Critique of raunch culture tends to wowser snobberyMovies
A scene from Sexy Baby, directed by Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus.
POSSIBLY there's still something new and meaningful to say about the social impact of explicit music videos, ''sexting'' and internet porn, but this muddled American documentary feels like a symptom of a classic moral panic.
Directed by the team of Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus, Sexy Baby cross-cuts between three subjects in different parts of the US.
Laura Castle in Virginia is a young kindergarten teacher who decides to get a labiaplasty so she can look more like a porn star. Nichole Romagna, in Florida, is an actual former porn star who now teaches pole dancing while yearning to start a family.
Contrasted with these two is Winnifred Bonjean-Alpart, a bright Manhattan tween who appreciates Lady Gaga and Facebook and causes her liberal parents a normal amount of anxiety in the process of growing up.
Though the film contains some genuinely alarming footage - particularly when we meet Castle's sleazy plastic surgeon - little evidence is offered to support the debatable claim that mainstream American culture has grown ''raunchier'' in recent years.
And since Bauer and Gradus never get around to suggesting what non-alienated female sexuality might look like, their feminist critique of porn is hard to distinguish from sheer wowserism.
There's also a certain amount of barely concealed snobbery.
Winnifred, who comes from a wealthy, educated background, is the film's designated innocent, while Castle and Romagna are held up as cautionary examples of what might happen if ''raunch culture'' had its way.