Elmo In Grouchland: Is Vanessa Williams overly suggestive here?

This video is a scene from a children’s movie called ‘Elmo In Grouchland’. Vanessa Williams is the queen of Trash. This scene is her first appearance in the film.

Anyway, I am involved in an argument with someone on a parenting messageboard currently. She posted the link to the scene and pointed to it as a perfect example of sexualization of women subtly marketed to little girls, and remarked that she wasn’t sure if she would allow her child to watch it. When people generally responded (politely) that she was overreacting, the woman responded by remarking that we were all prime examples of how sexist society has truly “become”, and that she was definitely not allowing her daughter to watch the tape again. I think she’s ridiculous, but otherwise I like her, so I am trying to be nice.

But I have decided to post it here, as you people are generally pretty perceptive, and you can pick out things I am missing. Do you think her appearance or behavior is overly suggestive? I have watched this video 100 times and cannot for the life of me see what she is talking about.

Mods: I really wasn’t sure if this belonged in Cafe Society, since a movie is involved, or IMHO since this is essentially a poll. Sorry if I chose badly. :slight_smile:

I don’t see anything overly-suggestive. I mean, Vanessa Williams is undeniably an attractive woman, so that may color someone’s impression of what they are seeing, but I don’t think VW is doing anything untoward or inappropriate. I would let my daughter see that, no prob.

Well, like the song says, it’s “about your point of view.” But I sure don’t see anything offensive, and her lyrics do talk about finding the beauty in things regardless of how they look, which is hardly an inappropriate message. Moreover, she is extremely well covered (hardly any decolletage) and none of her dancing has a sexual component. Now, the way Elmo is looking at her, on the other hand…

Seriously, I feel pity for the child of the woman who thinks this scene is a problem. What is she going to do, wrap her child in duct tape to prevent her any exposure to the world? 'Cuz if she doesn’t, her child will see things far more explicit than this on a fairly regular basis.


I’m definitely figuring out who my time zone peers are! :wink:

It depends on how she approaches her objection. The Vanessa Williams character in this scene is certainly presenting an archetype of a female with power – and that power is undeniably bound up in her being sexy. Inherent in the traditional images of female power has long been sexiness and its assumed cognate, their fertility/ability to care for and protect what is theirs. And she seems to me to be presenting her character through the lens of that particular (if you like) goddess archetype – her interpretation is clearly influenced by notions of Woman as Mother, certainly not the Maiden or the Crone.

Our society tends to see mothers as sexless but this has by no means always been the case. So I disagree that this is some kind of new depiction of female power; on the contrary, when I saw it first it struck me as a very old image of a woman with power.

My own take is that the interpretation of adult women with power that integrates their sexuality is healthier than the modern one which separates it out and assigns sexiness exclusively to young girls or “bad” or powerless women. However it must be said that men with power are not typically viewed with an eye to their sexiness, in this film or elsewhere. To that extent I suppose it is sexist, and it does sexualize women’s power.

I think the mom may be letting her knowledge of Williams’ past color her perceptions.

Her first appearance emphasises her figure, and her clothing is partially transparent.

Admittedly, she isn’t putting anything on display that you don’t see every day, but there is a little hint of sexiness in it all.

I don’t think it’s anything to get worked up about, of course, but I can certainly see why a conservative person might not like it much.

This is a really good film, by the way, Mandy Patinkin is very funny.

That's a large part of it. If I imagine seeing this with my grandmother's eyes, there is a voluptuous female figure highlit by silhouette using a filmy accessory in a manner reminiscent of striptease. By today's standards that may be modest decolletage, but it isn't demure. Further, she's articulating her hips at least as much as Elvis, a scandal back in the day.

…where “the day” is defined as Asia and the ME, perhaps?

One of us completely misunderstood Sophistry and Illusion, though it could have been me.

I think your debating opponent was scandalized by that opening shot, where we only see Vanessa through her diaphanous veil. That does look like she might very well be naked behind there… somewhat of a “dance of a thousand veils” effect.

However, that would whizz right over the head of a child, and it is for children that this movie is intended. No harm, no foul, IMHO.

Yeah; sorry. I meant that I’m typically on-line when all the furriners are. And I just finished posting in the other thread that I’m a good writer. :smack:

'Peers not. Hopefully density doesn’t negate my point.

I don’t see it. And I was really looking.

Good insight, Marienee.

Williams is sexy, for sure. But not sexual. I don’t think there is anything wrong with being sexy, so I don’t see a problem. I’d bet money the woman writing is uncomfortable with her own sexuality and is projecting.

This. There is nothing objectionable in that scene whatsoever, and I was looking hard for something to jump out at me. Williams dancing if anything was very restrained to me. She looked (from a grownup’s perspective) as if she wanted to do some spins and hops, etc, but had dialed it WAY back for the audience. Her hip movements were nothing more than swaying to the tune, and anyone who argues that is unacceptable for children has issues.

There’s always the issue of “what if your little daughter starts imitating what she sees on the screen?” And this is more than just individual prudery. In this day and age of pedophile paranoia, your daughter doing a “sexy” dance in front of strangers might well bring a visit from the police, Social Services, or both, and even the tiniest whiff of suspicion can taint a whole family forever.

That’s definitely not appropriate for the kids! :eek:

I find this a little over the top, though I don’t live in the US any more and I could be out of touch. But considering what else is on the TV, I rather doubt that a child doing what amounts to a belly dance or the hula would garner a call to the gendarmes or even so much as a raised eyebrow.

Well, true, you’re right, I’m over-reacting. The dance Vanessa does is not going to get anyone in trouble. I have a tendency towards “topic drift” sometimes and I think I was imagining something more like how Britney Spears dances.

LOL, true, but it would be a trip to the beach they’re never forget… :stuck_out_tongue: