I’ve never been a huge fan of women. Women can be catty, superficial, and judgmental (and before you say anything, keep in mind that I am a woman, so I’m partially insulting myself here, too). That said, it makes perfect sense to me that I have a small group of very close female friends rather than a large number of female acquaintances. Similarly, I am extremely picky when it comes to female celebrities and musicians; after all, if you’re never going to meet these women then you have the inherent luxury of being able to be overly discerning about which ones to like. I find it interesting, therefore, that at least five of my favorite female celebrities are women who are considered to be “white trash” or are looked down upon by society for one reason or another. Even more interesting is the way that people tend to judge me based on the fact that I’m a fan of each of the women listed below.
1. Megan Fox
I didn’t always love Megan Fox. In fact, when Transformers came out in 2007, I didn’t even like Megan Fox. At the time, she was one of my least favorite actresses in Hollywood, due in large part to the way that my boyfriend and all of my male friends constantly drooled over her perfect curves and full, pouty lips.
I can’t pinpoint exactly when it happened, but at some point the hatred that I previously felt for Megan Fox evolved into something else entirely. Personally, I blame the time that I spent researching web sites like Suicide Girls and reading articles on body modification culture for my senior thesis on alternative pornography for altering my preferences in women and making a sultry, tattooed actress like Megan Fox one of my favorite females in Hollywood.
Everything about Megan Fox is appealing to me. From the movies that she’s in (read my Jennifer’s Body review here) to the grunge/hardcore ensembles she frequently sports, Fox has that intriguing mix of edgy and dangerous that makes some female celebs so alluring. I suppose, the more I think about it, that it was a natural progression for me to go from Angelia Jolie to Megan Fox. The two actresses are often compared to one another, especially now that Megan Fox’s visibility is skyrocketing and Angelina Jolie seems to be taking more and more time away from filmmaking to spend with her ever-growing family.
Recently, Megan Fox has become one of the more controversial actresses in Hollywood and even some of her staunchest supporters (*cough*MichaelBay*cough*) are beginning to rethink their stance on the sexy starlet. In the wake of the Transformers controversy in which Fox badmouthed some crewmembers and even the director himself, Michael Bay and team responded with stories of Fox’s “low class” and “trashy” antics and rumors that her character, Mikaela Banes, will be killed off in the franchise’s next installment.
Instead of receiving just a raised eyebrow when I divulge my love for Megan Fox, now I tend to receive a full-on verbal assault from people convinced that “someone like me” shouldn’t be a fan of an actress who is “only famous for her body.” My response? It was Michael Bay’s choice to make Fox famous for her body, not mine. And the attention that her body receives is not by any means unwarranted. Megan Fox is H-O-T.
2. Britney Spears
You can’t really blame me for loving Britney Spears. After all, I was a member of her original target audience, circa Britney’s 1998 …Baby One More Time album. It was the golden age of pop — Britney Spears, *NSYNC, Christina Aguilera, and The Backstreet Boys were all skyrocketing in popularity and I was a teenybopper. I admit it. The problem is, once Britney got her hooks into me, I never quite managed to shake free of them.
When Britney went crazy a couple years ago and the world discovered how “white trash” she really is, it was a very dark day for Britney fans like myself. I remember having heated debates with classmates in one of my classes during my senior year of college over why I liked Britney and whether someone in my particular socioeconomic position should be chastised for being a fan of a “white trash icon” like Britney Spears.
Although I felt embarrassed for some of the less-than-stellar things that Britney did, when it came down to it, I really felt sorry for the troubled pop star. Her music career took off when she was only seventeen years old, and she had already been working in the industry for several years by then. Can you really blame the girl for having a meltdown in her mid-to-late twenties when she never had a real childhood?
I recognize that Britney’s “crazy” period probably had some serious consequences, both for her own children as well as for the younger fans that idolized her at the time, but I can’t bring myself to apologize for being a Britney Spears fan for the past 11 years. The media and society as a whole are quick to forget the amount of time and attention they previously gave to their favorite celebrities as soon as something controversial happens. I pride myself on not being so fickle.
3. Lily Allen
When I fell in love with Lily Allen and her hilariously vulgar song lyrics, I had no idea that she is considered to be whatever the equivalent of “white trash” is in Europe. It wasn’t until I came across an article about celebrity imperfections (Megan Fox’s clubbed thumb, Ashton Kutcher’s webbed toes, etc.) in which Lily Allen was called out as being “trashy” for flashing her third nipple to the press that I discovered how controversial she is in certain circles. Personally, I didn’t find the third nipple flashing to be a big deal. I saw a photo and I couldn’t even find her third nipple (it’s one of those “it’s a third nipple but it’s really tiny and entirely flesh-colored so you’d never know it was there until it was pointed out” things).
