That little-girl lip synch story has made quite a big splash in the news today, and for good reason. I can obviously totally see why the feminists are upset - again, a female (and this time even a child!) objectified for her looks! - but it's a bit strange that no-one really questions the main premise. What's a little girl doing singing at the olympics in the first place, in fact taking a huge central role?
Even allowing that they stole the idea completely from the incredibly tacky Sydney Opening ceremonies, it's hardly a coincidence that the little girl appeared in a propaganda pageant like this, or that she had to be "flawless". The little girl, in a role that's practically never ascribed to the little boy, has come to embody the idea of perfect pure-hearted innocence in all manner of media and propaganda types.
Hitler mostly used boys.
Yeah, sure, there are propaganda items for the Bund Deutcher Mädel, but in the context of Nazi Germany with its masculinity cult the propaganda items involving the Hitler Youth are considerably more plentyful. A large section of Triumph of the Will is devoted to it. But the role here for the boys is considerably different than little Lin Miaoke's. Even the youngest ones are taking an active part in pretending to be adult - they're all little soldiers. The Jungmädel may be trained primarily for motherhood (see link above) but the few times they appear there's no attempt to present them as "little mothers". (It would take Capitalism to go that far.)
Little girls are hardly part of Soviet propaganda either, though I did find this. No, it's in the liberal West the little girl is all-prevalent in all sorts of more-or-less propagandistic imagery, and always as an innocent. As an innocent poser of pure questions. (Note the boy, who is playing at being a little soldier.) As a victim. (On either side.) As the ultimate object we fear to lose, both then and now. (Well, okay, the latter has boys but the girl is the iconic one.)
Little girls are plenty more prevalent in popular music too compared to little boys.* Millie, who was eightieen but played at being a child. Lena Zavaroni. A million other talent show contestants, up to Bianca Ryan. Here in sweden, Alice Babs, again acting younger than her age. Here they might have "adult voices" but they're never presented as miniature adults (exception: Helen Shapiro); again the purity and innocence is vital for the appeal.
The madonna-whore complex, strongly fought against by feminists but originally posited by Freud, is probably at work here. Society strongly opposes anything that suggests sexualisation of little girls. (Much more so than of little boys, again, witness the attitudes towards sexual abuse by male and female teachers.) The pre-pubescent little girl, who doesn't have sexual feelings, is the ultimate "madonna" in a lot of ways, making the symbol just as destructive as any "whore"...
Maybe society should consider opposing anything that represents a little girl as "flawless" too.
* Except in hip-hop for some reason, where the boys prevail. Maybe it's a masculinity cult thing again. Or a reality thing - "innocence" is not a big hip-hop commodity.
P.S. With the hip-hop context in mind, try searching for "hitlerjugend girl" on Youtube. :-D
Xandão y Vicente Pedraza on LAndscape Radio
3 weeks ago