While I usually spend my time on Thursdays selecting a striking shot from a classic and musing over the thoughts it inspires, I thought I’d try something a little different today.When I pulled Amy Heckerling’s pop culture classic from the shelf for this week’s entry, I was reminded of a post I did almost three years ago when I got Jess Rogers to watch it for the first time.
I thought she might like to talk about the shot I selected with me as something of a follow-up…
RM: Let’s start here – it’s safe to say teenagers’ attitudes towards sex has changed since we were teenagers, yes?
JR: Yes, definitely. This pic reflects my own high school feeling about it – timid, tentative. Now, they’d have texted pictures of themselves and sex wouldn’t be a big deal (though it still is).
RM: Funny, I see my high school feelings in this too. Hell, I’d spend all day sweating if the possibility of kissing a girl was an option, I can’t imagine what sort of fits I’d be in if there was the possibility of more (yes, that’s my admission that I didn’t “get any” in high school). I think you’re on to something with the idea of increased exposure. D’you think we were so much more freaked out because exposure to sex wasn’t as prevalent and accessible as it is now – not just between individuals, but so-called “produced” porn and the like?
JR: I think a lot of that was always available, but it wasn’t so prevalent in all culture. Not to be too curmudgeon, but when Mark Wahlberg appeared in his briefs for Calvin Klein, it was a big deal. Now Victoria’s Secret has an annual prime time TV show advertising their lingerie. It’s necessarily bad, just much more of our day-to-day living.
RM: Well, yeah – the enticement has grown, but so too has the accessibility of more explicit material. Part of me thinks that’s part of the freak-out we felt and palpable in this shot. When we were younger – and even before that, when this movie was released – you had to go on (often inaccurate) word-of-mouth to know what to do, and if you were “doing it right”. Now it seems like we’ve swung to the opposite end; overexposure of porn leads to unrealistic ideas and expectations.
JR: Very good point. There’s an elimination of the shaming factor, understanding that people look differently, like things differently, etc. At the same time, we’ve pigeon holed what is expected of everyone. Definitely raising unrealistic expectations that sex will arrive regardless, that you’ll like it, and it’s no big deal. I think this movie hit it really well – sex is, and should be, more important than we connect to the sexualization of our society.
RM: When we talked about this movie before, you mentioned the way Stacy has the epiphany that “sex isn’t love”. D’you think the mixing of the two is what led – and in some cases still leads – to the sort of nerves this shot evokes?
JR: I think the general connections between sex and love are what make this shot fraught with tingles. Sex can mean love, and love can mean sex, but they’re not tied together in every place between every person. The chance that they might be is what makes teen sex so full of angst and yes, hope.
RM: One of the things I like about the movie is the way it represents “most of us”. When we’re young, there are a small amount of players who seem to get out to an early lead, and another small group of freaks and geeks that will be waiting on sex for quite some time. The bulk of us though, fall somewhere in the middle and are equally shaken by both ends of the spectrum – much like Stacy and Mark in this moment.
JR: I think we all go through the whole spectrum at some point in our lives. I think the anticipation with each encounter, which is part of this image, is that this might be the start of your period of sexual prowess or a single life-time love affair. This image doesn’t discriminate by gender either. Both are hoping for either experience.
RM: The funny thing about them both being nervous is that it plays back into it being about emotion. You’d think Stacy would be “less nervous” having already lost her virginity earlier in the film. Clearly she still is, which says something about the way nerves flare up when sex and love start to blur into one-another.
Is it a good thing or a bad thing that we largely lose these nervous feelings as we grow-up?
JR: Generally a bad thing. I think we can take sex for granted as adults (married or not) so part of the nerves they’re showing as teens is still looking for that mind-blowing experience that our culture makes sex out to be. As adults, we’re more jaded, though I’d like to think just as hopeful.
RM: Maybe not that much has changed after all!
Three more from FAST TIMES for the road…
This series of posts is inspired by the “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” series at The Film Experience. Do check out all of the awesome entires in their series so far