Thursday, February 14, 2008
I know I mentioned a couple of times seeing the film Pamela's Prayer. I thought about this most special of special days dedicated to love, that I'd discuss what's wrong with the movie and my thoughts about the message it portrays. (And why it's been pissing me off for years.)
The movie opens with Pamela's father promising her mother, who died during childbirth, that he'll raise Pamela in the right way. We see Pamela growing up and every night she and her father say a prayer together. When she reaches high school she wants to date, but her father won't let her because dating leads to promiscuity and sets kids on the road to ruin.
Pamela rebels and decides to date one of the cool kids at school behind her father's back. The cool kid brags to his friends how he's gotten all of the Christian girls. When he tries to kiss her, she runs home in tears. To make matters worse he tells everyone in school that he's had sex with her and she has to deal with the shame of the lie. How could he?
Pamela learns her lesson and decides to be patient and follow her father's wishes. Eventually we meet young dreamy working at the small business that Pamela's father owns. Seeing that Pamela is a chaste woman, he proposes to her and they get married, only then consummating their love with a kiss (although they never show a kiss in the movie).
That's pretty much the story in a nutshell. It's a simplistic fairy-tale suitable for no one. Not only are there issues with the message, but with the way that women are portrayed in the story.
And here's the trailer to show you exactly what I mean.
First, Pamela is little more than a prop. Her personality is non-existent and the only thing the film-makers care about portraying is her purity. The only other woman in the movie is Pamela's best friend who has sex with her boyfriend to "prove that she loves him". When Pamela tells her father about it he collapses as if the young girl has been tragically killed. We never see her again, so maybe God struck her down or something for her mistake.
And once young dreamy notices the wallflower of Pamela, he asks her father about her as a potential mate before he even tries to assess Pamela's feelings for him. The most nauseating scene is when he praises her father for keeping her pure. Make no mistake, she is chattel.
There isn't a single kissing scene in the movie. The actors aren't married so it would be a sin for them to kiss, according to the film-makers. Just as Pamela and young dreamy move in to kiss at their wedding the movie cuts the scene.
Pamela and her father have said a prayer every night together since she was born. And it's no different on her wedding night. She and her father say a prayer together before he turns the responsibility for Pamela's spiritual well-being over to her new husband. The movie leads the viewer to believe that Pamela cannot be responsible for her own decisions and that a man must always guard her purity.
In addition to the way women are portrayed I have a problem with the way sex and marriage are portrayed. I'm not particularly bothered about the choice to wait for marriage to have sex. It's probably going to lead to some disappointment and possibly incompatibility between the partners, but it's each person's choice to make.
But what I most have trouble with is holding people to such a standard of purity. Life is not perfect and neither are people. Even a good partnership is filled with disagreements, disappointments, and compromise. It's not that I think people shouldn't strive for perfection, but that they should also live in reality. Not to mention that there is nothing wrong with a healthy sexual relationship outside of marriage. In fact, I would encourage a couple of live together for a few years before even considering marriage. That way both partners can have more of a realistic expectation of each other before contemplating marriage. Marriage isn't the only way to make a commitment.
Only people that hold to the insulting phrase, "Why buy the cow when the milk is free," would not object to this movie. And that is insulting to men, not just women. It assumes that men don't seek an honest relationship, but would rather steal the only thing a woman has to offer (her purity). And it also makes women into manipulating bitches that use sex to get men to do what they want.
So although the MPAA would probably not find any of the themes explicitly objectionable for children, the ideas expressed are deeply unsuitable. This is a movie I'd rather not have children see.