There are girls as young as 12 who are posting images of themselves online wearing lingerie, because they want to ‘feel sexy…like Megan Fox,’ have become the subject of an award-winning new documentary.
‘Sexy Baby’. is a documentary About Sexiness and The Cyber Age, opening in U.S. movie theatres, reveals how a generation of children now gets their sex education from online porn, thanks to Facebook, smart phones and instant access to the Internet.
Following three young women, aged between 12 and 34, the film sheds light on how technology and pornography are shaping the sexual identity of young girls, something the filmmakers, former Miami Herald journalists Ronna Gradus and Jill Bauer, hope will be a ‘conversation starter’ for parents.
This movie is a first for the two women, and had its world premiere earlier this year at the Tribeca Film Festival. It has been labelled ‘troubling’ by parents, who agree it ‘brings up important topics that require mass discussion,’ as said by one New York mother, Hedi.
Manhattan resident Winnifred, 12, features in the documentary and strives to emulate her musical idol, Lady Gaga by wearing fish-net stockings and midriff-baring tops.
With her friend Olivia, she poses seductively for pictures and later posts the images online.
‘Every girl wants to feel sexy – like Megan Fox,’ Olivia told ABC News, but after she realised a photo of herself in a bra went viral, she admitted, ‘I felt dirty afterwards.’
Laura, a 22-year-old kindergarten teacher from Alexandria, Virginia, is seen saving money to have vaginal plastic surgery to reduce the size of her labia…convinced it will change her life.
And Nichole, 34, a former stripper and pole dancer from of Clearwater, Florida, now wants to have a baby with her husband she met in the porn business.
The journalist and photographer duo say they were compelled to make the film after Ms Gradus had witnessed an awkward scene take place between college students in a Coconut Grove, Florida club.
She watched as girls writhed on poles and tried to attract the attention of their male friends who stuffed money in their bras but largely seemed disinterested as if what they were watching was par for the course.
Discussing it later, Ms Gradus and Ms Bauer concluded that this most likely a symptom of the over-saturation of sex we are faced with in today’s society.
The movie-makers explained, “The film is not specifically about porn, it is about the new seismic shift – the fact that everything is at our fingertips all the time and available to everyone of all ages. And were especially interested in what this does to our perception of sexiness and sexuality.”
This revelation, that such erotic behaviour had become so banal, formed the basis of their research into how our shiny digital world has changed the way women and younger generations feel about it.
The documentary explores these themes as it follows the lives of three protagonists of what Ms Gradus and Ms Bauer refer to as Generation XXX.
While Winnifred, Laura and Nichole all inhabit a world in which ‘privates are public and extreme is the new norm,’ their reactions to it are markedly different. Sexy Baby basically explores how sex saturates social networking sites as well as web pages and online video channels making what was once taboo quite banal
Laura, a sweet and seemingly impressionable young woman, explains why she chose to have an operation to reduce the size of her labia in a clip of the feature movie that just premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival.
‘All of this internet stuff traps you…I want to fit in and feel sexy. I just figure, it would be huge turn on to a guy to look like a porn star,’ she says.
The directors noted, ‘Laura clearly finds that there is a new standard of beauty which comes straight out of porn…her boyfriend compared her to the porn stars he watched on the internet.’
Ms Bauer recalled how she and Ms Gradus followed the young teacher as she partied with her friends, hoping to get a better sense of how she related to her body.
She told said, “There was an amateur night at the club, and I guess every couple of weeks they give away a boob job. Laura and her friends were all sitting around saying, “That’s so cool.”‘ Ms Gradus added, “There is not a lot of questioning that happens. Big boobs are the thing, being sexy is the thing, looking maybe a little more like a porn star is the thing, and she didn’t really question it. It was just sort of like, “I want to fit in and feel sexy.”‘
On the other end of the spectrum is Winnifred, a savvy 12-year-old from New York who accepts that the Facebook and pop culture encourages an ‘anything goes’ attitude, but when it comes to porn, is not that interested and has yet to really watch any.
‘Your Facebook profile is not necessarily who your are, it’s more like who you want to be,‘ she explains to the camera. ‘We make ourselves seem like…down to fuck. We make ourselves seem like we’re up for anything. And in a way all of this internet stuff kind of traps you. You’ve started an alter ego that has to be maintained and has to be real in a way.
‘So yeah, I mean it does kind of shape how you end up and how you actually are in real life.’
But she confesses, ‘I guess I’m the kind of person who doesn’t have the guts and doesn’t really care enough to look at porn. I know what sex is, I don’t need to see it in front of me played out.’
The filmmakers said, “Winnifred represents the next generation and simply put, is confused. She recently told us that she worries about her male peers who are getting their first glimpses of sex via hardcore pornography.”
For her part, Nichole, who Ms Gradus and Ms Bauer referred to as an ‘ironic moral compass’ blames the way the mainstream has been ‘completely infiltrated’ by adult entertainment on the digital age and believes things have gotten out of hand.
Sexiness now, say the film-making duo is ‘more computer-focused, Facebook-focused. Like, Like, Like…20 Likes, 30 Likes, 40 Likes, wow, I’m a superstar…versus I’m just going to pass you a note in class and admire you.
‘Instead of “I’m going to hit you on the playground because I’m telling you in my way that I like you,” it’s “Let me slap you silly because I saw it in porn.”‘
In conclusion, sexy seems to be the new pretty. Everything we see around us is reinforcing that this should be our focus.
Sexy Baby: A Documentary About Sexiness and The Cyber Age opens October 19 in both New York City and Los Angeles, before being released on VOD in November.
by Susan Floyd