If Megan Fox is an ingenue, I'm a badger

(Spoiler: I'm not a badger) The L.A. Times had a story about Megan Fox last month, and it used a word twice that always seems to be used to describe young, attractive starlets:

There are a handful of salient facts about her that have exploded into the public consciousness, mainly because the 23-year-old, Tennessee-born ingenue has said them for maximum effect in numerous magazine cover stories. It's helped that the articles invariably arrive accompanied by suggestive photos of Fox in a bikini or lingerie or Daisy Duke shorts or perhaps naked beneath a faux-fur blanket or in a towel that leaves just enough to the imagination to linger in the imagination after you close the magazine.

The American Heritage Dictionary gives these definitions:

  • 1. A naive, innocent girl or young woman.
  • 2a. The role of an ingénue in a dramatic production.
  • 2b. An actress playing such a role.

Given Fox's role as the sex symbol of the moment, her candid discussion of her sexcapades, and her numerous lad-mag photo spreads, ingenue here is clearly used in the sense of the second definitions. The only Fox movie I've seen was the first Transformers, and she did play a fairly innocent character in that. Not so sure that applies to her latest film, Jennifer's Body, a horror movie in which she plays a killer cheerleader.

It seems to me that this is another word, like "debutante," that gets thrown around a lot in newspapers. Same with "stud quarterbacks." I think the question to be asked about these words is: Is it accurate, or is it just an easy crutch to avoid thinking? In Megan Fox's case, I think her ingenue days might be behind her.

The AHD etymology: French, feminine of ingénu, meaning guileless, from Latin ingenuus, meaning ingenuous.