This was unexpected. A mere coincidence or a Jungian synchronicity involving the Kore archetype?

I was in the city yesterday; visiting the NGV, browsing bookshops and as I flicked through an edition of Purple magazine featuring Chloe Sevigny I noticed that one of the shots of Chloe featured two of Garry Gross’s controversial photos of the young Brooke Shields.

The photos were taken by Terry Richardson, the bad boy of fashion photography. Richardson is intentionally provocative and both Purple and Chloe Sevigny are noted for their transgression (perhaps more on this later). I was somewhat surprised to see the images reproduced but shrugged my shoulders and walked away, thinking that it was very like Richardson. I gave it no more thought.

That is, not until I was flicking through my digital TV program guide and noticed that ABC2 was going to show Pretty Baby at 8:30 that same night. This was a genuine surprise. Given the current concern over the sexualization of children I would have thought the ABC would have judiciously chosen to avoid screening this film (it could not be made today). In any case I expected it to be heavily cut, especially considering that it had been given a M rating (the highest rating for TV is M15+).

The next surprise was to discover that it seems not to be have been cut much at all. I can’t be sure. The last time I saw the film was back when it had been released and my memory of it has since faded. I do vaguely remember that Brooke appeared in a full frontal nude scene, although I had confused it with a famous photograph of Natassja Kinski taken by Richard Avedon.

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3 Responses to Pretty Baby Revisited

  1. Ron says:

    “Pretty Baby” seems to have become a catch-phrase for the controversy of children in art. There have even been some museum exhibitions with that theme most notably one in Ft. Worth Texas in 2007. One of the intriguing things about the film is the great deal of pomp behind the honor of deflowering the virgin. I can’t remember where but I get the impression that the industry consensus of when girls are old enough to go into the business is 12. This detail was brought out in this Louis Malle film based loosely on the noted photographer, Bellocq who was fond of documenting the lives of the brothel girls in New Orleans. Maybe one of the other examples was Kurosawa’s ‘Red Beard’, a storyline based on Dostoevsky’s ‘Nell’.

    • Ray says:

      At the time the age of consent was indeed 12. In the film she marries Bellocq – this was perfectly legal under both state and church law at the time. The age of consent was gradually raised in the US mostly in the early 20th Century, with some Southern states dragging their heals until the latter half of the 20th century.

  2. john clark says:

    it was common ,at the time, to be married at the age of twelve and normally it happend with a girl to an older man (in his mid thirties) because he had money and was able to care for her. The men did it for many different reasons but the most common reasons were because he was friends with the girls family or he recently devorced and wanted a young wife.

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