SEXY BABY Documentary Available On DemandJanuary 13, 2013

SEXY BABY Documentary Available On Demand


On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: SEXY BABY.

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Where is feminism in the Cyber Age?!?
By Cynthia Kane


As the personal becomes more, more and yet more public, you have to wonder if we’ve taken a million steps backwards in the work of the Feminist Movement of the 60s and 70s. SEXY BABY explores this question and further as filmmakers Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus follow three young women in their lives; well, let me restate that… a pubescent young women, a 22 year-old and a thirty-something.

What does it mean to be sexy and appealing in the age of all-things-digital? Are women, especially young women becoming less empowered? Why are males the one who must be pleased, why is it that we as females will do almost anything (and sometimes anything to please)? When is sex power and when does sexuality turn to abuse…self-abuse? Is male fantasy and plasticity power for women?

Why do women give into it?

Further more… with all this technical sophistication, where is the mystery?


Click here for Ronna & Jill's interview with Filmwax's Adam Schartoff


In choosing their cast, the filmmakers smartly explore age, class and opportunity, but only to a certain extent. Winifred, who becomes the central character, is a spunky 12 year-old, privileged and growing up in Manhattan, the eldest of three sisters. Her forty-something parents have raised her in an open-minded, progressive household, yet we see real fear creep to her parents’ faces in as Winnie turns from twelve to thirteen, then fourteen, as her closest friend changes from Daniele, a charming pre-teen still (thankfully) surprised and shocked by certain things, to Olivia, a more daunting girl whose idea of fun during a playdate is to create seductive photo shoots and post them on Facebook.

Winnie’s a kid and an adult all at once – confused and sexual. Yet because she and her friends have opportunity and a chance at real education, and they’re adolescents who should be confused and exploratory, we don’t worry as much for them. As Winnie, seemingly wise beyond her years states, her generation are the ‘pioneers’, the first to go through puberty in the age where nothing remains personal and everything and all can be public.

We meet Laura at 22, a Charlotte, North Carolina assistant kindergarten teacher who’s about to undergo labiaplasty. She feels it will boost her self-esteem. She openly explains she believes it would be more of a turn-on to a guy to look like a porn star. Laura’s saved her hard earned cash and even taken up a second job to pay for it. The doctor she has chosen in Alexandria, Virginia does at least five operations a day… pulling in a not-small fortune. Laura’s mother supports her decision, yet cannot help herself from crying. Even in her lower middle-class dowdiness, she’s one of the more sympathetic and honest characters in this story.

In South Florida, Nichole wanted to be a dancer, but became a stripper, a pole dancer and a top porn star. She’s an athlete, no doubt about that, and now married, teaches pole dancing to private clients for both exercise and to learn to brandish their sexuality (meaning, “work it like a porn star”). Nichole wants a family. And while exclaiming that female sexuality is power, but that ‘love sex’ is better than ‘sport fucking”, she also reveals that while her clients may fantasize about being like her public persona, she dreams about being just like them… ordinary.

The power here is the filmmakers follow their characters in an almost purely observational way. No manipulation, no set-ups. Yet not one comes off as in control of her own life or knows her own power. Winnie’s a confused, albeit smart teen. (I have hopes for her.) Her story emerges as front and center perhaps because of that. Laura is never fully fleshed-out as a human being and therefore seems a bit vapid, at times pathetic. She’s a pretty girl, who lacks self-esteem, but will plastic surgery give her what she wants and needs? Nichole is sympathetic, likeable through her tough hardness, but when her husband states that if she hadn’t wanted children, they wouldn’t be together, you wonder how long that relationship’s going to last.

Important questions raised and perhaps some urgent ones, but the answers are left for us to find. This is a great jumping off point for discussion groups for students – both male and female – but this film is as important for adults as kids. A warning though, there are some graphic, disturbing moments, and they are not sexual.

There are some amusing elements, too. Nichole is explaining some sexual positions used in pornography – not really comfortable in real life sex but looks good on film - , and just as you may be asking yourself, “What is snowballing?”, we hear the filmmaker ask the very same.

What blows off the screen is powerful and compelling. We’re living in an age of sexualization and objectivization of women. As a female watching this, I was alarmed, angry, deeply concerned – yet very happy to see this doc made, even if it doesn’t go nearly far enough.
It starts a conversation.



- Cynthia Kane

Cynthia Kane reviews documentaries for On Demand Weekly. She is a writer and Sr Programming Manager for [ ITVS], overseeing the International Initiative for funding in their SF office. Prior she’s had many incarnations from actor to writer to producer. She co-created DOCday on Sundance Channel.


Read Other Reviews By Cynthia Kane:





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