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Film teens have a sexually explicit vocabulary

Aspiring writers usually receive advice to “write what you know.” Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg, the writing team behind Superbad,…

By Shira Bick , in Blogs Fit for Consumption: A Commentary on Culture and Values , on January 18, 2008

Aspiring writers usually receive advice to “write what you know.” Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg, the writing team behind Superbad, reportedly based the foul-mouthed teenage boys in their movie on their own high school experience. In the movie, the characters engage in a dialogue which not only references their comprehensive (though often misguided) sexual knowledge but also does so with a vulgarity worthy of a bunch of drunk frat brothers.

Then there is Juno. In this small budget film about a pregnant 16 year old, the title character and her friends speak with an adult-like weariness about their bodies and their sexual exploits, which are far more complicated and developed than the naïvely taught lessons they receive in sex-ed. The dialogue in this film is similarly punctuated with raunchy vocabulary, albeit with a higher level of sophistication worthy of its indy audience.

Do teenagers actually talk and think like these film teens? Rogan and Goldberg apparently did and perhaps most teenagers today do as well. Sexual Education in school is still important but when it comes to proving teens with a knowledge base about sex, it can’t keep up with the pace set by the internet. Sophisticated media provides teens with sexual material way beyond anything on their school curriculums.

It might be time to accept the fact that the youth of today have lost their innocence. When media broke the story of Jaime-Lynn Spears’s pregnancy, parents of young girls feared that her actions would influence their daughters. But if the movies teach us anything, their daughters have been talking about sex for a while now and with a vocabulary fit for a 30 year old.

Then again, who knows? Juno decides to give her baby up for adoption because she’s not ready to be a parent. “I’m not mature enough to do this yet,” she says. At the end of Superbad, Michael Cera’s character Evan decides he doesn’t want to lose his virginity when he and his date are too drunk to enjoy it. He tells her they should wait for a better time. Then she pukes on him. Teenagers today might speak like adults swapping stories in a locker room but the majority of them are still aware that they’re not as mature as the words they use.

Maybe the kids will be all right.