That disturbing line was spoken by a 14-year-old female character in a Lifetime movie, “She’s Too Young”, part of the network’s “Can You Keep A Secret Full Day Event” movie marathon airing today. I can’t think of a better way to spend 24 hours than having the crap scared out of me by countless tales of abuse, addiction, betrayal, and–in the case of “She’s Too Young”–9th graders with syphillis and who enjoy wine coolers and boy-boy-girl threesomes whilst babysitting a 3-year-old.
“Oral sex is sex, young lady!”
“It’s just sex. It’s just something we do with boys, like dancing.”
Three teen friends (one being the worst babysitter on the planet) are just hanging out one Saturday night, doing a highly inappropriate cheerleading routine for the amusement of the aforementioned 3-year-old boy. Once the hijinks and laughter die down, one of the girls blurts out, “Hey, guys, I have syphillis.” I guess there’s really no way to ease into that one.
County health officials, who have set up a clinic in the school, have encouraged the girl to tell her sex partners (she estimates that they number about 20). She knows that her sex partners are also her girlfriends’ sex partners, so she wants to do the responsible friend thing and encourage them to get tested. Well, before long, parents are involved and families must deal with the fallout.
One cynic I know refers to Lifetime as “Wifetime: The Victims Network”–and for good reason. Though in fairness I should say that I haven’t watched the channel in ages, so maybe it’s changed. Today, I’m watching because TechBoo turned to it randomly and then, as the father of three girls, got way too caught up in the premise of “She’s Too Young”. I haven’t heard such foul language hurled at my TV screen since Sarah Palin insisted on appearing on it.
I don’t know how to summarize my feelings about “She’s Too Young.” It certainly illuminates some of the sex-related issues teens face. And I certainly agree with the basic premise that teens and STDs are a (understatement alert) big deal, for a host of reasons. But I wonder if the movie simultaneously overdramatizes and oversimplifies the problem. Maybe there could be fewer hazy ”teens in Sodom and Gomorrah” shots, and maybe having the abstinent geek rescue our good-girl-with-syphllis protagonist was just a little too Hollywood.
Maybe it was unrealistic for the bookish–we know this because she wears glasses and sits in front of a computer–younger sister to immediately run upstairs and start trying on her reformed sister’s “slut gear” as soon as said sister and mom start bonding over board games. The filmmakers could not have been more ham-fisted if they’d had the girl hold up a sign that said, “Well, if that’s what it takes to get Mom’s attention…”
Am I being unfair? Could any movie capture all the nuance and depth of this subject–and still be “entertaining”?
Does the movie inspire anything beside mockery and laughter from real-life 14-year-olds who are walking this dangerous path, who think they know it all, and who may be inclined to deny, deny, deny when it comes to their own sexual behavior and health? Are these kids the target audience, or are their parents? If it’s the latter, then I believe the movie could effectively enlighten parents who would be shocked, shocked to find out at that consensual trains are being run on girls at the Rosens’ house down the straight–and who might not even know what a “train” is.
Ah, Lifetime…maybe I just cain’t quit chew.
Next up: “Mom at Sixteen”, more white suburban girls having sex…and babies, apparently.
Okay, maybe I can quit Lifetime. But it looks like TechBoo can’t. I might have to fight him for the remote because now he’s flipping back an forth between “Mom at Sixteen” and the Baltimore/Tennessee game. But don’t tell his “boyz”. Stay tuned…