American Pie franchise has been the cultural phenomenon since the first film was released. The American Pie franchise perpetuates the teen movie model and the masculine model. Using cultivation theory, some themes around teen sexuality emerging and recurring throughout the series are embedded and penetrated into the social norm of the society. In addition, the screen theory is applied throughout American Pie too. The film focuses on the male, heterosexual white class teen point of view. American Pie series can be a great and practical example of sex education in public schools. The series help to open up conversations about sex, love and relationship that most of parents struggle to talk with their teenage daughters and sons.
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American Pie is a series of teen sex related comedy movie. There are 4 films in the original series: American Pie, American Pie 2, American Wedding and American Reunions. Along with the original series, there is a series of spin-off films which are American Pie: Band Camp, The Naked Mile, Beta House, and the Book of Love. The release date of the original series was between 1999 and 2012. The first film was released in 1999; the second and the third film were released in 2001 and 2003. The last film was released in 2012. In the first film, the American Pie, Jim Levenstein tries to form a relationship with his classmate Nadia while his friends Kevin Myers, Paul Finch and Chris Ostreicher try to lose their virginities before graduation. In the second film, Jim with all his best friends and Steve Stifler host a summer party; and every drama just evolves the group of friends at the summer party. In the third film, Jim and Michelle plan to have a wedding which Stifler is invited and can potentially ruin everything. In the forth and the last film of the original series, all of them, the characters get together for their 13rd high school reunion. Along with the original series, the spin-off films were released in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009 respectively. In the Band Camp, Stifler’s younger brother Matt Stifler is obligated to attend a summer band camp where he meets Elyse and decides to change himself to win over her. In the Naked Miles, Erik Stifler, who fails to have sex with his girlfriend, is the only Stifler that graduates high school while being a virgin. Erik is given a free pass by his girlfriend to go to University of Michigan to lose his virginity. In the Beta House, Erik, who now has graduated from high school, is going to college. He has to do a number of tasks to get into a fraternity there at his college. In the Book of Love, at the East Great Fall High, due to the fire in the school library, the love Bible is now burnt. With the help of the book creator Mr. Levenstein, the 3 high school students restore the book and lose their virginities.
With lower cost with less expensive cast, teen movies are ideal commodities for the market . The series produce social norms and ideologies. The cultivation theory is applied into this. The series shape the teen conception of social reality. Heavy viewers who watch the whole American Pie series are influenced by how the series are framed. Mainstream films are likely to be a more effective example or a more effective lesson for the American youth than the classroom experience. The American Pie series as a whole is considered as an efficient sex education manual which always embraces the conduct of sexuality and the instruction of safe sexual activities (Pearce, 2006). Throughout the series, Jim’s father always gives Jim trustworthy advice by cleverly lampooning the situation. In addition, one of Jim’s best friends, Kevin is handed by his brother the Bible of sex technique which he needs to please his partner. It is really obvious that sex in American Pie is considered a family affair. For an example, father passes down to his son, an older brother passes it down to his younger brother (Pearce, 2006). Sex education at public school is always critically criticized for its unpractical take of the problem. A cross -survey was done to examine the national public opinion on how the public takes on the current sex education at school. The survey was done between July 2005 and Jan 2006 among the adults of America aged between 18 and 83. The survey showed that the public supported the 3 different sex education methods in school: abstinence only, comprehensive sex education and method of preventing pregnancy such as birth control pill and the instruction of using condom. The abstinence-only program received the lowest support among the 3 programs. However, 82% supported that sex education program at school should include both comprehensive sex education and methods of preventing pregnancy. The result shows that the majority of the public support a more open and balanced approach to sex education. While the abstinence-only program is funded and supported by the federal government, it is not supported by the majority of the public and the scientific community. Speaking of the abstinence- only program, the program promotes waiting for sex until marriage (Bleakley, Hennessy, Fishbein, 2006). Sex education at school generates extremely a lot of critics among the public because the choice of the right sex education is crucial. HIV infection and AIDS were increased by 10% between 2000 and 2003. The group of the age from 15 to 24 though this group which was only 25% of the whole sexually active population at the time acquired 50% of all the STD infections. Medical cost for all these STD infections was 6 billions. Sex education is extremely important. Data shows that by the age of 15, 25% of the youth have had sexual intercourse, and 37.5% by the age of 16, and 46.9% at the age of 17. In response to the STD infections among the youth, the American government only focuses on abstinence-only program which promotes sex until marriage as a go-to lifestyle. Abstinence is considered the only way to avoid STD and other health problems associated with sex according to the federal government. The issue with abstinence-only program is that the program does not provide any forms of birth control and protection. Abstinence-only program does not practically work well in daily life (Bleakley, Hennessy, Fishbein, 2006).
