‘Old’: The (Pseudo) Jailbait Debate

In 2021, “Old” gave us pseudo jailbait. I was taken to task for discussing the swimsuits in my review. Perhaps we are too used to objectifying young girls, everywhere from gymnastics to acclaimed films like Kevin Spacey’s 1999 “American Beauty.” Unlike that film in which a middle-aged man in an unhappy marriage fantasizes about his daughter’s 16-year-old friend (played by the 20-year-old Mena Suvari), “Old” isn’t about a mid-life crisis, but about a mysterious beach where people age dramatically.

“American Beauty” fantasy.

“Old” is based on a French language-Swiss graphic novel “Sandcastle” by Pierre Oscar Levy which I had not seen nor read. However, M. Night Shyamalan has written, directed and produced the film and the film gives a lot of attention to the female body, including a nude woman seen from the back who later becomes a nude corpse, but he also sexualizes the bodies of the supposed young teenaged women.

Maddox and Trent at the beginning of the film.

Alexa Swinton, 12, plays the 11-year-old Maddox. Daily biography lists both her cup size (34B) and her measurements (34-24-34). The 21-year-old Thomasin McKenzie plays 16-year-old Maddox Cappa. (Embeth Davidtz, 55, plays Maddox as an adult.)

Nolan River plays Trent as a six-year-old (above). Luca Faustino Rodriguez is Trent at 11. Alex Wolff is Trent at 15. Emun Elliott, 38, is Trent as an adult.

Maddox (Alexa Swinton) at 11.
Maddox at 16 played by Thomasin McKenzie. With Alex Wolff as the 15-year-old Trent
Thomasin McKenzie, 21, plays 16-year-old Maddox Cappa. The 23-year-old Alex Wolff plays 15-year-old Trent.

Kara is played by Kyle Bailey at six. Mikaya Fisher, 12, at 11. At 16, she is played by 22-year-old Eliza Scanlen.

Kara (Kyle Bailey) at six with Maddox at 11.
The 16-year-old Kara (Eliza Scanlen.) impregnated by Trent.
Abbey Lee (Chrystal) is 34.

Lee as Kara’s mother is seen first preening and later goes through some cruelly ghastly transformations. There is a hunk in this cast (Aaron Pierre), but he isn’t presented for visual consumption nor is the actor Alex Wolff who plays Trent. Yes, Wolff is shirtless, but he could be further sexualized. There is no one male who is as sexualized to the extent of Lee’s character, Chrystal.

This is besides the weird and jarring thought that someone would bring fitted bathing suits to cover a child’s growth from

I did know someone who wore skimpy beach attire on Venice Beach and he was a gymnast. He wasn’t hauled off of the beach and, at the time, was living in Venice Beach. His swimsuit had more butt cheek coverage than the example below but was close to the handball women’s team uniform in front. That was during my grad days at UCLA.

Aaron Pierre who plays the rapper, Mid-Size Sedan, is 27.
This is how the men are dressed.
From the front, you can see the modest male beach attire from “Old.”

To put this all in perspective with how the sexualization of women has been normalized, let me leave you with a comparison of the men’s and women’s handball team uniforms and a meme about equity in bodily exposure.

From Snopes
Meme from Facebook.

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