Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Sexy Baby: Susan B. Anthony Weeps
hath the sexual revolution wrought? It
is a question parents should be asking in the internet age. Documentary filmmakers Jill Bauer and Ronna
Gradus sort of explore the issue, but doggedly avoid criticizing any
potentially controversial targets in Sexy
opens today in New York.
and Gradus follow three POV figures as they come to terms with the social
expectations for women today. Winnifred
is an intelligent but painfully obnoxious pre-teen living in Manhattan. At first, she seems to be refreshingly
self-aware, decrying the objectification of women in a production staged by her
hipster youth theater group. However, we
quickly see her doing all the dumb, self-defeating things we assumed she would
avoid. Nichole worked as a porn star
under the name Nakita Kash and still performs as a pole dancer. She and her husband are trying to start a
family, but they have been frustrated thus far.
Laura is a teacher’s assistant about to undergo labiaplasty to boost her
self-esteem. Her mother does not quite
understand Laura’s decision, but she supports her regardless.
can you say when the most down-to-earth and demur character in a film is a former
porn star? Genuinely reflective, “Kash”
acknowledges the pervasiveness of adult films and the distorted perspective
they offer. She has a real point when
she cautions parents they cannot completely prevent their children from seeing
such imagery anymore. Rather, it is more
important they do not allow such material to become their first and primary
source of information.
Kash has something to say, nobody else really does. Frankly, Bauer and Gradus get so bored with
the labiaplasty story line, they avoid checking-in with it for long stretches
of time (good call, by the way). In contrast, they are overly enamored with
Winnifred, inflicting endless Facebook misadventures on the audience. Truly, the one thing that comes through loud
in clear during the Manhattan sequences is the utter inability of late-era baby
boomers to parent effectively.
it makes some salient points here and there, Sexy Baby is just a complete mess.
It is incapable of taking any sort of stand, giving hip hop’s degrading
lyrics and predatory, X-rated video-producing rappers a complete pass. Instead, it is porn-obsessed, often displaying
the same lurid inclinations it decries in others, while occasionally lobbing
the odd salvo at Madison Avenue. That is
highly problematic filmmaking.
Bauer and Gradus never challenge the politicized
feminism espoused by Winnifred’s mother nor do they question the sexual
revolution of the 1960’s. Naturally, conservative
cultural critiques are scrupulously ignored.
Sexy Baby is sort of a bizarre
manifestation of Luddism, blaming all our social ills on increased access to
computers. The concern motivating the
film is well-founded, but the execution is an erratic mishmash. Not recommended, Sexy Baby opens today (10/19) in New York at the Quad Cinema.
Labels: Documentary, Nakita Kash