Arts & Entertainment
2 min

Today’s teen films are unrealistic about youth sexuality

17 Again and Twilight preach abstinence

PREACHY. 17 Again, starring 21-year-old twink Zac Efron, is typical of teen films today, many of which promote abstaining from sex until marriage, writes Kaj Hasselriis. Credit: 17againmovie.com

Have you seen all those magazine pics of Zac Efron, looking bare-chested and stubbly?
 
Admit it. You have.
 
The twinky star of Disney’s High School Musical recently turned 21.
 
Goodbye, Tiger Beat. Hello, GQ! Zac’s got a butch new look.
 
But judging from his latest movie, 17 Again, he’s still peddling the same outdated Disney values. Especially when it comes to sex.
 
If you’ve seen Freaky Friday or Big, you pretty much know the film’s premise. A corporate loser played by Friends’ Matthew Perry wishes he could do it all over again and suddenly — PRESTO! CHANGE-O! — he’s back in his 17-year-old body, courtesy of Zac.
 
At first, I was encouraged by the film’s rating: PG-13 for “some sexual material.”
 
Maybe Zac will even get to take his shirt off, I thought — unlike the G-rated High School Musical hits.
 
Turns out I was right. And not only that, I didn’t even need to wait. The first frame shows Zac, shirtless and sweaty, shooting baskets in his high school gym.
 
Score!
 
But when it comes to “sexual material,” that’s the high point of the film.
 
The low point comes about half-way through, when Zac finds himself in a sex-ed class with his teenaged daughter. As the teacher passes out condoms, Zac lectures the students on the merits of waiting for marriage. Having sex, he tells them, is strictly for making babies. Hearing his pleas, the kids in the class tearfully pass the prophylactics back to the front.
 
The rest of the movie is basically a thinly-veiled commercial for Christian family values, as Zac busts up his daughter’s relationship (just before she’s about to get down and dirty) and then gets back together with his own high-school sweetheart — the only woman he’s ever fucked.
 
Boring!
 
And not to mention, typical of teen movies today.
 
Before 17 Again, the last teen hit was Twilight. It’s all about vampires, but not the kind who want to suck your … you know. Twilight is the story of a Dracula clan that cherishes chastity and refuses to go all the way with its human prey.
 
Brit hottie Robert Pattinson, who plays a dreamy 17-year-old vampire, makes it to the end of the movie without satisfying his sexual appetite. The film’s sequels, already in the works, promise more abstinence.
 
We shouldn’t be surprised: The story’s creator is a Mormon who swears she’s never even seen an R-rated movie.
 
A decade ago, the big teen hit was the raunchy American Pie, featuring a group of kids who were excited about getting it on. It spawned a host of sequels, as well as a queer imitator, Another Gay Movie (not to mention its follow-up, Another Gay Sequel).
 
Unlike 17 Again and Twilight, those movies weren’t preachy. They showed kids making their own decisions about sex and relationships instead of being cornered into one option, abstinence.
 
The Bush era of Christian conservatism is over. Its icky values are finally being discredited. Zac Efron is now legal in all 50 states.
 
Let’s quit it with teen movies that show an unrealistic view of teen life.
 
Come on, Zac. Show us what you really got.