Screengrab: Gaumont

It’s a tale as old as time— at least in science fiction. A beautiful woman wakes up in a scary new world, unable to grasp the basic day-to-day activities of life. She could be a robot, or a mermaid, or a goddamn Messiah sent by aliens. It doesn’t matter, she’ll always latch onto the first schlub she sees. Because she was “Born Sexy Yesterday.”

An interesting video from YouTuber Jonathan McIntosh, as Pop Culture Detective, dives into a common trope of female characters who have the minds of children but the bodies of mature women. There are plenty of reasons why this trope exists and why it thrives in the scifi genre, but the main purpose of it (at least according to the video) is the male power fantasy. It’s the idea that a sexy yet virginal woman needs a man to explain the basic fundamentals of being a person, making her dependent on him. It doesn’t matter how unremarkable he is, she’ll always find him fascinating, because she’s never known anyone else.

Of course, there are examples of male characters who fall into the trope of naive newcomer (Buddy from Elf comes to mind), but oftentimes it’s played for laughs, and the woman ends up serving as a sort of motherly surrogate... which is far from sexy, although it probably depends on who you ask. In any case, it’s far more likely to be a male fantasy, and that can result in female characters who are basically Manic Pixie Dream Girls with fewer pairs of giant headphones and more surprising karate moves. Check out the video below.

[YouTube]