Lilian Min
May 07, 2017 2:09 pm
Columbia Pictures

Have you ever watched a movie and noticed something… off? Usually, it’ll be in regards to a female character who is soooo silly but also sexy. This sexiness almost feels forced, butted up against her naïve appearance. In sci-fi, it comes up with alien femmes who seek an Earth man to light their way. In a phrase, these women were born sexy yesterday.

A new video shines a light on the “born sexy yesterday” trope, with emphasis on genre films Tron: Legacy and The Fifth Element.

The video comes courtesy of Pop Culture Detective, the YouTube channel of Jonathan McIntosh. His videos look at pop culture as critical texts, and I thoroughly recommend looking around at his other stuff. But in “Born Sexy Yesterday,” he specifically tackles the power imbalance between mostly helpless women and capable men.

The part that knocked me out was when he pointed out that the women are oftentimes quite special. They have special powers, in fighting especially. They have mysterious and magical pasts and backgrounds. But they find themselves swooning over truly ordinary human men, by virtue of those men being the first they ever encounter. They don’t have the knowledge that these men aren’t that remarkable by the species standard. But let that stop the romance!

Anyway, the video is great, and it points out a larger trend in pop culture. You can have your cool women holding their own against men, as long as they’re open for sexual objectification. As long as they look at ordinary men as gods, and rely on them for everything. As long as there’s no need to push their own development as the center of the larger story. “Born sexy yesterday” puts that thought into perfect feeling, and now I’ll know what to say when I feel that unease again.

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