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Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Minors, sex, and film making, art imitating life in Juxtaposition?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (21736 points ) February 11th, 2011

I heard once it is said of film as art imitating life, in some ways that do not apply at all. In film if you have an actor/actress who is a minor it is quite acceptable for them to pretend to kill, maim, rape and assault someone but not OK for them to pretend to have sex with anyone, especially an actor/actress older than 18. But flip the switch in the real world society is pretty much OK with minors having real sex just who they are having real sex with, and so long as they have a box of condoms and Planned Parenthood on speed dial its all good to go; but if they actually do main, rape, assault and kill we no longer want to treat them as kids but up them to adult status. Is it that seeing kids do violence in film is less ghastly because we know deep down it is just a show and none of it is real? If that is so if the story is like the Lover, Lolita(1997_film) or The Crush(1993_film) where the story line involves a precocious youth the pretend, not real sex is more squeamish to watch than gratuitous violence?

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15 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

There are two aspects to teen sex in movies that make them taboo- one, the minor is particularly vulnerable in a sexual situation, and cannot adequately consent, especially when dealing wit the allure of being in the movies.

Secondly, such movies appeal to the more prurient interests of sexual predators and pedophiles.

As to the violence, I don’t like that either, but in the movies the teen is either empowered to be violent because of self preservation, or the violent child is punished in the end.

SavoirFaire's avatar

Minors do not have sex in movies for legal reasons, whereas legal reasons do not effectively constrain real minors. I think that’s probably all there is to it. Moreover, I doubt it would be any more awkward to watch seventeen-year-olds having sex on film than it would be to watch eighteen-year-olds having sex on film. It would certainly be less awkward than watching Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss have sex on film.

mammal's avatar

and clockwork orange, remember the kids were 13–14 supposedly.

iamthemob's avatar

I wonder how you come to the conclusion that society is okay with minors having sex – I feel that society has accepted the fact that it happens, but I doubt that we’d find many parents who thought that their kids were just “good to go.”

Also, I don’t know how such a society that left teenagers to their own sexual devices without interference is “treating them like kids” and then “treating them like adults” if they act violent. I would think that is how we actually treat adults generally – in both cases.

jerv's avatar

Well, our society considers violence (at least that which does not result in maiming or death) more acceptable than sex. We let little kids watch WWE but cover their eyes for anything stronger than a fully clothed heterosexual couple pecking each other on the lips. Shooting people in a fictional setting is perfectly okay while a mother breast-feeding their baby is seen as unnatural and obscene.

The simple truth is that our society is uptight, inconsistent, and generally fucked in the head. If art imitated life then art would be far freakier and more controversial than it currently is.

@iamthemob That is a relatively recent thing, and only in the Western world. Other cultures feel differently, as did ours a couple of centuries ago. BTW, how long ago was it that some states raised the minimum age of marriage (presumably one that would be consumated) from 12? Apparently even parts of the Western world feel differently than mainstream America. (MA and NH are a little weirder in that regard…)

SavoirFaire's avatar

“I guess parents don’t give a crap about violence if there’s sex things to worry about.”
—Stan, South Park (“Good Times with Weapons”)

iamthemob's avatar

@SavoirFaire one of the many ways that South Park really, really gets it right.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@zenvelo There are two aspects to teen sex in movies that make them taboo- one, the minor is particularly vulnerable in a sexual situation, and cannot adequately consent, especially when dealing wit the allure of being in the movies. We are not talking about real sex here anymore than we are talking about real murder, assaults, carjackings, etc. It is all fake, the silver screen is all about a fake world or reality based on real word dynamics. So, story lines of precocious youth abounds. The question I wonder if you can have a child actor perform a fake murder or assault what is that much different then them doing fake sex with another actor, especially if above 18? It is not real and no one is really having sex.

Secondly, such movies appeal to the more prurient interests of sexual predators and pedophiles. Using that as a premise you are saying movies like Lolita, The Lover, or any others following such a story line appeals only to pedophiles and molesters even though the actresses in them were not as young as the real characters in the novel or book? Does the mean anyone would enjoy Pulp Fiction, Natural Born Killers, Assassins, etc. lean to being or are closet homicidal maniacs? And those who would enjoy Donny Brasco, the Godfather, Goodfellas, Carlito’s Way, etc are mobsters?

