An Unschooling Parent’s Movie Review: Sex, Pornography & Growing Up Male

An Unschooling Parent’s Movie Review: Sex, Pornography & Growing Up Male
April 15, 2014 Lainie Liberti
Teen kiss- teen sex

Why I insisted my 15 year old son watch the film Don Jon

DON-JON-Quad

The reviews weren’t great. But I’ve always liked Joseph Gordon-Levitt, from his early days of 3rd Rock from the Sun (I even designed the tv show’s website in my former life) to 500 Days of Summer. So I watched it.

From the films like Clerks, Chasing Amy, Garden State and Jersey Girl, I totally understood the New Jersey caricature, oddly garish and very very entertaining (and I sincerely hope that doesn’t insult anyone). I understood the archetypes of each character too, and enjoyed the absurd satiric cartoonish style employed to tell the story.

It worked. I felt it was successful. And it was produced for maximum penetration into the teen mind. (no pun intended, well, maybe…)

Would I say Don Jon is a great film? Probably not. But can I say it presents a simplistic manner to observe, examine then discuss the themes within the story.
Yes.

Sex.

Sex and porn. Sex and relationships. Relationships and porn. Porn and Religion. Religion and Sin. Sin and Sex. And round and round it goes…

But I suspect these things tend to be quite ripe on the minds of most teenage boys. Although there are no teenager characters in the film, I think a good portion of all American teens would benefit from watching this film and having follow up conversations to explore the themes in a safe loving environment.

Why?

Because of sex and porn?

Yes.

Because certainly there are men, teens and boys who grow up without having the ability to talk about sex, porn and relationships may very well develop the same sort of empty experiences learned from porn…that leave them completely unsatisfied. Unless these men, teens and boys add another dimension to their experience of sex, sexuality (and sometimes porn) their relationships are will be as tragic as the ones portrayed in this film.

Sex and porn.

Jon, the main character of the film,  played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt  fell into a trap many teen boys fall into, developing sexually physically without an equal emotional development surrounding their sexuality.

(Granted, I am writing this from the point of view of a middle age woman who has had a life time to explore human sexuality from many different aspects. And I know I can only speak from that perspective. Throughout my life, I have met boys and men who never developed an emotional relationship to their own sexuality, solely experiencing sex from a physical perspective. I can say, they are missing half of the beauty behind the privilege of experiencing life as a sexual being.)

Teen kiss- teen sex

Image courtesy of Courtney Carmody based on Creative Commons license.

In the film, the main character Jon believes porn is actually better than sex. He lives his life as if this is so. Throughout the film, you see Jon obtaining a full sexual life, but an empty emotional connection to other people. At first it’s comical. But after a while, it’s uncomfortable and the character’s dissatisfaction becomes the catalyst for change.

And there we find underlying beauty to this film. The character developed, grew, understood and finally experienced his own sexuality in a way that was not superficial and solely physically driven.

Besides being a fun movie to watch, there isn’t a preachy element to the film. But it clearly teaches. And I assure you, it will be easy for any teen to “get it”

….But parents, follow it up with a healthy conversation about all S.E.X. That’s engaged parenting. And the teen age years offer the opportunity as a parent to support your teen into developing into a healthy sexual being. As uncomfortable as it may sound to many, I embrace my role to help my son grow into the man he will become. And I’m grateful there are films like this out there that help open up the conversations…..

What do you think?

Want more? Check out this article called: What Can Pornography Teach Us About Love?

2 Comments

  1. Vanessa 5 years ago

    Love all your peaceful parenting tips! Thinking about how to approach sexuality (especially with boys) in a healthy way has always been murky for me since I had no experience of good conversations as a youth with my parents. The cycle of connecting sex and sin is so disasterous, and having been indoctinated with that mentality, it’s hard to define what is actually right/wrong/hurtful to others/myself. Thanks again for your thoughts, and I’ll definitely check out your recommendations. 🙂

  2. Dana 5 years ago

    Thanks for the recommendation. My 13 year old son has been a big JG-L fan since “Inception.” I would totally have passed this film over if I hadn’t read your post. I’m really concerned that my own feelings about porn will translate into shame or judgment and I *don’t* want my son to feel judged by me. I’ve made sure that my opinions are always couched as, “I want you to experience real sex for yourself before you see how it’s portrayed in porn” coupled with some, “many of the actors you’ll see in porn are *not* there by choice, or are there because economics forced an unpleasant choice.” Etc. But, this looks like something to put on the queue ASAP! Thx!

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