A not entirely successful visit to the cinema this morning – and some mixed thoughts: not so much on the sexualisation of youth, but on the trivialisation of sex. Since i am not entirely sure what it was i saw, i’ll describe and maybe someone else will provide the insight for me to place the experience into context.
First the unsuccess. Took the boy to see “Arthur Christmas“. Which, he claimed, he hated, on account of there being no cute animals and no fighting. er, no. I couldn’t fault his powers of observation on that front…though am a little saddened that his list of what makes a good film is so short.
Or perhaps he just didn’t like THAT film. A shame, because i did: though maybe that’s the problem. Despite being a supposedly children’s film, there is a lot about Arthur Christmas that is obviously aimed with a knowing nudge and wink at the older generation.
It satririses (quite effectively) modern management, boardroom power struggles, and the tensions between the generations. All quite sophisticated subjects: and all possibly a little way beyond the average six-year-old.
The fact that he was unmoved at the end and i…OK, i admit: i had to redo my make-up after a rather bad attack of smudged mascara; that says it all.
Now for the disturbing stuff. First off, the film itself. Arthur delivers the christmas present – the core of the story – and as he does so, his little companion (a slightly androgynous but almost certainly female elf) asks, in a knowing sort of way “is this your first time?”.
She then takes him by the hand and leads him toward the sparkly lights of the christmas tree. Huh? Was it just me? I don’t think so. This was the epitome of “gratuitous”, in the sense that it was the insertion of a sexual reference in a place where it was utterly uncalled for.
Pointless for the kids watching, since they would not have got it…and quite irrelevant, even in comedic terms, to the plot at that moment in time. Yes. It jarred. That’s about the best i can say. It shouldn’t have been there and in a film that otherwise didn’t put a foot wrong, i don’t understand why it was.
And backward to the trailers. The boy DOES want to watch the second instalment of squeaky horror “Alvin and the Chipmunks”. Please, no!
And there, echoing the somewhat cloying love interest in Bambi (the clichedly female rabbit that Thumper falls for) is a female chipmunk. How can you tell? Why, by the exaggerated eyelashes and the fact that flat-chested she is nonetheless wearing a bra – or at least a boob tube.
So what is going on?
As i said at the outset, my argument with those who claim sexualisation of youth is that i don’t think so. I see imagery thrust youthward that ADULTS might interpret as sexual…but by and large is not recognised as such by the pre-teen generation. Here, it struck me, were two prime examples of this.
No child is going to pick up the sexuality implicit in the images… though some girls might copycat the image stereotypes. And i haven’t a clue what they are doing there, unless, perhaps, to re-assure parents.
Its a puzzle. Insights, anyone?