@SavoirFaire Minors do not have sex in movies for legal reasons, whereas legal reasons do not effectively constrain real minors. We are not talking porno movies here, just your garden variety rated R, not anything where people are actually having sex in front of the camera. If minors can’t do fake sex when the script or story deems as they can do fake murder it is actual real law influencing a fake reality.

@mammal and clockwork orange, remember the kids were 13–14 supposedly. One of my all time favorite must see movies. However I can point out it was made back in the early 70s. On top of that it was a European film they always seem to have the upper hand on us Yanks when it comes to film and TV. There are films made in a 70s and 80s here in the US people would balk about if remake close to the way the original was shot, Pretty Baby that made Brooke Shields, Kids, maybe the Blue Lagoon and Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes. Surely Lipstick (1967) would surely not get remade unless watered down to the point of making the movie pointless (it was rather tame back then).

I wonder how you come to the conclusion that society is okay with minors having sex Parents ready the pitch forks and boiling oil if a school even hits at abstinence only classes, or if the school says it will ban freak dancing or stop the dance if it breaks out. How many parents would you actually believe would support a law that in some way punishes kids for their under-aged sex? Exactly. I have heard stories (some people were actually know but not friends) who would allow their kids to have ”date night” in their home figuring they are going to do it anyhow and they have no tools to stop them so might as well have them safe at home instead of the back seat on a lonely deserted road.

@iamthemob Also, I don’t know how such a society that left teenagers to their own sexual devices without interference is “treating them like kids” and then “treating them like adults” if they act violent. That has been happening for ages. If I had a daughter that was 15 and she met some 20 year old who was drawn to her because maybe as an only child she matured quicker, and they became an item and was intimate but somehow it gout out in the open and he goes to jail, no one will look at her culpability in the relationship, she was a victim manipulated by him to make merchandise of her body. If she then decides to go buck wild because she is pissed that the person she believe is the love of her life was taken away and go on a 4 day drinking binge and crime spree at raked up a tally of 2 carjackings, 3 counts of kidnapping, 4 assaults, 2 armed robberies, 1 voluntary manslaughter charge and evading arrest she would no longer be treated as ther ”poor little girl” in need of protecting or just some mixed up kid; they would seek to up her to adult status to toss the book at her. The argument is when she was with her b/f she was too stupid to consent thus she is a victim and don’t so much as get a second look, but now because she is violent, she ”knew” exactly what she was doing and thus should do hard time. That is the way it has been for decades…..

@jerv Other cultures feel differently, as did ours a couple of centuries ago. BTW, how long ago was it that some states raised the minimum age of marriage (presumably one that would be consumated) from 12? Veering slightly off course the average age of consent world wide averages to 15.5 years of age. The dirty secret here in the US is that 30% of the states have an age of consent of 16, in places like Montana, Kansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Maine, and others, but since Hollywood controls content on TV the de facto age is 18 (how it is here in Cali) That is the big secret, don’t tell anyone…..

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central I don’t know where you are, but child pornography laws are fairly strict where I am. Any depiction of minors having sex, even if not graphic, is prohibited. So is simulated sex between minors (that is, depictions of minors having sex even where the participants are not actually minors or even actual people). The exact contours of these laws have not been tested, but their core doctrines have been upheld. Thus filmmakers have strong legal reasons for not depicting minors having sex, even if they might get away with it.

zenvelo's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central I did not say they appeal solely to pedophiles and predators, nor does Pulp Fiction appeal solely to homicidal sodomists. But the attraction to pedophiles was a real concern when Lolita was released. And while sex scenes with minors may not have actual penetration, there is nudity involved, and the simulation comes pretty damn close to the real thing.

And I don’t see society condoning sex amongst minors as you imagine, it’s just that a lot of people are realistic in understanding teenagers will experiment, and hope they do so carefully.

