Thursday, February 11, 2010

OK Girls. He's Legal Today. Now You Can Dream A Little Dream of Him.

So we have no actual proof that Taylor Lautner can actually ACT. That, if I understand many women (some teens, but dear God, some in their 40s or 50s), is irrelevant. Now that he's 18, you can all lust after him to your heart's content. It shouldn't bother anyone that for about a year or two (when he was 16 and 17) many women old enough to be his mother had sexual fantasies about committing statutory rape.

I tend to be equal opportunity on such things: I think it is wrong to fantasize about a 17-year-old girl, and found all those countdowns for the Olsen twins or Lindsay Lohan to be downright creepy. That being the case, I think the same for those keeping tabs on one kid who has found himself in the position of being seen as a brainless figure who only serves to fulfill unsatisfied, unhealthy, and I'd argue, unnatural desires.

This is a result of a hypersexualized society, where a person's worth is placed on how physically satisfying he/she is. I see a connection between the rise in the popularity of the Twilight series (excuse me, SAGA) and this concept of "sexting". I confess to not having heard of such of a thing, until Vanessa Hudgens was caught up in a scandal where naked pictures of her surfaced. I get the sense East High wouldn't approve, but I digress.

Too many young girls, definitely middle school but I'd argue creeping into elementary, are being sold a bill of goods. They think that by offering themselves sexually, even if it's by taking nude pictures of themselves and sending them to their boyfriends or guys they'd like to be their boyfriends, they will get untold pleasures and perhaps, even a bit of self-esteem. The Twilight series (excuse me, SAGA), I think, offers a similar outlet. I've heard about how in some odd way, the books are an encouragement of that Christian concept of abstinence (I don't buy it, but I digress). EDWARD CULLEN never gets anywhere sexually with Bella Swoon (I mean Swann) until they are married. However, I can read between the lines of awful prose. Here's a translation:

Bella (to EDWARD CULLEN): I want you to change me.

TRANSLATION: F*^$ me. F*^# me hard. F*^# me NOW. F*^# me like I've never been F*^#ed before...because I've never been F*^#ed before.

EDWARD CULLEN (to Bella): I can't. I don't want to turn you into me.

TRANSLATION: I don't want to use you as an object for my own pleasure, and I'm going to show you how much I LOVE you by waiting for YOU to use ME as an object for your own pleasure.

If one choose to have no sex until marriage, that is fine if that is what your conscience has dictated for you. On a personal note, I find that those who put on those "Promise Rings" end up putting on condoms sooner and faster than those who don't. Curiously, I find that my Christian friends end up losing their virginity long before my secular/atheist friends do. Yet, I digress.

What I find appalling is the idea that we can look on this trend and think it wonderful. It shouldn't matter if it's a woman or a man: encouraging the sexualization of minors is a sign of The End of Western Civilization. I'm not naivë enough to think teenagers don't have sex...they have been since 13-year-old Juliet and 17-year-old Romeo awoke in each other's arms. HOWEVER, I'd like to point out that they were married when they consummated their love, which today isn't the case.

There is ONE point where I admit I'm the one who's wrong. All this time I figured that being so young, Lautner wouldn't quite get the fact that he's been turned into a "himbo", a conduit for so many adolescents and mothers who think like them to build up erotic fixations on, no better than a stripper at a bachlorette party. Perhaps that is my all-too-hopeful nature.

I must now admit that he was in on it all this time. He must have known that he wasn't being hired to be an actual actor anymore than any of the other males who played the members of his tribe or even Robert Pattinson himself were. He was there, not because people behind the camera or in the audience expected him to be Laurence Olivier or James Cagney or Robert DeNiro or Kenneth Branagh. He was there because his body elicited squeals of erotic delight from giggling girls who have been trained to squeal with erotic delight but not to think. You don't pose for so many shirtless shots without thinking you want people to know you more for your body than your body of work. I'm beginning to feel sorry for all of them.

Don't get me wrong. I find nothing wrong in desiring and fantasizing about other people (Catherine Zeta-Jones and Penelope Cruz are for me what Lautner and Pattinson are for the Twilight Twits). Of course, I also get that way when I think on Ava Gardner in her prime (VA-VA-VA-BOOM). It's not the desire that is wrong; it's the desire for someone who hasn't reached an age of maturity--and this I expand to include men AND women, and not just stars but every guy and girl in high school who thinks graduating as a virgin is shameful or graduating with a child normal.

No, I'm not judging and wouldn't presume to. It's not my place to. I merely wonder if we are doing everyone involved right by dreaming of teenagers for sexual pleasures. Yes, this has gone on for quite some time. Taylor Lautner and Robert Pattinson will not be the last of the teen sex gods. That doesn't mean we have to be so naked  about taking those underage and using them as objects of pleasure (pun intended).

Ultimately, those around them I hope realize that this objectification is a double-edged sword. It could lock them into a certain image that their acting abilities (or lack thereof) will not help them get out of. There are too many stories of hot young guys and girls who no longer have some cases, who no longer have life...because they only had looks, which once gone meant the end of their careers as actors. Then again, I might be proven wrong.

I think of Robert Redford, who had been dismissed as a mere "pretty boy" but who has had the tenacity and talent to expand into a truly first-rate actor/director. Certainly Pattinson is trying desperately to break away from being ONLY EDWARD CULLEN, and while I'm not sold on him as being in the same league as a De Niro or an Edward Norton, I at least admire and respect the fact he's trying to branch out. I can't quite say the same about the birthday boy...who women can now see in his birthday suit without getting arrested.

With that, Happy Birthday Taylor Lautner. May you make better films than the ones you've starred in.

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