Kiddycult & NewsensenMaurice Girodias: The Frog Prince:nAn Autobiography; Crown Publishers;nNew York.nJohn Mosedale: The Men Who InventednBroadway: Damon Runyon,nWalter Winchell and Their World;nRichard Marek Publishers; NewnYork.nby Gary S. VasilashnThe facts of infancy may be vitalnwhen they refer to a prodigy such asnMozart, interesting when relevant tona rebel such as Shelley, valuable whennthey show the growth of a man out ofnhis place, as Poe; but ….nA.J.A. SymonsnThe Quest for CorvonWhile much has been vsrritten andnsaid about the exploitation of children,nthere is one aspect of the new voguenof kiddies in culture that is overlooked.nThe children in this case serve as modelsnor surrogates for adults. There is nothingnof Shaw’s chestnut about youth beingnwasted on the young about this practice,nwhich could be called kiddycult; innthis case, the child is taken out of time,nand doesn’t necessarily want to exchangenroles. Moreover, too great an emphasisnon the chronological age of the childnremoves him or her from the realm ofnkiddycult; the image is blurred. Fornexample, in the filmedjversion of ThenTin Drum, Oskar is not a child who fitsnthis description. He is too obviously anchild: he looks like one, sounds like one,ndresses like one. The edges are hard andndefined. When he seduces his nanny,nthe whole thing is quite revolting.nChronologically Oskar is supposed tonbe of an age that would cause little upsetnto most if he were discovered havingna romp in the backseat of a ChevynMr. Vasilash is associate editor ofnManufacturing Engineering.nwith a college coed. But he is a threenyear-old in terms of physical development.nPerforming the suspension ofndisbelief (I doubt if Coleridge everndreamed that this much will powernwould be required in a theater), ignoringnthe fact that the child on the screennis indeed a child and will continue tonbe one after the cameras stop rollingnis not enough—the disparity betweennthe teen-age girl and the prepubescentnboy .is too enormous for Oskar to slipninto the kiddycult category. He is toonmuch in time.nBut consider Roman Polanski’s filmednversion of Thomas Hardy’s Tess of thend’Urbervilles. Mr. Polanski has displayednan interest (albeit a perverted one) innyoungsters for quite some time, longnbefore it was fashionable. He took upnwith Nastassia Kinski, his leading lady,nwhen she was 15. There is no questionnthat age distinctions blur for him. Thisnblurring is carried over and manifestednin Tess. That is, while the movie natu-nate rake. She is forced to become anwoman; time is accelerated, but therenis no question of what she is at anyngiven time.nThe television ad for the film advisesnus that Tess is “a victim of her ownnprovocative beauty.” No innocent Polanski’snTess. Slam, bang—she’s in thenarms of Stoke-D’Uberville with littlenmore than pro forma resistance. Thenscene is not revolting, deliberately notnrevolting. We don’t see an older manntaking advantage of a teen. Rather, NastassianKinski looks young, yes, but shenis meant to be perceived as someonenwho could be an adult, not like Oskar.nShe’s chronologically veiled in a fog.nShe’s kiddycult material.nAnother example is Brooke Shields.nThe Brooke Shields in the Calvin Kleinnads falls into the Oskar category. Therenshe is obviously a 15-year-old, and thenidea of her being a sex object causesna profound disgust. But there is anothernBrooke Shields, one that does fall inton”The I’ri)^ Princv is full of rt’d(rming .sofial significance.”n— Sew York l’ime.i Book Reviewnrally differs from the novel in form andntherefore content, there is a more subtlendifference. When we first see TessnDurbyfield in the novel, she is takingnpart in a dance of virgins, a dance ofninnocents. Note that well. And if youndon’t. Hardy makes sure that you will.nAlthough she is constantly bashed andnbuffeted by tidal waves surging from ansea of outrageous fortune, she stillnkeeps an essential innocence about her.nShe believes in Higher Things; shenhas a childlike belief that things willnturn out for the best. For example, afternTess tells Angel Clare how she was debauched,nHardy emphasizes how Tessncould win Angel back through wiles.nBut she doesn’t; her values won’t allownit. Hardy’s Tess is a child wrongednwhom we feel sorry for because she isna child who was molested by an inveter-nnnthe kiddycult category, as her 15 yearsnare blurred and she appears only asnsomeone young and someone to be admirednby her elders as a peei;. This onencan be seen in an ad for Wella Balsamnhair conditioner. The full-page, colornmagazine ad (I saw it in Redback, notnSeventeen or 16) is simply a near lifesizenstraight-on photo of Shields’s headnand a portion of her shoulders. Part ofnthe copy reads: “I love Wella Balsam….nAnd so will you.” She is identified bynname. This ad places Shields in a linenof Wella girls. The line includes CherylnLadd of “Charlie’s Angels” fame, PriscillanPresley, ex-wife of the late Elvis,nand Marjorie Wallace, a former MissnWorld. These three women have twonthings in common: they have showynmanes and they are desirable to a numbernof men, which means that a numbernJttly/Attgttst 1981n