As if American Pie and Superbad weren’t enough, moviegoers have been offered yet another movie about dorky, teenage white boys trying to lose their virginity. The Virginity Hit, released in theaters on September 24, 2010, only differentiates itself from its brethren with its mockumentary film style and its utter failure at the box office. It cost $2 million to make, grossed just over half a million dollars, and had the fourth worst opening weekend of any movie ever. The abysmal showing of The Virginity Hit clearly demonstrates that these types of films no longer have the joie de vivre that they once had. Hollywood might be in the market for a new way to portray the lustful adolescent and, if so, could benefit from taking the road less traveled: the virgin teenage girl.
Besides America Ferrara’s character Ana in Real Women Have Curves, there are not many movies in which a teenage girl has a positive “first time.” When it comes to girls and their virginity, most mainstream films focus on: one, a completely negative first experience in which a girl is raped or coerced into having sex; or, two, a positive first experience with a tragic aftermath. Either way, the message is DON’T HAVE SEX! (Except, of course, if you’re on the receiving end of those nerdy white guys trying to get laid – someone has to help them achieve their goals).
We all know that horror movies are notorious for punishing the “easy” girls and that these characters are oftentimes killed almost directly after having sex. However, what’s worse than simply killing off the bimbo after she’s flashed us her tits is having her lose her virginity to the killer himself. Thanks to Scream, we see our Final Girl not only giving up her virginity, but giving it up to the guy who killed her mom. She’s not just a slut; she’s a dumb slut.
Unless your life is like an episode of Dexter, the sleeping-with-a-serial killer scenario is pretty unlikely, so movies have to find a different, more realistic approach to scare girls away from giving it up in their younger years, like making the star a beautiful, teenage virgin and making her handsome male counterpart…Married. This is precisely the situation for Jenny Mellor in An Education. David Goldman may not be Michael Myers, but he certainly killed Jenny’s emotional security, which, again, is meant to undermine young girls’ abilities to trust themselves and their decisions.
Sometimes, just sometimes, films give girls good boys to sleep with. These guys aren’t killers or cheaters or pre-mature ejaculators. They’re cute and awkward and innocuous, like Bedlington Terriers.
These are the guys that girls want to lose their virginity to because they won’t kiss and tell, nor are they likely to post nude pics of their girlfriends on the internet. They might need a lot of direction, but girls can guarantee a pretty safe experience. That is, until they get pregnant.
The deleted scenes on the DVD release of Juno reveal that Juno MacGuff is not actually a virgin when she has a one-night-stand with her best friend Paulie Bleeker. However, since that plot point does not actually make it into the film, viewers assume that both she and Bleeker are curious virgins willing to share their de-flowering with a trusted, childhood friend. It actually seems like a good plan, one that maybe even parents could get behind (well, parents from the blue states anyway). But, after watching a desperate teenage girl pee on a stick in the bathroom of a convenience mart, maybe not.
Again, girls get the hopeless message that there is no such thing as a safe first experience. Even when they feel emotionally safe, there are still physical dangers to reckon with, like a track star with really good sperm.
Still not convinced to keep your legs closed, ladies? How about the double whammy of pregnancy and death?
Bella Swan in Twilight has a unique set of troubles surrounding her virginity. She wants to lose it in the worst way to Edward (cue Beatle-era screaming girls), but as any modern teenage girl knows, doing the deed with a vampire is risky business. But, eh, what the hell…
Of course, Bella and Edward have to get married first (this is a Christian vampire story after all), which, of course, is supposed to minimize the horror of what happens to Bella after having her first sexual encounter with Edward. Almost immediately after losing her virginity, Bella gets pregnant. The sub-human child almost kills Bella in childbirth, and, in order to save her life, Edward must turn Bella into a vampire. There’s nothing like difficult childbirth, coupled with the prospect of becoming the undead, to frighten girls right back into their Hello Kitty underwear.
The saddest part about all of these movies is that, at least initially, these girls seem to make reasonably calculated decisions about losing their virginity. Ok, many of them are young and unschooled in the ways of the world, but they are in long-standing, committed relationships with partners that seem to respect them on some level, they are in love, and they make the decision to have sex on their own without being bullied. However, in some way or another, they’re still punished for taking the plunge.
In reality, many teenage girls do have truly horrific experiences losing their virginities, and many movies perversely interpret those experiences for the silver screen. However, for many girls, their first sexual experience is just like those of the guys in American Pie: awkward, confusing, and full of misdirected poking. It is this perspective that is lacking in films, particularly those about teenagers. It’s time for Hollywood to pop its own cherry and release a movie about a teenage girl who decidedly loses her virginity and does not die, become pregnant, contract an incurable disease, or have to wear a scarlet A. Just like the love story of two gay cowboys, this flick will be met first with outrage, backlash, and protests, and then with a big fat paycheck for well over half a million dollars.