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Jennifer’s Body: The Satirical Horror Film, Explained



Megan Fox lights her tongue on fire in Jennifers Body

The fate of Jennifer’s Body is very closely intertwined with its lead’s story. Megan Fox pointed out to Indie Wire how her attempts to protect herself against the exploitation of women in Hollywood were far ahead of her time. She was too much of an imperfect victim for the #MeToo movement, sexualized and aggressive. Then, she is suddenly back in mainstream pop culture as a feminist icon. The same happened to Jennifer’s Body — about ten years after its release it has become a cult feminist horror film, commended for its sapphic themes. As BuzzFeed points out, an apology is probably due for writing off Jennifer’s Body as a silly flick about a man-eating cheerleader.

This is an unfortunate case of satire being so clever that it is viewed as a genuine take on the thing it satirizes, as Diablo Cody and Karyn Kusama’s creation is a biting mockery of the politics of response to tragedies, Christianity, but, above all, a poignant commentary on female sexuality and agency, girl-coming-of-age and death of innocence, and relationships between women. A feminist reimagining of the rape-revenge story and a tribute to the female-monster horror genre but set in high school, Jennifer’s Body

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offered clever dialogue and interesting interpretations but fell victim to its own publicity team, leading to it being marketed for a completely wrong audience.

Megan Fox was the first actress sought for the role of the titular Jennifer, due to her status in audience perception as that bombshell that washed a car as her audition for the Transformers franchise. Kusama wanted to play on those sexist constrictions and show how women’s bodies don’t belong to women anymore in a gender-skewed world, of which Hollywood is a hyperbolic mirror. However, the industry was not ready for that conversation.

Related: Best Horror Movies Directed by Women, Ranked

While the portrayal of Jennifer became one of Fox’s best performances, the underlying message went over viewers’ heads, with the film’s bro-focused marketing strategy particularly to blame for this miscommunication. In an almost purposeful misguidance, Megan Fox’s sex appeal was the main promotion instrument, set on securing a straight male audience. Posters featured Fox in seductive poses, with suggestive slogans like “She’s got a taste for bad boys”. The trailers included no hints of the complex relationship between the two main female characters. During the interview, producers hyped up Needy and Jennifer’s kiss, promising viewers some steamy girl-on-girl action. There was even an idea to make Fox set up an amateur porn website.

Lured into the cinema, men were left unsatisfied, confused, and deeply disturbed. They were not invested in the anxiousness and trepidations of teenage girls’ friendship. Their avatars on the screen — guys who inevitably feel for Jennifer — were torn apart, their insides falling out, and eaten by her. Even the ‘good’ guys! At the same time, such an ill-advised marketing approach drove off the actual intended audience of Jennifer’s Body, girls.

As the movie starts, Jennifer and Needy’s relationship appears as a classic toxic ‘sandbox’ friendship that is long overdue. One is a strong bossy personality and the other is a lackey, faintly resisting the despotic control over her life. As the story progresses, though, it becomes evident that Needy’s assertion about their connection is not so naive, after all.