A recent documentary has come to light which has some major relevance to the Minor Attracted Adult [MAA] community, and the global cultural factors which affect public attitudes towards the pedophiliac and hebephiliac attraction bases (in this particular case, the latter), and I believe this warranted an essay.
The situation discussed in the documentary was adeptly summarized by my fellow MAA activist Joey Bishop in this post of his on GirlChat:
I just saw this BBC documentary titled Beckii: Schoolgirl Superstar at 14, and it's probably one of the best documentaries I've seen in a while. It's an interesting chronicle of culture clash and instant Internet fame. It all starts when a cute British girl named Beckii, who's a fan of Japanese anime, and oddly enough sort of resembles an anime character herself, posts a video online of herself dancing along to an anime inspired J-Pop hip hop song called Danjo, Danjo.
Almost overnight, she becomes a sensation in Japan with her cute looks that resemble an anime character, which satisfies Japan's cultural fascination with both incredibly cute things, known as kawaii culture, and anime characters. Eventually, she ends up landing in the top 20 on the Japanese pop charts and having entire magazines filled up with photos of her. There are even aspirations to stardom back in her native Britain, as well as worldwide, and whether that possibility will prevail is left open ended, but looks at least somewhat promising. Things seem to be on the up and up for this pretty young girl.
And yet, there is a culture clash and a moral dilemma in place. As Beckii herself admits, despite her appreciation of some aspects of the Japanese culture, she still thinks with a British mentality, and the sexual undertones of her appeal, and the age and gender of much of her fan base troubles her and her family, which includes her policeman father. She's happy to receive expensive gifts from her biggest fan, an ostensibly wealthy middle-aged Japanese man, yet is a bit ambivalent about her relationship with him and whether it should continue despite the gifts he sends which please her.
The above documentary has since been uploaded to YouTube, and can be found here.
For those indigenous to the U.K., you can watch it online at the BBC three home page, which can be found here [video has since been removed from YouTube].
With the above said, courtesy of Joey Bishop (which I thank him for bringing to my attention), I now move onto my essay, where I have some words to say about this matter.
One of the major things about the Internet to keep in mind is that it's a global phenomenon. As a result, people from Country A who become overnight sensations as a result of uploading videos of themselves to sites like Youtube are sometimes going to achieve a lot of appeal not just in their native land, but also in Country B. If the latter occurs, then they are quickly going to realize that the values and attitudes of their indigenous culture are not the equivalent of laws of nature. The moral conceits that are so popular in the U.S. and Britain which demonize adult men who openly acknowledge the sexual attractiveness of adolescent girls under a certain arbitrary age are obviously not nearly as extant in certain Eastern nations like Japan, which has a long and solid tradition of Girl Love (GL), much as Greece and Rome had long-standing traditions of Boy Love (BL). In Japan, it's considered completely normal for middle-aged heterosexual or bisexual men to acknowledge the attractiveness of young adolescent girls. Rebecca Flint, a.k.a., Beckii Cruel and her family may not like this aspect of Japanese culture, but if she chooses to immerse herself in the intricacies of a culture that made her a superstar, she needs to understand that the GL aspects of Japanese culture are a package deal and have been a central part of anime since the inception of the medium (more on that in a minute). Hopefully, upon studying the Japanese culture in greater detail and accepting friendships from the middle-aged fan boys there who adore her on all levels, she will become more open-minded and come to question what she has always incorrectly believed to be the universal nature or moral absolutism of her own Western-based culture's disdain for adult men (and women) acknowledging the attractiveness of young adolescent girls. It will eventually become clear to Beckii that girls of her age group are seen as young adults in Japan rather than how they are most often viewed by the wider culture in Western nations, i.e., as older children. Also, it should be mentioned that true pedophilia, while still stigmatized to a degree in Japan, is nevertheless much more easily discussed there than in the Western nations.
