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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Baby's sexual seduction of Johnny was unethical - Part 1

When Baby Houseman decided to sexually seduce Johnny Castle, she should have included the following considerations in her decision.


The Kellermans' Rules for the Dancers

Early in the movie Dirty Dancing, Baby Houseman listens to Max Kellerman, the resort owner, restricts Johnny Castle's relationships with young female guests.
You got your own rules. Dance with the daughters. Teach 'em the mambo, the cha-cha, anything they pay for. That's it. That's where it ends.

No funny business, no conversations, and keep you hands off!
Later in the movie, in Baby's presence, Penny remarks the resort's dancers might be fired for violating the resort's rules about sexual relations.
Jesus, Billy! Now she's gonna run and tell her little management boyfriend and then we'll all get fired.

Why not sky-write it? -- "Penny got knocked up by Robbie, the creep."
Baby's knowledge of the possible employment consequences for Johnny should have informed her about Johnny's obvious self-restraint in his personal relationship with her. It's likely that he feared dire consequences for himself -- and also his dance partner Penny Johnson -- if he were caught in a relationship that his employer forbad.


Her Father's Relationship With Max Kellerman

Baby's father and Max Kellerman had a special relationship with each other. Max felt that Dr. Houseman had saved his life, and so Max provided the resort's best suite, and he instructed his employees to provide favoring treatment to the Houseman family.

By seducing Johnny, Baby risked causing trouble in the relationship between her father and Max.

Baby's trouble-making might reflect not merely on herself, but rather on her entire family.


Her Own Relationship With Neil Kellerman

From the beginning of her stay at the resort, Baby engaged in a special relationship with Max's grandson Neil, who worked there as a manager  Neil directly managed Johnny and Penny, and so Neil would have to discipline -- perhaps even fire -- them for violating the rules.

By seducing Johnny, Baby risked putting Neil into a managerial situation of having to punish Johnny. Neil's situation might be especially agonizing because it might affect his own personal affection for Baby and affect his grandfather's special relationship with Baby's father.

Although Baby's romantic relationship with Neil was rather casual on her part, she surely perceived that Neil was trying to move that relationship forward. She did not break off that relationship clearly with Neil before she decided to become sexual with Johnny.

Baby did not inform and discourage Neil gently. As Baby tried to keep her sexual relationship with Johnny secret, there was a growing possibility that Neil would learn about it in a way that might be shocking, traumatic and humiliating for him.


Her Father's Recent Favors to Her

Just a few days before Baby seduced Johnny, her father had lent her $250 in a trusting manner.

Then, only an hour or two before Baby seduced Johnny, her father got out of bed in the middle of the night at Baby's request and went to Penny's cabin to provide his unpaid medical services in a troubling situation.

On that occasion, her father realized that she had lied to him about the purpose of the $250 loan. Although angry, her father controlled his temper. He refrained from rebuking Baby. In particular, he refrained from humiliating Baby in front of her friends, and he refrained from informing Baby's mother about Baby's recent conduct.

In this situation where Baby's father had treated Baby with extraordinary trust and self-control, he now warned her to stay away from Johnny and Penny -- for Baby's own good.

Despite the extraordinary favors that Baby had received from her father so recently, selflessly and generously, she betrayed her father immediately after he asked her to stay away from Johnny.


Penny and Johnny Owed Money to Baby

Baby had given $250 to Penny. Although Baby perhaps considered the money to be a gift, Penny and Johnny surely felt obligated to pay it back.

Also, the medical treatment of Penny's post-abortion problems might require another loan of money.

Furthermore, Baby now had substituted for Penny is a paying job. Perhaps Penny and Johnny felt obligated to give Baby half of the money that the Sheldrake Hotel had paid for the performance.

In general, Penny and Johnny were poor, and Baby belonged to a wealthy family.

When Baby indicated to Johnny that she wanted her relationship with him to become sexual, Johnny apparently was not eager to do so. He went along with her seduction despite his own better judgment.

Monetary considerations might have affected his decision. Just as a woman might feel obligated sexually to a man who has spent a lot of money on her, Johnny perhaps felt himself obligated to Baby.


Penny's Precarious Condition

Although Penny had received some first aide, there still was a considerable possibility that she might have to be hospitalized -- perhaps already during that very night. If a medical emergency developed, the main person who would be responsible for responding to her, transporting her and speaking for her would be Johnny. He had to be available for Penny.

In addition, Penny might need medical support or statements from Dr. Houseman or might need more money for medical treatment.

Furthermore, Johnny was preoccupied mentally about Penny's dire condition.

Although Baby surely felt that the night after her dance performance with Johnny was an optimum time to initiate a sexual relationship with him, Penny's medical emergency now made this night a bad time for Johnny, for Penny and for Baby herself in various respects.

Even if Baby still wanted to initiate a sexual relationship with Johnny, she should have postponed her actions to a later day, largely because of Penny's condition.


