A Portion For The (Megan) Foxes
This might be more James Poulos’s department (or maybe James Joyner’s), but this caught my eye from the cover story on Megan Fox in the NyTimes Magazine [link fixed]. Ms. Fox states:
“It’s been a crazy year. I’ve learned that being a celebrity is like being a sacrificial lamb. At some point, no matter how high the pedestal that they put you on, they’re going to tear you down. And I created a character as an offering for the sacrifice. I’m not willing to give my true self up. It’s a testament to my real personality that I would go so far as to make up another personality to give to the world. The reality is, I’m hidden amongst all the insanity. Nobody can find me.”
It may come as little surprise that I find so many religious–specifically Jewish–references in Fox’s self-analysis intriguing: testament, sacrificial lamb, pedestals, True Self, offering to the world.
The plethora of these references makes sense given her Southern roots. Fox was raised in a very strict Pentecostal family, which would help explain the many Hebrew Scriptural references permeating her interview.
The thought of sacrifice is always tied in with concern for purity–think “unblemished” in the sense of both sacrificial animals and mad- up starlets. It’s fascinating–in the classically religious sense of both awe and horror –that Fox refers repeatedly in the interview to her understanding of her role as the personification of the bitchy slut . She transgresses the boundaries of the classic, pretty, nonthreatening blond. She becomes a kind of Lilith-figure, a screen on which to project male lurid fantasies of both self-immolation and boundary-breaking terrain intertwining both sexuality and violence. By breaking the worldspace into pure and impure (holy and profane), the repressed/held back becomes instantly that much more attractive and seductive.
I think I get what she’s trying to communicate, though she has confused a couple of things. Nevertheless, I’ll take a Derridian stance here and simply assume the grammar-structure speaks through her thereby divining a bit from the personal intent (or non-intent) of Fox’s statements.
To wit, a sacrificial lamb isn’t put on a pedestal. The pedestal refers more to a fetish object–in both the religious and, in Fox’s case, certainly sexual sense. A pedestalized being is one that is turned essentially into an angel or god-like figure so that they can descend to demonic status, which in her case fits with the profile of Fox being possessed by a demon and cannibalistic-style eating men while getting it on with girls. The sexual-religious interplay here–if not self-conscious on Fox’s part–seems so intertwined as to be almost automatic or reflexive.
This shouldn’t come as too much of a shock given that Hollywood is a secularized form of the classic religious devotion to a saint or guru. Hollywood stars are, after all, called Icons and are lauded for their charisma–i.e. their grace or their sanctified shine. And saints have to die as burnt offerings, so you begin to see where this is heading.
And it’s a game Megan Fox self-consciously comprehends and frankly admits to playing. In that sense, she is far more interesting than sob-story cases like a Lindsay Lohan, the messed up Olsen Twin, or any number of vapid blond tween queens that have propagated like rabbits over the past decade, symbolizing the continued the extension of later adolescence both forward into the thirties and backward into the earlier teen (and even pre-teen…yuck) years.
Fox also mentions her real self/true personality, by which she means (I think) her non-Hollywood self. The person who she admits likes eating at Red Lobster and purposefully plays upon the outrage-machine through (as she admits) the character she’s created for men’s magazine interviews.
Now in theological terms, the real self, her real self, is in fact the Soul. The Soul that is united with God. The dimension of our being that actually does have a “covenant” (i.e. a testament, in her words) with the Divine. Is it a testament to her real personality that she has given the crowds their bloodless sacrificial offering? Or is it just smart business sense on her part? Does she really believe her own justification (word alert: another heavy theological term there)?
So if you’re keeping score at home, her real personality (i.e. her authentic egoic character) makes up another character (i.e. Megan Fox the Sex Symbol) in order to be an offering to the bloodthirsty masses, hyped for substitute sacrifices, a la Rene Girard.
But I’m still confused/intrigued by this lamb reference.
Sister Wiki tells me:
In cinema and literature, the term sacrificial lamb refers to a supporting character whose sole dramatic purpose is to die, thus galvanizing the protagonist to action and simultaneously demonstrating how evil the villain is.
By this reading, the alternate character she’s created who is lifted up in order to be brought low (a Christ reference tying to the Lamb of the Paschal Feast) exists to galvanize the protagonist (the real Fox?) and demonstrate the evilness of the villain (the crowds? the fans? the media? Hollywood itself? Society?)
But I don’t think this is right.
Instead, Fox seems to be gesturing at a Scapegoat. A Scapegoat is not exactly the same as a sacrificial lamb, though there are possible points of connection. The pedestalization reference points to the ritual enactment of a community that defines itself through projecting its wish fulfillment onto the beast (or the beauty in this case). Fox, or rather Fox’s character, becomes the mirror for the ritually impure self, sacrificing to a glamorous god of horrific superficiality. In fact, to the degree that Fox has maintained a fairly normal and sane personal life is probably due to the fact that she has created this character and realizes the character is the one offered as a social sacrifice, whereas others–the Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohans of the world–have no character and are themselves the sacrifice, showing the scars of such insanity in their real lives.
This sacrifice, cruelly, does not atone (“cover over”) the tabloidish sins of the world nor is her character sent off into the desert with the sins of the people upon her. Nor still is the ink-spilled blood of her holocausted character wiped on the door posts of the internet to save us all from the shadow of digital death.
This ritual enactment offers no real healing (salvation as health, salus) only the temporary salve of the animistic satiation until the next round of this game plays itself again.
Lastly, she says that amidst all the insanity no on can find her. God in Genesis asks Adam and Eve, “Where are you?”, after they have hid in shame and hellish isolation after the “fruity” deed. Since God is dead in our world, no one is bothering to ask where we are in our self-enclosed isolation anymore. “No one can find me” is the perfect summation of the contemporary Western world and Fox is the incarnation, the Goddess of that Universe. No one can find her, nor does anyone really look for her–like Lady Wisdom calling in the streets with no one answering.