Another thing regarding the situation discussed in this essay that Beckii should be aware of is this: in Japan, anime is enjoyed by people of multiple age groups, not simply children, tweens, and younger teens. The attitudes towards animated fare in Western and Eastern nations are often quite different. American and British audiences automatically relegate anything that is animated to the "kiddie ghetto," and such shows need to be made 'kid friendly' in order to thrive on U.S. or British television or on the big screen (unless, curiously, those shows are sitcoms like The Simpsons or Family Guy). There are exceptions, of course (note the Cartoon Network's "Adult Swim" segment), but they are rare, they are usually not nearly as popular or widely viewed as the animated fare designed for younger audiences, and they are often attacked by parents groups who expect all such animated fare to conform to "family oriented" standards. In other words, in many Western nations (including the U.S. and Britain) the realm of animation isn't viewed as a particular medium where any subject or genre can be depicted, but instead seems to be perceived as nothing more than a genre that is automatically geared towards a specific age group. This is not the case in Japan, where animated fare is geared towards and appreciated by a multiplicity of age groups. Anime is probably as popular among adults in Japan as it is to younger audiences, and as such anime in its original form is often shown detailing themes that are not socially acceptable for "kiddie" fare in the U.S. and Britain, some of which would likely offend adult audiences even if explicitely geared towards that age group. As a result, when these anime shows are imported to American and British shores, they are heavily edited and censored, with any themes that may make them "inappropriate" for younger audiences according to Western cultural standards, including anything to do with intergenerational attraction, being excised. There have been several anime series featuring young girls where one of the girls' teachers or some other adult friend had a crush on her, and the adult in question was not automatically depicted as a bad guy, because what is called the hebephiliac attraction base in the Western world is not considered deviant in Japanese culture. But these themes (along with other things, such as scenes of young people smoking or drinking alcohol) are thorougly extirpated from the American and British versions of the anime, which is why Beckii and other anime fans in the West wouldn't have the slightest clue that expressions of GL are relatively common and something close to mainstream in the Land of the Rising Sun. Girls who grew up in a Japanese culture wouldn't consider such themes to constitute a "moral dilemma" (at least not in a knee-jerk manner), and regardless to how they may personally feel about adult attraction to girls in their age group, and whether or not they themselves may have a notable attraction to or even a preference for significantly older people or not, they nevertheless accept it as normal and common.
But Beckii grew up in a Western culture, during a time period when the "pedophile panic" and the resultant infantalization of young adolescent girls is still going ahead full steam, so it's no wonder that her reaction to the adult male attention she has received from her Japanese fan base would come off as morally dubious or "strange" to her. This also explains why she is attempting to put forth an "innocent" or entirely non-sexual image since discovering this adult interest in her despite the fact that the sexual aspects of girls in anime have never been hidden in their original Japanese versions, and also despite the fact that there is ample evidence that this level of "innocence" isn't natural to adolescent girls but is actually an artificial socio-cultural imposition that Beckii feels she must acquiesce to for sake of adhering to an image that is socially acceptable to her particular culture. At one point in the documentary, she acknowledged the cultural differences between Japan and her native Britain in regards to this issue, but she said she still believes that it's morally wrong for adult men to have this type of admiration for young adolescent girls, or for girls her age to exude any sexual appeal. What she doesn't seem to realize is that her belief that this is morally wrong is no different than people of various cultures strongly believing that the homosexual attraction base is morally wrong, yet this doesn't change the fact that homosexuality is natural and pervasive despite some people's moral reservations against it, which is the same situation regarding pedophilia and hebephilia. As such, it's quite clear that moralism is both subjective and culturally relative.
Further, the fact that Beckii was supposedly so taken aback that a large proportion of her Japanese fan base are older adult males is not because adult attraction to girls in her age group is any less common in Britain than it is in Japan, but the illusion that this is the case occurs due to the fact that the vast majority of adult men in Britain do not acknowledge their attraction to young adolescent girls openly for fear of severe societal backlash. As a result, the many hebephiles in Britain (i.e., those adult men and women with a specific preference for young adolescents) are usually very much in the closet, a state of affairs which is demonstrably not the case in Japan. I think what Beckii needs to do in the future is to get her hands on some of the unedited, Japanese versions of the anime she enjoys so much, so that she can see some of these themes played out and come to the realization that the versions she sees in her native Britain are extremely whitewashed to make them more 'acceptable' to the kid audiences in the West. This editing process is also done to make these animated series palatable to parents groups and polite society in general, who do not want intergenerational attraction depicted in a morally neutral fashion, do not want to see depictions of men with such an attraction base as anything other than predatory monsters in human skin, and do not want to see young girls giving out the implication that it's okay for them to express their natural human sexuality, let alone appear to embrace it proudly as a natural aspect of their being rather than attempting to deny its existence as Beckii is evidently attempting to do so as to appease the moralizing standards of her indigenous culture. Many examples of anime featuring young girl characters display a degree of sexual appreciation for them (note the revealing outfits worn by many girl protagonists in certain anime), and it's a shame that the sanitized versions of these shows that reach American and British shores leave out these important aspects to such an extent that Western girl fans like Beckii are totally unaware of the existence of such a multi-faceted level of admiration for these young girl protagonists that she admires and identifies with.
