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#438712 - 06/20/13 09:42 AM "Rambling Rose" 14yo boy sex scene -exploitation?
SoccerStar Offline
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Registered: 10/15/12
Posts: 915
Loc: New York
A political blog I read brought up the mainstream comedy / drama film "Rambling Rose" as an example of the double standard around depictions of adult/child sex when it's a grown woman with an underaged boy, as compared to vice-versa.

The film is somewhat notorious for a sex scene between Laura Dern, then 24, playing 19, and Lukas Haas, then 14, playing 13, and looking more like 12. Dern's character doesn't seduce Haas's - he is shown as eagerly instigating it while she is puzzled and skeptical that he'd even know what to do.

(Possible TRIGGERS: Haas prolongedly gropes Dern's breasts - for real, though mostly hidden by a blanket. He then simulates fingering her while she very realistically simulates orgasm).

Now.... with real people in real life, in and of itself, I don't think such interactions, if desired at the time and not regretted / pathological later, count as abuse - though they do contribute to the "lucky dog" cultural conceit.

But what makes the whole matter vastly more creepy is the attitude of the filmmakers. Because this isn't a boy with a woman, it's a boy ACTOR:

Quote:
When director Martha Coolidge made the offbeat comedy-drama Rambling Rose, the production company had a lot of questions about how she was going to handle a key scene with a 14-year-old boy in bed with a sexually ablaze woman of 19. Executives at Carolco, the movie company, worried about how much of the intimacy between these characters would be shown.

Tending on the side of discreet suggestion, Coolidge handles that moment of forbidden contact between actors Laura Dern and Lukas Haas with delicacy and wisdom. The filmgoer knows exactly what is going on from the actors` facial expressions, protests, moans and covert actions...

The innocence of Haas, 14, was a prime concern of the filmmakers, though Coolidge adds, ``He`s a pretty sophisticated boy, though not an experienced young man. But he`s a smart guy who has been to a lot of movies. Lukas was sort of the perfect age to play the part of Buddy. It was important not to have a child, because the scene would have been unpleasant. It was also important not to have a man, because the scene would have meant something else.``

Capitalizing on the actor`s curiosity about sex, Coolidge says, ``Lukas knows that acting is living. He has made 25 movies. His great gift in Rambling Rose is that he shared something important, his first experience with sex, with the audience. Yet the whole scene is an illusion, except when he touches Laura`s breasts.``



Now that... THAT is creepy. That strikes me as sexual exploitation - specifically wanting the performance of the onscreen boy to be more passionate or wherever because it really was Haas's first time getting to second base, and the viewers are "sharing that" with him. That just reads all kinds of wrong. Haas later said in an interview that while in a way he was proud to be seen as not just an innocent little boy anymore, the scene had been very difficult to shoot and he'd just wanted to get it over with.

And when you think of what a boy feels the first time he's doing that, but now with him knowing he's being watched and filmed and judged, expected to control himself and go only from A to B and no further - show himself liking it but not TOO MUCH, and remaining poised and hitting his lines... yeah, I'll just bet he wanted the whole thing done with.

Am I over analyzing this or was this legitimately Hollywood crossing a line?

(Compare to the film "Milk Money," where young boys pay for a hooker and giggle a lot but are never once shown touching her.)


Matt
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#438721 - 06/20/13 11:29 AM Re: "Rambling Rose" 14yo boy sex scene -exploitation? [Re: SoccerStar]
FormerTexan Offline
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Another movie that comes to mind along this same line of thought is the 1981 film Private Lessons, starring Syliva Krystel. She is better known as the "star" of the Emanuelle movies, which are nothing more than soft-core porn (or soft-pore corn, depending on your perspective).

Private Lessons is a horrible excuse for a comedy, attempting to show that a grown woman doing anything sexual with a boy is worth some laughs, and in the end a fulfilling experience for the boy.
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#438725 - 06/20/13 01:00 PM Re: "Rambling Rose" 14yo boy sex scene -exploitation? [Re: SoccerStar]
SoccerStar Offline
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Loc: New York
^ "Private Lessons", from 1981, was one of the examples mentioned by a purportedly 17yo student in a 2013 episode of "Glee" as to why it's totally cool that one of his male classmates at age 11 was molested by a teenaged girl. Scripting-plausibility FAIL on top of the other FAIL.

