Selling Innocence falls into a subgenre of Lifetime Movies I term “Internet Panic.” In these types of movies, an ingénue (either a young girl or lonely/naïve single woman) gets lured into the world of stalkers/pedophiles/prostitution by….using a computer.
According to Internet Panic Movie logic, the Internet is, primarily, a direct pipeline to bad people just waiting to become obsessive stalkers. Relatedly, stalkers can only become obsessed with women when they look at them on a computer screen, not after meeting them at work, school, or any other in-person activity.
Selling Innocence was actually produced for CTV, making it even more Canadian than a typical Lifetime Movie. This explains why I initially pegged it as circa 1990. Even though it was made in 2005, the fashion/hairstyles are 10 years behind the times — a signature of Canadian-made movies. I couldn’t help but covet the lead actress’ awesome 90’s vintage chunky platforms…I miss those.
They were kind of like these:
Okay, onto the plot: Mia, a somewhat shy high school girl gets plucked out of a crowd at a mall by a model scout.
Mia gets one small job — modeling conservative teen clothes on a Sears-esque sales flyer — but the agency boss, Malcolm Lowe, sees real talent and starts helping her put together an online portfolio.
Mia’s pretty naive but she’s still a bit apprehensive — so Malcolm promises that the online portfolio is only for industry professionals and talent scouts. It will have a special password and everything.
“What could go wrong? Some strange dude I barely know promised.”
As time goes on Mia’s portfolio begins to include some lingerie and naughty schoolgirl shots… but it’s modeling, and only industry people will see it, right?
I’m going to spare you screenshots because that would be kind of gross.
Mia begins making big bucks but also starts receiving threatening emails from an obsessed fan. The other girls at the agency encourage her to just ignore it, but the incident makes her question her foray into the world of Internet “modeling.”
Mia turns to Webwatch, a nonprofit organization that is supposed to help girls exploited by the Internet. Eventually, in a series of contrived and bizarre plot devices, Mia’s dangerous fan turns out to be the guy from Webwatch who who was supposed to be helping her.
But that’s really not the most disturbing part of the movie.
This is Mia’s boyfriend and no, there’s no explanation for why his hair is like that. It kind of makes you appreciate Adam Duritz, doesn’t it? This still image is unable to fully capture the frozen awful stiffness of these fake dreds. Under that terrible ‘do is Mike Lobel, also known as Jay from Degrassi (another show I am ashamed to admit I watch). He’s Canadian, and when not being humiliated by a costume designer, looks like this:
Pretty good, although some of the trashy lingerie shots made me feel kind of dirty.