Another thing to wonder about is whether or not Beckii was unduly influenced in her moral dilemma by her police officer father. The police are rivaled only by mainstream media moguls (such as Oprah Winfrey and just about any talk show host you can think of who is more interested in sensationalism-generated ratings than factual and open-minded discussions) as being the absolute worst source of information about Minor Attracted Adults (MAAs) and the phenomenon of adult attraction to minors in general. The police of Western nations do not routinely have mutually amiable discussions with the large number of MAAs who are perfectly law-abiding and decent people, and as such they do not have anything remotely resembling an accurate knowledge of the typical members of this community, nor do they see us as anything other than criminals or potential criminals who "prey" upon the young and vulnerable. To these police officers, arresting adults who engage in mutually consensual romantic/sexual relationships with young girls (and boys) or who view "sexy" pics of them online is their job, and this will inevitably color their attitude towards even the large number of people in this community who do not break the law. This is precisely the same reason why police often develop a strong antipathy towards other marginalized minorities, including black people who live in the inner city ghettos and members of the homosexual community in the past (where they were often arrested for public displays of romantic affection towards each other). As such, it's to be expected that Beckii's father would have such a negative reaction to the attention his daughter is receiving from middle-aged men in Japan as a result of her stardom there, because he views all such men as nothing more than dangerous psychotic deviants who would try to harm his daughter if given the slightest chance. This, of course, is utterly ridiculous, as the vast majority of men who are attracted to minors are decent people who would never harm a youth in any real or demonstrable manner, and the fact that violent crimes against children and adolescents are extremely rare outside of the home even in nations where the majority of adults acknowledge an attraction to minors (such as Japan) should speak volumes about the validity of this hysteria and accompanying moral objections and attitudes to the attraction base. The admiration towards Beckii by these men derive from a culture that is not ashamed of acknowledging the great attractiveness and appeal of young girls on all levels, but considering the political and cultural climate of the nation that Beckii was raised in (specifically, the Isle of Man), it shouldn't come as any major surprise that she doesn't perceive such attention as flattering and affirming to her self-esteem, but instead something to be concerned about. Since the hebephiliac attraction base is readily acknowledged by the great majority of men in Japan, obviously most, if not all, of these men are not psychopaths but normal and well-adjusted individuals who appreciate what Beckii offers to the world on every conceivable level, as opposed to viewing her through the lense of Western cultural conceits, which would insist that she be viewed as "just a cute kid" and have all of her amazing qualities dismissed or downplayed as a result. Instead, her adult male Japanese admirers see her in a far more multi-faceted manner: as a talented and beautiful young woman who exudes a high degree of intelligence, energy, creativity, and sex appeal, and who does the great medium of anime proud by her enthusiasm for it.
At one point in the documentary Beckii's mother makes a sincere attempt to be open-minded about her daughter's great popularity amongst middle-aged men in Japan despite the political and cultural milieu in which she was raised by saying that she doesn't believe the common hype that all men who view her daughter's videos are "pedophiles" or other "seedy" individuals, and that many of these men are fully capable of enjoying these videos "innocently," i.e., appreciating every aspect of her daughter except for the sex appeal. Has it ever occurred to Beckii's mom that adult men are perfectly capable of admiring her obvious sexual attractiveness without that being the only reason that they admire her, that they can fully appreciate this in harmony with her other great qualities on display (e.g., talent, energy, a sparkling personality, creativity, a great appreciation for a much beloved medium, etc.), and that such men are not automatically "seedy" or in any way dishonorable simply because they find her physically attractive in addition to their admiration for all her other traits? Clearly, stereotypes about men who hold this natural and common attraction base for adolescent girls continues to abound in the Western mindset despite growing evidence that it's anything but unusual, and that having this attraction base in no way denigrates the moral character of any adult who possesses it.
One other thing that should be mentioned here is that Beckii and her family seem totally unaware of the cam girl phenomenon of the past decade, a phenomenon that is hardly unknown and which has been the subject of many articles and at least a few television news shows (such as 60 Minutes). It's been well known for a long time now that since the inception of public access to the Internet and the invention of web cams that young adolescent girls (and sometimes boys) from any number of nations, including Western nations like the U.S. and Britain, receive an enormous amount of attention from adult men by putting cam photos of themselves up on personal websites, and sometimes even do real time cam shows for their adoring fan base (usually kept legal, of course). These girls routinely put up wish lists on their sites where they highlight all of the often expensive items that they want, as they know that their many adult male fans will gladly purchase these items for them as gifts. Further, many of these cam girls accept generous monetary donations from their adult male admirers to support both themselves and the operating expenses of their site. Some cam girls and boys have made quite a decent living off of donations and gifts courtesy of their legion of admiring adult fans, and this in a society where younger people are mostly denied any good opportunities to earn their own money and achieve any degree of economic independence from their parents. Do these girls actually believe that it's mostly adolescent boys in their age group who purchase these gifts for them, especially when these wish lists are often created on Amazon.com and most teen boys do not have credit or debit cards that would enable them to make the purchases in the first place, let alone have enough money to do so? It's often made quite clear by these girls that they are well aware that a large proportion of their admirers, both male and female, are significantly older adults. Though a few of these cam girls complain about the "old pervs" who dare to admire them, none of these girls evidently have any problem with milking their obvious sexual appeal for all its worth and receiving literally thousands of dollars worth of gifts from these smitten adult admirers every year, not to mention enough donations in some cases to enable them to make a better living than most of their parents do. There has never been the slightest evidence that the vast majority of these adult admirers are mentally unbalanced or dangerous in any way, and I have yet to hear of any instance where any of these cam girls were stalked and/or murdered by one of their adult admirers (even if they do sometimes receive erotic personal communications from them).
