On condoms and first-time-sex

Last night I finally went to see Zack and Miri Make a Porno.  I’ve been wanting to see this movie since I caught the tail end of it at the Austin premier through an odd sequence of events.  The end was hysterical!  I couldn’t wait.  Well, last night was the first obvious opportunity to present itself, so I went with a friend.

Basically it was a romantic comedy with the only occasional difference that there was a lot of talk about sex and a few naked bodies (with exclusively flaccid penises).  In other words, it was cute and funny and standout perhaps only if you don’t tend to talk about sex for a living.  But even my friend who went with me commented that she expected more raunchiness, nakedness, and sex from a movie with Porno in the title.  The poster certainly implied that.

I have two major problems with Zack and Miri Make a Porno.  And they’re biggies.

  1. No condoms.  Are you KIDDING me??  WTF?  Of all the irresponsible, unacceptable uses of poor judgement, this one ticks me off the most.  Okay, so most romantic comedies don’t include condoms in the lead characters’ love scene.  Fine.  I get that.  It’s “romantic.”  (HA!)  But strangers having sex for a movie?  They should totally be wearing a condom.  It’s not even supposed to be romantic!  (And trust me, it wasn’t.)  It’s supposed to be raunchy and porno-stupid!  (It was.)  So why, why, why skip this major part of safe sex?  Grrrr…
  2. So when Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks) have sex for the first time after 20 years of monogamous friendship, they fall in love somewhere between the insertion and the mutual orgasm after 5 minutes of missionary position intercourse.  As if.  Even for a romantic comedy it was completely over the top and unnecessary and led to the statement by Zack: “We went out there to fuck, and we ended up making love.”  Sigh.

So problematic images of sex abound.  And if movies had no impact on people’s actions, I wouldn’t really care.

The integration of condoms into sex/fucking/lovemaking scenes in movies has the potential to have a huge impact on teenagers’ and young adults’ safe sex practices.  After all, our society has given sexuality education of our young people over to the movies and media, since the education system and most parents aren’t willing or able to talk about it.  So the media industry really should step up and start showing safe sex, along with less violence and sexualization of girls.  (Does sarcasm come across the Internet?  Disappointingly, probably not.)

And when will this constant barrage of social weight stop supporting the ideas that (1) just because you’re in love, the sex will be fabulous, and (2) vaginal intercourse alone should be orgasm-producing for women?

I could stomp around, metaphorically speaking, on these topics for some time.  But instead I’m going to turn off my laptop and walk my kids to school.  Hopefully in ten years, by the time the oldest is thinking about actually having sex, these walks to school and back will provide opportunity for us to talk about and bust these myths.  If you don’t have those kinds of conversation with your kids, make sure somebody is.

About Karen Rayne

Dr. Karen Rayne has been supporting parents and families since 2007 when she received her PhD in Educational Psychology. A specialist in child wellbeing, Dr. Rayne has spent much of her career supporting parents, teachers, and other adults who care for children and teenagers.


  1. I wonder what would be the mechanism for film companies to be contacted with an offer to consult on this issue as the films are being made, rather than with criticism after it is too late. You would be so good in that role, but I can’t think of how to convey that information to the filmmakers. Any one have any ideas how to get Dr Rayne hooked up?

  2. It wasn’t supposed to be an educational movie, and in case you haven’t noticed, men don’t wear condoms in American porn.

  3. The lack of condom use also really irritates me. I haven’t seen the movie, but I so wish movie makers were more tuned to the fact that teens watch these and emulate them. How hard is it to at least mention a condom in passing? I doubt it would take away from the movie’s storyline.

  4. Maybe it’s just another romantic comedy, but it’s stupid and irresponsible to show (or fail to show) some things even in romantic comedies. What if the movie had shown someone getting harmlessly raped? Wouldn’t we have a right to point out that rape isn’t harmless and should not be portrayed as such even in comedies? Same with condoms — especially given the extraordinary rates of teen pregnancies and STDs.

  5. I have been wanting to see that movie but I have to agree with everything that Karen wrote.

  6. Personally, I think sex in movies was better when it wasn’t in the movies, when it was hinted at, suggested, contextual. All this graphic and explicit crap with all the stupid, endless talk about it has ruined it. Sex in movies today is neither exciting nor sexual. It’s depressing!

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