I’ve frequently been confused by the ramblings of Stephen Marche, the Esquire writer whose new profile of Megan Fox has been dubbed the Worst Thing Ever Written. It’s definitely a bizarre piece, with Fox speaking in spiritual gobbledygook and Marche telling Aztec sacrifice stories and declaring Amy Adams “plain.”
But the problem with the profile isn’t Marche’s rather muddled views on women (though those don’t help—he describes Fox as “a screen saver on a teenage boy’s laptop, a middle-aged lawyer’s shower fantasy, a sexual prop”) or the presentation of Fox as a shallow, religious kook. The problem is Esquire’s signature celebrity profile style, which often relies on only an interview or interviews with the cover subject, rarely going beyond to look for outside perspective.
Single-interview profiles can work, of course—particularly if the reporter gets a lot of time with his or her subject or if the subject has a lot to say. Marche’s piece, however, reads like the work of a guy desperately trying to stretch a not-very-insightful interview transcription into a cover story that has to run because, oh, those pictures! So Marche rambles to fill column inches and to string together the few things of interest that Fox did say into some sort of overarching Point about sexuality and beauty and creativity and Aztecs. (Yes, there are editing problems, too.) In the end, he just gives up, and we get a list of Fox’s deeply weird quotations about Bigfoot and leprechauns, which maybe is the best part of the whole piece because at least it comes without Marche’s pretentious and desperate filler?
Even if Fox doesn’t have that much to say about herself, I bet other people would. Fox famously feuded with her Transformers director, Michael Bay, in part over the way he hypersexualized her character, and he fired her on the advice of Steven Spielberg. In recent years, she’s begun reinventing herself as a comedienne in movies like Friends With Kids and This Is 40. What might those movies’ directors, Jennifer Westfeldt and Judd Apatow, have to say about what they saw in Fox and how her extraordinary good looks work or don’t work in the new genre she’s exploring. And how might Fox, who describes herself as “childlike in my spirit, and I want to believe in fairy tales,” respond?
I’d like to read that profile.