Elizabeth Banks Thinks 17 Again a Little Too Gung Ho on Babies Makin' Babies
Whether she's playing a jacuzzi-dwelling nymphomaniac (The 40-Year-Old Virgin), or the less-dimwitted half of a couple forced into the sex trade after losing their jobs (W.), Elizabeth Banks has never been one to shy away from blue material. So it might come as a surprise that the appealing actress has come out against 17 Again for sending out questionable messages to its young audiences. It's not the film's central, "Matthew Perry wakes up one morning to find himself inside Zac Efron" premise that bothers her so much as it is the lazy way with which it deals with the subject of teen pregnancy.
She writes in The Huffington Post:
The message of the movie seemed to be...knocking up your high school sweetheart is A-OK! Especially if you give up that Syracuse scholarship to marry her! F College! ... Now, that statement at least gets close to something: if you are going to have sex, be safe. (Question: Why didn't Hunter Parrish also take his shirt off in this flick?) [...]
My point here (sorry, I was looking up "image Hunter Parrish" on Google and got off-track) is that this movie pretty much glamorizes teenage parenting. It basically says: Go for it! Have a kid when you're 18. Throw another one in for good measure right after and you'll get a nice house, deck and hammock included, your baby mama apparently won't need to work, your kids will eventually have iPods and get into Georgetown and the person you picked (when you were 17) is actually your soulmate! Don't worry if the condom breaks -- it's cool! It's totally worked out for Bristol, ya'll! (Is it me or is Levi cute?)
The problem with this message is that, according to unreliable online sources and my own anecdotal evidence collected over my 3?-something years: this is crap. It's a great Hollywood story (I really enjoyed this movie, did I say that?) but in reality, teenage parents (mothers, especially) face increased levels of poverty, lower education rates, and higher chances that their daughters will also end up teenage moms and their sons will end up in jail. (I would like to see Zac Efron and Hunter Parrish fight Channing Tatum in a jail flick).
Putting aside those lusty, Zac-on-Hunter-on-Levi-on-Channing footnotes for a moment (they merely reinforce the stereotype that inside every gifted comic actress pulses the mind of a horny gay man), Banks does boldly point out 17 Again's clear, underlying agenda. At its heart, it's a conservative film that espouses choosing abstinence over safe sex, but choosing life where abstinence fails -- even if that means teen parenthood. Anything that doesn't fall inside its bold, coloring book lines -- homosexuality, mixed-race couplings, and ... gasp ... abortion -- simply has no place in 17's unlikely adolescent universe. Clearly, it set out to align itself with the virtuous and sexless personas cultivated around so many of Disney Channel's breakout stars. But is it out of step with reality? You betcha.
· 17 Again, Taken Way Too Seriously [HuffPo]