‘Call her moonchild’: Christina Ricci’s enduring embodiment of impure youth and whiteness

Jennifer O’Meara

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Abstract

With a focus on how Christina Ricci performs the 'bad girl' body, one that renegotiates idealised forms of whiteness and ventures into performances of 'white trash', this article demonstrates how the actress's evolution from child to adult star was smoothed by a youthful physicality in adulthood, and a consistent performance of bodily taboos in both periods. By examining Ricci's physical presentation and associations with transgressive girlhood across a range of media, I argue that her persona deconstructs notions of female white purity by portraying childlike innocence alongside adult knowingness and sexuality. In considering how Ricci's distinct physicality relates to that of Shirley Temple, Ricci's body is revealed to playfully subvert idealised representations of the female child and childlike women. Ricci is shown to have made a career out of playing extreme variations of the 'dirty little white girl', whose 'dirtiness' aligns her with various kinds of 'Other' but who is as likely to pose her own threat to others as to need saving. As such, and in an extension of a term used to describe one of her characters, Ricci is conceived of as a 'moonchild'; a figure whose external whiteness depends on physical and behavioural darkness for it effect.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalCelebrity Studies
VolumeLatest Articles
Early online date28 Jun 2018
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Jun 2018

Keywords

  • Christina Ricci
  • Child stars
  • Girlhood
  • Whiteness
  • 'white trash'

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