Question for the European contingent regarding teenage/minor nudity
I'm aware of the more relaxed approach to sexuality and bare breasts among some European countries as compared to elsewhere in the world, but how is this viewed when it comes to teens? I've watched a few series in the past few months (e.g. Dark, Les Revenants, La Casa de Papel) that featured topless characters in the 15-17 age range participating in sex scenes, and while I knew the actors were definitely older than 18, I couldn't help feeling a little squicky since they were ostensibly portraying minors. Is this considered at all controversial? I imagine cultural factors like lower ages of consent or Romeo and Juliet laws might have some relevance here? I can't really draw on any examples besides those three series... I know that Mignonnes had its fair share of controversy in the US (despite not showing any actual nudity AFAIK) as it seemed to be a story on the sexualization of pubescent girls, but I never followed how it was received in France.
As a matter of fact, I'm interested in hearing from other parts of the world too.
First time I ever saw nice boobs was in a evening documetary show that ran dail with different topics, with the topic of that particular evening being saunas. I was like 10 I think and I vividly remember wishing for a rerun. Fun times.Also those were some really nice boobs
It's normal around here, and tbh I prefer it that way. Depictions of minors are obviously illegal, so anyone part of a serious production showing nudity is 18+ anyway, so why would I care?
I really hate this specific cultural aspect of the US. Sexuality between people doesn't start at 18, it starts way earlier. Hiding behind frigid "morality" and puritan attitudes only damages it. Comprehensive sex ed would do you lads really good.
Mignonnes in particular is problematic because it does actually show children and sexualizes them in a way I'm personally uncomfortable with, but tbh I haven't heard much discussion outside of reddit and some rage-bait youtube videos at all, it seems like the free advertising Netflix was hoping for didn't land that well around these parts.
It's a strange position, because between adults especially in bigger cities, Americans seem to be way more comfy with casual sex and hookups. I haven't seen that work that well around here, Austrian Tinder is a fucking wasteland when you're looking for hookups and nothing permanent. I've had a few convos and most chicks on there seem to be interested in longer relationships only. It seems way more focused on going to a club and trying your look there. So it's just really strange to me that American media is so puritan about it, especially because that media mostly gets produced in the more liberal parts of the US.
But this is the crucial part here that needs unraveling, personally. Why exactly are you uncomfortable with Mignonnes? I still haven't watched it myself, but my impression is that while it's covering a sensitive topic, it's telling a very relevant, contemporary story in a non-exploitative way. I think it's less that young girls are being sexualized by a show for the viewers' entertainment, and more that young girls are learning how to navigate their sexuality through mainstream culture in a manner that isn't necessarily healthy. So, is it that we're uncomfortable with the actual issue, or just the fact that it's being shown on TV? The outrage reminded me of most of the objection that was raised to coverage of race-related issues in the US over the past 40 years... it wasn't that we were appalled by the racism, we just didn't like being reminded of it.
I disagree. The dance scenes are quite directly shot in a way that sexualizes the cast of kids. This is a thin line, because I think we are supposed to be uncomfortable with it, but there are better ways to bring this point across than having a multitude of dance montages with dolled up children, the camera actually directly focusing on their asses.
Look, I don't have an issue with the topic of the movie, I don't even have a real problem with the age of the characters, though I think they could've cast kids that are a little older, I just think the point could've been brought across without sexualizing the children.
In this case, I have a problem with the execution. Talking about it is fine and good even, I think it's an incredibly important thing to talk about for people who grow up in families that are so radically different than the society they live in, it makes for an interesting plot and it's a good topic to explore. I really dislike parallel societies of any shape, so I don't have a problem with it being talked about or media being created and shown on TV, just the way it was done here.
I think a link to the specific scene would have been better than an American youtuber ranting however reasonable he must sound. For objectivity sake. I haven't seen the movie but the outrage on reddit was laughable and probably a promotion stunt.
Isn't that the whole point of the movie? To be uncomfortable and to be exposed to what some children are living through? I guess if you were a really creative director you could make the same movie with innuendoes and meta discussion but I think we need the slap in the face right know. And of course it sells better.
It's not a specific scene, there are multiple, minutes-long dance music videos with the kids performing explicit dances. I think one would've done it to get the point across, if you want to make people really uncomfortable.
In regards to the video, it was the best I could do because I'm really not going to go into hellhole of googling "Cuties - Dance compilation".
I did address this in the comment you replied to.
IIRC, the director explained she wanted to film them as they would film themselves, it's supposed to be from the point of view of the girls, and reproduce youtube/tiktok videos that they would do.
The sexualization claim especially falls short for me considering that it's written and directed by a woman. Of course women are capable of sexualizing children, but seriously. I really need to watch it first to speak any further on it though.
