I did something over Christmas break that I had vowed never to do. I watched the movie American Pie. I do not think there is any other movie that made me feel so guilty after watching it, except maybe for Mulholland Drive.
It is already pretty clear where this editorial is going, but before I come off as trying to sound holier-than-thou, I would like to point out that one has only to read my “Best Movies of 2004” article in this very issue to realize that I have a fairly high tolerance for Hollywood’s evils. I have been pretty well desensitized to violence, and foul language hardly phases me anymore.
But one theatrical evil Hollywood loves that still bothers me is sexual content, especially nudity. I will excuse light sexual content or even some heavier stuff if it is needed for the plot or for characterization, though I would argue that nudity is pointless in probably 99 out of 100 movies that it is in. The director usually could have shot the scene in such a way that the camera would avoid showing anything and still keep any plot devices or artistic value the scene may have had.
I am sure some directors and movie critics would beg to differ, citing some higher purpose for including sex and nudity. But I honestly wonder if Paul Weitz, director of American Pie, would have that argument with me in the case of American Pie, because the only purpose I can think of for American Pie is to fulfill the lustful appetites of teenage males. The movie surely reached that goal, but that goal is hardly a noble one. Pornography serves the same purpose.
For those of you who are not familiar with American Pie, it is about four guys who make a pact with each other to lose their virginity before they graduate.
Before prom night, the guys’ last chance to lose their virginity, the viewer gets to witness one of the guys receiving and giving oral sex; another guy prematurely ejaculating twice, thus ruining his chance to have sex with the girl who had just stripped down to her panties in his room; three scenes of masturbation; a number of orgasms and more. There was also a scene where a guy drank some beer with semen in it, but that was just related to sex; it was not sexual in and of itself.
Our heroes learn a valuable lesson in the end, which I suppose is meant to serve as the movie’s moral: sex is not that important and being a virgin is not all that shameful. They figured that out right before all of them fulfilled the promise they had made at the beginning of the movie.That valuable lesson was obviously not the point of the movie and the scene could have been cut from the movie. Compared to the other scenes, it was not memorable.
The point of the movie was to make some immature teenagers laugh, to gross them out and maybe give them something to gawk at. American Pie served no significant purpose. It was basically pornography.
There are movies where heavy sexual content is important for furthering the plot or for characterization (Thirteen, to name one), but these movies are few and far between.
Students, and everyone else, need to set their own individual standards keeping in mind their own strengths and weaknesses and the guidelines the Bible has already set.
Movie watchers also need to consider not only what Hollywood is subjecting them to but why Hollywood is subjecting them to it. A good movie will have a good reason for portraying the questionable content.