Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Roy Moore and Brooke Shields

In light of recent news reports, I thought it apropos to re-link my 2013 essay on the ebb and flow of elite attitudes towards the sexualization of young people.

I was surprised, on rereading it, that I had neglected to mention specifically the 2009 attempt by the London Tate Gallery to exhibit nude pictures of Brooke Shields taken in 1975 when she was ten years old. That effort ended promptly following a visit from the police: you can't show those pictures in public anymore, never mind their availability on the internet.

If you do a search on "Brooke Shields Tate Gallery", Google Images will show you (most of) the controversial images. Those images are, if it needs to be said, NSFW, and personally unsettling. If you choose to run that search, I would recommend clearing your browser cache afterwards. If the FBI ever searches your computer, you'll have a hard-enough time explaining your pirated movie collection without having to deal with what an ambitious prosecutor might make of them.

For those of my readers from the Millennial generation, Brooke Shields was a big deal in late 70s and early 80s. She appeared semi-nude in Calvin Klein advertisements, and was the star of the movie The Blue Lagoon. Like the Tate gallery, these were not seedy low-rent venues. Sure, young Brooke's oeuvre was controversial, but only because Christian hicks like me were making a fuss about it. Everybody who was Anybody thought it no worse than edgy.

Brooke Shields was 14 years old when she ran around the set of TBL acting out its strong sexual content with nothing but her beautiful hair covering her breasts. This is the same age at which Roy Moore's youngest accuser is alleged to have engaged in heavy petting with the then-32 year old Senate candidate.

My point here is neither to concede the truth of her allegations, nor to defend the conduct were it actually true. It is rather to open a window into what the Cool People were thinking in the late 70s. Today we take for granted certain hard limits to the Sexual Revolution that were by no means obvious 40 years ago. If context and nuance ever come back in favor, this will be something to keep in mind.