• Amrita Nambiar

The Lolita Complex


( photo Courtesy ) James Mason and Sue Lyon in Lolita Photograph: Allstar/MGM


If you’ve been on social media the past month, you are bound to have come across the Britney Spears documentary ‘Framing Britney Spears’. This new addition to the Netflix catalogue has attracted many formal apologies - from bloggers such as Perez Hilton, ex-boyfriend Justin Timberlake, to magazine giant Glamour. Apart from voicing their guilt, many have opened up to share similar experiences such as the media scrutiny over a pregnant Kim Kardashian, young Matilda-star Mara Wilson, and Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman.

Britney Spears is an incredibly successful musician who has built a loyal fan-base following numerous hits over the past 2 decades. As a fresh-faced, innocent yet lively 17 year old when she starred in her first music video, the criticism she drew was enormous. Many thought her schoolgirl outfit was suggestive and attention-seeking. In subsequent interviews, Britneys sex-life tended to be the main focus, specifically centred around her virginity. There have also been numerous reports about how she was forced to sing in a higher-pitched, baby voice to set her apart from other upcoming artists such as Christina Aguilera, leading many to conclude that Britneys whole career has been a selling point for her label rather than a platform for her to truly be herself.

The intense media attention snowballed into Britneys infamous breakdown in 2007. From 2008 onwards, her father was granted many rights over Britneys life due to concerns regarding her mental and emotional stability. Unfortunately, her father took advantage of this situation and imposed numerous restrictions on the recovering singer, rendering her completely unable to control her own life and choices. This once again sparked an outcry on social media, and the hashtag #freebritney began trending on Twitter.

The release of this documentary resurfaced the whole controversy over why young stars, specifically female actors or singers are subjected to such an intense, invasive and sexualising scrutiny from the media. One explanation is the Lolita complex, where older men are paired with younger, often underage women, a concept that was glamourised specifically in the movie Lolita. The secularisation of these young women, who were paired on-screen with much older men was the central theme in many movies. This predatory or pedophilloic representation has almost had the role of granting permission for this to extend beyond the confines of a movie script, seeping into interviews, articles, and the overall media portrayal of these young actors. Mara Wilson, who is most notably known for playing the genius book-form in Roald Dahls Matilda, has voiced her story on how interviews seemed to pay too much attention to her dating life, even when she was as young as 6!

In the end, it’s an utter shame that it was Britneys documentary that prompted such a realisation over how she, and many other females celebrities were

mistreated by the media and public. In the era of #MeToo, it does make the backlash louder and more demanding, yet this deep-rooted mentality of sexualising female stars, specifically, and the general nosiness of the paparazzi into personal affairs of the famous, is seriously out-dated and plain pathetic.