Everyone knows the hardest role to play in Hollywood is that of the buxom bombshell. At least that’s what the latest profile of sex symbol Megan Fox seems to purport. But while there’s definitely room to examine the value the celebrity world places on certain traits for certain people — bombshells are people too, after all — Fox’s write-up in Esquire falls victim to the actress’ evidently unavoidable allure. The problem is, her siren song is the surefire signal of an impending shipwreck. No matter how many times his words try to tell us about the thoughts going through her pretty little head, the author gets lost in her lips. Or her eyes. Or the “sublime” nature of her flawless face. This, my friends, is textbook fawning.
The profile opens by comparing Fox to a modern day Aztec sacrifice, only instead of taking her life, this celebrity-obsessed society wants to hold her still-beating heart while it still rests in her chest. But Fox is not exactly an Aztec, “She's a screen saver on a teenage boy's laptop, a middle-aged lawyer's shower fantasy, a sexual prop used to sell movies and jeans,” writes author Stephen Marche. He later justifies her marriage to “the actor whose career climaxed twenty years ago,” Brian Austin Green as a marriage of convenience, painting Green not as her white knight, but as a troll under the bridge, ready and willing to whip out his “grotesque anger” to keep photogs from capturing Fox’s “glowing beauty.” Marche's description is more tinged with jealousy of Green’s good fortune than a factual glance at the couple’s marriage.
So far, is it a bit much? Definitely. But it’s the profile’s muddled argument, overshadowed by its complete dismissal of Fox’s own words, that provides the real issue.
Marche argues that the American bombshell is dying and that it’s something worth saving, lingering on Fox’s “unfettered sexual beauty” as an impediment, while “perfectly plain” stars like Adele, Lady Gaga, Amy Adams, and Lena Dunham are at the tops of their fields. With the exception of Dunham, who’s been plagued with ruthless criticism of her body and face, none of these women have ever occupied a space anywhere near “plain.” Unless, of course, the person doling out descriptions was blinded by the divine sight of Megan Fox.
What’s more is that the author, who spends precious graphs early in the story describing Fox’s inescapably arresting beauty, acts as if none of us could possibly understand the beauty he was witnessing in that moment:The symmetry of her face, up close, is genuinely shocking. The lip on the left curves exactly the same way as the lip on the right. The eyes match exactly. The brow is in perfect balance, like a problem of logic, like a visual labyrinth. It's not really even that beautiful. It's closer to the sublime, a force of nature, the patterns of waves crisscrossing a lake, snow avalanching down the side of a mountain, an elaborately camouflaged butterfly. What she is is flawless. There is absolutely nothing wrong with her.That’s great, but what does Fox, who’s tried and failed, to escape the overwhelming expectation for her to play the bombshell in every instance, who’s needed comedy heavyweights like Judd Apatow go to bat for her (She’s funny you guys! I promise!) have to say about this? Simply that she’s tired of being bullied as a celebrity. And what is she usually bullied for? For being a bombshell.
But one could argue it’s important to paint an accurate picture of one’s subject. Still, the piece continues to put Fox on a dainty pedestal, literally interrupting her musing on modeling her career after Ava Gardner instead of her former role model, the doomed Marilyn Monroe. It’s a moment that should speak for itself, it should say in Fox’s self-professed revelation that this is a woman who gets it. A woman who understands the need to grow and change, and mature, and to deliver beyond the gorgeous facade. Instead, the realization is stinted by Marche’s distraction mid-speech. “Ava Gardner did have control, over herself and others. But even as Fox says the name, a self-aware smile plays over those ultrasymmetrical lips. Self-awareness is her most attractive feature,” he writes. Suddenly, this isn’t so much an exploration of Fox’s graces, but one of Marche’s self control. And he’s failing.
