There's a movie set to premiere Monday at the Sundance Film Festival, the main character of which is a 1950s girl named Lewellen. Lewellen gyrates in her underwear, wakes up as her naked father climbs into her bed, demands that a prepubescent boy expose himself to her in exchange for a kiss and, finally, is raped by a teenager who lures her with tickets to an Elvis concert. The film’s title is "Hounddog."
Production of the film in Wilmington, North Carolina, was delayed last summer as hundreds of people signed a petition hoping to persuade the district attorney to prosecute the filmmakers under a law banning simulated sex with a minor, likening the movie to flat-out child pornography. The problem? The Lolita-like role of Lewellen is being played by 12-year-old Dakota Fanning.
The Wilmington district attorney was shown a cut of the movie and ultimately decided that no crime had been committed inasmuch as Dakota remained clothed during filming and was not at any time shown nude.
Dakota has been quoted as saying, “Because that has happened to her (Lewellen), that doesn’t define her. Because of this thing that has happened — that she did not ask for — she is labeled that, and it’s her story to overcome that and to be a whole person again.
“There are so many children that this happens to, every second,” she added. “That’s the sad part. If anyone’s talking about anything, that’s what they should be talking about.
“You know, I’m an actress,” she said. “It’s what I want to do, it’s what I’ve been so lucky to have done for almost seven years now. And I am getting older. February 23 is my birthday, I’ll be 13 years old. And I will be playing different kinds of roles. I won’t be able to do the things I did when I was 6 years old when I’m 14. And that’s what I look forward to — getting to play new roles that aren’t too old for me and aren’t too young for me, that are just at the right time.”
She added: “Lewellen is still very innocent, she’s still a child, but she’s also a little bit wise beyond her years because of the things she’s seen and been through. So I think that I should be able to do what I feel is at the right time for me.”
Talking about when she was sent the script for “Hounddog” during the summer of 2005, Dakota said: “The bottom line was, I couldn’t not do it. It’s all I could think about. I knew I was at the perfect age.”
She said that the most difficult, grueling scene for her was one in which Lewellen is covered while sleeping by snakes that crawl in through the window of her decrepit shack of a house.
Many others, however, think that it's another pivotal scene that deserves more criticism. In it, Lewellen does her best Elvis impression, singing and dancing and writhing while horizontal on her bed, when she learns that her idol (Elvis) is coming to town. While she does all that, there's a teenage milkman in the room, looking on just a little too hungrily.
Yes, Dakota Fanning is a precocious, worldly little girl, mature beyond her years in many respects. I agree in theory with the basic premise of her remarks. This stuff (poverty, violence, sexual assaults, etc.) does happen, and it happens to too many children, entirely too frequently. But … this is a movie. I think it’s exploitative to place a 12-year-old in such a complex and surely confusing role. She's a child. An 18-year-old could have played the role equally as convincingly. I'm sure there are plenty of 18-year-olds who don't look "too old." It actually sounds like a good story, worthy of adaptation to the big screen. An older actress in the key role would have made a very big difference in the public's perception of and acceptance of the film, I believe. I'd have no qualms whatsoever about watching an actress of legal age bring Lewellen to life, but I'm afraid watching tiny little Dakota Fanning act it out would just make me squirm uncomfortably.
I'd like to know what you all think. Is this crossing a line that shouldn't be crossed? I think it is. Is it wrong to sexualize a child for the sake of art? I think it is. She is a child, presumably lacking the life experience to bring to the role and to fully comprehend the disturbing subject matter she’s portraying. Moreover, she is too young to have made the decision, or to have been allowed to make the decision to take the role completely on her own. I find her parents’ apparent state of laissez faire about this quite remarkable.
What Japanese smiley are you?
|You Are "Wow"!|
Here’s what the Twisted Linguistics paddy wagon rounded up today.
hoards of writers - Authors carefully stored in the pantry and cellar for writing emergencies.
fruitation – One wacked-out nation.
consecrative – Some folks go to church each consecrative Sunday.
free of speech - One who is mute.
an member of – Oooooookay.
Perplexed about your inner harmony? Curious about your future? Speak to the Underwear Oracle.
|What Your Underwear Says About You|
You like to think of yourself as innocent, even though you're not!
You're comfortable in your own skin - and don't care to impress anyone.