Born Sexy Yesterday

Photo from The Fifth Element (1997). Leeloo (Milla Jovovich) and Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis).

Photo from “The Fifth Element” (1997). Leeloo (Milla Jovovich) and Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis).

Chloe Truhlar, Multimedia Editor

Born sexy yesterday is a recurring theme in a multitude of sci-fi films, although it does not only pertain to this genre. The name of this trope stems from the saying “born yesterday,” meaning inexperienced and pure-minded. When the saying is combined with the term “sexy,” it’s creating a fully developed woman with the mind of a child.

It would be acceptable for a woman to be “childish” and “naive”, but as soon as you incorporate a male lead role it gets messy. An example of this trope would be Quorra from Tron Legacy. In one of the scenes, she is described as “Profoundly naive and unimaginably wise.” These words are the inner parts of the shell that create these born sexy yesterday characters.

The men in these films usually live ordinary lives; they often have recently fallen out of love and have lost all direction in their life. When these extraterrestrial women come along the men view them as a purpose and a project to help fulfill themselves. In return these women, knowing no other person, follow them blindly and trust them completely, enhancing their god complex.

An important thing to remember is that these films are written by men aimed to inflate their ego and add to the idea of toxic masculinity. They are the “all knowing” men who teach women the way of the world.

Additionally, since these women know nothing more, the men have no one to be compared against in terms of sexual performance. They are the first, so, therefore, the best. This coincides with the fact that men are often praised for having sex while women are shamed for doing the exact same thing.

With being so naive, these women are blinded by societal standards and often unrobe in front of their male counterparts who hastily turn around due to mere embarrassment and shock.

Most often, women in these movies are played by thin white females, pushing the toxic idea that western European women are the “standard” for beauty in society. Examples include Leeloo from The Fifth Element, Altaira Morbius from Forbidden Planet, and Celeste Martin from My Stepmother is an Alien.

When these female characters are created there is another aspect that is commonly added to them; they are all usually highly skilled at something the male gaze would respect, like combat or fighting.

It is very unlikely for this trope to be reversed, or if it happens to be, it’s not portrayed in the same way. The men aren’t hypersexualized. They are seen as children and the females act as their motherly figures. When the women do fall in love with the men, it is despite their naivety not because of it.

Media has an ongoing effect on how society thinks. So when there are these underlying concepts in films it is only promoting and creating a toxic way of thinking. By acknowledging and identifying it we can begin to improve the way people think and in the long run benefit society and social standards.