Eight-Year-Old Striptease: A Commentary on American Success

In the film, Little Miss Sunshine, Michael Arndt makes an overarching commentary about the American idea of success. The ever present epitomization of these ideals is the childrens' beauty pageant. A smaller point he is making is that of the sexualization of children in these gaudy displays. Arndt hyperbolizes this ideal in Olive's routine:

(pardon the clip I found, it's in French)

It appears Arndt is saying the next possible step in these shows is an eight-year-old performing a striptease. While the main point of the film is the elimination of the pure dichotomy of success and failure, leading the individual to be himself/herself, Arndt is also asking what has become of our culture. Little girls are sex objects in the auspice of beauty and success. In America's drive to stay on the cutting edge, one must ask what's next when little girls are flaunting themselves in foundation and glitter. The Hoover family seems to live and breathe on the conflict of success, but they being dynamic characters, learn to value individualism over buying into the standard ideals of the day. Dwayne will fly on his own rules. Frank will be his own scholar. Richard will find his own success. Olive will be her own kind of beautiful.

In the film , Michael Arndt is telling us not to buy into what the masses define as success but the climax, while being absolutely hilarious, has its own kind of vindication and most certainly its own kind of message.


Pearl said…
I agree, and I enjoyed this movie. The "strip" was especially outlandish because, well, not only was the girl 8, but she looked 8, she dressed 8, she accted 8. The other girls, dressed in layers of make-up and ruffles and hairspray, came off far more as tiny little hookers than Olive, and yet Olive's routine was the "obscene" one...
I dislike what we've done to childhood. You can buy hot pants and halter tops now at Target and Wal-Mart for five-year-olds...

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