17 Again

I can't lie and pretend to be a holier-than-thou feminist and say that I would never dream of seeing 17 Again, never even think about it, as I could only assume that it's full of disgusting underlying sexist messages aimed to make teens doubt themselves and become more materialistic.
Nah. I basically flocked to see 17 Again, got angry at my friends when their conflicts forced me to wait 2 whole weeks after it came out to see it (we made a pact to experience it together) and injured at least 3 employees of Regal Cinemas in my glee-ridden romp to the theatre. 

I am 16. Zac Efron, though some people may describe him as androgynous or man-boyish, is a gorgeous hunk of man meat in my eyes, and that alone is enough for me to pay $10 for a ticket and another $5 for a diet coke the size of my upper body. By the way, I'm not objectifying Zac. He's also a good actor, nice person blah blah blah.

Anyway, I was expecting the usual teen movie sexist slips- objectification of women, usually in the form of ass-shaking, barely-clothed cheerleaders; a movie centered around guys being studs and girls being sluts, etc. etc. etc. What I got was a heck of a lot more disturbing: An abstinence-only, sometimes Freudian tirade of how women will only destroy men's futures. OH SO LOVELY. 

First Offense: The Plot Itself. Hunky Basketball Guy Mike (Zac Efron), on the verge of snagging a scholarship from Syracuse, finds out his Pretty Little Girlfriend is preggers. Right before the game that will decide his future. In the first seconds, he throws the game and runs after his girlfriend to assure her that their future is together and with their baby. Disappointed head shaking from coach, scout, and crowd ensue. Damn girlfriend ruined Zac's future! If only SHE hadn't gotten pregnant he would have gotten his scholarship and had a BRIGHT FUTURE. SHE RUINED HIS LIFE!!! This isn't exactly a subtle message. Adult Mike basically tells his wife that his misery, which he took out on her for 18 years, is due to her getting knocked up, which disabled him from living up to his potential. 

Mkay, last time I checked, it takes two people to make a baby. I'm so sick of it being the girl's fault. Jesus God. Plus, no one was keeping him from living up to his potential. I think it's a positive message for him to choose not to be an absent father, but at the same time, a pregnant girlfriend doesn't mean The End. Life is what you make it. Plus, take some responsibility, man. 

Second Offense: Sex Education Scene. Mike, now having lived for a teenager for at least a few days and enrolled in school,  basically gets up in front of his health class, full of promiscuous condom-hoarders, and preaches abstinence. If he had just abstained from sex maybe his life wouldn't blow and he wouldn't have to have fallen into a magical vortex conjured by an imaginary janitor just to fix the damn thing (no seriously, that's what happens).Worse than promoting the tactic of imagining the feeling of holding your newborn daughter as a way of sexual protection is the reaction from the girls in the classroom. How romantic! He wants a baaabyyyy and he doesn't just want my body! He wants a family! AW! Um, no. Abstinence isn't romantic, it's unrealistic. And wildly ineffective. 



Third Offense: The Scene Where His Daughter Falls for Him. I had this sickening feeling the entire time that this was going to happen. Especially when he tried to have pep talks with her that even if he were still in her father's body would have been eerily touchy-feely and sentimental. When The Jerk Boyfriend (dime Hunter Parrish) breaks up with Mike's daughter, she instantly attempts to seduce her own father. I thought we were over Freud?



Fourth Offense: Hypocritical Portrayal of Teenage Sexuality. The entire movie, Mike tries to prevent his daughter from getting it on. I understand the part about Mike not wanting his daughter to be with somebody who apparently has been to jail. Also, it's not a head scratcher that he would rather his daughter go to Georgetown than have her go to the dreaded community college while Jerk Boyfriend is promoted to manager at Home Depot. That's okay. But the fact that the whole plot is mostly about thwarting her sexuality is not okay with me. Especially  while the entire time Mike is attempting to lock a metaphorical chastity belt around his daughter's nether-regions, he is encouraging his son to win over the cheerleader, even gazing on with delight as they have their first kiss. WTF? So it's okay for guys to explore their sexuality, but if girls do it's bad and can only lead to unwanted pregnancy? 



In a lot of ways this movie felt like a blast back to the 50's in its messages and, well, basically the entire idea of it. But I have to admit. There was some witty, sophisticated-ish banter. You can tell that Zac Efron actually does have some talent, and what he doesn't have he makes up for in what you can tell is sheer dedication...and his gorgeousness. If you ignore the not so subtle right-wing supported messages, it was actually not that bad as far as teen movies go. At least the sexism surprised me. Yeah. 

Last complaint: More Hunter Parrish next time. Just Saying.

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Julie Zeilinger
Founding Editor of The WMC FBomb
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