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I remember back in 1987 when Dirty Dancing came out, I was a little surprised that in all the positive reaction to the film, no one was mentioning the fact that a teenage girl was having an affair with a much older man. In fact, women loved this movie about first love and sexual awaking.
When Lolita was released in 1962, the movie was not so much seen as a dramatization of the horrors of pedophilia, but a tragi-comic character study of a man obsessed with his step-daughter, a step-daughter who did as much of the seducing as did the aging roué.
In 1984’s Blame it on Rio, Michael Caine has sex with his best friend’s daughter and the whole thing is played as a farce. It was even called incest by proxy by some and many found the move tres amusement.
Woody Allen’s films like Manhattan (1979) were probably the main ones the drew some hesitation, but even in his black and white paean to a city filled with morally questionable neurotics, his relationship with the high school nymphet was seen as the most pure and Mariel Hemingway got an Oscar nom.
Even Roman Polanski got the brunt of the sympathy as he fled the country to try and restart his film career in Europe.
But this was an earlier time when sex between older men and teenage girls wasn’t quite held in the same low esteem as it is today.
And oh, my, the times they have been a changing. Back then we had the new morality. Today, we have the new, new morality where sex between an adult and someone below the age of consent is no longer seen as acceptable and even considered damaging to the teen. Legally it’s always been called statutory rape, but until more recently, that term was not used much in terms of these relationships in movies.
The new movie Diary of a Teenage Girl, written and directed by the actor Marielle Heller (she can be seen in such films as A Walk Among the Tombstones and MacGruber), based on the autobiographical novel by Phoebe Gloeckner, falls somewhere in between today and yesterday. Continue reading →