You haven’t seen truly mind-boggling independent filmmaking until you’ve glimpsed sex education videos from the 1970s that show a grown man wearing a plastic fireman’s hat sitting in a bathtub and singing about masturbation. Lars von Trier has nothing on that gem.
You can get a peek at the bizarre, hilarious, and sometimes fascinating films that have been used to teach sex education over the last century in the new documentary SEX(ED): The Movie, produced and directed by the School of Cinematic Arts’ Brenda Goodman, Head of the Producing Track and producer of films like The Ballad of Little Jo and Mac. SEX(ED) is funny, sure, but it’s also an interesting and enlightening peek at the history of sex education, from a 1918 film called Sins of Love to Sex Hygiene, a 20th Century Fox sex-ed film for men that was directed by John Ford, all the way to the present. The doc looks at cinema’s role in the way we’ve been taught about our bodies, sexuality, and desire, and the footage that Goodman and her collaborators were able to find is pretty amazing to behold.
You’ll see a black-and-white World War II-era film where women in lingerie talk about their “sugar daddies,” and another film in which the narrator states, “Young adolescents appear to enjoy utter uselessness.” In the older films, women were often depicted as dangerous temptresses full of disease (especially in the clips aimed at WWII soldiers), and SEX(ED) uses the older educational videos to trace the evolution of the gay rights movement and the women’s movement. Goodman weaves in present-day interviews with students, educators, and researchers who reveal their own experiences with sex education and provide a more personal, anecdotal look at the subject.
The film is an entertaining timeline that should have viewers thinking back on their own memories of sex-ed, and marveling at the footage of Fox’s Bill O’Reilly freaking out at the mention of the word “uterus,” and a clip from the 1970s describing the “three styles of marriage” (just so you know, the “traditional” style is when the wife “devotes her life” to her husband). Fun times.
The Women of Cinematic Arts present a screening of SEX(ED): The Movie Saturday, April 26 at Norris Theater, followed by a panel moderated by Tara McPherson
About our film critic Dina Gachman
Dina Gachman (MFA Production, 2007) wrote and directed the award winning short ARCHER HOUSE. She writes for The Hairpin, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and Forbes, and her first book, BROKENOMICS, will be published by Seal Press in spring 2015.
She's on Twitter @TheElf26.
USC Women of Cinematic Arts presents Sex(Ed) The Movie
Saturday, April 26th at 7:30PM at Norris Theater on the USC Campus