virgin (or even a back door virgin as she puts it), thus she doesn't die, but becomes something sinister.

The rest of the movie pits Needy against Jennifer as Jennifer must feed to survive.  She feeds on horny high school boys because they're really the needy ones, aren't they?  Needy tries to stop Jennifer but when Jennifer doesn't feed on the hearts of HS boys, she becomes ugly (for her) and worn down.  She ends up feeding on Needy's boyfriend Chip and Needy is forced to kill her, but not before siphoning off just a little of Jennifer's demonic power.

So how is this movie pro-feminism?  Well the boys in this movie are all emasculated.  Needy's bf, Chip, is a subject to both Jennifer AND Needy.  The hottest action in the movie isn't between Needy and Chip, it's between Needy and Jennifer.  And not because lesbians are hot.  Simply because Chip can't satisfy Needy's needs the way Jennifer can.

Jennifer is the stereotypical bitchy HS girl who burns her way through all the boys without giving a single thought to their feelings.  Her transformation is a thinly veiled message that she's effectively devouring their hearts and destroying them in the bloodiest way possible (because boys are so fragile).  But her nemesis isn't a boy, it's Needy, who represents the other girls.  The girls who are nice and don't need to ruin every boy they come in contact with.  And in the end, Needy overcomes Jennifer.  It's the good girl that wins, but not before she takes just a little of Jennifer's power, thus showing that even the good girls need to be bad every once in a while.

This movie is a morality tale for girls BY girls.  It's a movie that says that men are weak and need to be protected from the heart devouring girls like Jennifer, and that the real heroes are the Plain Janes out there who stand against the evil demons.

And really, this movie should have been marketed as such.  It should have been marketed toward women who, I think, would have really liked the message.  They should have played up the friendship between Needy and Jennifer, and not Jennifer's chest.

I mean, all the men in the movie are soft voiced, boyish, or wear makeup.  This movie should NEVER have been marketed toward men.  That's not to say that there aren't things in the movie for men to enjoy, but this movie could have done a lot better than it did if it hadn't been ruined by the corporate marketing machine.

2 comments:

  1. Not in the theater version. Although there's always Transformer's 3.

    ReplyDelete

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