Megan Fox, 35, is known for her killer films and headline-worthy red carpet looks, but, more recently, her reputation has been up for debate. The star has been subject to a decade of scrutiny and maligned for her Hollywood involvement. The truth is Fox has refused to be a facsimile; an idealised carbon-copy projection of what the industry expects from the beautiful women that strut through movie scenes, premieres, and pose for the big screen.
Audiences will recognise the actress from her Transformers (2007) spectacle, notably leaning under the hood of a greasy black and yellow ‘77 Camaro, before effortlessly diagnosing the inner workings of the ride. However, Michael Bay’s beloved car franchise was not meant to be. Shortly after the film hit the box office (and theatres across the globe), stories of the director’s treatment towards the actress began to make the rounds. Rumours of Fox being made to dance under a waterfall, aged 15, according to her anecdote, stuck. The fallout continued. During an interview with Wonderland, in 2009, the actress took a shot at Bay, saying the director “wants to be like Hitler on his sets” and called him a “nightmare” to work for. Fox’s comments led to her being let go from the Speilberg-endorsed film series. Yet, despite no longer being attached to the Transformer franchise, the hypersexualised media tone on Fox had been set — and it just got worse from there.
A clip of the Tennessee star appearing on the Jimmy Kimmel Show in 2009 recently resurfaced. Fox sincerely explains how she has been sexualised in Hollywood as a teen. In response, Kimmel unfurls a cheap joke at the actress’s expense. The interview moves ahead from the unnecessary sexual joke to Kimmel offering Fox a drawing of both him and the star “together” in a bed, with the TV host trying to graphically kiss her. At the time, Fox was promoting the release of the 2009 horror-comedy Jennifer’s Body — a film famously marred for its reception from critics it did not seek out to cater for. The reclamation of Jennifer’s Body is long underway. The once criticised film has since been hailed a feminist movie ahead of its time. Yet, despite its wonderfully gory tale and playful screenwriting, the film struggled to garner interest thanks to its sexist marketing and, ultimately, flopped. Now, years later, Jennifer’s Body has become a retrospective favourite. Yet, at the time, Fox was subjected to more than poor ratings and critical reviews; the media latched onto a sexist, stereotyped narrative determined to reduce the young actress to nothing more than a sex symbol. Outlets attempted to smear the rising star with venomous headlines calling her “crazy” or cast her as a beautified icon of male desire, which led the actress to have a “genuine psychological breakdown”.
Now, in the wake of the Me Too movement, Jennifer’s Body has become symbolically overhauled. Whether it’s the post-lockdown nostalgia or a general shift in attitudes, the movie has entered something of a cultural renaissance. The gothic, vengeful role, which neatly suited Fox, was not reflective of her experience with casting calls. In an interview with the New York Times, Fox, then aged 32, opened up about the acting opportunities that would come her way: “I usually get offered the mean girl, the evil queen, the stripper, the prostitute with a heart of gold.” Despite being open about sexualisation at the hands of Hollywood, the now 35-year-old reflected on the stories she could share, revealing: “I just didn’t think […] that I would be a sympathetic victim.”
In a post-Me Too world, it seems audiences are being more sensitive to the industry’s treatment of Fox. Believe me, there are plenty of think pieces angling on it. Call it a Megan Fox renaissance, if you will. The star, who has a history of championing LGBTQ+ visibility, has become something of a bicon. Yes, her role in Jennifer’s Body was a start, but, since then, the actress tried her hand at curating on the small screen’s welcomed representation of bisexuality; Reagan Lucas. In an interview with Washington Post, the star admitted the New Girl character shared the most likeness with her own personality. Lucas, a pharmaceutical representative on the American sitcom New Girl, was a recurring role for Fox in 2016, one which showed the star returning to her LGBTQ+ roots.
Since then, Fox has been applauded for her resilience as a cultural Hollywood figure. Attitudes towards the star are shifting and a recent reflection of this would be our celebrity-saturated parties, aka The Met and the 2021 MTV Video Music Awards. Fox was in attendance at both events and received high praise for her glamourous outfits. We have to note that Fox ticks all the boxes of the industry Eurocentric beauty standards: feminine, slim and unquestionably attractive. Put simply, Fox is the most palatable form of bisexuality in Hollywood. To no surprise, the reactions to her appearance went viral as tweets and headlines positively portrayed the actress. It looks like Fox has moved on past her Transformers days and is revisiting her darker genre days. The star landed a role in the thriller Till Death and Netflix’s new gritty vampire horror, Night Teeth. If anything, the cruel, sexist treatment of Fox stands as a stark reminder of how much progress Hollywood still has to make with prominent LGBTQ+ figures, particularly women. If we start with Megan Fox, who’s next?