“It’s funny,” I said as I sat down on the couch, “I took a shower after I got home yesterday and there was still more sand that appeared this morning.”
I was on the second leg of a marathon weekend that included hanging out with my newly adopted West Los Angeles Alumni Club and working on a fairly extensive presentation. To blow off some steam, a group of friends decided to watch the delightfully bad 80’s movie Teen Witch.
While mostly innocuous, the film seemed to have some fairly large holes in its plot—but, then again, it’s an 80’s movie themed toward young girls, so it doesn’t have to make a whole lot of sense. One scene in particular, however, caused my inner “sexual health education monitor” (you know you all have one) to perk up and take notice.
In what I could only presume was a Home Economics course, a teacher began to talk about how she had been asked by upper administration to talk about Sex Ed—but in a way that made it evident that she was not comfortable doing so.
If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from my years working with young people, it’s that kids are half-decent fibbers and even better lie detectors. Although I don’t have any hard science to back me up, I would guess this ability is due to the fact that childhood is all about learning to evaluate yourself in the context of your peers; individuals learn to be observant.
Luckily, I am fairly comfortable talking about a lot of things in the area of sex, but I also know how to fake it fairly well. As educators, our job is not to be judgmental or presumptuous but to listen to what our audience has to say and then fill in the gaps.
As I thought about the movie more, I realized that I didn’t really understand why the film included mentions of condoms and birth control pills. Was someone trying to do children a service by introducing these items into heir consciousness? Why did both scenes featuring birth control result in embarrassment for multiple people? Was the director reflecting the way that teens reacted to these aides or was he merely misinterpreting it?
Certainly not everything made for public consumption has to talk about the subject of sex or sexual health, but it seems like if one is going to do it, one should do it correctly. The problem is that I’m not sure that we as audiences want to hear the truth—it’s much more fun to make fun of the subject and pretend as though the subject doesn’t really affect us in a meaningful way.
Next time you go to see a movie, think about what you are being told about sex (don’t even get me started on the many ways that The Hangover is detrimental to our efforts to embrace sexuality). How are you supposed to react to it, talk about it, or have it? Do you agree with these messages? Why or why not?
Sitting down at my computer, time freezes for a second as I began to feel a sense of quiet desperation. We have become so much more savvy as audiences—most of the scenes in Teen Witch wouldn’t work because people wouldn’t buy them—but are still stuck in some well-worn ruts. I am hopeful that one day we will get to where I think we should be, I am hopeful that we will one day be on better terms with our own sexualities, and I am hopeful that I will eventually get to see this movie in my mind.