Thursday, October 12, 2006

Candy Leaves a Bad Taste in Your Mouth

WARNING: This review may contain spoilers for the film Hard Candy. If you have not seen the film and/or intend to, please disregard today's post.

It's at times like this that I wish I more eloquent. Here's hoping you 'get' where I'm coming from and if not, well, I guess I'll have to live with it. Whatever the case, last weekend I rented the movie, Hard Candy. I chose its' movie poster as one of my favorites in a previous post, along with some others and having seen the trailer, I was looking forward to seeing the movie.

For those who may not be familiar with the Lions Gate film, here's a brief synopsis, courtesy of the IMDB: A mature 14-year old girl meets a charming 32-year old photographer on the Internet. Suspecting that he is a pedophile, she goes to his home in an attempt to expose him.

First the pros:
- The movie is visually beautiful. I thought the overall look of the film was consistently great. It didn't get too gimmicky with the editing and gave the film a foreboding feel.
- The acting was top notch. I felt like the characters were relatively plausible and well-acted without being over the top or hammy, an all too easy pitfall with these type of suspense thrillers.
- As I mentioned earlier, the poster art is excellent. Conveys the message of the film perfectly while leaving the interpretation to your imagination. A-1.
- The subject matter, though "controversial" was unsettling on multiple levels, as well as the characters motives, etc.

Now the cons:
- Before I even saw the film, I already didn't like the actress who played 14-year-old "Hayley." Her androgynous, pie-eyed emo demeanor didn't fool me for one second. I'm not saying that you had to be a rocket scientist to conclude that she was somehow going to be the antagonist of the film (depending on your perspective), I'm just saying that the wide-eyed bookworm routine didn't fool me. She was acting way too naive and initiating way too much "bad" behavior, to be plausible. Plus, I wanted to punch her in the face really really hard.
- So many things left me with questions:
[1] When Hayley eventually discovers the hidden photos and declares "This is officially sick," I wonder whose definition of "sick" she's using. She's 14 years old for Pete's sake. She not my first choice for defining what's "sick."
[2] When Hayley says (paraphrasing here) "Just because girls can imitate being a woman doesn't mean they should do what women do." Um, then why would they be taking on these mannerisms to begin with? It's called being a 'cock tease.' Play with fire and you're bound to get burned eventually. This isn't a thumbs up to pedophilia, but you have to be realistic with the whole "child" angle today. More about that later in the post.

Reading multiple, MULTIPLE reviews on IMDB, which isn't saying much, considering the general age and what constitutes "good cinema" these days, I realize that what I'm about to say next probably won't be a popular viewpoint, but I don't really care. I have to get it off my chest, so it won't be bouncing around in my brain, left to stagnate and fester over time.:

I didn't like the movie. Though pedophilia creeps me out (not to mention, baffles me as to how having sex with a child is "sexy"...ech), not to mention being amoral, the film failed in getting me to side with the so-called "child/victim" in the movie's scenario. Instead, it just made me angry, like most topics that already have a built-in standard audience response. Looking over the reviews, it's obvious that it's much more popular to say "He got what he deserved" than to question the motivation behind the person who instigated "it" because they're considered a "child" according to the law, therefore the law is on their side. And should you question that, then you're considered "bad" or somehow morally corrupt for daring to question the integrity/motivations of a "child."

Whether we want to admit it or not, all children are not the innocent, cherubs we portray them as. And when I say "children," I'm referring to anyone old enough to initiate sexual behavior, however ill-conceived, etc. Which brings me to the whole "victim" card parents and their "children" love to toss out there anytime something happens because they (the parents) failed to do their job. Prime example: This post from earlier this year. Another, more current example, is the whole MySpace debacle. As you may or may not be aware, online predators didn't exist until MySpace was conceived (can you taste the sarcasm?). Back in May of this year a 13 year-old girl (she told him she was 18) ran off with a man she met on the Internet. The man was 25 years-old and did not sexually molest her (miracle of miracles), but was initially held in jail. And this is just ONE of many stories (*Google 'myspace teen rape' for more) about children being preyed upon by big bad adults. Of course, no one seems to want to talk about that fact that a lot of these "children" take provocative pictures of themselves and blatantly misrepresent themselves in their online profiles. Apparently men that talk to them or are targeted by them, are supposed to utilize their psychic powers to determine if the person he's talking to is legal or not.

And this is the kind of fine line-type shit I'm talking about. Granted, in the film, the male character DID know he was meeting a 14 year old and obviously had a whole "routine" for luring in young girls, you also have to take into consideration that these "children" are intentionally seeking older men out (or in the case of the movie, not to mention numerous episodes of Dateline, are baiting these men under the guise of vigilante "justice"). Sorry, I'm not buying it. Say what you will, two wrongs do not make a right. And that, my friends is the movie in a nutshell. Hard Candy is one of those movies you will either love or you'll hate. There doesn't seem to be much room for anything else.

*Note: And for anyone who thinks the whole online 'child as prey' thing is strictly a girl thing only, think again. I've popped into AOL's 'Town Square' chat rooms (a generic chat room for anyone, but mostly frequented by straight guys and gals) from time to time and it's been overwhelmingly underage MALES who seem to be trolling for girls, aging anywhere from 13 to 17. Go figure.


Blogger Mon said...

Thats a tricky topic....I love watching those dateline shows. Whether or not these people are baited, their still going to have sex with a minor. I'm glad I didn't grow up with the internet. That's all I know!The phone was bad enough. lol

Friday, October 13, 2006 9:09:00 AM  

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