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Sci-fi’s troubling trope of serving up hot adult women with the minds of children

Photo: Walt Disney Pictures
Photo: Walt Disney Pictures

There’s perhaps been a tickle in the back of your mind while watching sci-fi, a tiny, distant voice asking, “Hey, why are these aliens and sentient science experiments, like, immediately hooking up with the first guy they see?” YouTuber Jonathan McIntosh also asked himself that question, and on his Pop Culture Detective YouTube channel, he’s compiled his thoughts in a thoughtful, provocative video essay entitled “Born Sexy Yesterday.”

According to McIntosh, the Born Sexy Yesterday phenomenon depicts the running trope in sci-fi and adjacent films that pairs lonely, forlorn dudes with female characters that carry the “mind of a child” in a “mature female body.” Using numerous examples from movies like Tron: Legacy, The Fifth Element, Splash, Enchanted, Forbidden Planet (and pretty much any other sci-fi film from the ’50s), the video outlines how these characters cater to a male fantasy of innocence and sexual purity, the kind that places the man in a place of power to represent “the ultimate teacher-student dynamic.” By being the only man in the lives of these women, the protagonists of these films “automatically become the most extraordinary man” in her life. The video also explores how the trope functions when the gender roles are reversed or when both genders find themselves in a similar state of “innocence.”

It’s not as if the trope has gone anywhere, as last year’s Passengers is probably the most recent example. As we previously noted, however, it wouldn’t have taken much for that movie to subvert this issue.

[via Gizmodo]

Note: Gizmodo, like The A.V. Club, is owned by Univision Communications.

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