Sunday, August 9, 2020

Netflix's BABY (2019): Italian Schoolgirl Teen Prostitutes in Rome


We were doing some research on the second season of Big Mouth (2019) when Netflix suggested the second season of Baby (2019). We were charmed by the thumbnail, intrigued by the plot summary, and entertained by the trailer. And absorbed by Emily Tannenbaum's Cosmopolitaarticle "The True Story Behind Netflix's 'Baby' Is Even More Disturbing Than the Show". 

Here's Netflix's plot summary: At an exclusive private high school, student athlete Chiara forges an unlikely bond with rebellious classmate Ludovica [...]But it wasn't until we read Tannenbaum's article that we realized that the "unlikely bond" between Chiara and Ludovica is teen prostitution and that the teen drama is based on a true story - the 'Baby Squillo' (i.e., baby prostitute) scandal. 
Tannenbaum shared:

[...] Baby is a grime-stained window into the lives of various students who attend an exclusive Roman high school. Mostly, the series focuses on Chiara (Benedetta Porcaroli) and Ludovica (Alice Pagani), who turn to high-end prostitution to make money.

THE TRUE STORY: Back in 2014, it was discovered [...] that two high school girls in the wealthy district of Parioli, Rome were selling their bodies [like (some) Japanese schoolgirlsfor sex in order to buy luxury products like designer clothes and electronics [...] [A] dozen more girls were involved in the underage prostitution ring, but it "centers on a 14-year-old [Agnese] and a 16-year-old [Angela] who told investigating prosecutor Cristina Macchiusi that they got into the game by searching 'easy money' on Google."
A number of men, including a descendant of Mussolini, were arrested for not being able to resist the allure of Italian nymphet prostitutes, but (unsurprisingly) none of the teen prostitutes were arrested.

And just like Demi Moore's mother, Agnese's mother encouraged men to exchange sex for money with her teen daughter. 

In addition, Tannenbaum wrote that: "[...] Baby has been the subject of massive pushback from the National Center on Sexual Exploitation for "glamorizing" the true story of the 'Baby Squillo' scandal [...]" In response to the pushback, Netflix Vice President of International Originals Kelly Luegenbiehl said, “The first thing that we are always looking for is authenticity, and this show has that." 
In addition to Italian schoolgirl prostitution, two other motifs stood out from Baby: raunchy Italian prep school students and materialism. For example, the directors made it a point to show Italian teens in thongs. 

There were some notable quotes about teen prostitution from the series. For instance, Chiara shared with Ludovica that she liked how a john treated her like an adult, "He treated me like a grown up." 
One of the Italian pimps said in reference to Chiara and Ludovica, "We're helping them do something they freely chose to do. Did I force them to come here tonight? [...] Of course not."

When a john asked Ludovica, "Sorry, but how old are you?"
Ludovica replied, "Do you want me to be a little girl or a big girl?"
john, "Thanks, but I don't go with minors. Sorry."
Ludovica replied, "What's the problem? It's consensual." Thereby, dispelling the principle held my many that a teen can't consent to underage prostitution. 
A non-teen prostitute asked Chiara a rhetorical question about why Chiara volunteered to be a teen prostitute and she answered that Chiara did it because Chiara liked being a teen prostitute, Chiara liked feeling in control, she liked that she could do whatever she pleased, and she liked feeling powerful. 

And Chiara shared with a classmate, "It might sound crazy, but sometimes I feel more comfortable with them [i.e., older johns] than with guys our age."
Lastly, per Netflix Italia's Twitter page, season 3 of Baby is scheduled to begin streaming in September. 

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