Title: Sex(Ed) The Movie
First Run Features
Director: Brenda Goodman
Running Time: 76 min, Not Rated
Special Features: Two Archival Sex Ed Films – “A Respectable Neighborhood (1961)”; “Masturbatory Story, or Coming of Age” (1976); 4 Deleted Scenes – Douche Nozzle; Fallopian Tubes; Graham Crackers & Masturbation; The War on Sex
Available February 3, 2015
Sex(Ed) is a documentary about US educational films starting from the 1920s until today. The boys were shown graphic films about masturbation and condom use; portraying women as dirty disease carriers and prostitutes. The girls on the other hand were just shown about menstruation and films about how girls should behave when dating. These films were made available to 250,000 projectors around the country, however most states banned these films stating they were obscene. Walt Disney produced a film about menstruation that can be found on YouTube.
One of the films that is shown t girls is called “Are You Popular” (1947). The boy asks the girl out over the phone, and when he comes over to pick her up, her mother tells them she baked brownies that they can eat when they come back. The narrator explains that this is something the girl can do to pay the boy back for entertaining her, and it will save him money too. WTF?! Pay him back? I’m guessing this was a hint that girls don’t need to pay the boy back with sex, but brownies will suffice, because he’s gotta get something other than the pleasure of your company. However the “good time girl” is shown as a detestable outcast and not acceptable as “popular.” Films like these were supposed to prepare young people for their acceptable social roles. Girls were supposed to save themselves for marriage, and boys weren’t supposed to get girls pregnant. Huge double standards.
Homosexuality in sex ed videos was described as a metal disorder. Gays were sexual predators and “sick in the mind.” The actor portraying the sexual predator looked a lot like John Waters. Girls on the other hand were shown that their girl crushes were more of a phase and something they should see as an unhealthy fixation on one person of the same sex.
The special features has two archival Sex Ed films supposedly shown in sex education classes. “A Respectable Neighborhood” (1961) was shot in black and white and was just weird and awkward. It’s a long dramatic black and white short film about this girl named Emily who looks very despondent and is walking the city streets until she checks into a hotel. Her father goes on a news show, trying to get help in finding her. We find out that Emily has syphilis and is suffering some of the mental problems that come with the disease. They showed the process of finding the original carrier and those to whom it spread. It’s more of a scare tactic film like Reefer Madness, which I can’t see how this would be considered effective education.
The sex ed films of the 1970s were very weird and campy. Humor is a great tool to use in education, but these were almost embarrassing. The other full length film in the extras was titled “Masturbatory Story, or Coming of Age” (1976). I tried finding this on YouTube, but came up empty. It’s shown as a slide show of this grown man pretending to be a child or 13 year old boy discovering his penis in the bathtub, and his mom is apparently helping him wash himself. The boy/man discovers masturbation and gets a partial hand job by his sexually aggressive classmate, played by his wife or girlfriend. What makes this weird and uncomfortably campy is the country song that the guy is singing along to the film. It has to be seen to be appreciated for it’s utter bizarre f—ing weirdness.
The Good: This film covers everything regarding sex education throughout US history and how backward ass it was back in the early 20th century and then in the supposed progressive 90’s when former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders was fired for proposing masturbation education. It also covers the ultimate fail of abstinence only sex education. This film states that here in the 21st century, kids can find out anything on the internet, but not in a safe environment where they can have a discussion with their peers and educators.
The Bad: It’s very anti-abstinence sex education. I’m one of many who thinks the thought of abstinence only is a joke, but this film comes off as very biased.
When I saw sex ed films in the 90’s, they used 70’s films. In 8th grade, I had a great biology teacher who decided to show both the boys and girls films in the same classroom, because she wanted both the boys and girls to be on the same level. It was a little embarrassing to be in mixed company, but it was an eye opener compared to the 5th grade sex ed where they separated the boys from the girls where we only got a portion of some crucial information. I think this film would be beneficial to use as an updated sex ed video. It’s very funny, serious, a little shocking, and best of all educational.
Total Rating: A
Reviewed by: JM Willis