It’s not that often that The New York Times Magazine slaps a Hollywood starlet on its cover. The last time was in February, when Kate Winslet fronted the Oscars issue and was one of eight nominees featured in the cover story. So I was pretty surprised to see Megan Fox‘s blue eyes staring out at me from this week’s cover—even though she has no film out and is not particularly relevant at the moment—along with a five-page story about her called “The Self-Manufacture of Megan Fox.” I scoffed, but the article is actually pretty interesting, especially for someone who has written countless posts over the past year riffing off of some of the insane things Fox says in interviews. To anyone listening to her words, it was pretty clear that she was going provocative to get a reaction. But, at least according to this article, Fox’s plan to make herself infamous was much, much more deliberate—she’s presented not only as smart, but as an image-maker on par with Karl Rove. “Hollywood is filled with women who have tried to cope. I like to study them. I like to see how they’ve succeeded. And how they’ve failed,” says Fox. “I’ve learned that being a celebrity is like being a sacrificial lamb. I created this character as an offering at the sacrifice.”Apparently, Fox’s real acting accomplishment is her persona and not at all the characters she plays on film. The article asserts that Fox is actually nothing like the hyper-sexual women she plays in interviews and television—she’s a homebody who wears leggings every day and whose favorite restaurant is Red Lobster. “Girls think I’m a slut, and I’ve been in the same relationship since I was 18,” she says.
So how did Fox settle on this particular public persona? “You have to be put in a box in this industry so they can sell you,” she explains. “They need to get hits on their blogs or sell their magazines. So everyone is something. And if I’m not a party girl, which I’m not, I then have to be the outrageous personality.” Angelina Jolie was really the key to it all. Lynn Hirschberg writes, “If there is an Angelina playbook, Fox followed it. When Jolie became a mom and a good-will ambassador, Fox was ready to step into her shoes. It was an easy fit.” [NY Times]
This interpretation of Megan Fox is certainly interesting. But I do have a few issues with it. First, it gives her a lot of credit. I can’t help but think about how Shia LaBeouf, Megan’s “Transformers” co-star, has followed the same media strategy (remember when he called his mom the sexiest woman he knows?), as has Michael Bay, the “Transformers” director, for that matter. (One of his publicity-generating quotes: “Do you know what directors go through? It’s just hell. Like, why do I work so hard—to think I’m only going to see this movie five times and then never see it again ’cause I’m so sick of it?”) It seems much more likely to me that, rather than Megan cooking up the idea of building this outrageous personality on her own, that the order came from the “Transformers” publicity plan.
But that’s a moot point. This is what really gets me: Why would someone be so proud of cultivating a fake personality? If you are a person who has no filter and says raunchy things—great. Own it, à la Madonna and Angelina. But if that’s not you, why pretend it is? Why be the puppeteer of your own puppet? Yes, this strategy brings blog posts galore and magazine articles, but it sure ain’t getting her roles. I, for one, think there’s a place in the celebiverse for a girl who loves leggings and Red Lobster.