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Born Sexy Yesterday: A Problematic Movie Trope

A movie trope is defined as “a universally identified image imbued with several layers of contextual meaning creating a new visual metaphor” by The Art Direction Handbook for Film. It basically means a repeatedly appearing idea or device that is commonly used in cinema. I’ve noticed this one so many times that I really want to talk about it, it is called “Born Sexy Yesterday”.

This trope is very common in Sci-Fi movies. Even if you don’t yet know what it means for a character to be “born sexy yesterday”, I’m sure you have come across this trope dozens of times. The name for this trope has both a figurative and also sometimes a literal meaning. There's usually a beautiful, young, charming and highly sexualized female creature. It can be a mermaid, alien or a robot, for example. These creatures normally have some special skills that are really impressive to the (male) protagonist, like combat skills. A couple well-known examples are Leeloo from The Fifth Element played by Milla Jovovich and Altaira Morbius from Forbidden Planet played by Anne Francis. These characters, even though sexy and mature looking, are really naive and lacking knowledge that the protagonist and the viewers of the film find obvious. This makes them seem quite childish. The milieu the movie takes place in may also be uncommon and new to these characters.

One interesting thing to notice is that the male protagonist and love interest is usually a really basic and ordinary man - someone that any guy can easily identify with. The protagonist guides and teaches the born sexy yesterday -character things about basic everyday human life she doesn’t fully understand yet and that makes him amazing in her eyes. This trope is basically about unbalanced relationships and male insecurity. Next time you watch a Sci-Fi movie you should pay attention to this.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0thpEyEwi80&vl=ko [Accessed: 21 Sept. 2020.]

Helsinki Contributor
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