As I said, violent children in movies are applauded when using violence as a last resort. I think if someone made a teenage gang movie that glorified gang violence, most people would strongly condemn it.

So if you are asking why society seems to flip values between movies and real life, I’m not convinced it does.

iamthemob's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central – Alright, so you’re talking about statutory rape.

That’s simply a practical result of law, and is also not inevitably the case that violent minors will be treated the same as adults.

(1) Statutory rape laws are meant to protect minors. Therefore, it would be silly to prosecute them for having sex with someone above the age of minority because they are the “victim” in that scenario.

(2) It’s a strict liability crime because it would be too easy for someone to escape liability otherwise if they were able to use “but she said she was 18” as an excuse.

(3) Minors are by default tried as juveniles. The prosecution has to provide additional evidence for a reason to treat them as adults.

jerv's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central My point there was merely that the definition of “minor” has changed considerably over time and varies by location. Of course, while a person in current-day America is legally an adult at 18 (for most purposes) they are not considered a de facto adult until their mid/late-20s after they have finished college or are old enough to have done so. In other words, as educational needs rise, so does the age of majority.
I have to wonder how many places only raised their ages due to some form of pressure though. For instance, it used to be that NH had a drinking age of 18 while the three surrounding states raised their’s to 21. Given that NH has no seat belt or helmet laws (at least for those over-18; kids still need belts and brain buckets) I seriously doubt it was something they did entirely on their own.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@iamthemob Alright, so you’re talking about statutory rape. No, no, no, no, it is about a fake reality that is suppose to imitate reality but the realities in essence are flipped.

The real word, here and now, there are very little laws about who a kid can have sex with, if at that. If there are any laws they are so nebulous as to be unenforceable. A 16 year old girl can have a crush on her 23 year old college English tutor and end up having sex with him, there is no law saying she can’t, the law states only he can’t have sex with her, same if it was some 15yr old boy mowing lawns and the 25 year old female med student wants to reward his hard work with a b-day romp in the hay, no law says he can’t just that she cannot do it.

Real world here and now, kids can’t own guns and outside of hunting with a rifle or at the range under close adult supervision are not suppose to be exposed to guns and weapons.

Real word here and now killing and assaults cannot be done lawfully by anyone.

The world of the Silver Screen is suppose to take us the view along like flies on a shoulder or the wall. We are suppose to see the action and believe it is a reality. Story lines such as Lolita, etc. play out there as in real life, however the ”real” Tinsel Town story is hobbled by real world law. In fake world the character (if a minor) cannot act out the story they are suppose to be action out in a real form when it comes to sex. One might try to side set that by saying the minor actor will be touched, it is part of the story, and part of the action same as the running, jumping, spitting in faces, and slapping, etc. Minor actors get touched all the time, because the story has a scene of intimacy it can be handle as harmless as if you watched on in Prime Time. Do you actually think the actors and actresses are naked under that sheet? The story is altered are we are sold that a non-minor actor is the minor actor of the movie.

Tinsel Town world seems to not be such a stickler to real world law when it comes to kids drinking, smoking, or having and using weapons. There is little compunction showing a kid murder someone if the story dictates, no swapping out a minor actor with one over 18.

The way in which minors crime, and sex in the world of the Silver Screen is flipped one how they are handled in real life, otherwise any story line involving a minor doing those activities they would be substituted for a 18+ stand-in.

iamthemob's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central – You’re not being clear. I’ll note that minor actors appear in sexually charged roles constantly – and many in scenes. Dominique Swaine was a minor when she played the role of Lolita.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central Your previous post is not quite correct. Yes, the minors in the relationships you mention won’t be charged with anything. That’s the result of being deemed the victim of a crime rather than the perpetrator. In cases where all parties to a sexual encounter are minors, however, it has been historically possible for everyone to be charged. The so-called “Romeo and Juliet” exceptions for minors who are of similar ages are, as I understand it, relatively recent developments. Moreover, there are cases of two minors having sex and both being charged, so I don’t think they always get off as easily as you seem to think.

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