I'd actually never seen that movie, but looking it up, the male lead was 17 playing 15. And apparently he was startled and scared by her advances in multiple scenes, with her really having to seduce and "conquer" him. Even so, I think it's less icky because at 17 he was more likely to have already had normal consensual experiences and I am not aware of the producers of that film hyping as a virtue the voyeurism of watching a real boy having his actual real first sexual experience onscreen.

Ghghggh....
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#438882 - 06/22/13 11:09 AM Re: "Rambling Rose" 14yo boy sex scene -exploitation? [Re: SoccerStar]
BraveFalcon Offline
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Hi Matt. I remember seeing this movie shortly after it came out on VHS. I had totally forgotten about it because it's been so long. I don't think I watched the whole movie but I do remember the sex scene and I remember it making me very uncomfortable for some of the reasons you bring up here. Not to mention the fact that I was watching that movie with my mom, which made it even more uncomfortable. I don't remember what my mom said but I do remember her being bothered by the scene for the very fact that Hass was still just a kid actor being put in that position. I think she said something to the effect of "Who would let their kid be in a movie like this?" I agreed with her at the time but now, as a full grown adult, I agree even more.

Originally Posted By: SoccerStar
A political blog I read brought up the mainstream comedy / drama film "Rambling Rose" as an example of the double standard around depictions of adult/child sex when it's a grown woman with an underaged boy, as compared to vice-versa.


As you all know, this double standard is an issue I've gone on about ad nauseum here in the past. However, in fairness to Hollywood, the subject of an underage kid seducing an adult has been done the other way around before. There have been two "Lolita" movies made, one in 1962 and one in 1997, in which a 14 year old character, (played by an older actress), seduces a middle aged man. I haven't actually seen either movie but I've read enough about it to know that the two are depicted as having a sexual relationship and that the relationship is not necessarily portrayed as abuse.

Originally Posted By: SoccerStar
[Now.... with real people in real life, in and of itself, I don't think such interactions, if desired at the time and not regretted / pathological later, count as abuse - though they do contribute to the "lucky dog" cultural conceit.


I can half agree with this. First of all, let me say that I don't think sexual interactions between two people in real life, one in which an underage child is the sexual aggressor with an adult who did not solicit or encourage the child's behavior in any way, is a very realistic scenario. I'm not going to say it never happens, but I think it would be pretty rare.

If and when it does happen, I still think, in real life, it would always be the adult's responsibility to say "no" to the child's advances. If the adult did not say "no" and allowed a sexual encounter to take place, I would still see it as abuse to some degree, although not to the degree that I would when an adult sneaks into a child's room and fondles them while they lay there like a deer in headlights. It would still not be ok, but it would be different.

Also, I think that any adult who would allow a sexual encounter to take place with a sexually aggressive child would have to be an incredibly weak and screwed-up person. Perhaps not a "bad" person necessarily, but a dysfunctional one for sure. Oh, and I think that standard applies equally and evenly, regardless of the genders of the parties involved. The genders could be interchangeable and the relationship could be hetero or homosexual and I would still say the same thing. So, to me, the "lucky dog" cultural conceit is kind of a moot point in such a scenario.

Originally Posted By: SoccerStar
But what makes the whole matter vastly more creepy is the attitude of the filmmakers. Because this isn't a boy with a woman, it's a boy ACTOR:


Agreed. This is the real problem I have with it. For me, watching that scene was, in a very real sense, like watching soft-core kiddie porn. I'm not sure how the people who make such films get away with it. I've had the same thoughts when I've seen movies that have scenes containing children who are naked. "Desperate Living" and "Roommates" are two such films I can think of off the top of my head. In "Desperate Living", a boy and a girl who both appear to be about 7 or 8 are seen nude playing doctor and in "Roommates", a boy who appears to be 6 or 7 gets out of a bathtub and is quickly wrapped in a towel. Both of those scenes seem relatively innocuous when viewed but they still contained child actors who had to get naked in front of a room full of people and be filmed that way. For that very reason, those scenes made me uneasy and left me wondering how the child actors involved felt about it.

