Megan Fox is hot. Megan Fox's face is symmetrical. Megan Fox is kind of sad about being so hot. According to Stephen Marche, author of Esquire's outrageous new profile of the "Transformers" and "This Is 40" actress, this is a complex problem worth pages meditation and a jab at Adele, Lena Dunham, Lady Gaga and Amy Adams.
In what might be the most simultaneously rage-inducing and confusing piece of celebrity journalism in recent history, Marche -- the same man who wrote an entire September 2012 feature on how men are victims of "feminine contempt" -- dedicates 2,462 words to extolling the difficulties of being the physically perfect "last American bombshell."
It's unclear what Marche's goal was. In spite of how it reads, the piece is apparently not a parody of its genre -- evidently it's meant to be sympathetic to Fox's "plight" as a crazily symmetrical woman. The really brilliant part of this is that even as Marche bemoans how Fox is a "sexual prop," he's using her as one. Just look at the amount of space Marche dedicates to discussing various parts of Fox's body, and how much this piece at times sounds like the retelling of some sort of virgin sacrifice legend. It's hard to imagine Esquire profiling a male celebrity in even remotely the same way.
This isn't all about Fox, of course. Marche has a much grander statement to make about Art and Culture. To be frank, cinema has let itself go. Marche wants sexy back. "Because creativity is, was, and always will be sexual," he writes, "... American movies expressed that great fusion of sex and art, too ... Such movies need bombshells. They need to consume beautiful flesh in their sacrifices. They need women like Megan Fox."
Apparently there just aren't enough beautifully-fleshed females in Hollywood these days (not that the beautiful ones are allowed to have all that much flesh). Why? Marche has the answer: "Women no longer need to be beautiful in order to express their talent. Lena Dunham and Adele and Lady Gaga and Amy Adams are all perfectly plain, and they are all at the top of their field."
You read that right. Women in Hollywood are finally occasionally being valued for their work, not just their looks, and the response from a men's magazine that purports to love women (see Esquire's regular "Woman We Love" feature) is to pass judgment on several talented women's appearances amid a whole lot of nostalgia for a more looks-oriented past.
Fortunately, The Awl's Choire Sicha responded to this particular comment with one of the more brilliant and deserved skewerings in recent history:
Actual words, typed consecutively, and somehow published. Despite the obvious questions -- how the hell did poor Amy Adams get wrapped up in that claim!? And also "how soon is Adele going to BEAT YOU TO DEATH?" -- I also... I... I don't know where to start with Stephen Marche's half-profile of Megan Fox for Esquire. I thought the mens' mags had moved on from hiring ghouls -- I mean, smart ones even! -- to be ghoulish about women and their value. I thought the age of OMG WOMEN HAVE BREASTS, SOME ARE SO PRETTY, WHAT SHALL WE DO was over.
I don't feel bad that Megan Fox is a beautiful, famous actress. I don't buy that she's become a sex symbol against her will. She spent the first years of her career shooting movies like "Transformers" and "Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen." She once said in a 2009 interview with the New York Times Magazine, "All women in Hollywood are known as sex symbols. You're sold, and it's based on sex. That's OK, if you know how to use it." Fox has chosen roles that involve not much doing and lots of being looked at, and she's presumably been well-compensated for that work.
So I don't think we need to treat Megan Fox like a poor little hot girl. However, I do think we need to add Stephen Marche to a list titled, "Part of the Problem." Because anyone who says female beauty doesn't matter anymore while suggesting that it's all that matters is exactly that.