Sunday, January 23, 2011

Lolita In The Suburbia

I picked up the movie Towelhead from the library recently. Relationship angst and a thirteen year old Lebanese American girl caught my attention. J is going to be a teenager soon and I will the immigrant parent trying to make sense of the life changes she will deal with in a culture that I don't fully understand. I am always trying to learn ahead of time so I can support her better.To that extent, any and all insights into the world that a minority teenager dwells in America are useful to me.
Sadly, I was not able to bring myself to watch this movie past the first thirty or so minutes. The idea of a child (which to me thirteen year old Jasira, the film's protagonist is) could be so vulnerable got me anxious to the point that I could not bear to sit through the rest of this thing. Her mother's boyfriend "helps" her shave her pubic hair and her father's neighbor leaves porn magazines at her doorstep for her enjoyment. The men in her life are either outraged by her blooming sexuality or uncontrollably titillated by it. It is like they have no control over how they react to a thirteen year old's bodily changes. Add to that the racial slights and other forms of harassment the kid has to deal with at school. Depicting the girl in deliberately Lolita-esque light, is the most pathetic excuse to prop the storyline up.Lolita has been done before and there no additional value a brown suburban girl born to an immigrant father can add to that idea.
The artistic merits of the movie are questionable at best. One assumes that Allan Ball is attempting satire in painting this American Nightmare dystopia that is the world of a young first generation immigrant. The movie may have redeemed itself past the first thirty minutes but I had had it with the gratuitous images of masturbation, menstrual blood, father holding up a bloodied tampon before flushing it down the toilet to find out about it.

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