When you stop to think about it, why is Lily Allen looked down upon, anyway? I came up with the following five reasons:
- She has no qualms about “flashing” her third nipple
- She got drunk at the Cannes Film Festival and took her top off
- She is extremely candid about oral sex, etc. in her songs
- She drops the “f-bomb” and other expletives whenever she feels like it, including in her music and during appearances
- She believes in speaking out about her beliefs, whether that involves rebelling against a Prime Minister, badmouthing another artist, joining the anti-piracy movement, or speaking out against former President Bush.
I can’t speak for Lily Allen’s critics, but I saw her perform at the House of Blues in Boston, MA when she told the audience that her song “F*ck You” is about former President Bush and I spent some time reading her commentary on anti-piracy issues and I really admire the courage it takes to be so frank about those topics. I think a lot of people are quick to condemn celebrities who speak out about their beliefs, especially when the celebrity’s ideas and opinions are somewhat unpopular or controversial. And when people give me a hard time because Lily Allen has shown up places intoxicated, sworn at people, and likes taking her top off, I like to point out that other celebrities — celebrities who remain popular in the U.S. — have done far worse with little or no consequence (Paris Hilton or Lindsey Lohan, anyone?).
4. Ashlee Simpson
When friends and acquaintances find out that I convinced my boyfriend to take me to Hampton Beach, NH for the 4th of July a couple years ago in order to see Ashlee Simpson in concert at the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom, they’re stunned, to say the least. Since we’ve already established that I have a soft spot for pop music, I’ll spare you the details, but I still maintain that he offered to take me to a concert and told me to pick one, so I did.
Lots of people have hated Ashlee Simpson since she launched her music career and starting stealing bits and pieces of her sister’s limelight, but as the years wore on and Ashlee underwent drastic changes in her physical appearance the hatred grew. Of course, it doesn’t help that Ashlee and Jessica’s father is such a d-bag, that Ashlee had plastic surgery, that she became romantically involved with Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz — controversial in his own right — and then got knocked up, got married, had a baby, and turned into an alcoholic. Even so, I can’t hold those things against Ashlee; I have friends who have made more mistakes than she has. But there are plenty of people out there who are willing to condemn people like Ashlee for even one of those mistakes, never mind all of them together, and when those people find out that I’m an Ashlee Simpson fan they have some choice words for me, let me tell you.
When I admit that I own all three — yes, three — of Ashlee’s CDs, friends are first confused — since no one ever heard of her latest release, Bittersweet World (4/22/08) — and then incredulous. The harsh, shrill notes that characterized Ashlee’s first disc, Autobiography (2004) are strangely appealing to me (maybe because they’re easy for me to imitate and sound a little emo-punk?), but they grated on most people’s nerves when the first singles from the album hit the radio waves back in 2004.
Although I was sad when Ashlee went from her stunning, dark hair to the same golden blonde that Jessica has always had, I still think that she is absolutely gorgeous. And I maintain that the percentage of society who condemns Ashlee for having plastic surgery on her nose, etc. is highly hypocritical. Even as prohibitively expensive as plastic surgery currently is, hundreds of thousands of people still go under the knife every year in this country; can you imagine how many more would if plastic surgery were affordable?
5. Katy Perry
Out of these five female stars, I was the most shocked when I found out how hated Katy Perry is among certain groups. I understand that songs like “I Kissed a Girl” and “Ur So Gay” are inherently controversial based on their references to homosexuality, but I don’t understand why this an issue to such a degree that everything Katy Perry does is overanalyzed and quickly condemned. Most recently, online “news” pieces started emerging about the P.D.A. that Perry and comedian Russell Brand displayed at a private party they attended. As one writer commented, “The recently united couple kept close to one another, hugging and kissing on an outdoor patio with no concern for the nearby paparazzi snapping up shots.” Another web site writer, who is apparently averse to longhaired or bearded men, commented that Katy “must have really low standards” since she’s dating Brand.
Another issue that seems to have people up in arms over Katy is a publicity photo that was taken in 2008 in which the singer is holding a switchblade, apparently in an effort to give her a “sexy, harder edge.” Personally, I think it was one of Katy Perry’s best moments; she illustrated that she is not afraid to be edgy, and then when she was criticized for it she re-shot the photo using a spoon instead of the switchblade, mocking her criticizers. That’s how I would roll if I were famous and people were criticizing me. Of course, I guess people would hate me then, too.
Then there is, of course, the controversy incited by Katy’s hit song “I Kissed a Girl,” which supposedly encourages lesbian experimentation among young girls. Maybe there are little girls making out on street corners somewhere in this country, but there certainly aren’t any around here so I generally chalk that up to homophobia, which is a terrible reason to hate anyone.
So what is it that I’m trying to say? When all is said and done, my point is that both female celebrities and their female fans often receive the short end of the stick when it comes to popular opinion. Just because people don’t like Megan Fox, Britney Spears, Ashlee Simpson, Lily Allen, and Katy Perry, I have to take crap because I love these awesome ladies. Where other people expect female celebrities to be perfect all the time, I recognize that everyone is flawed in some way. In fact, I like these women in part because they are flawed… you know, because I’m flawed, too.