Her Age Difference With Johnny

A rule of thumb about acceptable age differences in romantic relationships says to divide the older person's age in half and add seven. Since Baby was 17 years old, she should not involve herself with an older partner who is older than about 20, because (20 / 2 + 7) = 17.

Johnny is in at least his mid-twenties, and so he is too old for Baby. She seduced him into a relationship that probably would cause trouble for him merely because of their age difference.

Furthermore, the age difference between herself and Johnny would distress her parents if they ever found out about the relationship. Her parents already had various reasons to object to the relationship, and the age difference would be another big reason.


I will criticize the ethics of Baby's seduction decision further in a future post.


In the meantime, watch the following superb video lecture by "Political Philosophy Guy" about normative ethics.

Monday, February 19, 2018

The Intrusion of Baby's Father Into Her Seduction of Johnny

I suppose there are two major opinions about when Baby Houseman decided to seduce Johnny Castle.

Perhaps the more common opinion is that she decided to do so rather spontaneously while she was in his cabin and talking with him about their various feelings and concerns.

In contrast, my own opinion is that she made her decision before she traveled with him to the Sheldrake Hotel. I explained my opinion in a previous article titled Baby intended to seduce Johnny when they returned from the Sheldrake. That article included the following passages.
.... Although Johnny intended to stop spending time with Baby, she wanted to continue and develop her relationship with Johnny. She had three goals:

1) To lose her virginity to him.

2) To continue learning to dance from him.

3) To prepare a dance performance with him for the talent show.

Baby did not have money to pay Johnny for private dance lessons or for help in performing at the talent show. She already owed $250 to her father, so she would not get much more money from him.


The video clip showing Baby's conversation with Lisa on bingo night reveals that Baby has become uncharacteristically ruthless, deceitful and manipulative.
This scene -- although partially deleted from the movie -- provides an informative context for evaluating Baby's effort to continue and develop her relationship with Johnny. Tonight Baby will do whatever it takes to succeed, no matter how her desperate methods might contradict her lifetime of developing her superb ethical character and reputation. Baby intended to seduce Johnny sexually that night so that he would continue to spend time with him through her remaining days at the resort.

If you still prefer the first opinion -- that Baby decided while talking with Johnny in his cabin -- then please consider my opinion anyway, just for the sake of argument. If my opinion is correct, then the appearance of Jake Houseman in the middle of Baby's scheme provides a much better drama.

Consider this sequence of events:
From a distance, Baby sees her parents go into the hotel to play bingo. Baby runs up and asks her sister Lisa to lie to their parents that Baby will be staying in her hotel room all evening because of a headache.

Baby travels with Johnny to and from the Sheldrake. Baby is scheming to seduce Johnny eventually that night.

Baby and Johnny learn that Penny Johnson is in mortal danger after an abortion

Baby is compelled to go to her family's hotel suite to get her father and bring him to Penny's cabin.

Her father treats Penny and realizes that Baby used his $250 to pay for the abortion.

On their walk back to the family's hotel suite, Baby's father forbids her to have anything more to do with Johnny and Penny.

Baby's father goes back to bed, while Baby makes a show of removing the makeup from her face.

Baby sneaks out of the family's suite and goes to Johnny's cabin to accomplish her intention to seduce him.
Yikes !!!!

Baby is in the middle of her scheme to seduce Johnny, and then unexpectedly she has to go bring her father into the scene. Then while he is in the scene, her father orders her never to have anything to do with Johnny.

And then she immediately disobeys her father and goes to Johnny's cabin and gets sexual with him.

This story is much more exciting than the story where she does not make her seduction decision until she is in the cabin and talking with Johnny.


This difference of opinion about when Baby made her seduction decision is an interesting discussion topic for students of the movie. Both opinions can be argued well. The deletion of part of the scene where Baby and Lisa talk about Baby's lying is an important consideration.

A person watching the movie for the first time has no reason to think that Baby intends already during the Sheldrake trip to seduce Johnny. The first-time watcher does not know yet that the seduction will happen.

Only in retrospect -- or during a re-watching -- might the watcher suspect that Baby made her seduction decision far earlier than the actual seduction.


When the story was filmed, Baby threatened to lie about Lisa -- to lie that Lisa left Baby alone when their parents went to the wedding Washington -- to their parents. Although that dialogue was filmed, it eventually was deleted from the movie.  That deletion significantly changed the movie audience's understanding of Baby and of her actions during the following hours that night.

I developed my different opinion about Baby's seduction decision after I learned that she had made that threat to Lisa in a bit of dialogue that was deleted before the movie was shown to the public. It's quite debatable how much anyone should base his interpretation of a movie on elements that have been deleted.

In this particular case, I argue that the new interpretation provides better, more exciting drama.

This is a good discussion topic for movie students.