So I hope I didn’t come off too much like a nerdy fangirl when I called her up to talk about her new movie, “Jennifer’s Body,” a horror flick which stars Megan Fox as a possessed high school girl who eats her male classmates. The Divine Miss Diablo was everything I hoped for and more—hey, the coolest girl in Hollywood even apologized for her “verbal diarrhea” when she interrupted me once.
Click through for my convo with Diablo Cody about why she thinks Megan Fox is “eccentric,” how she wants to host a show like “The View” with Courtney Love, and why therapy (plus, a ban on reading blogs) has made Hollywood bearable for her. Oh! And why the kiss in “Jennifer’s Body” between Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried was never meant to be “gratuitous.”
The Frisky: “Jennifer’s Body” is a horror movie about a high school girl who is really hot and guys want her—but she’s actually evil and possessed and eats the people! Where the hell did that idea from?
Diablo Cody: I always wanted to write a horror movie. I’m a big horror fan. Coming off of “Juno,” I had just finished writing the script and thought, I can do this! What do I want to do next? I thought, Definitely horror. I was still in my obsessed-with-adolescence phase. I thought, All right, teenaged girls, pretty scary! They’ve been the subject of many horror films and I’m going to take a crack at it.
The Frisky: The title of “Jennifer’s Body” the movie is also the title of a song by the band Hole.
DC: I love Hole! I’m very lucky to have come of age in the ’90s. It was a really wonderful time to be growing up because there was this whole Riot Grrl movement and I was a vast subscriber, watching “My So-Called Life” and wearing my engineer boots and my flannel shirt. I was in a band! I don’t really know if teen culture is like that anymore. It was a really amazing time to be a young feminist, let me tell you.
The Frisky: Do you still consider yourself a Riot Grrl?
DC: I’m an old Riot Grrl. (laughs) There’s a lot of us out there—we have our faded tattoos and still wear baby doll dresses!
The Frisky: Yeah, it sucks pop culture so is not like that anymore.
DC: I think it goes in cycles. Right now, we are in a cycle where it is cool to be meticulously groomed and starving to death and listen to really cheesy music. It’s unfortunate! But these are the times we’re living in. [Riot Grrl will] eventually come back around—it always does.
The Frisky: Damn, I wish I hadn’t missed it.
DC: I feel bad that you missed it. There was a time when you’d turn on MTV at prime time and they’d be playing an L7 video—these are women who would take out their tampons and throw them at the audience! Can you imagine that on MTV now, interrupting “The Hills”? Things have definitely changed!
The Frisky: I feel like it’s kind of happening on the internet, though, with “lady blogs.” There’s us, and Jezebel, and Salon.com has Broadsheet and Slate.com has Double X. Maybe blogs are having “a moment” right now.
DC: OK, here’s a problem that is holding back feminism and you see it on the blogs. We all hold each other up to an incredibly high standard in a way that men do not. Let’s say a woman directs a movie that’s not very good—everybody piles up on her. It’s, like, “No! You’re representing us! It has to be perfect!” And that’s not how it works! Women should be allowed to make bad movies. Good movies. Porno movies. Terrible made-for-TV movies. Women just need to be out there directing as many movies as men do. We don’t all have to be the model woman—what we need is to be more visible. We really, really are tough on each other.
The Frisky: So do you still read blogs?
DC: I had to give up on them. It was almost a year ago, last September.
The Frisky: Really? Why’d you stop?
DC: Basically, I wrote an entry on my MySpace about criticism [Example: "I'm sorry to all those violent, semi-literate fanboys who hate me for befriending their heroes. I can't help it if your favorite writer, actor, director, or talk show host likes me."] and I thought, you know, if I’m going to complain about stuff like this, I can’t engage in it. So I’m done. But it’s a shame because I miss reading stuff like Jezebel. I miss all of it. I miss being a part of this conversation. But it was so hard because any time I saw anything about myself, I’d have, like, a panic attack. Like a PANIC ATTACK. Even if it was positive! Praise or criticism freak me out in equal measure. I just do not like being a public figure, so I stay out of it.
The Frisky: That’s interesting that even praise freaks you out.
DC: That’s what people don’t understand: I don’t even want to see a poster for the movie! It reminds me what I do is no longer personal and it sends me into this weird spiral of self-loathing. All the people in my life know the drill. Do not come over to my house and say, “Hey, guess what I read today?” Do not do it.
