The red carpet season has returned in glorious fashion after a year of forced hibernation. With premieres and awards ceremonies either canceled or reduced to socially distanced Zoom-fests, there wasn’t much to keep fashion lovers amused. Sure, some celebrities went all out with their work-from-home clothing choices but where was the theater? We couldn’t blame the rich and famous for sticking to comfort with their Instagram photoshoots, but we still yearned for a little bit of the old in-person drama. Blessed be, then, for those show-people who have thrown themselves into the couture madness with gusto. Consider Doja Cat or H.E.R. or Anya Taylor Joy. And now we have a new red carpet golden couple in the form of Megan Fox and Machine Gun Kelly.
if any couple thinks they can outdo megan fox and machine gun kelly, they are mistaken. pic.twitter.com/yOgJOmyCBa— vic ☯︎︎ (@worldwarkells) May 28, 2021
Following her split from husband Brian Austin Green, with whom she maintained a relatively low-key relationship, Fox jumped head-first into being a very public girlfriend with her new beau, singer and musician Machine Gun Kelly. They’ve only been together for about a year but hoo boy have they enjoyed themselves with their wonderfully ridiculous love. I say that with as much affection as I can possibly convey, because I truly didn’t know how much I, as a gossip hound, was hungering for a celebrity couple like this until they were seemingly everywhere. You can see why people are comparing them to the heydays of Angelina and Billy Bob or Pam and Tommy (Kelly even played Tommy Lee in the Motley Crue film The Dirt.) The tattooed rocker and the sex symbol, scantily clad and pouting for the cameras. It’s one hell of a performance.
Megan Fox and Machine Gun Kelly is our generation’s Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton 😂 pic.twitter.com/iGZnsIUzMn— Ashley (@AStilettos) May 29, 2021
We’ve talked a lot about Megan Fox on this site and in the general celebrity discourse lately. As we’ve collectively re-examined the systemic misogyny that plagued so many famous women, we were forced to confront the truly horrid and demeaning ways that Fox was discussed and framed by the media. Fox stepped away from the spotlight to raise her three sons and live a pretty quiet life, and there was a sense that we’d lost something, or at least denied her the chance to reveal her potential. What would have happened had we let her have more opportunities to stretch the dry comedic skills she revealed in Jennifer’s Body and New Girl? Would she have matured beyond the limiting sexpot mold she was boxed into?
I can’t say that her current form was one I could have predicted, and it’s one that’s certainly inspired some choice words from the public. Check out the comments section of any post or tweet on her red carpet fun and you’ll inevitably find a lot of people claiming she’s a shallow attention seeker. Ugh, look at her dressed so provocatively and playing up her romance for the cameras. She’s doing it for attention. To which I say… well, yeah? Of course she is? That’s the fun part! She and Kelly are clearly putting on a show and I for one am heartily entertained.
Audiences have gained a greater understanding of celebrity over the past few years and there’s been a notable shift towards a more empathetic view of the figures whose lives we heartily consume for our own entertainment. Fans seem more eager to allow the objects of their fascination some room to breathe, whether it’s a Twitter stan account refusing to post paparazzi pics or more general awareness of the impact such publicity has on one’s mental health. Couple that with our growing preference for ‘relatability’ from the rich and famous and it doesn’t leave much room for the antics of old. Still, I’m reasonably sure that we all not-so-secretly crave some of that classic performative business of FAME. We miss the swan dresses and the yacht parties and the distinct reminders that celebrities are Not Just Like Us.
And Megan Fox and Machine Gun Kelly are thoroughly, undeniably, and proudly Not Like Us. They’re putting on a performance of celebrity and power couple romance that is the most sublime execution of tacky realness I’ve seen in a long time. I’ve seen people compare Fox’s fashion choices to Kim Kardashian, who also loves Mugler, but Kardashian is seldom this loosely fun. She’s been in Serious Fashion mode basically since she paired up with Kanye West (and he infamously went through her wardrobe and threw out all the stuff he didn’t like.) Kardashian has a lot of camp potential, but she’s by and large rejected it since she became a legitimate Vogue-esque figure. Even her outfit for the Met Gala on the year when camp was the theme seemed to skip the assignment altogether (although it was a gorgeously constructed piece.)
Plus, West was never an equal partner in the style campaign. Fox and Kelly are a joint venture, a revival of ’90s bleach blonde and side-boob glamor, one where he’s often more lavishly dressed than she is. Last week, at the iHeartRadio Music Awards, he wore shiny silver shorts and dangly earrings and had claw-like painted nails on one hand. Kelly also wears a lot of hot pink and accessories that, on top of looking great on him, gently prod at the barriers of androgyny. More cishet men on the red carpets and in fashion editorials are playing around with feminine style, including Harry Styles, and it’s a welcome style development for various obvious reasons. Once upon a time, Kelly would have been the guy in a rumpled suit he pulled from the floor that morning while Fox was dressed to the nines. Now, he’s putting in the work. He even dyed his tongue black! It’s a double act, after all.
Red carpet fashion got very safe over the past couple of decades, in large part thanks to the terrifying forces of Anna Wintour and Joan Rivers. A lot of money was on the line with these events and celebrities were earning some serious cash with exclusive deals that often limited their style choices. It’s hard to take risks when you’re contractually obliged to be the best and most lucrative spokesperson for a multi-million-dollar brand. Some stars and stylists are pushing the boundaries, but they remain stridently focused on appealing to those high-level demands. Fox and Kelly? That’s tacky. There’s a shabbiness to what they do, an obvious performance that would have been the top story on Entertainment Tonight without contest. The individual parts may be high fashion, but the execution is one free of the obligations of so-called good taste. This is pantomime and damn proud of it. Here’s a celebrity couple who know what the people want and they’re happy to oblige. Will it inspire ridicule and an inevitable backlash? Sure, but after a drought of fun, non-problematic celebrity nonsense, I welcome the shake-up. I’m tired of stars pretending to be ‘normal’ folks while doing nothing to truly embody those mundanities. Just go wild already. Megan and Kelly are. I can’t wait to see how much more ostentatious it gets.
MEGAN FOX AND MACHINE GUN KELLY SMOKING ON STAGE? THATS HOTpic.twitter.com/bIx75KPPmr— best of megan and colson (@meganxcolson) May 29, 2021
Header Image Source: mma McIntyre // Getty Images for iHeartMedia