I’ve seen Jennifer’s Body twice now, and it is evident that this Horror and Gender class allowed me to catch specific scenes concerning sexuality, gender, gender norms, misogyny, and feminine/masculine traits much easier that I would have been able to through the first watch. We’ve talked about each of these characteristics in great depth, however I believe that Jennifer’s Body portrayed them in a more immature way than most of the films we’ve watched thus far. This film is much more current than many of the films we have watched, and I believe that has a great deal to do with the portrayal of these traits in the film. I find it interesting since the older films portray gender and sexuality in such a stereotypical way, it’s very predictable, but Jennifer’s Body does the same. Why do I find that it is more interesting to see gender and sexuality portrayed in this film more so than I have others? Jennifer’s Body not only portrays gender and sexuality in a stereotypical way, but they show all of this in an extremely blunt and in the viewers face way. Some might even see this tactic as nauseating, since the characters are beyond stereotyped. For example Jennifer is the popular, hot girl in high school. Her best friend is nerdy and cute, but thinks she’s nothing compared to Jennifer. The two met in grade school, and grew up together. Because let’s be honest, why else would two completely different people like that become friends? Those two characters are so typical to any story line based in high school. Though the characters are as cookie cutter as it comes, the way theimages.jpegse female characters are portrayed brings up multiple concerns.
First of all Jennifer is set up right off the bat to be seen as a slut. She wears tight clothing revealing her chest, shoulders, mid-drift, and legs. She walks down the school hallway with her silky hair blowing, making eye contact with every boy she passes and smirking. This is a great example of a sexualized character in my opinion. Every single shot with Jennifer in it throughout the film displayed her as a sex item. She is constantly putting her fingers in her mouth, batting her long eyelashes or stroking another character’s arm. People don’t act that way on a regular basis…even the most attractive people out there! That’s how the audience can recognize that her character relies heavily on her sex appeal which does work for the plot line of the film, however doesn’t make it morally right because of that. Needy on the other hand is portrayed as a prude, until we find out that she is actually the most sexually active character. She wears loose fitting clothing, with her hair done naturally, and she wears very little makeup. Her character is much more natural. Right from the beginning though we are forced to believe she’s a nerd because of her glasses, a prude because she doesn’t wear over revealing clothes, and a wet blanket because she is realistic. These are opposite characters, they would never be expected to cross paths or be friends, but they do and they are.
Jennifer and Needy are even sexualized together in many scenes. It goes further than what they are wearing and how they act. There is a major kissing scene
between the two of them while Jennifer tells Needy what happened to her the night of the fire. Jennifer comes onto Needy and the two proceed to make out for a good period of time until Needy snaps out of it and realizes that this is out of the blue and random. This specific scene was clearly shot through a sexual gaze. If the director just wanted to show the girls kissing they would have, but instead it is shot in a very sexual way. The camera pans over the bodies, lips, and hands grabbing bodies. That scene added to Jennifer’s persona, but it then fully brought Needy into that. When throughout the film up to this point there have only been hints that Needy is attracted to Jennifer. This moment reassured that she is. Another reason why I believe this to be a sexualized scene is due to the fact that the make out is never addressed like it would be if that had happened in real life. Two sober females kissing extremely passionately doesn’t just happen for the sake of boredom. That was when I knew this scene was created to sexualize the moment for the audience. And because Jennifer is such a sexual character, no one questions it.
The moment when Needy and Jennifer kiss brings up a whole other issue, sexuality. Both girls are assumed to be straight since Needy has a steady boyfriend who she sleeps with regularly, and Jennifer talks about hooking up with multiple boys throughout. Yet as soon as the film begins the two flirt, and Jennifer has jealous tendencies toward Needy. Needy constantly adheres to Jennifer’s orders and suggestions, and Jennifer always comes back to Needy when she needs help or comfort. Those traits are much more in depth than a friendship, and in many scenes Needy is more concerned with Jennifer than she is with her boyfriend. I don’t think that the two characters though are meant to be associated with sexuality, I believe that their moments of kissing and flirting are meant to represent the guilty pleasures they feel like most feel. And to some viewers seeing two girls kiss on screen could be a guilty pleasure. I believe that’s what it’s tapping into with that also because the two characters don’t start actually kissing until Jennifer has been turned into a demon. What does that suggest? It might suggest that as soon as Jennifer turns into an unholy being she can then take part in unholy behavior. in this case laying with the same gender. This case might seem even more valid because the only steady relationships portrayed in the film are heterosexual ones.
The film even starts off by punishing Jennifer for not actually being a virgin. She tells the band that she is one in hopes that they will no longer want her and will le her go, but little did she know, a virgin was exactly what they were looking for. Because they killed her when12295831_gal.jpg she wasn’t actually a virgin she transforms into this demonic being who needs to feed on other people in order to remain strong. As the film goes on Jennifer becomes more and more brutal, with the killings yes, but even more so with the sabotage and sneakiness. She starts off relying on Needy for a crutch but then ends the film by betraying her and killing her boyfriend.
In my opinion Jennifer’s Body incorporated sexuality and gender in a number of ways that were not necessarily morally just or appealing. In some cases it seemed like they weren’t even intentional. The film certainly does have a lot to unpack within these topics, but I’ll be looking forward to comparing this modern film to other more modern films to see the similarities and differences. Will they all be this blunt and insensitive in some regards?