The Frisky: One thing that’s been really annoying is how all these blogs are talking about how in “Jennifer’s Body,” there’s a lesbian kiss between Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried. And I’m, like, ‘It’s not a lesbian kiss, guys! It’s just two girls who kiss!’
DC: All right, if the two protagonists of the film were a guy and a girl and in a particularly tense moment, they shared a kiss, no one would say it was gratuitous. But the fact that they’re women means it’s some kind of stunt. It was intended to be something profound and meaningful to me and to Karyn [Kusama, the director]. Obviously we knew people were going to totally sensationalize it. They’re beautiful girls, the scene is hot—I’m not afraid to say that. There is a sexual energy between the girls which is kind of authentic, because I know when I was a teenaged girl, the friendships that I had with other girls were almost romantic, they were so intense. I wanted to sleep at my friend’s house every night, I wanted to wear her clothes, we would talk on the phone until our ears ached. I wanted to capture that heightened feeling you get as an adolescent that you don’t really feel as a grownup. (laughs) You like your friends when you’re a grownup but you don’t need to sleep in the same bed with them and talk to them on the phone until 5 a.m. every night.
The Frisky: With “Juno,” you as a person were almost as much of the story as the movie was.
DC: Yeah, which sucks.
The Frisky: Do you think the same thing will happen with “Jennifer’s Body”?
DC: I’m hoping to avoid that situation and I’m not sure how to do it, but I’m just going to try to maneuver myself differently. We’re lucky that we have Megan promoting this film because she is so outspoken (laughs) and I’m hoping we can direct all the attention to our attractive young cast (laughs) and maybe to our director and I can just, hopefully, sit back in my producer chair and take care of the practical stuff. But I would never put myself out there again like I did with “Juno” and if I could do it over again, I wouldn’t. It’s not worth it.
The Frisky: Megan gives good interviews—she always manages to say something that gets picked up by the blogs.
DC: She really makes people angry! Girls hate her, don’t they?
The Frisky: I don’t know, I just think Megan Fox has a funny sense of humor.
DC: I appreciate it as well. I do not know her very well. Even having worked with her to this extent, I don’t know her very well because she’s very private and mysterious. But I’ve [heard] these things come out of her mouth. I’ve been present for some of these interviews and she is totally fearless. What she is saying is completely genuine. It is not a front. I think people think she’s trying to create some kind of image for herself that she’s not, but she’s a really, truly eccentric person.
The Frisky: I think people get uncomfortable with her because she looks like Angelina Jolie but she says things that make you think.
DC: I don’t think people know how to process her at all. I think it’s one of those things where she does not fit the mold in any way and it freaks people out!
The Frisky: So, I’m curious, when you’re writing roles for women, do you purposely try to write a feminist message?
DC: My feminist hat is permanently welded to my head—I definitely can’t take it off! It’s so important for me to write things from the female perspective and in service of women and in the right roles for women. That’s usually what I’m thinking going into it. Obviously, the story goes first. But then my next priority is how am I going to sneak my subversive feminist message into this?
The Frisky: Do you always think the female perspective is the feminist perspective, though?
DC: No, not always. But I think representation is obviously the first step to equality, so if women aren’t being represented in a diverse way in movies, they’re going to remain marginalized.
The Frisky: Do you think it gets easier after all your success? Do you still think you have to be subversive?
DC: I don’t know. In a way I think I might have to become more subversive because if I want to branch out and produce more and get my fingers into more pots, so to speak, I feel like I might have to shroud some of my more radical tendencies on a day to day basis so people will want to work for me. (laughs)
The Frisky: In an interview you gave with Bust magazine, you said you felt pretty uncertain about your future.
DC: I feel totally uncertain, like, I have no idea what’s going to happen with me.
DC: That would be amazing! Yesterday,
The Frisky: Well, what I really was asking was how you manage to stay so self-possessed when there’s all this mean stuff written about you everywhere and Andy Samberg mocking you on “SNL” and stuff like that. I’m wondering where this “f**k you” attitude comes from, if it’s something you have to cultivate.
DC: It’s absolutely something you have to cultivate. Believe me, I’m a really sensitive, self-conscious person. It became apparent to me so quickly into my career that people weren’t all going to like me and, in fact, some people were going to hate me! It was a surprise, because no one thinks of themselves as unlikeable. I thought, Well, if this is going to be, I’m going to have to armor up!
The Frisky: And does that get easier over time?
DC: (laughs) I think therapy helped.