Sunday, February 14, 2010

Teenagers should have sex!


So the headline got your attention. Cool!

What I am actually getting at with this post is a slightly spoilerish comment on the new romantic comedy Valentine's Day. I try to keep from giving anything major away about the film, but the main point of this piece will deal with several characters on the end of the movie. So if you want to know absolutely nothing about the end of the film, don't read any further than this paragraph. Go catch the flick, then come back and read the rest of the post.

So, where were we?

This big, all-star-cast romantic comedy came out over the Valentine's Day weekend and the movie is pretty much what I expected from it, except for a very peculiar turn of events on the end. Or, perhaps not so peculiar given the times we're living in and the growing cultural influence - or growing cultural threat!!! - of some of my favorite people in the world...you know, all the wing-nuts I've been complaining about here in regards to Howard Stern and the meaning of a study on the sex lives of teen boys.

Now as I understand it, the film is not getting positive reviews for the most part. Some reviews I've read, like one on the Ain't It Cool page, were downright vitriolic. The reviewer said it inspired hatred in him and the desire to shoot baby ducks...or something to that effect. And yes, I agree, the film was not great at all. It was mostly predictable and formulaic. Maybe aside from two characters - a traveler on a plane who strikes up a conversation with Julia Roberts, and a little kid who has a crush on someone in his class - you can predict exactly what will happen to every single character. But, come on, this is a romantic comedy called Valentine's Day, released on the Valentine's Day weekend. Who's expecting an Oscar-worthy picture here full of "very important performances?" Nobody! This is the sort of film a lot of guys will be dragged to by girlfriends and wives. Just take it for what it is. But then there is that ending...

OK, again, SPOILERS coming up...

The plot of the film follows a huge cast of characters and their trials and tribulations on Valentine's Day. It basically has two types of characters, the ones who think they're happily in love and looking forward to a great Valentine's Day, and ones who are single, with a bad track record of relationships, and who detest the holiday. Of course, the ones who think their relationships are perfect suddenly face some serious and painful crises, and the cynical ones wind up finding true love. And among all these characters we have two teenage couples. What happens to both these couples on the end is kind of mind-boggling.

One couple is kind of average and awkward, yet in love and planning on losing their virginity together on Valentine's Day during their lunch break. The other couple - pictured above, teen superstars of the moment, Taylor Lautner and Taylor Swift - are the buff track star and his hot, but slightly ditzy, dancer girlfriend. Although it's not stated clearly, the track star and the dancer might also be heading for major sex at some point on Valentine's Day. The girl, in fact, drags a giant bear around with her for most of the movie (the gift from the runner), shows it off to everyone, and gushes about what a great guy her boyfriend is and how much they're in love. Watching this, you think there's going to be some major sex action going on between them before V-Day is over. Except there's no sex! Neither of the teenage couples winds up having sex!!

What happens instead, is that the girl from the average couple gets a gentle lecture from the grandfather of a kid she's babysitting about the importance of waiting until they're older, until the time is right, etc. and so forth. A very ABC Family Channel moment. Naturally, the girl takes the speech to heart, tells her boyfriend that they should wait, and they wind up just "making out" instead. Making out, of course, is just kissing without going all the way, mind you. And the guy almost looks relieved that his girlfriend doesn't want to do it after all. As a matter of fact, he appears to behave very much like the majority of the teenage boys in that study the Parents Television Council PR spokesperson never read.

Now, I can kind of see this happening. There's nothing wrong with this.

Except the hot runner/dancer couple don't have sex either! That, on the other hand, makes no sense. In fact, up until the end of the film, I thought that they probably had sex already, and probably had a LOT of sex. There is one scene where they're interviewed for a V-Day fluff news piece by a camera crew and they're so horny they can barely keep their hands off each other. Now despite this scene, I can somehow kind of buy that they maybe haven't yet had sex. Maybe they, too, were planning on it and preparing for V-Day. But for them to suddenly stay all proper and chaste and Parents TV Council, Focus on the Family-approved just makes no sense. I mean, just go back and see the film again and watch those two characters up until their final scene in the movie. Those two are so hot for each other that there's no way they would not screw that night.

As a side note, it's also bizarre that for a movie called Valentine's Day, a movie that's all about love, one that's full of a lot of actors who've made some pretty steamy films in the past and whose fans might expect some pretty steamy stuff from again...you know, in a film called frigging Valentine's Day...there's NO SEX!!!! Nobody has sex in this film! And the Anne Hathaway character's phone sex doesn't count.

But back to the teenagers. How in the hell does this film end up with neither of these couples in bed and having loud, raunchy sex until all hours of the morning? Whatever happened to the evil, immoral Hollywood film makers out to corrupt the values of America, all on the urging of Satan's whisper in their ears?

It's perhaps because that the evil, immoral, libertine Hollywood is not as radical as bunch of Puritanical control freaks like the religious conservative far right claim. It's perhaps because Hollywood is really timid to its core, especially when a band of regressive, demented yahoos who like to threaten boycotts and letter-writing campaigns when every single film or TV program is not a cartoon about baby Jesus or Kirk Cameron kissing his real wife start writing complaints every time "hell" or "damn" is said on TV. Maybe someone got worried about that the film would become too "controversial" if teenagers actually had sex...even off-screen sex.

Could this film not have stayed "moral" if maybe one teenage couple had sex whereas the other one decided to listen to the old folks and wait? Like maybe if the film aspired to be more complex than a Disney Channel family sitcom? Like maybe if reflected a real world where decent people who loved each other could have different viewpoints about sex and lived different lifestyles?

Sex is a perfectly natural part of life and there is nothing wrong with it being dealt with honestly in films. Teenagers wanting to have sex and actually having sex is also normal and natural. Throughout history and up until about a hundred years or so ago, teenagers around 17 or 18 years old (the age of the characters in the film), would have been married and would have had three children already. Teenagers are perfectly capable of understanding the implications of sex and being able to deal with the emotional ramifications of sex. It makes absolutely no biological, evolutionary sense that a human should not be able to mentally and emotionally handle a sexual relationship at the time his or her body reaches its full reproductive capabilities...

Oh, but wait a minute, we mentioned evolution, didn't we? That's also a blasphemous idea that was whispered into the ears of evil men by Satan himself.

Or perhaps this film is not an entire cop-out after all. Credit should be given the movie makers for at least making two of the characters gay!

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