“Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields” is a documentary series based on the life of the star Brooke Shields. The episode talks about how Brooke Shield was always considered a pretty baby and had been exposed to the world of media from an early age. The documentary is focused on how the media has portrayed Brooke Shields since she was a child. It focused on how the media sexualized a child from the moment the cameras found her pretty face. The episode starts with the dialogue pretty face of Brooke Fields and thus sets the tone for the rest of the episode.
Episode 1: Recap
The media has been sexually exploiting children for quite some time, and with “Pretty Baby: Brooke Shield,” the documentary comments on the 70s media. In the documentary, the camera is constantly focused on the face of Brooke Shield, her mannerisms, how she is presentable in front of the camera, and all of that. The name of the series is from one of Brooke Shields’ provocative 1978 films, “Pretty Baby,” directed by Louis Malle, which cast Shields as a child prostitute from New Orleans, and the narrative was the brothel auctioning off her virginity, among various other things. Various actors who had been child stars, like Drew Barrymore, talked about how Brooke Shields was exploited by the film industry, media, etc, and she went through something similar to that. It sheds light on the relationship between Brooke and her mother, who had been her manager as well. Brooke and her mother were under the constant scrutiny of the media, and it had its own effects.
The episode starts with Brooke being a cute poster girl and a model for many advertisements. From the very beginning, according to her friend, actor Laura Linney, “Brooke represented a femininity of the time.” Brooke’s mother believed her to be a born star and continued to market her to the media like one. In the documentary, Brooke spoke on camera about how she was only aware of her professional life because she had been on camera since she could remember. She was exposed to adult films from a very early age, which did not sit well with the audience. Brooke’s appearances in adult films and magazines were highly controversial, and it almost started a movement among Americans as they were watching inappropriate content on television.
The stardom has its own price to pay; Brooke’s mother, Teri, was a single mother, and they were sustaining Brooke’s stardom as it was paying their bills. Teri managed Brooke, who was the ‘most photographed’ woman in the world. Teri had considered Brooke to be a star from a very early age and did not think much about the areas that Brooke was venturing into, like getting featured in films with adult themes. Brooke, in the documentary, did not blame her mother because of that but had regrets that she could have been more careful. Her friend and actor Laura Linney also quotes that “Brooke was a child in an all-adult world.” Brooke’s childhood was spent in front of the camera, her face being the main subject of the frame to capture for the photographers, and she had mostly no idea about how the glamour industry works. Brooke had to also deal with her alcoholic mother, and both of them were constantly under media scrutiny, making life very difficult for both of them. Brooke had to defend her mother in public as they were the only two people there for each other.
In the episode, Brooke Shields herself says that she was raised Catholic and that kissing someone of an older age on screen had been difficult for her. But her co-actors explained that it is drama and not real which made Brooke to open up a little as the director was not impressed with her being so stiff. In many instances, Brooke has gone on record in the documentary saying that she was being hurt by the director in order to bring out sensual sounds and expressions, as she was a novice to all of that, and that was the harsh truth of her life. She had to act like a grown woman on camera before she reached the age of puberty, and a child going through that with her mother’s knowledge was devastating.
The interviewers treated her as as some kind of fashion symbol after her film “The Blue Lagoon,” which she starred in at the age of 15, and the Calvin Klein ad campaign which was nothing in comparison to any of the child stars of the time. Her poses for Calvin Klein on the big billboards were unprecedented for a teenager, and the sales of the Calvin Klein jeans shot up by 300%. The designer seemed to have no moral obligations for exploiting a teenager sexually, which further strengthened the idea that Brooke Shields was a ‘sex symbol.’ The documentary also focused on how it created a feminist movement and reshaped the media culture that put forward women’s independence and pushed women to be more vocal about things that bothered them. Brooke had to go through a court case because one photographer, who had taken her nude pictures when she was nine, wanted to mint money by selling them. But Brooke lost the legal battle, as the media had already portrayed her as someone who was interested in being a sex symbol, so the photos were seen to have been voluntarily clicked as a public media stunt on Brooke’s part. Such was her image in the society.
How Did Brooke’s Acceptance To The University Influence Her? How Did The End Work Out For Brooke?
Very soon, Brooke was accepted to Princeton University, and the media could observe that she was not only beautiful but also had the smarts to get ahead in life. Her acceptance to the college changed the media’s approach towards her, and the new environment was refreshing to her. But in Princeton, she struggled, as nobody batted an eye towards her as she was seen as a celebrity figure. She would miss her mother as they had never lived apart, but Teri insisted Brooke stay in the university and finish her course as she would regret it later if she gave up on it. She found herself at the university; she joined Princeton’s Triangle Club, which focused on doing musicals and comedies, and she, for the first time in her life, learned to think for herself. She became vocal about her opinions. At the end of the episode, Brooke Shield learns to have an opinion of her own by going to the university.