Friday, December 03, 2004

The Weekly Standard vs. Natalie Portman

Natalie Portman, she of the massive Judaica collection and, if the latest Elle piece is to be believed, an interest in astrophysics, is apparently "patient zero in our culture's latest epidemic of pedophilia chic."

In the Weekly Standard, Jonathan V. Last makes that tried-and-true conservative claim: we are living in the most debauched times. Ever. And look, look how disgusting our times really are! Let's examine, one by one, how disgusting things have become. And by "things" I mean pretty young things, gorgeous, nubile...though of course morally reprehensible...but oh-so-alluring, young, attractive girls.

I remember a segment on Fox a couple years ago in which Bill O'Reilly held forth on the horrible, horrible fact that a porno was being filmed in college dorms. Of course all the while there was this gleam in his eye--it was clear that his feeling about these barely-legal amateur porn stars was anything but revulsion...

But back to Last's article--called, get this, "Live. Young. Girls"--in which he tries to convince Standard readers, a group which no doubt contains a few heterosexual men with conventional sexual desires, that he finds Portman--as well as the Olson twins, Britney Spears, and the young Brooke Shields--utterly revolting, a sign of the degradation of our culture:

"[Portman] was 15 in Ted Demme's Beautiful Girls, where she played a middle-school student trying to seduce the 30-something Timothy Hutton. Shortly thereafter, Portman became a cultural icon, the object of dirty grins and knowing winks. And after Natalie, the deluge. There was Britney Spears's underage school-girl act. The celebrated website devoted to a countdown to the Olsen twins' 18th birthday. And then the crowning moment: Vanity Fair's Youngest Hollywood issue, which displayed on its cover nine under-aged vixens in various states of get-up-and-go, along with a headline proclaiming: 'It's TOTALLY Raining Teens: And it's, like, so a major moment in pop culture.' Even the dirty taboo of Blue Lagoon lust is a thing of the past; today we celebrate the sexualization of young girls. Thanks, Natalie."

Was that a sarcastic "Thanks, Natalie," or do I detect just the slightest bit of sincerity?

At last, Last concludes: "The moronic beauty of youth is everywhere around us now, celebrated, coveted, and objectified in ways that would make Mae West blush. With Closer, Natalie Portman is finally all grown up. Even so, her sad legacy lives on."

So sad is Portman's legacy that Last felt compelled, out of pity, to see many of her movies, just to do the Standard readers the great service of letting them know how truly unpleasant she is, just to save them the trouble of having to see those films themselves.

Via The American Scene


Anonymous said...

Forget about the morality of the mainstreaming of jailbait for a minute. What, from a consequentialist perspective, is the good in having more adolescent sexual activity? There is no doubt that even if there was debauchery in the '50s or the Victorian Age or whatever liberals believe to be the Dark Ages of Repression, there was also far less of the destructive personal decision-making we are seeing today. Social norms against pre-marital sex may be musty or silly or rooted in hypocrisy. But so what?

I guess by relaxing social mores you expand freedom of choice for children, but who is to say this is a positive thing? The law adjudges children too immature either to vote or be parties to contracts. Why give them more license to make personal decisions on an issue - sexual relations - that poses far greater hazards for them than the two aforementioned rights?

The only harm I can detect in the old social norms that were used to deter underage sex is that those norms may have led to some adults with somehow "unhealthy" attitudes towards sex, whatever that means. But we have that now in spades with the new norms of promiscuity and license, so I consider this cost, at worst, a wash between the old and new norms.

Plenty of secular neoconservatives are comfortable cooperating with the social conservatives, despite our overt religiosity, because they realize that we share a common goal - fewer destructive personal decisions. They also realize that using Christian values to achieve that is not going to hurt anybody, and can potentially lead to a great deal of good. Whether one worships JC, or the Cost Benefit Ratio, the outcome should be the same.

Anonymous said...

here's a review of Closer i found on a message board. it will either horrify you or amuse you, depending on whether or not you agree with that Weekly Standard piece.

"I almost barfed and fainted, Natalie Portman looked so hot in this movie spreading her legs in a g string. If ever there was a time for the internet to shine, it is now, in the simple act of releasing the excised Natalie full frontal nudity.

Oh lord, please, dear internet, grant us these pictures.

You can tell she worked out for the role, too. Her body has very wide hips compared to her slender shoulders, and she looked well proportioned in this movie, not like the nudes of her taken on the beach some years back.

The scene where Clive Owen orders her to spread her legs and pull her panties aside is so hot that I almost fucked the old woman next to me in the eye.

She's gone beyond the realm of hotness now. When it showed her stripping, you could hear the audience hold their breath. A teenage girl in the row in front of me whispered to her friend, "g o r g e o u s." I wouldn't be surprised if a handful of girls in that audience try stripping because of Portman's role.

Two old women, while leaving the theater, remarked that she was "simply stunning" and they started comparing her to old time movie stars who I didn't recognize and then they walked out of ear shot.

I wouldn't be surprised if Natalie Portman is the anti christ.

And yes, I was attracted to her in The Professional. Most normal males I've talked to admit the same thing. She's highly sexualized. Even she admits that the role was sexual."

Anonymous said...

Correct me if I'm wrong: You criticize Last, O'Reilly et al. for condemning the sexualization of underage girls on the grounds that they seem to be attracted to the stars they accuse of advancing this sexualization. I'm not sure what your point is. Would O'Reilly redeem himself to you if, instead of describing sexual shenanigans with a "gleam in his eye," he assumed a puritanical scowl? Would Last's argument hold more weight with you if he did not see the Natalie Portman movies he's criticizing?

Sorry but you really seem to be grasping at straws here. Undoubtedly if Last didn't see these films and yet condemned them, you'd be condemning him for criticizing that which he hadn't seen with his own eyes.

Anonymous said...

'The only harm I can detect in the old social norms that were used to deter underage sex is that those norms may have led to some adults with somehow "unhealthy" attitudes towards sex, whatever that means.'

First of all, what is "underage" by your definition? I will assume it's 18.

If that is the only harm you can think of that was caused by those "old societal norms" I suggest reading some William Blake or watching the "Magdalene Sisters" on DVD in order to see the documentary behind the movie to get a taste of what things were like and learn exactly "whatever that means." Any good book on sexuality would also clear up any confusion you have.

Also, pray tell which utopia was it in which "Christian values" about sex never hurt anyone or was so many degrees better than what we have now? To be a "liberal" on such an issue does not automatically prove that one supports "excess" and while we are certainly dealing with our share of problems now I prefer a society where we can discuss these things out into the open and make information readily available rather than return to the days of sex being "bad" unless one is married. In any case the state of marriage is something a of a joke now, and raising the age of consent certainly isn't going to help.

That being said I do not mind the teaching of abstinence in sex ed, as long as it is not the only option available.