Like clockwork, I received my monthly issue of Esquire magazine in the mail today. Staring me in the face was Hollywood’s newest “It Girl,” Megan Fox, clad in a trenchcoat, black lingerie and a mean expression reserved for prizefighter boxers and two people blocked by a Berlin Wall of sexual tension.
The cover proclaimed Megan as the “Woman of Summer ’09.” Immediately, I rolled my eyes and wondered how much more of her I would see over the course of the blockbuster movie season.
I’ve been down this road before — two years ago, in fact — when the first Transformers movie (or as it soon became clear, General Motors Presents: Transforming Cars with Little Plot for Man-Children) made sure to flaunt Megan’s sexuality in press events, photo shoots and on the silver screen. No knock on her arrival in the spotlight, as she has put in her time in such quality work like Ocean Ave. and the Kelly Ripa/Faith Ford sitcom Hope & Faith [/sarcasm], and she is a beautiful woman [/horndog]. But from the magazine covers, Transformers fanboys and horndogs screaming that Megan was the hottest woman ever, it made me that much more disinterested.
You may wonder why I seem to be displeased with Ms. Fox; that it sounds like I am repulsed by her and am therefore a gay. My beef is that like many of starlets before her and will come after her, the media — and as a byproduct, pop culture customers — sells her as something more than she is. And since that focus is clearly not on her acting — her thespian skills weren’t popping out of that coat, after all — we are being sold a trumped-up ideal of sexuality, trivializing and compartmentalizing her to merely an aesthetic piece of skin and bones. She is Megan Fox, the eye candy fembot that will make your nature rise… and with hope, plop your butt in a theater seat to see her movie.
Male fantasies like Megan have come and gone. While we can assume that they are still alive (examples: Tara Reid, Meg Ryan, Kim Basinger), their time in the limelight faded with the rise of the newest hot toddy — reduced to TV guest star appearances, occasional ads and (ugh) raising families.
And this isn’t just a Tinseltown phenomenon: who really heard of Katy Perry before “I Kissed a Girl” ruined ears and lives? Who will lather her in baby oil for Maxim five years from now? How about Paula Abdul, former Los Angeles Lakers cheerleader and dance partner for MC Skat Kat? Where will she be once American Idol is long gone? Middling tennis player-turned-model Anna Kournikova? Who has heard from her since she realized that she couldn’t play tennis? Not many people cared about these women — at least, not many of the right people to thrust them into superstar status. And those same people bolted like a one-night stand afraid of the pregnancy test results.
Why these certain women, though? It could be a number of factors: fitting a certain image/look (like Greg Brady’s “groovy,” corny alter ego Johnny Bravo from The Brady Bunch); piggybacking their assets with the success of a certain product; and/or notoriety for awful reasons (Paris Hilton). Without anything for people to connect with beyond the superficial, why should anyone care once our ADD-riddled society sees someone shinier?
We all know that fame is a cruel machine, taking an image of a human being and recycling it into tons of cash is until no longer profitable and/or tiresome to its audience. And fame built up on shallow qualities is that much more fleeting and annoying. Therefore, I wish that there was more substance to what these companies are trying to sell. Nicole Kidman, Natalie Portman, Angela Bassett, Monica Bellucci, Cate Blanchett and Erykah Badu: these are some examples of talented women of substance who happen to be easy on the eyes. (I have huge crushes on Natalie and Monica, myself.) Their longevity is a testament to their skills — tastes in their talents and looks be damned. And there are tons more that have lasted well beyond the shelf life of those like Sean Young and Tawny Kitaen.
So as with most pop-culture icons, people are built up and torn down in the grand name of capitalism. It’s like a harvest of sorts, the cycle beginning anew with every newcomer that captures mainstream society’s attention. And Megan Fox is the latest to be shuffled into the fray. Enjoy it while it lasts. I wish I could.