Why Do We Care About, Let Alone Hate, Megan Fox?

News broke yesterday that Megan Fox would in fact not be a part of Transformers 3, which is set to be released on July 3rd, 2011. Before any real details could be articulated, the media at large jumped on the idea that Fox had been fired by Michael Bay in relation for various statements that Fox had made over the last several months that appeared to criticize Mr. Bay. Needless to say, word soon spread, via HitFlix and People, that Fox had actually chosen not to return to the rampaging-robots franchise of her own accord. I have no idea which version is true, and I imagine we'll know in the coming weeks. But the sheer outpouring of joy that greeted the allegation that Fox had been canned for trashing Michael Bay in public was more than a bit obnoxious. The same geeks and entertainment columnists who called co-star Shia LeBeouf honest and gutsy for criticizing Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) were basically applauding the idea that Fox had been fired for basically doing the same thing. Why do so many people hate Megan Fox? Who do they even care?

What exactly has Megan Fox done to cause so much consternation amongst the American entertainment media, and (if comments pages, Tweets, and Facebook updates are to be believed) the American public in general? She's a 24-year old actress who has been in an allegedly monogamous relationship for several years (with Brian Austin Green), yet she is constantly referred to as a slut. She is constantly viewed as a sex symbol and an object of lust, yet whenever she exploits said pin-up status or discusses it openly, she is derided as an attention whore. Yes, Jennifer's Body aside (where she, Amanda Seyfried, and writer Diablo Cody were left adrift by Karyn Kusama's abysmal direction and pacing), she has yet to really prove herself as more than just a pretty face/hot body. But you could say that about countless famous actresses, including many who are rumored to be replacing Fox in said robot sequel. Why has Megan Fox earned such hatred that millions of people, who arguably have more important things to do and/or worry about, are so pleased at the mere idea that an actress got fired for speaking her mind to the press and criticizing the filmmaker of a movie that most people didn't care for?

As for her various 'outrageous' statements, everything she has said in print regarding her career and the business is pretty much true. Michael Bay is indeed a tyrant on a film shoot. He's pretty proud of this fact and anyone who walks onto his sets unaware has only themselves to blame (same goes for Michael Mann and James Cameron). Her comments comparing him to Hitler were misguided, but only because the proper comparison would have been Joseph Stalin (IE - he basically works you to death while shooting the film). Anyone who honestly thought that Fox was comparing Michael Bay's direction of Transformers to Adolf Hitler's actions as head of Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 1940s is intentionally deluding themselves to justify their own inexplicable hatred of either Fox or Bay. As for her other comments, especially her frank acknowledgments of her role as a young actress in a sexualized motion picture industry, they are merely gaffes. A 'gaffe' is famously defined as an instance when a politician accidentally tells an uncomfortable truth (see - Biden, Joe). In an age when most celebrities give bland and pointless soundbites to the same softball questions, Fox is the rare celebrity whose interviews are always worth reading.

The would-be celebration over Megan Fox's alleged firing is a pretty clear case of 'the bitch got what was coming to her'. It is beyond strange to read various women basically celebrating the rumor that a young female was fired from her job for criticizing her allegedly misogynist boss. It would be easy to classify the mainstream hatred of Megan Fox as a classic virgin/whore dynamic, and it wouldn't be incorrect. Many audiences, especially stereotypical female moviegoers, prefer their leading ladies to be sexually harmless, not terribly opinionated, and completely nonthreatening in that 'girl next door' kind of way. Jennifer Aniston may look fantastic when done up for a magazine shoot, but women are safe in the knowledge that without the fancy Hollywood makeup, she pretty much looks like the rest of us, and those won't be a sexual threat to their boyfriends or husbands. Angelina Jolie, on the other hand, represents a genuine threat. Aside from the fact that she did (allegedly) steal away someone's husband, she represents an unattainable level of beauty and 'hotness'. Most women know that they will never, ever be as lusted after as Ms. Jolie. But Julia Roberts is 'just like us'. The same goes for striking beauties such as Uma Thurman. She may have in fact been as much a victim of marital infidelity as Aniston, but she is a villain in the eyes of too many women. She too represents an unattainable ideal and a threat, and thus she is inexplicably loathed by the very women that she needs to support her more mainstream projects. Because men won't go to see a film because they find the leading lady attractive, even if women will do so for handsome leading men (think the Twilight franchise).

Megan Fox represents that cliche all-too well. Looking more like a high-class escort than a doe-eyed fairy-tale princess, Fox is someone that has obtained a career around her animalistic sex appeal. Plucked from obscurity and turned into a superstar as a result of the first Transformers picture, she has not gone the way of obscurity that greeted Shia LeBeouf's prior love interests. Despite possibly being better actresses and/or being just as attractive, Margo Harschman (the TV series Even Stevens) has only recently found a niche as a B-movie scream queen, while Sarah Roemer (Disturbia) has simply struggles to stay employed (both starred in the dreadful Fired Up). But Fox has stayed in the limelight as a figure of lust and tabloid frenzy. Her 'controversial' interviews basically amount to her giving straight answers to questions regarding her rather obvious sex appeal. But she now represents the nadir of feared female sexual predator. She is lusted after by countless sons, boyfriends, and husbands (and a few females too). Since she also represents an unattainable standard of beauty and sexual self-confidence, she has been labeled a brainless tramp and a heartless whore despite being no different from any number of young actresses who got a lucky break. Whether or not she can act is irrelevant to this discussion, as most of her attackers have only seen her in the Transformers films (not exactly a James Lipton-type franchise).

Megan Fox may or may not have been fired from Transformers 3. She may have simply declined to appear because she just didn't want to do the picture, perhaps because she had nothing to do in the prior sequel (Bay had allegedly promised her a better role this time around, complete with her own female villain to combat). Bonnie Bedelia famously complained about her lack of material in Die Hard 2: Die Harder and ended up not appearing in Die Hard: With a Vengeance. To this day, we still don't know for sure why Katie Holmes ended up being replaced by Maggie Gyllenhaal in The Dark Knight. But the idea that we should cheer her alleged sacking, a termination that seems to be partially blowback for speaking her mind and giving thoughtful and nuanced press clippings is wrongheaded and contradictory.

Championing independent thought while approving of punishment for saying things that are factually correct (Bay is a madman on set, the Transformers movies aren't acting showcases, being a successful actress is primarily about sex appeal, etc) says something about how cruel and petty we can be. There is no question that society as a whole does not like Megan Fox. Yet we are the ones who constantly talk about her and read her interviews, and download her red-carpet pictures. She has done nothing of note to earn our wrath, or even our interest. We created Megan Fox the superstar. It's not her fault that it occurred before she had the chance to become Megan Fox the actress.