Video Explores Sci-Fi Trope Of Women Who Are 'Born Sexy Yesterday'

Screengrab: Gaumont

It's a tale as old as time -- at least in science fiction. A beautiful woman wakes up in a scary new world, unable to grasp the basic day-to-day activities of life. She could be a robot, or a mermaid, or a goddamn Messiah sent by aliens. It doesn't matter, she'll always latch onto the first schlub she sees. Because she was "Born Sexy Yesterday."

An interesting video from YouTuber Jonathan McIntosh, as Pop Culture Detective, dives into a common trope of female characters who have the minds of children but the bodies of mature women. There are plenty of reasons why this trope exists and why it thrives in the scifi genre, but the main purpose of it (at least according to the video) is the male power fantasy. It's the idea that a sexy yet virginal woman needs a man to explain the basic fundamentals of being a person, making her dependent on him. It doesn't matter how unremarkable he is, she'll always find him fascinating, because she's never known anyone else.

Of course, there are examples of male characters who fall into the trope of naive newcomer (Buddy from Elf comes to mind), but oftentimes it's played for laughs, and the woman ends up serving as a sort of motherly surrogate... which is far from sexy, although it probably depends on who you ask. In any case, it's far more likely to be a male fantasy, and that can result in female characters who are basically Manic Pixie Dream Girls with fewer pairs of giant headphones and more surprising karate moves. Check out the video below. [YouTube]


    The fact that there aren't as many reversed versions of this is simply because most SciFi was marketed more towards men in the past.
    Two examples of the reversed situation that's not just for laughs or about mothering I can't think of from the top of my head are Earth Girls are Easy- where Gina Davis finds herself in control of a bevy of sexy but stupid male aliens, one played by Jeff Goldblum; another is Barbarella, where Jane Fonda's character finds herself a sexy but innocent male angel that she falls in love with and protects.
    I'm sure there are more... just have to look for them.

    A little creepy, like the narrator is a 40y/o guy with zero confidence, friends or social skills in some basement with his overly protective mother upstairs obsessing about some ultra niche, weirdo fap material.

      A little defensive, like the commenter saw reflections of his own personality in the video and is now pointing fingers.

    Ah yes, Leeloo, the helpless naive... ancient elemental warrior of pure power and awesomeness. Whose first act is to punch her way out of a mil-spec containment pod and then dive through the wall of a skyscraper.

    Later, when Korben tries to kiss her she disarms him and threatens him with his own gun while saying "never without my permission". Then she proceeds to learn everything about the last 500 years of human history at breakneck speed before striding off to meet her destiny, dragging a bunch of helpless idiots in her wake.

    Sure, Korben is her "schlub" but he's hardly unremarkable - an ex-super-elite-forces soldier - and his attempts to sweet-talk and patronise her start off sexist enough but pretty soon he's essentially holding on for dear life, attempting, vainly to assert some kind of control over the situation when clearly Leeloo is gonna do what Leeloo wants to do.

    Eventually she kicks major ass, gets shot up, doubts her purpose, and eventually - with the help of her friends including a very obviously super... uh... green fellow - saves the goddamn universe.

    Sure, she wears a bunch of Jean Paul Gaultier crazy sci-fi sexy costumes in the process, but while Leeloo is often hazy on the details, her agency and fundamental knowledge-of and control-over her own destiny are never in doubt.

    Trope subverted, in her case, I'd argue.

    Last edited 01/05/17 10:50 pm

    Mel Gibson and Piper Laurie in Tim (1979) For the opposite. Mature woman with innocent male.

    Hmm, not sure Tron Legacy was a good example either. They talk about sexy costumes, yet the Tron costumes are really similar between male and female. So if her costume is sexy surely the male one is too?

    Wow... some of that came across as nonsense. "Older more experienced man" and "naive inexperienced woman" and they have clips from Splash and Stargate where the male heroes the women fall for are anything but. If anything it's not about power fantasy and more about the fantasy that a "nice guy" can get a "nice girl".

    Almost every example they showed the male lead is the nice guy who doesn't take advantage. Who goes out of his way to be "nice" where other males are assholes. Look at the nude scenes in Fifth Element - Willis turns away, the bad guys stare. It seems to me the trope is more about reinforcing the idea that if you're a nice guy and not a pig that women will like you.

    I have to ask, does anybody know what is behind the pixelation in the fifth element scene's? It's doing my head in!

    There are plenty of male characters who would also fit this trope: Thor, Blast From the Past's Adam, Mowgli/Tarzan/George of the Jungle. The difference that I see is that the males are the main character in their movies, the females aren't.

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