Saturday, July 18, 2020

Reaction: Kaia Gerber & Charlotte Lawrence MY DARK VANESSA Instagram Book Discussion

Kaia Gerber & Charlotte Lawrence

Kaia Gerber, whom I commend for her outstanding show of support for the #BlackLivesMatter civil rights movement, is an 18-year-old  supermodel and the daughter of former supermodel Cindy Crawford. 

Since The Q began, Kaia has been hosting book club discussions on her Instagram account. Her most recent discussion (July 17, 2020) was about Elizabeth Russell's My Dark Vanessa, and Kaia's guest was 20-year-old singer-songwriter Charlotte Lawrence. 

Here's part of Amazon's plot summary for My Dark Vanessa:
"My Dark Vanessa is an exploration of the repercussions of a March/December relationship between a teacher [42-year-old Jacob Strane] and his student [15-year-old Vanessa] [...] but in her mind the story is about her first love and their all-consuming passion."
Kaia and Charlotte began the discussion by praising My Dark Vanessa:
Charlotte: "Oh my God. It was amazing. It was so sad though."
Kaia: "I know."
Charlotte: "It's my favorite type of book too. It's modern, but it talks about, you know, issues that have been around forever [...] it was really interesting. Like, this easily happened yesterday but also 100 years ago."
Kaia: "These issues have been happening forever [...]"
Kaia's first direct question about the novel was, "Did you feel a sense of frustration in the moments when you feel Vanessa trying to justify the relationship." Charlotte replied, "Oh my God, completely you're like screaming at her [...] 

Charlotte went on to say, "It was a world wind of emotions because, like, it's so sad. Like, this poor girl is so young and she just doesn't understand it yet [...]"

Then Charlotte stated, "Also, it's like she herself doesn't even, you know, realize that she's a "victim"." (Interestingly, Charlotte subconsciously made air quotes upon saying "victim".)

Kaia and Charlotte opined that Vanessa is the victim, because after Strane touched her knee, complimented her poetry, and gave her a copy of Lolita, Vanessa lost all self-control, was completely seduced, and she could not resist the urge to surprise her English teacher with a kiss. However, Vanessa said, "I have the power. Power to make it happen. Power over him. I was an idiot for not realizing this sooner." Possibly, that's why Charlotte made air quotes when she referred to Vanessa as the "victim". And Vanessa asked, rhetorically, if the nymphet in an illegal age-gap relationship should, "[...] share some of the blame, too?"

Charlotte Lawrence & Kaia Gerber 

But twenty-five minutes into the book discussion, Kaia and Charlotte appeared to make contradictory statements about Vanessa's experience:
Kaia: "This (i.e., teacher-student and age-gap relationships) has been happening forever [...] and each experience is unique to the girl involved [...] no one can tell you how to feel or react."

Charlotte emphatically agreed, "No. No one can tell you what's traumatic for you. What like, you know, no one can tell you how you feel. And it's only you. How you went through that journey. How you choose to handle it [...]"
But one of the novel's motifs is that Vanessa had to be convinced that she was a "victim" - using Charlotte's air quotes. And Kaia and Charlotte expressed frustration with Vanessa for (initially) not agreeing with them that she was a victim. So, if "No one can tell you what's traumatic for you," why were Charlotte and Kaia flabbergasted by Vanessa.

Kaia and Charlotte acknowledged that Strane was "smarter" and "wiser" than Vanessa. And consequently, Strane was able to use "psychological grooming" to seduce his high school student, but "psychological grooming" by a smarter or wiser partner is not exclusive to teacher-student relationships or specific to age-gap relationships. 17-year-old boys psychologically groom 17-year-old girls every semester. And vice-versa. 

Pretty Little Liars' Aria & Mr. Fitz

And if I were a betting man and didn't live in The Big Apple, I would bet the farm that Kaia and Charlotte didn't opine that Pretty Little Liars' Aria was a victim in her sexual relationship with Mr. Fitz - Aria's high school English teacher. And I would imagine that it didn't hurt that Aria insisted that the affair continue after Mr. Fitz attempted to end it; ergo, there appears to be a strong negative correlation between victimhood and the hotness of the teacher (i.e., as the hotness of the teacher goes up, the level of victimhood goes down.)

Admittedly, I was surprised by Kaia's choice to invite Charlotte to the My Dark Vanessa discussion, but it turns out that Charlotte was involved in her own age-gap affair, which was the inspiration for "Everybody Loves You" - a song The [Dixie] Chicks covered on their new album.

Charlotte Lawrence & Charlie Puth 

Per Capital FM, "The UK's No.1 Hit Music Station", when Charlotte was 18, she was involved in an age-gap affair with Charlie Puth - a then 27-year-old singer-songwriter.

Here are some of the lyrics to "Everybody Loves You" from Young:
I am so tired, I have to tame my mind before I get too frustrated
Can't go back in time to change in someone's eyes
That I was not something to play with

It's my body and I'm trying to hate you 'cause I want to
It's my body and I'm trying to while everybody loves you
It's my body and I'm trying to forgive you, I don't want to
It's my body and it hates you, why does everybody love you?
Why does everybody love you?
They don't know enough about you
Do they know that I regret you?
Do they know I shouldn't have to?
Why does everybody love you?
They don't know enough about you
Do they know that I regret you?
Do they know I shouldn't have to?
Charlotte shared with Kaia the following about the inspiration for "Everybody Loves You":

"I wrote the song about, you know, an experience I had that - that was inappropriate and traumatizing and bad. And for awhile I always justified it and always thought that I was being crazy and it was okay because, you know, he was so popular and cool. Everybody loved him, and it was amazing. And, I don't know. One day I just woke up, and I was like, "No, that wasn't okay."

Once again, Charlotte's missing the point. A "popular" and "cool" person whom "everybody loved", can be immensely attractive to anyone - regardless of the age differences.

Kaia Gerber & Pete Davidson

In addition to Charlotte's age-gap affair, earlier this year, 18-year-old Kaia dated Pete Davidson - the 26-year-old Saturday Night Live comedian.

Which raises some clarifying questions. After experiencing age-gap relationships, are Charlotte and Kaia against all age-gap relationships? If not, in their opinions, what's the proper age gap? And what is that age-gap number based on? Science? Anecdotal evidence? Conjecture? 

Lastly, My Dark Vanessa may be a cautionary tale, but it's additionally entertainment that illustrates the allure of nymphets. Case in point pages seven and eight where Vanessa, years after their affair, requested Strane, "[....] give me a memory, something I can slip into." After Vanessa turned onto her stomach and shoved a pillow between her legs to masturbate, Strane reminisced about when he performed oral sex on Vanessa: "in the office behind his classroom". Vanessa was: "[...] fifteen and naked from the waist down, sprawled on the couch [...]" Strane added, "[...] I remember once you bit down on your bottom lip so hard, you started to bleed, but you wouldn't let me stop."

A full analysis of My Dark Vanessa is here.

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