So while most men in contemporary Western culture are not willing to openly admit their attraction to young adolescent girls due to all of the severe societal stigma against it, they do indeed display their appreciation for these girls' great beauty and attractiveness in ways such as those mentioned above (where they can do so anonomously), so the phenomenon shouldn't have come to any great surprise to Beckii or her family. Is their professed naivety in this area of knowledge accurate, or are they simply "playing dumb" in an attempt to cater to the expectations of their culture? Adult attraction to young adolescent girls (as well as to children, even if in lesser numbers than hebephilia) is common, pervasive, and quite obvious despite whatever level of moralizing condemnation may or may not exist against it on any level in any given culture. Furthermore, many adolescent girls are well aware of their sexual attractiveness to people of all age groups, and are readily able to profit from it if they so choose, so Beckii's claims to being innocently unaware of this aspect of herself is questionable. One must also wonder if she has honestly never seen the multitude of uploaded videos (particularly dance videos) to YouTube from tween and teen girls who are obviously making an effort to exude sex appeal and are well aware that many of their channel's admirers are adult men. One cannot tell beyond a shadow of a doubt if Beckii is sincerely unaware of both this fairly ubiquitous aspect of YouTube as well as her own sex appeal, of course, but considering all of the obvious facts I mentioned above, I do not think it's out of line to at least question its veracity and wonder if she is just attempting to construct an image of herself that is acceptable to both her parents and her culture at large.
I think the friendship that Beckii has established with her biggest Japanese fan, a wealthy middle-aged man who sends her many gifts, will ultimately come to open her mind and expand her cultural horizons if she chooses to continue it. She will come to see that he is most likely not a monster, that his admiration of her is sincere, and that the sexual components of that admiration in no way lesson or taint the emotional and social aspects of that admiration. He likely appreciates her on all levels, and therefore affords her a level of respect that the great majority of people over the age of 18 in her native Britain (and elsewhere in the Western world) would not give her, at least not openly.
Though I would never expect Beckii or her Cruel Angels cohort Gemma (who also appears in the documentary and expresses many of the same misgivings about the adult attention she receives) to show an interest in adult men that they do not naturally possess--after all, I do not believe that the majority of adolescent girls are gerontophiles, i.e., possessing a pronounced romantic interest in or outright preference for significantly older adults, though I do believe the latter may very well comprise a significant minority of their number--I think they can neverthess still receive a degree of flattery rather than concern or open disdain for a type of natural admiration that, while it may not be their personal cup of tea, was nevertheless responsible for a large proportion of the fan base that rocketed them towards stardom. It would appear that adult men (and likely women too) have a large influence on the level of popularity that adolescent (and possibly child) stars achieve, whether these youths and their families like it or not, and as such it may not be good form for these girls to publicly disparage this possibly important faction of their fan base, especially when there is no evidence whatsoever that these large numbers of adult fans are in any way dangerous. Gemma said that she thought it was "sad" that adult men enjoy watching young girls dance in videos, without considering that if they didn't, her popularity margin may have been considerably less than it has become, and it's arguably possible that her rise to fame would not have nearly as much support as it did without this faction of her fan base. This doesn't mean that girl stars like Beckii and Gemma should be expected to develop an attraction to these men if they do not naturally possess it to any sizable degree, but at the same time it doesn't mean that they shouldn't show this part of their fan base the respect it deserves, and to realize that adult men who have this degree of admiration for young girls are neither rare nor deviant. It also means that the sexual component of these girls' appeal to fans of all ages need not be denied or suppressed to appeal to their native cultural biases, but can be embraced or at least accepted as a natural aspect of their being that cannot be fully stifled or ignored even if they sincerely want this to be the case.