by Doctor Science
Ever make a connection between two ideas, and now you're not sure they're *really* connected, but you can't unconnect them in your brain? And part of you thinks, "brain, you are weird and disturbing, it's just a coincidence, shut up", and another part thinks "but look at how they match! disturbingly!"
And the third part says, Let's post it to the Internet!
As I was compiling Avengers reviews for my last post and its forthcoming sequel, I noticed an article about a movie called Moonrise Kingdom by Wes Anderson. Not having heard of it before, I watched the trailer:
I was expecting stylized, auteur-ish humor plus romance. What was unexpected and disturbing was that the romance is between two 12-year-olds, Sam and Suzy, and that the girl looks like this:
In 1965. While she's on vacation with her family to an island in Maine. Here's how she stands out among the rest of the characters in the poster:
Now, in 1965 at least, that level of eye make-up on a 12-year-old was scandalously inappropriate in any setting other than "practicing putting on mom's makeup in the bathroom or with your giggling friends." Some 12-year-old girls did manage to get out the front door wearing it, but they were definitely *not* doing so to meet 12-year-old boys. No, they were looking for older boys, if not indeed for grown men.
In the poster, Suzy (played by Kara Hayward, who was actually twelve at the time) looks creepily seductive, like a succubus. Or, of course, like Lolita:
By this point I'm starting to get a really creeped-out feeling about Moonrise Kingdom: as though Suzy is supposed to be Lolita and we (the audience) are supposed to like that idea unreservedly. I decide to find some reviews and see that they think. Since Variety did a good job with Avengers, I head over there, to find Peter Debruge saying:
Suzy proves somewhat less practical, packing several hardcover library books, a battery-powered record player and her pet kitten for the adventure.So I guess excessive makeup is supposed to be part of her characterization, but in a way that doesn't make sense if you try to imagine the person inside the character. It seems as though my gut reaction is right, and Moonrise Kingdom is coming from Sam's POV, not Suzy's. In fact, she sounds like a perfect example of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl:
Opposite Sam's ugly duckling, Suzy is already a swan: She listens to French pop and paints her eyes a la Sophia Loren, suggesting the type of girl who'd be running with leather-jacket high-school boys in real life, rather than indulging an awkward, nearsighted daydreamer.
Anderson recently told the New York Times that the girl who inspired Suzy's character was never even aware of his affections, and that explains a lot.
the Manic Pixie Dream Girl exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.-- though Sam is more "wackily soulful", because this is Wes Anderson. And here's the poster to support it:
So it's just ringing another change on a familiar trope, right? Except it's also doing it by having a 12-year-old character, played by a 12-y.o. actress, act more sexily-mature than she is, without any hint that this is troubling or problematic or anything other than admirable and amusing.
But what really gels my sense of unease and makes the final connection in my brain is looking at the Moonrise Kingdom IMDB page and noticing that it has two writers: Wes Anderson, and Roman Coppola. Who is, yes, named for Roman Polanski.
Yes, that Roman Polanski.
I don't think it's a plot, but I don't think it's coincidence, either. What's between the two is culture: in this case, that part of Hollywood (and the world) that sees all women, even 12-year-old girls, as appropriate fodder for male gaze, desire, and fantasy. But not for our own stories.
 Not to mention that pierced ears were also definitely *not done* by Nice 12-y.o. white American girls in 1965, or by their mothers. My mother and I got our ears pierced at the same time, in 1969 when I was 13 -- and it was a bit avant-garde even then.