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The 2 Biggest Problems with I, Gloria Grahame

The media’s portrayal of children is a hot topic. Netflix was boycotted when it released a movie called Cuties which featured sexualized imagery of children. It started a debate about where is the line between art and acceptable sexualization of minors? For some, there shouldn’t really be a line so long as it’s considered a fictional story. Others say it doesn’t matter if real children aren’t impacted

This argument has been raging on since Lolita was published and likely before it as well. I, Gloria Grahame had me thinking about the argument again. Where is the line? Some would argue that art transcends the need for a line and that putting limits on expression is censorship (I disagree for the record) while others would say that we need to have strict, unimpeachable guidelines for fiction (I disagree with this as well). Like most things, the answer likely lies somewhere in between.

There’s so much potential with the premise of the novel. It just can’t get past its two major problems. The first, is the sexualization of minors and the second? A fight against wokeness that ends up pushing the boundaries of being anti-diversity.

Let’s get one thing straight. I, Gloria Grahame doesn’t feel vindictive like Consensual Hex or even softly vindictive like Shine is. The novel also has better writing than either of those.

The Set-up for I, Gloria Grahame

For context, I, Gloria Grahame is a novel by Sky Gilbert that I happened upon while looking at the new book section at the library. I was thrilled when I found the book. A new queer novel described as “a scandalous, humorous novel about taboo desires and repression”. It’s about a gay professor named Denton Moulton who has a rich fantasy life as Gloria Grahame, the old time cinema starlet who got wrapped up in a scandal.

I was so excited to start reading it and then the first two pages were about Gloria Grahame beginning to lust after her 13 year old stepson. It’s surrounded by protestations of no, she shouldn’t, she shouldn’t do this, but that doesn’t change the fact that Gloria stays. She lingers and watches her stepson while he’s sleeping naked, letting him replace her husband in her mind.

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