• An unsettling home photo shoot in Sexy Baby

The documentary Sexy Baby, which Chicago Filmmakers will present tonight at Columbia College and on Saturday in Andersonville, voices concern with the unrealistic images of female beauty and sexuality in contemporary mass culture. The movie argues that the ideal woman as conceived by fashion magazines, music videos, and primetime television aspires above all else to be sexually desirable—and that mainstream media defines sexual desirability increasingly in terms of exhibitionist behavior and the willingness to be sexually degraded. Directors Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus don’t have to search very hard for examples. In a few scenes they present their subjects surfing the Internet and cable TV, and images of the new sexiness seem unavoidable.

Bauer and Gradus are sober in their approach, but their movie isn’t a work of puritanical outrage. (At no point do they imply a call for tougher censorship of mainstream media.) Rather, they present this glut of unhealthy images as an upsetting given and suggest that women should be more vigilant about recognizing them as bullshit.