Pretty Baby

A 12-year-old Brooke Shields appears naked in Pretty Baby. In the context of the film, the nude scenes do not appear to be designed to appeal to prurient interests; rather, they seem to be either ‘nudes’ in the classical sense, or realistic portrayals of how people do things. But I don’t get off on 12-year-olds, so naturally I would not see anything offensive or sexually arousing in the scenes.

Still, there are people out there who do like little girls. To me, the scenes are ‘art’. To these other people, they are sources of sexual gratification. In other words, the scenes do appeal to prurient interests of a small segment of society. Given that many of our laws are based on the least common denominator, it seems to me that these scenes must be considered child pornography. (IIRC, there is no sexual contact depicted – basically a classical nude pose, and Shields running to a door.) If Louis Malle made the film today, they’d lock him up and put him on a list.

I know the film was controversial nearly 30 years ago, but it was still released and seems to have passed the censorship/legal muster. Today though, laws are much more strict. Why haven’t people (recently) tried to have it banned?

Simply because no matter how many photo clerks get hysterical and start confiscating pictures, the depiction of nudity of minors is not in any way child pornography.

My memory tells me that most of those state cases were later thrown out as well.

Has there ever been a movie which once played in theatres that’s now banned? I think you’re generally given more leeway if the media in question is thought to have artist merit. Pretty Baby being interminably long and boring probably qualifies.

IIRC, The Tin Drum was banned in Oklahoma for a time and video copies were confiscated. Video stores were made to ( or at least it was attempted to make them) turn over lists of people who bought or rented the film.

Heh, sounds pretty Orwellian seeing as the renters presumably though the film was kosher. Interesting.

If you’re going to classify every nude image of a child as pornography, why stop there? Why not pictures of kids in bathing suits? Pedos get their r0xx0rs off on those too. Why not ban pictures of tight, bun-hugging shorts? Karate and boy scout uniforms? Hell, sometimes I find a picture of a woman in a turtleneck sweater incredibly sexy. Why not just ban every photographic image of a child, just because some sicko might jerk off to it?

I’ll tell you why…it’s because kiddy porn laws are NOT designed to punish pedophiles, they are designed to protect children. Period. That’s why the so-called “virtual porn” law was overturned; if no child was involved in its production, no child was harmed, and therefore no law was broken.

Well, the nude shots of Brooke shields were in an overtly sexual setting, as I recall. She was a child living in a whorehouse or something, and starting to explore her sexuality. I seem to recall a full-frontal nude shot of her lounging on a sofa or something that seemed pretty obviously seductive at the time. It’s been years and years since I saw that movie, so I might have misremembered, but it wasn’t exactly Brooke playing duckie in the bathtub.

I suspect they could do this because the movie was seen as ‘art’.

Actually, there was a shot of her nude about to have her virginity auctioned off, which was clear in a sexual context. But there was no actual sex portrayed.

The Tin Drum had a scene where Oskar was playing clearly sexual games – licking her nude form – but in the context of the film, Oskar was an adult (though the actor who played him was a child). Again, no sex portrayed, though very erotically charged.

Someone once referred to this thinking as “perverts rules”: that it means the the sickest and most perverted person available is the model for what’s good and what’s bad. It is rediculous. People get turned on by the most bizarre things imaginable, and it’s wrong to ban the portrayal of that because of that. If people get off on horses, should we ban “Black Beauty”? Or consider that some transsexual porn depicts women forcibly making men wear women’s clothes: does this mean we ban Mozart because of a scene portraying this in The Marriage of Figaro?

Of course not.

Well, there were those porno films made by the actress who wasn’t actually 18 yet…

I’d give her name, but I don’t recall it right now.

Tracy Lords.

Not quite. It was in Oklahoma County, not the entire state of Oklahoma. You can read a timeline here. An Oklahoma County district court judge declared in 1997 that some scenes of The Tin Drum were in violation of Oklahoma’s child pronography law. The Oklahoma City Police Department then seized video rental copies of the movie. However, a federal judge invalidated the ruling, and found the seizures illegal, in 1998.

The former porn actress is Traci Lords.

The Katharine Hepburn character in The Philadelphia Story is Tracy Lord.

Don’t feel bad. Everybody gets this wrong. :slight_smile:

Not C K Dexter Haven, I’ll bet! :slight_smile:

Hmmph. Him? He’s a nobody. :smiley:

But Doper Tracy Lord is very nice, I’m sure.

I seem to recall reading in a magazine at the time that Brooke wore a nude body stocking for her scenes, so she wasn’t actually naked - for what it’s worth.

Not according to the IMDB (which has been known to be wrong).

She wore a body stocking in one scene with several other actors. But for two other scenes, when Keith Carradine is photographing her alone, she is unquestionably nude.

I saw the movie once on Encore or one of those other premium channels. My initial reaction was something like, “Holy crap, how can this not be kiddie porn?” It’s not just a few brief glimpses of Shields frolicking innocently in the nude – she’s full frontal nekkid in several scenes, in an obviously erotic context. Well, obviously it’s not legally child porn or it sure as heck wouldn’t have been on Encore, but it was still disturbing and, to use a highly technical term, just oogy.

I think what bothered me most was that any filmmaker would subject a child to that kind of exposure. Yes, I’m sure her parents had to agree to it (which is even more amazing), but it still reeks of sheer exploitation. You can make a movie that deals with a disturbing subject like child prostitution without asking actual children to parade around naked for the camera. IIRC, there are no explicit sex scenes in the movie (even between adults), but that doesn’t prevent the viewer from realizing that we’re watching a movie set in a whorehouse, where sex is obviously going on behind the scenes. Similarly, we didn’t have to see a naked little girl to realize that her character was a prostitute having sex with adult men. Since the subject matter did not require Shields to be depicted that way, it seems to have been done merely for shock value and to get attention for the movie, to say nothing of the automatic appeal to the prurient.

I would find it very difficult to respect any filmmaker who treats a child actor like that, regardless of her parents’ consent or the quality of the film itself. (Which wasn’t all that impressive either.)

Well, Louis Malle has a special dispensation – it wasn’t the first time he made a thoughtful movie on a subject that most people would find offensive. After all, Le Souffle au Couer was a charming comedy about incest and Lacombe, Lucien had as its hero a Nazi collaborator. And while Pretty Baby isn’t quite as good as those two, it’s quite similar in theme and is overall a pretty good film.

Back in 1978, BTW, people were not as offended by the subject in the same way as they are now. Child porn was not the issue it is today, partly because most people didn’t know it existed and did not see the film in that context. The only protests at the time were from the people who objected to any film that showed nudity, but no one brought up the child porn angle until much later.

Oh, there certainly were discussions of the child porn angle in the press at the time.