Adolescent sexuality in the movies

I saw Hairspray last night. It was good, campy fun. I was really struck by the innocence of the dating relationships. When compared to American Pie and the dreadful genre of movies it has inspired, Hairspray was a delightful return to the fumbling, romantic interest many teenagers experience.

I am not saying that some teenagers’ prime motive for dating isn’t sex. I am not even saying that most teenagers’ prime motive for dating isn’t sex. But for many teenagers the reason they’re dating is that inexplicably heady feeling that they get when a certain someone walks into the room. Not a certain feeling in their groin.

Our current spate of hyper-sexualized media teaches teenagers that sex is the reason they should be dating. And that’s just stupid. I wish we could have more movies like Hairspray – something that portrays the adolescent experience as something other than a 24/7 search for that first (and subsequent) roll in the hay. Maybe I’ll start my own movie company. What do you say? Who’ll go in with me on this one?

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. Maybe something with the mix of the 2? Maybe something where you see the rush in the head and then, maybe later with the same person, it also incorporates the rush in the loins?

    In real life, it’s not just “OMG I’m in LOVE!” or “Dude, let’s fuck”, but most of the time, it’s rather a mix: “God, I’m crazy about you… I can’t stop thinking about you. And… you know… I can’t stop fantasizing about you either.”

    Or maybe a movie that shows a young person throughout their teen years where it shows the various stages… the time where it’s just the rush in the head and maybe some kissing, and then maybe years later when the sexuality kicks in, where it’s also about the rush in the loins. (At least, that’s what it was like for me. I wasn’t interested at all in having sex with my first boyfriend. I was 14 and kissing was the most glorious thing in the world. Even the idea of oral sex was a total and complete turnoff. He respected this, luckily.)

  2. Oh, and I forgot to mention… Hairspray totally rules. I got to see a prescreening of it about a month before it came out and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I got the soundtrack the day it came out and saw it again the weekend it came out in the theaters. 🙂

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