Megan Fox Feels Excluded By Feminism And The #MeToo Movement
And that is an issue you should care about.
A few weeks ago an old interview with Megan Fox on The Jimmy Kimmel Show went viral on Twitter. In it, Megan described her first movie gig and how she was apparently sexualised by filmmaker Michael Bay at the age of 15. Fox told the story of her appearance in the movie Bad Boys II as a funny anecdote that was met with laughter by Kimmel and the audience. However, following the public outrage the old footage created in a post-me-too era, Megan took to her Instagram to clarify that she never felt “preyed upon” by Michael Bay. Nonetheless, the resurfacing of the video did not only shed a light on the “adultification” of young girls in Hollywood but also exposed the tale of a young Megan Fox that stepped foot into an industry that relentlessly sexualised and objectified her.
When you look through Megan Fox’s filmography it becomes clear that she only ever plays one role: Sexy woman or beautiful love interest.
Although the majority of Megan’s movies were deemed as... well pretty bad by critics, it did not hurt her rise to the “first bona fide sex symbol of the 21st century”. Her sex symbol status is something that Megan claimed to feel uncomfortable with multiple times, especially since her public image differed so widely from her actual character (Behind the scenes, Megan was suffering from OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and struggled with self-harm and low self-esteem). However, this still did not keep Hollywood from packaging and trading her as the sex symbol of the century within the film industry. Fox herself even stated that she actively crafted this character for her public image because she was unwilling to sacrifice her true self to the world. Almost as if stating a reference for that, Fox got a picture of Marilyn Monroe's face tattooed on her forearm. A fellow sex icon with a lot of interesting parallels to her.
Both actresses were viewed as sex symbols of their time whose on and off-screen personas were heavily crafted around the male gaze.
Both of them admitted to utilising this status to get ahead in the film industry, and both also used their promiscuous public personas as an act to draw attention away from their private lives.
Lastly, both Marilyn and Megan eventually became trapped in this marketable persona they created and fell victim to a male-gazed industry that was not willing to cast them as anything else than a sexual object.
Megan eventually got her tattoo removed as a rejection of the negativity that filled Monroe’s life.
In some way, however, this can be seen as an indication of the negativity that was beginning to fill hers.
In 2009 Fox got fired from the Transformers franchise she owed her breakthrough to. Her firing came after inappropriate comments that she made about director Michael Bay. We all know the story. She called him Hitler. She especially took issue to, the director telling her to “Be hot” or “Just be sexy” when she asked him for instructions on scenes. “I get mad when people talk to me like that,” is what Megan Fox said. Bay, on the other hand, saw the issue in bad behaviour on set: “I'm sorry, Megan. I'm sorry I made you work twelve hours. I'm sorry that I'm making you show up on time. Movies are not always warm and fuzzy.”
Bays “apology” was patronising and obviously an attempt to discredit and silence Megan when she accused him of sexist behaviour. However, the story took an even more drastic turn when Bay published an open letter by “anonymous crew members” on his website that called Megan “trailer trash,” an “unfriendly bitch,” and recommended that she should seek a much better-suited career as porn star. Although both Fox and Bay stated that they are on good terms now, the fact that Michael Bay, a respected director, participated in a public smear campaign, consisting of what can only be described as slut-shaming, is still very questionable would be unimaginable in todays social climate.
Fox stated she suffered from a psychological breakdown after leaving Transformers, especially since she continued feeling sexualised and objectified by producers.
She was fell victim to public shaming. “I didn’t look perfect. I was too fat. I was too thin. I was stupid. I was offensive. I was a waste of space. I was a bad actress, whatever. All of the things you can think of.”
Foxs next significant movie was Jennifer’s Body, in which she assumed the role of a demonic cheerleader, who killed and subsequently ate the man who tried to objectify her. Jennifer’s Body could have rehabilitated Foxes career in a post #metoo world by raising her to a feminist revenge hero.
However, just like Megan and her open talk about sexism in Hollywood in the 2000s, the movie was ahead of its time and flopped at the box office.
Megans first legitimate attempt at reversing the sexist narrative that was imposed on her failed and her later movies like Jonah Hex ultimately lead her back on the path she tried to escape from.
Although she, continued to be vocal about sexism and misogyny in Hollywood, her claims were discarded by filmmakers and feminists alike. Megan was told to “shut her trap”, so she eventually did.
In a 2020 interview, Megan admitted that she has her fair share of #metoo stories and accounts of abuse in Hollywood. However, due to her unfair treatment in the past, she feels uncomfortable sharing them and called for feminism and #metoo to become more inclusive movements instead. Hollywood build Megan Fox up to be a sex symbol whilst disregarding the fact that she never wanted to be one. When she tried to free herself from the narrative that was forced on her and regain control of her Hollywood destiny, the industry denied her every effort to, silenced her when she tried to speak up and continued to exploit her.
All forms of nonphysical abuse that left its scars on Megan next to the abuse we don’t even know about…
Feminism and the #metoo movement are not just about pushing for structural change. They also require us to foster a culture in which it is easier for women to assume power and in which they feel comfortable enough to tell their stories. Now that statements by victims within the #metoo movement are starting to expose Hollywoods sexiest nature and hopefully contribute to dismantling a misogynist, Megans story forces us to confront that only a decade ago we devalued and dismissed accounts of abuse in Hollywood. An act that filmmakers, the media, and the audience they were feeding to, took part in, and was even easier to execute when the victim seemed unlikely or just unlikeable like Megan Fox during the late 2000s. Now a woman is feeling dismissed and left behind by the network that was supposed to uplift and support her. Feminism is meant for the advancement of all of us. If Megan Fox, a decade later, is still complaining about the movement not being inclusive enough that is reason enough to re-evaluate the parts of it that might be the reason. For example, our own sexism and the likeability and sympathy scale we rate woman on before we decide if their claims are believable.
Megan Foxes story is essentially challenging us to ensure that especially a decade later at a more progressive point in time, we are supporting the advancement of all woman and not just some woman.