On a side note, I have to admit that it's difficult for me to reconcile the problems I have with these films with my fairly ardent anti-censorship beliefs. These issues definitely go into some pretty uncomfortable grey areas and raise questions that I don't know the answer to. It is a good topic though and I'm glad you posted this. Peace,

Ken


Edited by BraveFalcon (06/22/13 04:15 PM)

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#438940 - 06/23/13 12:08 AM Re: "Rambling Rose" 14yo boy sex scene -exploitation? [Re: BraveFalcon]
focusedbody Offline


Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 335
Loc: NY
Originally Posted By: BraveFalcon
However, in fairness to Hollywood, the subject of an underage kid seducing an adult has been done the other way around before. There have been two "Lolita" movies made, one in 1962 and one in 1997, in which a 14 year old character, (played by an older actress), seduces a middle aged man. I haven't actually seen either movie but I've read enough about it to know that the two are depicted as having a sexual relationship and that the relationship is not necessarily portrayed as abuse.


Brave Falcon:

Not sure that she seduced the older man as much as flirted. This which activates his obsession, which is probably due to his latent adolescent insecurities as alluded to by Nabokov in the novel.

Soccer Star:

Hollywood gives life and imagination to stories. Among the actor's occupational skills is distinguishing between the fiction they are playing and the reality of life. Actors want to portray as much truth in their performance as possible. In serving the story they will do whatever it takes to make art true to life. Ultimately any experience of destructive exploitation depends on their ability to be clear and confident about who they are to themselves first and foremost. Those making the film need to take responsibility to see that the underage actor is capable of that.

It sounds like Haas had a pretty good idea of the above. One thing that is different about the staged nature of his "sexual" experience is that he ultimately has control over what is happening. This is different from abusive real life encounters that lack inherent reality checks or any understood ability to say no.

As you point out, none of the above does much for giving the lucky dog scenario some needed perspective, however.

Focused
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#438944 - 06/23/13 01:00 AM Re: "Rambling Rose" 14yo boy sex scene -exploitation? [Re: SoccerStar]
SoccerStar Offline
Member
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Registered: 10/15/12
Posts: 915
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: BraveFalcon

I've had the same thoughts when I've seen movies that have scenes containing children who are naked.... they still contained child actors who had to get naked in front of a room full of people and be filmed that way. For that very reason, those scenes made me uneasy and left me wondering how the child actors involved felt about it.


Brooke Shields, who was something like 14 when she spent nearly all of "Blue Lagoon" full-frontal naked, later said she had been made so uncomfortable being seen for so long as a sex object that she didn't allow herself to have any intimate relationships until she was 22.

By far the most bizarre example of this sort of Hollywood mainstreaming of child nudity was the well-respected big-studio film "1900," starring Robert DeNiro and Gerard Depardieu. They're supposed to be lifelong friends. Lifelong very VERY close friends. I watched it as an optional "background material" part of the curriculum for a college history course and seriously could not believe my eyes. I felt like I'd be put on a list for renting it.

TRIGGERS

At the very beginning of the film, DeNiro's and Depardieu's younger selves, played by two boy actors who can't have been an hour over 11, get so friendly with each other that they strip completely naked, stroke themselves to erection and compare erection sizes. Full-frontal and real and for quite some time. No, really. I almost thought the film had been tampered with, spliced, but I looked it up and it's actually supposed to be in the film, people note that it's there and I've not yet found cases of anybody complaining about it. What must have gone into the scene direction that day boggles the imagination.
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#439405 - 06/27/13 10:12 PM . [Re: SoccerStar]
JoeSmith Offline


Registered: 05/03/13
Posts: 129
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