Sunday, 20 January 2013

Understanding the Lolita complex

There are current trends where certain females aspire to childlike images, supposedly inspired by Nabokov's novel Lolita and the 1997 film remake with Jeremy Irons. This film revels in and sensationalises the exploitative relationship between Dolores, who is nicknamed 'Lolita', and Humbert. It coerces the audience to participate as accessories. Personally, reading through the comments on some websites, I find it alarming that young women see Lolita as empowering. Wrong.  Nabokov's novel was intended as a literary exploration into an exploitive paedophilic relationship. It's an unequal relationship based on sexualising Dolores. You may say that she is powerful because of her alluring nature. Wrong again, it's biblical crap that deems females as the temptress. My own view is that the Lolita complex is based on the female as submissive, 'cute' and non-threatening to the fragile male ego.

Stanley Kubrick's brilliant film interpretation of Lolita shows it as it should be, exploitative and disturbing. Nabokov's misogyny resonates throughout the film. Charlotte, the mother depicted as the sexually frustrated widow, is punished for her desires, as Humbert's own sexual desires are centred on her daughter, Dolores, who is reduced to a 'Lolita'. Both Charlotte and Dolores die: Charlotte is run over, while Dolores dies giving birth. Meanwhile, Humbert, takes control over his life, by killing himself. The film is uncomfortable and it should be.

The Loilta complex has transcended all cultural boundaries. In Japan, the term 'Lolicon' is slang for the Lolita complex and sexualised artwork of young girls. A culture which thrives on openly sexualising images of young women yet has one of the lowest rape cases (0.1%).

Whereas in the West, the media's depiction of child-like girly images is subtler.

Half starved pre-pubescent women... these are the images that are idolised in western culture. The difference between these images and those of Japanese anime, manga etc are that the Japanese know that the childish images are fantasy, whereas the subtle coercive nature of adverts in the west pressurise women to look a certain way without questioning the inherent paedophilic connotations. 

As different societies have different age limits in terms of their age of consent, can we seriously reduce every desire to cultural norms?  I'm not convinced. We either agree that there is a stage of maturity, or exist in a society where any child can be manipulated, because they 'consent'. Just because girls go through puberty at an early stage, this does not mean that they can handle physical attention- they lack emotional maturity.

I remember the Rolling Stone's Bill Wyman's relationship with 13-year-old Mandy Smith back in the eighties, a child encouraged by her mother to pursue a relationship beyond her maturity. It comes as no surprise that Mandy has suffered from anorexia for years. Her desire to be the eternal alluring child, instead of facing the exploitation and hurt she experienced by her mother and a decrepit rock star. The shit should have been jailed but rich stars can do what they want. They buy their way out of everything.

Why do some men become obsessed with childlike images and why do females want to enact this? What springs to mind is lost childhood, where the girl-child's needs are met by the 'adoring' but somewhat uncomfortable father figure, smitten by the child's innocent sexuality. These patterns of behaviours are reinforced in a girl's teenage years and adulthood. Subsequently, they role play on unequal power relationships, where the paternal male acts as an educator supposedly grooming/emancipating a young girl. It takes a man to show a female her sexuality… and women are controlled and reduced to playthings solely for male interest. So, this reinforces the girl -child's sense of seductive prowess. These men fear women as their equals and will continue enacting this relationship as long as the girl-child doesn't grow up. Why? Perhaps it's a safe haven for some females, where their actions are reduced to being mischievous, playful, as opposed to taking control over their adult responsibilities, which places too much pressure on them. Real life, adult life is hard. Let's enter the world of childhood regression and fantasy.

These are saliently expressed in Woody Allen's films.  Look at Manhattan or Hannah and her Sisters where the knowledgeable male enlightens the female characters. Yawn… we can't discover art or literature by ourselves, girls. Well, not in Allen's parochial white, middle-class world, a world he desperately craves approval of. Freud would relish these scenarios, the insecure, pathetic fuck incapable of forming adult relationship because they fear adult intellect. These recurring themes of death in Allen's films, and fear of dying, convey a lack of acceptance of the inevitable. 

Allen is not alone, the Rolling Stone's Ronnie Wood's loss of his two brothers has sent him on a similar path, tons of Lolitas that will rejuvenate his lost youth as the parasitic relationships unfolds. Deluded men who think they will live forever through their consumption of pre-pubescent girls. 

Why do these girls go with these old men? Why do they reduce themselves to appendages and accessories? I see it as a shallow exchange - where they sell their youth by deluding these men that they are still desirable. Their American Express card that will buy these mens' lost childhoods at the expense of robbing these girls' youth. Perhaps it's a lack of maturity on both sides but, as adult men they should know better. As long as the media continues to glorify and glamorise youth as central to our well being these images will not disappear.

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