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I seen the book being used for Eng-113 (The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature: Reading, Thinking, Writing) the other day and I found a copy of the 2002 copyright on Amazon for fifty cents.

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Jennifer’s Body: Themes For a New Generation?

After watching Jennifer’s Body (finally), I must say that I am impressed.  No, not because Megan Fox is in the movie, but because I felt it does something that most horror movies does not: Jennifer’s Body went full circle with the plot.  I would give Jennifer’s Body four out of five stars, and deem it as  a cult classic that crosses genres.  Though it may be horror, it has a unique and original myth for contemporary culture.  Not only did the plot come full circle, the film explores themes that are important for a new generation of teens, creating a new myth for contemporary audiences.

I had held off watching this movie for months believing it to be just another campy teen flick.  I was right, and completely wrong.  The movie tells the story of Jennifer Check (Megan Fox).  Jennifer is your typical stereotyped high school cheerleader, which most guys don’t stand a chance, who is better than most, has looks of gold, but with one exception that breaks this stereo typical cliché, Needy.  Nerdy Needy (Amanda Seyfried) is Jennifer’s BFF, the narrator of the tale, and an unlikely heroine.

Not only is the story about Jennifer, but Jennifer becomes the antagonist.  Writer, and Producer, Diablo Cody (Juno) highlights such themes as never get into a car (in this case a van) with a stranger, let alone five strangers who are part of an indie rock band wanting to make a deal with the devil to make it “big”.  They just make take you over to Devil’s Falls and sacrifice you as a virgin to Satan, which is what happens to Jennifer.  However, the band messed up and chose a girl who is not even a “backdoor virgin”.   According to the movie when a girl is sacrificed is not a virgin, a Succubus possesses her body.  A Succubus is a female demon that eats the souls of men by the way.  However, Jennifer ends up eating the organs of other boys to keep her beautiful appearance; if not, she grows ugly and her hair falls out. 

The movie is brilliantly sexy, and focuses on the theme of teen sex by not discouraging it, but rather promotes safe sex by using Jennifer and Needy as a metaphors.   During one scene, the movie switches back in forth between Needy and her boyfriend’s first sexual encounter and Jennifer, who lures a guy to his death by leading him to believe that he will be arriving at her house to have sex.  In Needy’s encounter it is, well, not innocent, but it is thought out.  The boyfriend supplies condoms for their four-minute encounter, which he has problems putting on because they are, at least he is, a virgin.   Jennifer encounter is brief, as she uses her attractiveness to corner the young boy before brutally killing him.  Her casual, murderous encounter exposes in this cautionary example that hot girls and casual sex kills, though usually in the form of the more real demons, like hepatitis and AIDS.   

Friendship is another theme in Jennifer’s Body.  While Needy and her boyfriend are having sex, she begins to envision everything that Jennifer has done, or is doing at the time.   Any good friend knows when something is up with their BFF, or as Needy relates, her and Jennifer are “Biifs”.  Jennifer and Needy’s friendship goes back to when they are little girls.  Jennifer at times uses Needy to boost her self-esteem, yet Jennifer commits the greatest sin a girl can do to another girl by tempting Needy’s boyfriend into having sex with her, and then killing him.  Even though Jennifer has promised not to harm her, only after this does Needy realize that either Jennifer has never really been her friend, or that this is not her friend at all.  Needy finally accepts the change she has tried to avoid throughout the movie by becoming the enraged badass heroine and saves her friend from the demonic possession she that has enslaved her body.

Needy’s friendship, her love for Jennifer is perhaps the greatest theme in the movie.  She is the narrator of the story and from isolation at a psychiatric ward, she tells the story of Jennifer, but after Jennifer is slain, it becomes Needy’s story.  Needy gains some of the demon’s powers by killing it, and in an unexpected turn she redeems the murder of her friend by breaking out of the mental ward, tracking down the band, and killing them as savagely as they killed Jennifer, thus bringing the plot full circle.

Jennifer’s Body has many great themes.  Some are cliché, such beauty is only skin-deep, and looks are not everything.   The ones chosen are the themes that seemed relevant for a new generation that needs a median that deals with real teen issues.  Diablo Cody, by far, has become one of the best in the industry for writing scripts that deal with contemporary issues that this new generation can relate too.  Check out Juno and decide for yourself.  The theme of friendship that Jennifer’s Body explores, the integral idealization of the redemption of the friend, is the most prevalent and important.  Movies and mythology of the past have dealt with what Joseph Campbell termed redemption of the father.  The best example of this is in Star Wars, as Luke Skywalker must either liberate his father, Darth Vader, from the “Dark Side”, or fail, following his father’s example.   The change in the mythos that makes Jennifer’s Body different, and compelling, is for Needy to Redeem Jennifer she was doomed to fall to the dark side.

Sources

Cody, Diablo.  Jennifer’s Body.  Fox Atomic: 2009.

Campbell, Joseph.  Hero with a Thousand Faces.  Princeton University Press: 1973

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