Welcome to a very special Halloween edition of Watching Lesbian Classics. Typically I go into these movies filled with intense regret – already, for something I’ve yet to experience – but this viewing was different. I’d seen enough stills from Jennifer’s Body to know I was in for a treat. All previous movies were the houses with zero decorations and a single porch light on, while Jennifer’s Body awaited me with generator-powered blow up creatures, dolls coming out of their own graves, and full-ass Snicker bars in a basket with a sign that says, “Take one!”
This film explores some of my favorite themes all in one glossy, campy, self-aware package: misandry, women being extremely gay together, principled revenge, and the triumph of aught culture. My one caveat to this otherwise perfect film is there’s a word that’s said three times, which is three times too many and lands every time like a sandbag being dropped into a baby pool, and Diablo Cody we will all accept Venmo requests if you feel moved to extend them as penance. But enough of the bad, let’s focus on the good: a subtext so purposeful it tops itself.
Join me on this journey of the sexual awakening of two high school friends who endure/inflict necessary acts of violence in order to kill off the last bits of the heteronormative patriarchy that exist inside each of them.
This is the first shot of the movie and imagine me leaning over to you in the movie theater and going, “That’s Jennifer’s body.” Except it’s actually Needy Lesnicki (sure)’s body, narrating her story live from a prison cell. All of the fan mail she receives tells me Needy is famous for… something.
According to the dropkick she lands on a guard that flies the guard across a table and her subsequent shoving of a man into a wall, she’s famous for being my future wife. She used to be normal, she says – well, as normal as any teenage girl being pumped full of hormones can be. Lol true. “But then the killings started happening.”
It all started in a town called Devil’s Kettle, named for the funnels-to-nowhere waterfall that was featured in season 3 of The L Word for the spreading of Dana’s ashes. Rip.
Oh, wait, here’s Jennifer’s actual body, being operated by Megan Fox. Remember that very brief window of time when all anyone thought they had on Megan Fox – an objectively incredible-looking woman, like symmetrically is probably on some fibonacci spiraling, and whose particular aesthetic stirs up a special flavor of Haterade – was that she had “weird thumbs,” whatever that means? Love you guys, and that time.
Jennifer’s a cheerleader / Needy’s sitting in the stands / Jennifer gets the top bunk / Needy’s sleepin’ on the floor. We find out that Jennifer and Needy are in a codependent relationship that just so happens to involve Needy’s boyfriend, Chip, who looks like Disney Show Generic Guy Friend Who’s Always The Bridesmaid And Never The Bride.
Someone suggests to Needy that she and Jennifer are “totally lesbi-gay.”
Coming in hot to try and smother that accusation is the very next scene/exchange between Needy and Jennifer, where they engage in the straight woman custom that is aggressive salutations. “Hey Monistat.” “What’s up, Vagisil?” Jennifer invites Needy to a music show that’s later that night and tells her to “wear something cute” while looking at her like she’s a 4pm Totino roll fresh out of the oven.
After school, Needy invites Chip over. His hair is the scariest thing I predict happening in this movie. Thankfully, in the middle of their makeout that is making me extremely uncomfortable, Needy turns her head away from Chip to the window in anticipation of Jennifer’s arrival moments before Jennifer even knocks on the door. Unfamiliar with this gift unique to queer women, Chip calls their relationship weird and then the scene ends with Chip pleading with Jennifer to stop stealing his girlfriend.
We’re at the bar for the Low Shoulder concert, and right before holding this position for a solid ten seconds, Jennifer passes by a boy who’s trying to hit on her and says a line that I know will not be topped for the rest of the movie and does it with a cadence that can only be ascribed to this string of three words: “WHAT UP, CRAIG.”
Jennifer approaches the band as they prepare for their set and, oh, look, the lead singer is that guy from The OC. Nice. Needy watches on in closeted horror as Jennifer engages her flirt boosters with the ease and flair of Usain Bolt sidestepping toward the finish line.
