o-whaleyletter

Megan Fox’s popularity is on the rise again, and her cringy relationship with Machine Gun Kelly is adding another level to her hot-girl reputation; she’s not only hot, she’s also stupid. Her early October interview with GQ displayed her as laughably vapid and altogether unintelligent in the traditional sense of the word. I was discussing this with a friend of mine when she changed my life and said, “She’s probably just faking it. After all, no one wants a smart sex symbol. Men want someone who’s dumb enough to sleep with them.”

Needless to say, this idea of a sex symbol and what makes one has been stuck in my mind for the last week. I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out the criteria to be a sex symbol and, the bigger question, who we can consider to be a sex symbol today.

The criteria was easy. In my mind, a sex symbol can be a talented actor, musician or model, but their attractivness has to come first. People don’t go to a sex symbol’s movie because her acting is good — they go because she’s hot. Bonus points should be awarded to anyone who’s consistently typecast to be the lead cheerleader, sorority president or promiscuous girlfriend.

Megan Fox checks these boxes like nobody’s business. From “Jennifer’s Body” to “Transformers” to that one season of “New Girl,” Fox is always on screen with the singular goal to be sexy and drive up ticket sales. But who else can truely be described as a sex icon?

In the year of our Lord 2021, this is a difficult question to answer. In the 50s, of course, Marilyn Monroe, the queen of the blonde bombshell, would be an obvious pick. But as Hollywood gets less and less keen on openly objectifying women, sex symbols are harder to come by.

In the last week, I’ve considered Billie Eilish, Zendaya, Doja Cat, Margot Robbie, Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Lopez. All these women, however, have missed the mark. When people go to their concerts or movies, the large majority are going because they enjoy the musician or actress’s skills and performance.

The one standout in my mind is Scarlett Johansson. For a long time, she was the Avengers’ sex appeal, the boobs in a tight suit and little else. Marvel has toned down its obvious objectification of her with more modest outfits in “Black Widow,” but I’m not sure the damage can truly be undone, even by the Infinity Gauntlet’s snap. 

You’ll notice that all of the possible sex icons I’ve listed are women, but, as society rightfully steers away from objectifying women, it may steer toward objectifying men. 

When “Dune” was released, one of my professors asked the class who was going to see it, and when no one raised their hands, she said, “Jason Momoa’s in it. That’s reason enough.” She was planning on going to the movie to gawk at Momoa, who became famous for his sex appeal through “Game of Thrones” and “Aquaman.”

When I was asking around for examples of who people thought were sex symbols, some men who were namedropped were Brad Pitt, Christopher Hemsworth, Channing Tatum, Hugh Jackman, Ezra Miller, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Timothée Chalemet. Clearly, Chalemet’s starving Victorian boy aesthetic is a far cry from Momoa’s jacked up beef body or the athletic physiques of these other men, but people find him sexy nonetheless. So sexy that audiences will flock to watch his jaw flex on the big screen? I don’t know.

Regardless of who exactly we consider sex icons, it’s clear that they’re going by the wayside as Hollywood realizes blatant sexualization isn’t cool. I’ve spent the week frustrated I can’t think up a modern sex symbol when I should’ve been happy about my near-empty list. We’re finally moving past the damaging standards and the blacklisted whistleblowers. 

So, Megan Fox, I applaud you. Faking your one braincell or not, you went through a lot of shit for the sex icon role Hollywood placed on you, and I’m glad you’re finding happiness with your weed-boy. I wonder if anyone would say MGK is a sex symbol, too?

Best,

Emma

emmawhaley@dailynebraskan.com