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Disturbing Baby Burlesks

The “Baby Burklesk” video, “Polly Tix in Washington” is the perfect example of what John Kasson is speaking about when he says that Shirley Temple’s early roles were, “perched ambiguously on the cusp between innocence and flirtatiousness.” (Kasson, 131) In the satire Shirley plays an expensive call girl hired to seduce a new congressman into voting for a new bill on Castor Oil.  She is shown prancing around in a lace bra and expensive jewelry, and offering the baby congressman cake to persuade him. However, she winds up falling in love and almost getting herself killed until the baby congressman fights for her honor.

The video definitely makes a mockery of the children and their innocence.  In the final scene, Shirley tells the only black child featured in the film, that prosperity is just around the corner, and the film concludes with him running around the corners of the street searching for it.  It is also mildly disturbing that at an age where boys and girls typically think each other to have “cooties” they are playing prostitutes and fighting for love.

In class we spoke of contemporary examples of videos such as these, that use children to play roles they do not fully understand or ones pushed upon them by adults.  One example we spoke of was “Pearl the Landlord,” and I was immediately reminded of the parodies done by children who reenact episodes of The Hills, Jersey Shore, and The Real Housewives of New Jersey.  After watching these recent mockeries acted out by children, the ones Shirley Temple played in seemed slightly less disturbing.


Kids Act out “The Hills”

Kids Act out “Jersey Shore”

Kids Act out “Real Housewives of New Jersey”

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