As a parent of a twenty-year-old daughter - our only child - I can now safely say the always-present-in-the-back-of-your-mind-but-rarely-spoken-about concern of a teenage pregnancy is now a thing of the past. I guess we can chalk up some sort of small victory in the plus column of life, but if the truth be told any of that inner-family celebrating falls directly on the shoulders of my wife and daughter.
My wife Jeanine developed an open, honest dialogue on the subject of sexuality with our Sam early, and for me - as a person raised in a "just don't talk about it" household - it was something I was not prepared to discuss with my child. I know that my burying my head in the sand approach was the wrong way to go about it, but secretly I knew my wife was on the ball, talking about sex, condoms etc. Awkwardly I was more of a "don't ask, don't tell" silent partner in it all.
In Let's Talk About Sex, a 2009 documentary from the always reliable folks at Docurama, the subject is the piss poor way Americans address sex and sexuality with their children. And yes, I realize I was one of those who didn't want to broach the topic, but at least I had a spouse with the blunt force honesty to take it on and a child willing to listen. But I digress. Directed, narrated and hosted by renowned Aussie fashion photographer James Houston - who admits to helping create a lot of the sexual imagery that bombards today's youth - this sixty minute doc explores the weak-kneed Western hang ups with sex education and awareness. Considering that one in three American teen females end up pregnant it seems apparent that the laughable abstinence programs initiated across the country are failing miserably. Ignoring teen sexuality is a losing cause, because as one doctor points out: "you can't eliminate sexuality, it's like eliminating nutrition."
Houston traverses the United States talking to parents, children, educators and doctors where the much of the message is the same, in that teens are having sex (they've been doing that since caveman days, no doubt) and they often are woefully unprepared when it comes to the all-important subject of pregnancy prevention and safety. The fact that some teens believe Mountain Dew and/or yellow Skittles have the magical ability to thwart pregnancy should just plain scare the hell out of you if you're a parent. Even those curiously weird "vows of purity" that some young girls make seem antique and comical, especially as a couple of the participants mention how they were forced into it and that many of their fellow vow-ers still had teen sex. So there. It's not until Houston reaches Oregon that we're finally shown a glimmer of promise for this country's youth, with a blossoming community that seems to be boldly operating ahead of the curve, a place where even some clergy have moved past the time-wasting yammering of keep-it-in-your-pants abstinence.
The eye-opener is Houston's visit to The Netherlands, where the topic of sex education and awareness is treated with a more open and healthy approach, resulting in less STDs and teen pregnancies (if the displayed stats are to be believed), as well as a level of communication on the subject between children and adults that would probably shock some American parental units. At one point Houston speaks to a group of Netherlands teens and US teens with the question of "what would you think if a friend/date carried a condom", and the European mindset is that the person is smart and informed, while American youth deemed the condom-carrier a skank or as someone just looking to get laid. It's fascinating to see the difference in attitudes on sexuality, and despite seeing myself in the "don't want to talk about it" I could still realize the backwards take I had when it came to speaking to my own child about sex, sexuality and all the goes with it. Again, thanks for stepping up, Jeanine.
I can't recommend this DVD enough, especially to parents who are approaching that time for the talk with their children.
The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is fair, though bothered periodically by soft edges; colors, on the other hand, have a consistent "documentary" quality and appear consistent throughout. Some light banding in spots, but not hugely distracting compression issues to content with. Some of the source material (news clips, for example) look substantially worse for wear, but those imperfections are not a fault of the transfer.
Audio is presented in 2.0 stereo, a modestly ordinary mix that provides solidly average voice quality with nothing terribly flashy otherwise. Very do-able without being remarkable.
No extras to speak of on the disc, other than a batch of assorted Docurama trailers. There is an insert that offers tips for teens and tips for parents, as well as link to film's website that promises to allow one to "get the facts or get involved".
If you have adolescent children - or children who will eventually hit that age range - then this is a must-see documentary that explores the successes and failures in the teaching/discussion of sexuality education and awareness. Honest, informative and certainly required viewing for parents, families and teachers alike, because ignoring the subject just isn't going to work, people.
Another winner from Docurama. Highly recommended.