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November 05 2008

Buffy as sex ed. A newspaper blogger discusses how she talked to her teens about sex in "Buffy." The blog references a study about kids being more likely to have sex if they watch certain shows.

I guess that's pretty interesting.
I have a similar situation. I've mentioned in another posting that my parents were very strict when I was younger and prohibited my watching the Simpsons, Saved by the Bell, Roseanne and other shows they deemed 'too adult'. But my mom and I watched Buffy together from episode 1 (I was 9). That's weird, huh?
But I don't really think there's a connection between sexually active teens and their watching TV shows with sex in it. Sorry, I don't buy it.
I'm eager to watch Buffy with my daughters, and I hope they'll love the show as much as I do.

But for the life of me, I can't figure out how old they should be first.
Linnea, the blogger/reporter doesn't buy it either. She mentions the problem with the study.
My ten year old niece just finished watching with her dad. There were times when he said 'close your eyes' and she did.

She loves Buffy. (and Heroes. and Doctor Who). She was Dark Willow for Hallowe'en.

I think it's a matter of knowing your kids. When they're old enough, you'll know.
My son is 15 and we've been watching Buffy together for about 3 months. We are up to season 5. It's promoted several good conversations but I've also had to leave the room for a few scenes and a couple I've warned him what was going to happen and he's requested I fast forward. My biggest fear will be to watch certain eps of season 6 with him. I'll have to leave the room a lot. I am so happy tho that he is liking Buffy. It's hard on a 15 year old when Mom is a huge Sci fi fan. He's having to get past it being un-cool to like the same show as your Mom. I have to say, Buffy is an amazing teaching tool for showing the pitfalls of growing up. I wonder how many kids will grow up with a stronger moral code and more compassion for being exposed to a show like Buffy. Sad so few show have such aspirations.
This is pretty shallow. She says sex between a 17 year old and "a man who is much older than her" ended up being super bad and evil. That's stupid, cause we were lead to believe Angel was around a high schooler's age, at least for a while. And he was sired at a young age, perennially young. And they did love each other and had he not been cursed, and it not have been A TELEVISION SHOW, things might have worked out.

Propaganda.
Ok the blogger dosnt buy the study completely which is good. But not letting her kids watch Friends when they were old enough to start High School, that sounds plain silly to me.

Watching a show like Friends that show sex often in a comical way with maybe not so much consecvences is supposed to be dangerus for young people? I'd say the opposite! Learning that you can actually talk and make jokes about sex might actually give them a more relaxed and un-nerotic attitude towards the whole buissnes. And no, relaxed is not the same thing as not careful.
This is pretty shallow. She says sex between a 17 year old and "a man who is much older than her" ended up being super bad and evil.

She says "several years older" in fact, which Angel was presented as being (he was, AFAIK, apparently in his early to mid 20s i.e. not just post high school but probably post college too). What makes me smile slightly is that it's apparently OK to have sex when you're 18 but not 17, as if that's a meaningful cut-off point (Buffy thinks about whether she's ready to have sex with Angel and they both enter into it with eyes open - in fairness, who coulda seen the whole curse thing coming ?). I also think it's quite sweet that she apparently thinks most kids of around 16 have only been exposed to the sexual imagery that their parents have allowed them to watch. Uh huh, 'K.

Apart from that it doesn't really say very much. "Can be influential" ? Hmm, can you vague that up a bit ? ;). I'm ignoring the "absence of other inputs" get-out since obviously no-one grows up absent other inputs than TV.

And without reading the study itself it's hard to say but neither the blogger nor the article she links to mention sexual activity within the sample. I.e. surely it's at least possible that kids having more sex tend to watch more TV featuring sex ? If it turns out that among kids having comparable amounts of sex, those watching TV shows like 'Sex in the City' end up with more pregnancies then there might be something to it (e.g. those shows may not be portraying contraception in a positive light for instance). That seems so basic i'm sure the study must consider it but it's disconcerting not to see it mentioned anywhere (when other potential confounding factors are).
Regardless of his physical age when sired, Angel was obviously much older than Buffy. As she said herself, "Please! My boyfriend had a bicentennial." And Angel is constantly shown to know more about people and the world in general than Buffy -- if not necessarily about high school.

As to TV shows having their effect... I can't dismiss it all so easily. Being a Whedon fan and an amateur writer myself, I'm intensely aware of the influence stories have on our lives. Personally I'm inclined to think that the absence of serious conversation about sex is the biggest single problem, and that this is due at least in part because we just don't see that in movies and TV very often. In other words, we don't talk about sex because our stories don't talk about it.

There are only discussions about sex and relationships on TV when the couple are breaking up. And sex is always shown as wordless passion while the music swells, instead of a team effort requiring not a little communication. And if parents tell their kids about sex, one side or both is usually too creeped out to really do a good job of talking about it. So the kids may get the "birds and bees" chat about the mechanics, but after that they'll likely get their instruction on the intricacies from their friends and from pop culture, God help us...

I've already used Buffy educationally, in the classroom; no doubt I'll use it in raising any children I may have. Strong woman role model aside, there really are some extremely useful conversation starters, and even some actual conversations! Just think about Oz's talk with Willow in the van in "Innocence." That's exactly the kind of thing I wish I saw more of.
Well, I'm always happy to have Xander's input on the mind of a teenage boy when talking to my teenage girl about sex. :)

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