If you stop and think about it… Fifth Element is pretty creepy, isn’t it? Don’t get me wrong, I love the film, but Leeloo is basically two weeks old when she gets with Bruce Willis’ character, Korben Dallas.
Yeah, she’s wise and knows a lot, but she’s shown as woefully ignorant of just about every facet of modern society, and that creates an odd power imbalance. Leeloo relies on Dallas for shelter, food, and protection.
The trope is called “Born Sexy Yesterday,” and it’s surprisingly common in western science fiction, especially the portion written by white males. Blade Runner, Tron: Legacy, Firefly, several times in each Star Trek series… I could easily go on. Thematically, the trope relies on a large power imbalance between a male hero and an adult woman who is “profoundly naïve and unimaginably wise.”
Few tropes are ever copied wholesale, and this one is no exception. Variants are frequent, but most center on a woman who is central to the plot. Often because of her combat abilities, unique wisdom, or some special power. These women are powerful and to some degree self-sufficient, but they’re also criminally ignorant of the world and have only met or seen only a couple of men in their lives.
That’s maybe fine so far, but the lynchpin of the trope, like so many of the tropes of women in media, is sexualization. These women are developmentally akin to children but in the form of an adult. That gives a quick-and-easy bullshit excuse too. If a woman appears to be an adult, it doesn’t seem as wrong to sexualize her.
But regardless of how old these characters look, the imbalance of power is still there. A child is a child whether they look it or not. We protect children not only because they can’t always defend themselves, but also because they can be manipulated easily. That’s why statutory rape is a thing, after all. If these stories took place in the real world, Korben Dallas and pals would be in jail.
And that’s just it; speculative fiction often centers on schlummy, “normal” characters. This makes them relatable and also reveals a likely cause behind this trope’s overuse.
After all, without any comparison, any mediocre white male will seem amazing. And that’s a large part of what this is about. Insecurity. They don’t have to compete or be genuinely good people so they can land a strong and independent — fully developed — woman; the white males just have to exist, and servile (mentally if not physically) underage girls will effortlessly weave themselves into their lives and shower them with attention and sex.
The sex bot problem
The flood of robot and AI movies plays on the same insecurity and is a part of the same phenomenon, containing the same galaxy of pedophilic fantasies. Just take a look at Ex Machina, which is a veritable ode to the white male urge to create naive and “sexy” infantile creatures to “love” their mediocre existences and serve their every need.
Before you object and say that the white male urge for “blank slate” women is not pedophilic, but something else (oh do tell!), let me remind you what happened when AI image generators like Stable Diffusion were released to the general public earlier this year. These same usual suspects immediately started churning out vast quantities of underage pornography in darkweb havens like 4chan.
Whether robots, aliens, or AI, no one can deny the inherent pedophilic drive behind the white male conceptualization of women and girls within sci-fi and technology.
This 20 or so minutes long video dives further into the Born Sexy Yesterday trope than I have here, so I’d suggest you give it a watch when you have the chance.
I’d like to think we can all get behind more interesting, creative stories that don’t rely on what is essentially pedophilia in all but name. Dare I say that nothing will change until we change the pale face of moviemaking and the even paler face of sci-fi?
Then there’s Isaac Asimov’s son David Asimov, who skated on a massive child pornog charge thanks to Robert Mueller (!!!).
— Conan, Esq (@conan_esq) June 4, 2022
I’ll finish by leaving this tweet here — without even going into what Arthur C. Clarke and the rest of the sci-fi “fathers” got up to. If you know, you know.
But there's more. Check out these bussin stories:
- I dated a pansexual porn star and it was everything I thought it’d be I kept wondering, 'Do we really have to allocate funds to purchase a strap-on instead of an airline ticket for you to meet my family?'
- I became a sex worker because my friends were doing it—and I regret absolutely nothing I decided I wanted to be a prostitute when I was seventeen. None of the assumptions about why are correct.
- 20 uncomfortable conversations you can’t avoid in your 20s Everybody has their list of questions to run down when talking to you as a 20-something. Be prepared for these.