Jennifer's Body is a unique beast because it was written and directed by women, with Cody behind the script and Girlfight's Karyn Kusama directing. Cody is also the executive producer. Naturally, Cody has plenty to say about Jennifer's Body and how it relates to women – and feminism – in the latest issue of BUST. A brief excerpt is as follows:
"It's really about girl-on-girl crime. It's Mean Girls taken to an extreme. When the alpha girl becomes cannibal-like, nitpicking is no longer enough. Now she literally has to consume flesh." (p. 40)
Later the self-professed feminist says, "The movie also references eating disorders. Jennifer's eating habits revolve around a binge-purge cycle... She actually throws up before she eats. She's possessed. She vomits disgusting black bile on her victims before she eats them. But in one of my favorite scenes, she's binge-eating out of her refrigerator. I thought to myself, 'Man, if we aren't getting it across...' I was happy about that." (p. 43)However, when BUST posted the red-band trailer for the movie and asked its readers for feedback on what they thought and whether or not they'd see it, the overwhelming response was pretty much "Hell to the no." Also problematic for female readers who peeped this particular trailer was how it was obviously marketed towards guys.
In INKED, Cody says, "I grew up with horror movies, especially those classic '80s horror movies with teenagers in peril, adults who don't listen, women who are either incredibly heroic or incredibly sexy or both. You'll notice that the last person standing in a horror movie is typically female, which is an interesting part of the genre. I didn't want to write a modern horror movie. I wanted to write a classic horror movie. I wanted the whole vibe to be 1983, and I think we pulled that off." (p. 53)
Film critics/theorists who've read Men, Women, and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film by Carol J. Clover might have all sorts of arguments about Cody's feminist interpretation of the "final girl" in horror, but since I'm neither, I personally prefer the more simplistic "girls kick ass!" interpretation. However, I can't remember many final girls who were both sexy/sexual and lived to see the end of the film. (Also, I am not even pretending that I read the entire book; film and gender theory are not my strongest points.)
I am totally rooting for Diablo Cody and Jennifer's Body. I'm also well aware that while I might be part of the audience Cody had in mind, I'm not representative of the overall movie-going female audience. Of course, I have no doubt that Jennifer's Body is also making fun of the hardcore male horror audience by offering an incredibly sexy woman who also wants to eat them alive. That's like a freaking Freudian box of worms. Except for the vorarephiliacs, of course; they're pleased as punch!
The question is, ladies and gents, do you think Cody and Kusama can pull this off? Is the male-targeted marketing going to turn off any women who might otherwise be tempted to see it? Or, for that matter, what about folks who are tired of the ubiquitous Megan Fox?
(Full disclosure: I am also a freelance contributor to BUST Magazine.)