AHH NOW EVERYTHING IS ON FIRE???? Inside this… bar slash payday advance loan store??? The band was playing and now everything is on fire, with no explanation. Jennifer and Needy escape unscathed, but now Jennifer’s being escorted into Low Shoulder’s tour van alone. Perfect. The vibe is about as chill and safe as a cis white straight dude making this face right after he’s closed your friend inside his van can be!
When Needy gets home she calls Chip to tell him what’s happened. She keeps him on the phone while she walks around her empty, dark house looking for the source of the noises she keeps hearing. In this way I believe she is exploring the crumbling institution of heterosexuality, the noises her unrealized desires.
Speaking of unrealized desires, Needy turns from the sink in the kitchen to find a bloodied and silent Jennifer standing in the middle of the room. Without a word, Jennifer turns to the fridge, tears open the door, and rips into a full chicken. Needy tries to stop Jennifer by saying, “My mom got that from Boston Market.” Ahahaha. Is this my favorite movie?
Jennifer stops eating only to purge a thick, black substance (the toxic effects of the patriarchy). Then Jennifer shoves Needy against a wall in the hallway and asks her if she’s scared. Needy says she is scared, but forgets to say out loud, “…of loving you.”
The next day everyone is mourning their fellow students and members of faculty who were killed in the fire. Well, everyone except Jennifer. She’s having a great time. She’s also pretending last night never happened, which while we’re breaking down Jennifer’s first encounter with a rejection of heterosexuality, that’s also what I did the first time I slept with a woman, so.
What do you think she’s flagging here.
Jennifer is now on the prowl. She finds a friend of Craig (who died) crying in a field and lures him into the forest with a promise of sex. Then she kills and eats him. Oh. Oh, yes. I see where this is going. I don’t know what to tell you, I’m enjoying myself!
Heyo, Amy Sedaris as Needy’s mom lookin’ like we all feel in 2017!
One day after class, Jennifer and Needy run into Colin, AKA My Chemical Romance’s ambassador to the people. Colin nervously asks Jennifer out and she declines. It’s only when Needy expresses interest in Colin that Jennifer changes her mind and decides to take Colin up his offer. Ah yes, the old queer standby of fucking through osmosis.
Jennifer invites Colin to an abandoned house for their date. Inside there are candles lit and Akon playing on the boombox so y’all already know what TF is going on. Intercutting this scene is one where Needy is having sex with the vaguest, most “who is she?” embodiment of a hairstyle the world has ever known.
In the middle of having sex with Chip for the first time, Needy is hallucinating that blood is dripping from the ceiling. Seems like a normal reaction from someone who’s super into the person with whom they’re having sex. Then Needy hallucinates a dead Craig and a bloodthirsty Jennifer at the edge of the bed, just casually thinking about Jennifer in her most primal state while she’s having sex with Chip.
Back at the house, Jennifer eats of Colin’s body and drinks of his blood. In the name of the father, son, and holy spirit, amen.
Later that night, mere hours after experiencing a male scream-inspired rush that ended with Jennifer crouched and bloodied on Needy’s car like a hungry gargoyle come to life, Jennifer shows up in Needy’s bedroom looking ready for a slumber party. Without any discussion of earlier events, Jennifer crawls toward Needy at the foot of her bed.
Needy assumes top status immediately and effortlessly. Right as they’re finding their groove, Needy draws back and demands to know what’s going on. Didn’t I just witness you on top of the car I was driving? Jennifer’s like, look, it’s fine, it’s that classic story of being taken in a van to be sacrificed in the forest under the waxing moon so a shitty band can become more successful under Satan’s eye.
We’re being brought back to this night in a flashback, and it is really saying something that upon seeing a group of men take a woman into a forest I feel relief that what ends up happening is just a sacrificial killing!!! As the lead singer reads an incantation he got off the internet while holding a knife over Jennifer’s bound body, Jennifer says, “Why don’t you get a publicist? We can make t-shirts. I can be – I can be a part of your street team!” between tears, and, look, I know Megan Fox didn’t write that but her delivery makes me know she feels this in her bones and WOW I LOVE MEGAN FOX!!!!
