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Crazy, Stupid Movie Makes Light of Sexual Interference


Crazy, Stupid, Love. is a movie currently playing in a theater near you. It's rated PG-13, but for the 13-year-old depicted in this movie, it's more like an R-rated drama.


The film's main focus is on an adult man in the throws of a midlife crisis. His wife has had an affair and his reaction is to head to the local singles bar. There he meets a smooth talking ladies man who teaches him the fine art of picking up women. Nine one-night-stands later, the guy finally is ready to have the talk with his wife that should have happened ten minutes into the movie.


It's not the type of story you would embrace as a family movie, but what's worse is a secondary plot line involving two teens. The midlife crisis guy mentioned earlier has two kids -- a 13-year-old boy and a younger daughter. He hires their regular babysitter, a 17-year-old girl who is the daughter of some of their friends. In this male fantasy movie, the babysitter has a secret crush on the forty-something father, but the 13-year-old constantly fantasizes over the babysitter. In one scene, she walks into his bedroom and finds him masturbating. Later he boldly explains to her that she is the only woman he thinks of when he's doing such things.


Throughout the movie this "joke" continues, but it's not until the end that my hair stood up on end. In the midst of this romantic comedy the teen girl takes naked photos of herself after seeking advice from another high school girl on how to attract an older man. After a chain of events, the photos never make their way to the father (after all, that would move the script into an area of child pornography involving an adult). Yet, in the closing moments, this young lady hands her collection of naked pictures to the 13-year-old boy with a comment that makes a veiled reference to giving him something to think about while he's enjoying his favorite activity.


(Sorry if you're feeling slimy all over by this point. I can't help but recall a favorite quote from Roger Ebert: "Teenagers used to go to the movies to watch adults having sex. Now adults go to the movies to watch teenagers having sex.")


Sadly, this situation should be anything but funny -- especially in light of yet another story in the "real" world that released today that tells of a 20-year-old Connecticut woman who has been accused of assaulting a 14-year-old boy she was babysitting. An ABC News story documenting the accusation also makes reference to other recent events where adult women have been accused of sexually assaulting younger boys they have been responsible for.


In reading some of these stories, a theme keeps returning about the double standard that exists in these crimes and, in my opinion, is perpetrated by the media in movies like Crazy, Stupid, Love. Young teen boys are constantly seen as sexual animals in many media products. Yet in the aforementioned ABC News story, family therapist Terry Real says, "I think the idea that all boys are ready to have sex at all times with their hot babysitters doesn't really take into account the sensitivity of a young boy."


Furthermore, would the media dare switch the genders in this example? How would audiences react to a male who is on the brink of adulthood handing naked photos of himself to a 13-year-old girl?


Finally I must recall the many stories I have read and written about covering the dangers of "sexting" and teens passing nude photographs of themselves onto others. Did the creators of this movie miss all those news items? Did they never hear about accounts of young people having their lives ruined after naked photos rapidly propagate across the Internet, causing serious mental anguish and both civil and criminal legal issues?


Perhaps filmmakers simply don't have enough parenting experience to understand why this supposedly innocuous, liberal idea of having your teen daughter hand images of her naked body to a 13-year-old boy isn't a funny event at the end of a happily-ever-after story. Once again the film industry shows what they really think about America's children.

Rod Gustafson


Besides writing this column for the Parents Television Council, Rod Gustafson authors Parent Previews - a newspaper and Internet column (published in association with movies.com) that reviews movies from a parent's perspective. He's also the film critic for a major Canadian TV station, various radio stations and serves on the executive of the Alberta Association for Media Awareness. Finally, his most important role is being the father to four wonderful children and husband to his beautiful wife (and co-worker) Donna.

Parenting and the Media by Rod Gustafson

The Parents Television Council - www.parentstv.org

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