So long as the actresses are adults, I have no problem with it. It's story-telling. Some stories are supposed to leave us feeling uncomfortable.
I'd like to point out that this is widely different around Europe too.
Earlier this month a Danish newspaper, Ekstra Bladet, caved to pressure from the Save The Children, The Red Cross and other organizations to deal with "page 9 girls" which are, as you'd imagine, topless, sometimes fully nude women.
The issue at hand was that 1649 of these searchable, digitized, paywalled pictures were of girls under the age of 18. The newspaper shot models ages 15+, in line with sexual consent laws in the country, in the 1970s and until 2003 (!)
Some of the pictures had captions with things like "schoolgirl, age 15) and with significant text. Things like:
The pictures were circulated on child porn forums around the web. The newspaper said they may have been "too naive" in not realizing the pictures, which at the time weren't "problematic" would be misused.
Now the pictures weren't removed. They had parts blurred and are still available for subscribers to Extra Bladet to see.
That has caused controversy. Some of the girls photographed have said things like "it was a different time. I enjoyed it!" others have condemned the whole deal and said they had no way of knowing the consequences of this material.
When the story reached the rest of Scandinavia, there's been outrage that something like this would happen. I believe several Danish newspapers still run full-page or almost full-page nude women in print every day. That idea seems bizarre to Norwegians and Swedes.
However, if you go to a beach at a tourist trap in the Mediterranean and see adult mothers in their 50s or older, sunbathing topless, you wouldn't have bad odds guessing they were Swedish or Norwegian. If they're younger, you'd probably be better off guessing they're from Eastern Europe.
[Two articles in Danish on the newspaper story: 1 2]
I've seen this in England, too. I've never really understood the appeal. Who wants to be sitting on the subway getting aroused and having a bunch of people around you who know exactly what you're looking at and thinking what a sleaze bag you are? I mean I know there are exhibitionists who get off on that sort of thing, but that doesn't account for the vast majority of people who buy the paper.
I grew up with these page 3 girls in tabloids and honestly I didn't think anything sleazy about it and nobody else really did either AFAIK. But I actually think it's a problem people say what you are saying here because that's making it something it shouldn't be. Looking at naked people is and have always been fascination and I've always been proud of how normalized it's been where I'm from. I think by showing naked people in other situations than porn (maybe page 3 isn't the best example here I'll admit) and also in educational situations is crucial for this. I remember seeing a naked man and woman in an educational program in school when I was around 13 I think and they talked about puberty, sex and bodies in general while showing it. Of course we giggled as preteens do but it was really helpful too and not at all weird. My mom was always topless at the beach and I'm used to see both of my parents naked after a shower or changing. Couple that with showering together with my friends after football practice it normalized the naked body and made it not a big deal because it wasn't sexualized. I know some people doesn't have the same experience but I think it was a really important part of growing up and accepting my own body and it has made me someone that can appreciate the naked body for what it is and look right through porn and sexualized content.
I get what you're saying and agree, but the pictures I'm referring to were specifically for the purpose of sexualizing the models. This isn't a person reading a medical manual on the subway. It's a person looking at soft core porn.
That can’t be right. They didn’t understand that people would use topless and nude photos of 15+ girls as sexual material? Nobody is that naive, so what was the point of the photos then? “Art” I’m sure...
American expat living in Hungary here ... this is just my own anecdotal experience, but I talked about this with several people, maybe even a dozen, who were born and raised here.
Age of consent for sex here in Hungary is 14. Legal drinking age is 18. Legal smoking age is 18.
I actually spent several weeks (months?) asking everyone I knew what was a) the age of consent, and 2) what was the legal drinking age, here in Hungary.
The thing that struck me as absolutely bizarre was not the actual age, but the fact that nobody knew. I generally had to explain what "age of consent" meant. Everyone has strong moral and/or religious feelings about what is the appropriate age, but the idea that there are actual laws enforcing a specific age ... that was something that barely even crossed anyone's mind. Here it seems, everyone just grows up and starts having sex when they start having sex. Same thing with alcohol; everyone just kind of wings it from personal life experience, about when it is okay for the kids to start drinking.
The second thing that really struck me as wild ... One of my follow-up questions was, okay, if you don't know what the "legal" age of consent is, then what do you think is the right age for people to start having sex? And almost everyone, just going by their "gut", their own personal moral views ... they almost all picked the actual, legal age of consent.
And not just casually, either. Most of the people I asked, they felt perfectly comfortable with the idea of 14 year olds having sex, but the thought of a 13 year old, that evoked that same squicky "oooh, that's-not-right" kind of feeling for them, that we Americans get about under-18 activity.
I finally got the legal drinking age from a friend who works in an alcohol & tobacco store, and even she had to think about it for a couple of minutes, because no one cares.