Based on the survey above, the sex education at schools in America has never been good and efficient. American Pie series can be a great sex education manual. Here’s why. A number of themes around teen sexuality emerge and recur throughout the series. Male and female attitudes about sex and desire really stand out. Male and female roles in negotiating sexual relationship are very crucial too. American Pie can give teens the ability to make informed and radical decision about sex and sexuality. American Pie is also a good explanation of the connection and relation among sex, love and relationship (Bleakly, Hennessy, Fishbein, 2006). Cultivation theory focuses primarily on television such as films as the main dominant storyteller. The theory says that viewers who watch television a lot or consume a significant amount of mainstream media tend to accept the mainstream ideologies and the social norms much more than those who watch or consume less. Viewers who consume a significant amount of mainstream media are easily assimilated. Studies show that viewers take content portrayed by the media seriously. Studies show that sexual values and behaviors occurring in the media are seen as positive by most viewers. Viewers are most likely to adopt these values and behaviors (Brown, Steele, Childers, 2001). The media tells people what to think and what is important in the world. The media can get people to think about specific things while keeping other things from people. People use what they see in the media to define what is considered appropriate and inappropriate (Brown, 2010). The screen theory specifically the male gaze is applied throughout the whole series. The film focuses on male, heterosexual, white, middle class teen. Female characters in the series reinforce the traditional, white norm of beauty, the hegemonic femininity. American Pie can be a great tool of sex education. For an example, Jim’s masturbation with the apple pie left on the counter, or Finch’s accident in the school bathroom after taking laxatives, those examples in the series encourage the viewers to laugh at and distance themselves from them. In American Pie 1, Jim broadcasts over the Internet his classmate Nadia undressing in his room which really emphasizes on the male gaze and female objectifying in the screen theory. In American Pie 1, when Nadia takes control and laugh at Jim for “coming” too quickly. The scene initiates humor but also it initiates discussion around the topic of premature ejaculation. The scenes in the series are not only used for viewing pleasure but they are also used for initiating discussion and talking about these texts and later criticizing and reflection on them. American Pie also comes up with the contradiction and conflicts in the experiences of male sexuality. when Heather asks Oz to go to prom with her in front of Stifler, Stifler teases Oz for dating a choir girl. Oz replies by saying he likes the sweater she wears. When both of them join the team, Stifler makes a sexual joke by doing the bum thrusting motion. Heather spots that from the far and turns away so disappointedly. Oz looks uncomfortable with Stifler’s joke too. It shows the discomfort expressed by Oz, the main character in this scene. It also challenges the traditional representations that all young males talk about females like that. A lot of young males do not intend to do so but are pressured to do so (Ashcraft, 2003). In American Pie 3, Jim proposes to Michelle in a restaurant, but she misunderstands and thinks he asks her to fellate him under the table. Aside from all the ridiculous and gross-out sexual humor, American Pie promotes family tradition and values. It also promotes monogamy. Jim has always been the one girl guy. American Pie documents Jim’s life from the time he is a senior in high school till he gets married and starts a family. American Pie promotes the idea that a man should grow up, settle down, get married and start family (Pearce, 2006). In the standard teen movie it takes place in a world that is uninhabited by parents. Family is treated minimumly because the real focus is on the world of the teenager. Standard teen movie treats parents as the authorities who oppress the teens. In standard teen movies, young men always try to escape parental authority. In the movie, Jim does not rebel against his parents. He always follows his father’s footstep and takes advice from his father seriously. For an example, Jim’s father has one on one, man to man talk with Jim about masturbation and safe sexual performance. Not a lot of fathers nowadays can be comfortable talking about sex to his son. Via American Pie, teens can understand much more about sex, and at the same time, American Pie sets the standard and the social norms on teen sexuality, ..
In conclusion, American Pie is a cultural phenomenon. American Pie is great tool for sex education in school. American Pie can be a great, more balance and open approach to sex education at school. With cultivation theory and screen theory effect, American Pie reinforce the social norms and standards for teen sexuality. However, they challenge the current social norms too.
- Bleakley, A., Hennessy, M., & Fishbein, M. (november, 2016). Public Opinion on Sex Education in US Schools. Retrieved December 4, 2018, from https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/205706.
- Ashcraft, C. (september, 1st, 2003). Adolescent Ambiguities in American Pie Popular Culture as a Resource for Sex Education. Retrieved December 4, 2018, from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0044118X03254558.
- Pearce, S. (dec, 7th, 2006). Sex and the cinema: What American Pie teaches the young. Retrieved December 4, 2018, from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14681810600981988?scroll=top&needAccess=true.
- Brown, J. D., Steele, J. R., & Childers, K. W. (november, 1st, 2001). Sexual Teens, Sexual Media Investigating Media’s Influence on Adolescent Sexuality. Retrieved December 4, 2018, from https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/9781135661731.
- Brown, J. D. (jan, 11th, 2010). Mass media influences on sexuality. Retrieved December 4, 2018, from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/00224490209552118?needAccess=true.
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