I was very pleased to hear that my friend Rev. Debra Haffner has written to producer/star Steve Carell about the scene where a 17-year-old girl gives a 13-year-old boy nude photos in “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” This offensive scene, portraying the gift as generous and compassionate, is one reason I gave “Crazy, Stupid, Love” a D. Rev. Haffner is one of the leading experts in the country on teen sexuality. She acknowledges that these are fictional characters but points out that teenagers get ideas about how to behave from what they see on screen. If she gets a response, I will post it.
Dear Mr. Carell:
I am writing to you as a certified sexuality educator and an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister who is concerned that your new movie, “Crazy, Stupid, Love” models behaviors for teen and tween audiences that puts them at risk for legal action. I am the author of several books for parents on talking with their children and teens about sexuality, and I have worked with adolescents on responsible sexual behavior for many years.
There are several sexual messages in the movie that I disagree with, but I am most concerned about 17 year old Jessica giving 13 year old Robbie nude photos of herself that she took. It is illegal for anyone to create sexually explicit images of a minor, to possess such images, or to distribute them. Although it may seem nonsensical, several states have passed additional laws that make it illegal for teens to take and distribute such pictures of themselves to other teens. Indeed, because of their age differences, depending on the age of majority in the state, Jessica might also be charged and convicted as a sexual offender for exposing a minor to child pornography. In some states, she could face life in prison or have to register as a sex offender for life. Further, the gender of the characters reinforces a stereotype that teen boys cannot be victims of child sexual abuse, when in reality, a boy is most likely sexually victimized by a teenage girl.
These are fictional characters – but their actions may well be repeated by young people in your audiences. I know that your movie is out in general release, and I don’t know what can be done by Carousal Productions at this point to get out the message, “don’t’ try this at home”. But, I do know that PG-13 movies shouldn’t be modeling criminal behaviors as harmless or worse, acts of generosity.
I would welcome hearing a response from you. Please let me know if I can provide you with additional information.
Rev. Dr. Debra Haffner