The sacrificial killing didn’t actually kill Jennifer; instead, she became an indestructible misandrist. Same. Needy’s still freaked out and tells Jennifer to leave, which Jennifer eventually does through an open window, but not before suggesting they play “boyfriend-girlfriend” like they used to.
We’re at Colin’s funeral. His emo friends try to bright-side the situation and say he would like that he’s now in the “unearthly realm.” When Colin’s mom hears this, she unleashes the most sobering eulogy I think I’ve ever heard, in real life or in film, wherein she explains that Colin isn’t in any unearthly realm, he is simply six feet in the ground, as we all soon will be.
After Needy finishes her research on how to kill a demon, she’s approached by the Quizno’s hair doll mascot to talk about going to the formal dance together and making their Cheesecake Factory reservations. Needy uses the best excuse in the world to not have to be around him anymore, which is: “It’s not safe for us to be together.”
Hey, it’s Chip’s mom, the adoption lady from The L Word! Up to two The L Word references can I get a hell yeah.
We’re at the dance and even though I don’t think there’s a theme Needy comes styled like this? Chip is on his way to the dance when he’s stopped by Jennifer in the park. In the middle of Jennifer attempting to sabotage Needy and Chip’s relationship by telling Chip that Needy and Colin were sleeping together, Low Shoulder is being introduced at the dance. They’re playing for free even though they have sold out shows around the country!!!
Jennifer, her eyes set on Needy, takes one for the team.
This would also be me if Low Shoulder was playing at a dance.
Jennifer takes Colin to the Hopeless Trash Pool for feeding time. When he refuses her advances, she throws him in the pool, which is certainly one way to do it. Needy, her queer radar finely tuned, shows up and interrupts Jennifer doing this:
Needy jumps into the pool to try and save Chip even though he clearly had no problem going somewhere with her best friend the second he thought she might have cheated on him. Needy is only directing her anger at Jennifer, not Chip, because the patriarchy needs women pitted against each other in order to thrive. It’s in this moment that Jennifer purges black slug for the second time. Repent!
Needy’s not that impressed with Jennifer’s ability to levitate above the pool, to which Jennifer responds, “Do you have to undermine everything I do? You’re such a player hater.” Lol! Then, when Jennifer says she’s going to kill Needy and Needy responds by saying she thought Jennifer only killed boys, Jennifer says, “I go both ways.” With that confession, Chip dies.
Now Needy’s on the prowl, because you can’t just turn a girl out like that and not expect some blowback. Jennifer’s in her room getting ready for bed when Needy casually barrel rolls through the window. A fight ensues, and when Needy pulls out a box cutter, Jennifer says, “Do you buy all your murder weapons at Home Depot? God, you’re butch.” This is the greatest movie of all time.
Mid struggle, Needy tears off Jennifer’s BFF necklace (their guise of friendship) and is then able to pierce Jennifer’s heart. With this, Jennifer dies, and with that, an accurate portrayal of the queer intensity that eventually kills one or both parties condensed into a single moment.
Jennifer’s mom finds them both bloody in bed, which brings up back to why Needy’s in jail. Needy Lesnicki doesn’t know who she is anymore. She feels… different. Also, because Needy’s been bitten by Jennifer means she’s absorbed new powers, like superhuman strength, being able to levitate, and being able to spot other people who’ve been bitten in any public setting.
One night in jail, but for whatever reason not the very first night in jail, Needy levitates to the top of her holding cell, kicks out the barred window, and escapes through a fence.
On her walk through the woods, Needy finds the knife that was used to sacrifice Jennifer. As someone who has just escaped prison and needs to lay low, she of course takes it with her as it is clearly easily concealable. She hitches a ride and tells the driver she’s going to see a band. When he posits that it “must be some band” to be making such a long trip, she tells him it’s their “last show.”
Happy holidays, everybody.