Now, the profile is running in men’s magazine (though men's magazines aren't code for "without responsibility") and Marche isn’t the first journalist to be unbound by his subject’s arresting features. Just last year, actor Michael Fassbender was the subject of hyperbolic adoration in every profile written about him, the most memorable being the description in Vogue: “He sucks all the air out of the room, mesmerizing even the preschoolers in strollers … His voice is as deep and gravelly as Harrison Ford’s, his carriage as upright and intense as Daniel Day-Lewis’s, the blue/green/gray eyes as attention-grabbing as Paul Newman’s,” writes Vicki Woods. As distracting as it is, that outpouring of obsession isn't uncommon.
So what’s the harm? If it afflicts both men and women, why worry about one over-indulgent, fawning profile here or there? It simply accomplishes the opposite of a profile’s goal. Where an interview seeks to give life to a pretty face and a body scantily clad on glossy magazine covers, or in Fox’s case, stuck playing the role of Resident Hot Bimbo Babe, it seeks to provide depth below the glittery water’s surface. However, Fox’s Esquire profiler is so enrapt by her physical gifts that any words directly from the babe’s mouth fall flat. In adulating her visual virtues, he actually completes the cycle he fears so greatly: the extinction of the American bombshell.
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[Photo Credit: George Pimentel/WireImage]
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Golden Girls is not a show you select as your in-flight entertainment as a means of falling asleep so you’ll arrive in Italy rested. In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s a show you watch religiously and take notes on, in hopes of one day breaking Ken Jennings’ record on Jeopardy! with the answer to who the fourth roommate in the house was before Estelle Getty joined the cast (it was gay chef, Coco). And with the release of the 25th anniversary COMPLETE collection – that comes with playing cards, a DVD trivia game, montages of each of the girls’ funniest moments and commentaries with Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan and Betty White – it’s clear the girls have left little room for us to enjoy any other television show.
But, why? Why did Golden Girls impact our lives so tremendously? On paper, it doesn’t look like something that would appeal to everyone – it was about four women who were old and living in Florida. They had thick glasses and jackets with shoulder pads and plastic coverings for their furniture. They had grown up kids, were done with staying out all night at clubs, and were fans of that device for people that make TVs louder without being too loud for the people with good hearing. Some people probably skipped over Golden Girls entirely because they thought the ages of the Rose, Blanche, Sophia and Dorothy meant they wouldn’t be able to identify with the ins and outs of their lives. Others probably couldn’t conceive of Golden Girls being more entertaining than a show that was blatantly and directly targeted to their demographic, like 90210. But everyone who watched the show knows their addiction to it was actually rooted in the women’s ages! The show functioned around the idea that these women were older than everyone but still suffered from young people problems, like finding sex and having sex. In other words, they were just like us! They too had nothing to wear to the Senior Dance and were totally sick of men cheating on them. Fans found themselves hoping that they’d grow up to have Rose’s innocence, Blanche’s insatiability, Dorothy’s wit and Sophia’s bluntness.
Though the sitcom was billed as and won awards as a comedy, it wasn’t afraid of depicting topics heftier than how to fix the runs in a pair of control top hose. Among the tough issues broached were infidelity, HIV scares, drug addictions, estrangements from children, gangsters, the FBI, cross-dressing family members, sexism, domestic violence and artificial insemination. The decision to darken an inherently light comedy series about sweet old ladies with these issues was risky, but it was ultimately a beneficial one – the heavier moments were the realism that rounded out the show, and made it more than just a program that glorified the bonds of friendship and living with your friend’s mom in a warm climate.
But possibly the main reason we loved Golden Girls so much was because the actresses’ love for each other was so obvious. Over the course of the seven seasons, the characters bonded in such a way that the only explanation for its believability was to assume that Betty White, Estelle Getty, Bea Arthur and Rue McClanahan had grown extremely close, too. This is not an uncommon phenomenon when a series consists of 180 episodes (especially when the actresses had to share their characters’ embarrassment of going to a drug store for condoms and having the checkout person make an announcement asking for the price of Rose’s desired black condoms – that’s the beginning of a bond). But more generally, their camaraderie brought texture to a great series that was already structurally worthy of recognition. As a group, they were truly unforgettable, and their contribution to the entertainment industry will never be forgotten.