Jennifer's Body: Less About Empowerment, More About How Vicious Girls Can Be

Friday I went to see Jennifer's Body. I did not, as Alexandra Gutierrez of The American Prospect did, think it was "the least empowering slasher flick currently on screen."

Gutierrez has problems with Megan Fox's character, Jennifer, calling her "Hot, Flat and Empty." Gutierrez thinks the showdown between Jennifer and Amanda Seyfried's character, Needy, "plays out like a catfight over a boy."

Here's what I did think: (and obviously, spoilers abound) Jennifer and Needy's friendship rang true. Sometimes you're friends with someone and you don't even know why. I absolutely had a high school friendship in which I intensely loved — and was intensely annoyed by — my friend. There were relationships where I was jealous of the other girl, where I wanted to get close to her to prove I could, where my emotions were so complicated I didn't even understand them. And to me, that's what Jennifer's Body is about: What if your best friend — who already thinks she can get any guy she wants — became an actual man-eater?

While Jennifer was slightly under-developed as a character, it seemed like that was the point: She was a vain, slightly mean airhead before she turned into an evil creature, and, thanks to her indestrucitbility, became even more vain, cruel and drunk with power afterward.

As for fighting over a boy, that also seemed valid. Even though Jennifer seems like the popular girl with the hot body, something inside her — insecurity, malice, delusions of grandeur — made her want to destroy whatever Needy held dear. It's as though Jennifer wanted to be all Needy had. Since Needy felt a connection with the emo kid from poetry class, he had to go. Ditto Needy's boyfriend. And when Needy attempted to rescue her boyfriend, it didn't seem like a "catfight" to me as much as table-turning take on the usual damsel-in-distress cliché. Just like the Prince battles his way through overgrown brush in Sleeping Beauty, so must Needy scramble through vines in order to try and save her love.

An aside on the "Codyspeak": When I was a teenager, no one I knew said "neo-maxi-zoom-dweebie" before The Breakfast Club came out. No one I knew said "I gotta motor if I'm gonna hit that funeral" before Heathers. It sucks that, instead of being recognized for making the screenplay sparkle with fun language, Diablo Cody gets flogged for "Codyisms."

While Gutierrez didn't find Jennifer's Body scary enough, smart enough or feminist enough, and the film came in a disappointing fifth at the box office, with a meager $6.8 million, think about this: Heathers made $177,247 its opening weekend and was considered a total failure. These two movies are kissing cousins, in a sense: As Dana Stevens wrote for Slate, Jennifer is "less a teenage girl turned monster than an exploration of the monster that lurks inside every teenage girl." It's notable that a BFF charm is one of the images at the climax of the movie: All the blood, guts and Satanic rituals in the world could never hurt as much as betrayal of the "Best Friends Forever" promise — even if you have to break that promise to save your life.

Sister Hacked [The American Prospect]

Earlier: Critics Have Violently Different Views Of Jennifer's Body
6 Reasons To Love Jennifer's Body