But if you sell cigarettes to a 17 year old, they will hang you by your balls.
It's actually similar here in germany. Germans have a reputation of being by-the-rules, which does apply here too. We tend to be a tad more aware of the laws, but I still think there's wide cultural agreement that your own judgement calls are warranted. For example, the law explicitly forbids the sale of beer and wine to anyone 15 and under and the sale of other alcoholic beverages to anyone 17 and under. It also explicitly permits those sales if the minor's caregiver is present. Which is interestingly representative of my point: We value rules and we value judgement calls, so there's a rule that legitimizes judgement calls.
Regarding the age of consent, it's apparently 14, but with many protections for a minor in case of an age gap. Interestingly, a complaint from the minor is required, so a parent can't just decide to punish the partner of their kid. If the kid says it was fine, it was fine.
Additionally, as far as my reading goes, the law that regulates the age of consent (penal code - StGB) also declares anyone 13 and under to be a priori incapable of being guilty, so criminal law does not get involved at all in the case of similar-in-age preteens. Though I suspect our CPS could still want to get involved. Which is weird, because it makes a 13-14 couple quite the big no-no, at least legally, when 14-20 is perfectly fine and 13-13 is "cool" too... I would class that as an unintended side effect, considering 13-13 isn't really legalized.
And yes, we will hang you by the balls too if you sell cigarettes to minors. As far as I know, they send secret shoppers to inspect if e.g. gas stations comply. Which is good, because tobacco consumption can go die in a dousing rain for all I care.
This is so strange, because I don't think this cultural attitude stops US teens from having sex around those same ages.
I'm from Sweden and like the Danes in the thread our age of consent is 15 - that said obviously a 15 year old can't do sexwork like selling nudes of themselves for example.
Personally I don't mind about it in movies. I mind if the actors are being mistreated or if no considerations are made to their young age. I don't know at all what that was like in the movie Cuties/Mignonnes but as long as they actually realized that they where working with children and did the correct leg work during production I don't mind.
And tbh its a tad odd that the focus is the subject and not the people in reality. I guess in some way its Puritanism (which the US isn't alone in, but very clearly a part of as an ideal) but that too can shift. Take the excellent song "Drop" by Big Freedia and the video for it which has kid dancers in it and could be seen as sexualized. But in the context of music perhaps it divorced from that same outrage? Plus the justifications in the replies underneath the video of some pan-african historical spirit that is present because most of the dancers are black?
Or the now almost classic gag of someones kid doing a video search for "how to do the wap dance" and the adult rushes in to snatch the phone (which as a song would be insanely silly if it wasn't for the fact that the idea that women are horny AF too is still a bit left field (also can I just say that the line "park that big mac truck right in this tiny garage" is probably the greatest euphemism ever sung?)). Kids mimic life, they mimic everything even displays of adult sexuality part by seeing that it creates a set response or has value for adults and part because sexuality is a thing even for kids and around 12-13 its basically a mess of crashing social concepts and personal sensations.
Now as for sex scenes between teenagers... well I mean, I don't wanna see that I think. Granted I think movie sex scenes are pointless nine times out of ten and find them pretty annoying more than anything. Its just not my jam. If someone gets horny watching a 14 year old simulate sex then... well its not much I can do about that and it doesn't harm anyone.
EDIT the Local (Sweden) the magazine in English for foreigners had an article about why Swedes never draw their curtains. The article touches a bit on this too when it came to sex. That people here don't draw their curtains for those things either and that the weight lies on those seeing something to look away or ignore it. Maybe that plays in to my opinion of it? That sex is something that happens and that as long as no one actually gets hurt, no harm no foul?
It happens in American movies too though. I unfortunately found out that an actresses in American Beauty was 14 when she went topless in a scene.
But to answer your post properly, I am from Denmark and while we are not as puritan as the US we are heavily influenced by American culture, so despite the age of consent being 15 (or 16, I don't know?), people do find it creepy when under-18s are sexualized.
Thora Birch was 16 at the time (not relevant really but just FYI, had to look it up)
Do you still feel "squicky" if the actors are portraying 18-year-olds?
Not really, as that age is recognized practically everywhere as legal adulthood. Having said that, nothing about the obsession with "barely legal" 18-year-olds in the adult industry is the slightest bit appealing to me.
My qualms aren't so much about mid-to-late teenagers having sex so much as the idea of me watching mid-to-late teens having sex. I've been trying to figure out exactly why, and I keep coming back to the idea that there's an order of difference between agreeing to engage in sexual activity (which one could reasonably be prepared to decide on at age 15) and agreeing to be filmed nude or doing sexual acts for mass distribution (which can be a tricky issue even at 25). Maybe I have some proxy resistance to that kind of advantage possibly being taken, even when I know intellectually that it's untrue.