This Movie is Rated G for Nauseating  

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.

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13 comments: to “ This Movie is Rated G for Nauseating

  • Janet
    Thursday, February 14, 2008 at 2:23:00 PM CST  


    As someone who was actually a virgin on her (first) wedding night AND had the experience of living (in sin) with someone before the (second) wedding, omg, go with living together FIRST!

    I totally want my kids to live with their partner before getting married. Weddings are stressful enough, get the stress of living with someone new out of the way before!

  • The Exterminator
    Thursday, February 14, 2008 at 5:00:00 PM CST  

    Why buy the cow when the milk is free.
    Because you might like to hear it say "moo" every once in a while.

    (Note: I don't have any idea what that response means, but it sounds like it makes sense, doesn't it?)

    Questions: Did anybody take this movie seriously in 1998? Does anyone take it seriously now? And by "anyone" I mean "non-nutball Christian."

  • PhillyChief
    Thursday, February 14, 2008 at 5:45:00 PM CST  

    Why buy the cow if you don't know if she puts out good milk or not?

    1998? Really? More like 1988 maybe. Look at those kids!

  • Anonymous
    Thursday, February 14, 2008 at 5:59:00 PM CST  

    Wow. Did you actually watch the movie? Seriously, that acting is bad. And keep in mind, this is coming from someone who sat through a high school performance of "My Fair Lady" in an area with a strong southern accent. You haven't lived until you have heard "Why can't the English learn to speak" with a strong Cumberland Valley accent.

    As far as living together before marriage? DO IT!! Compatability is more than liking the same things. It includes the ability to put up with humour, cooking and cleaning, bed head, the normal smells and sounds of a human being, and (dare I say it?) sexual compatibility.

    My 15 year old daughter is allowed to date and she's going to a dance this Friday. My wife and I just got back from Walmart (just shoot me now) where we got some . . . . Hell, I don't know what they're called, they're boob cups for a Marilyn Monroe dress. Breathe deep, now, no hyperventalating. Actually, this father's ideas are looking better and better.

  • Anonymous
    Thursday, February 14, 2008 at 6:54:00 PM CST  

    I wonder how many churches have tortured their youth groups by making them sit through that god-awful movie? I wonder if my sons ever watched it? If they did, they probably nearly suffocated themselves choking back their snickers.

  • Spanish Inquisitor
    Thursday, February 14, 2008 at 8:18:00 PM CST  

    There are a couple of things that are distressing about this movie (besides the acting, if you'd call it that).

    First is this whole concept of "purity". Exactly what is impure about sex? What is impure about a woman who has had sex? There is no difference in the woman before and after, other than mentally being experienced in something she'd never done before. Why is virginity usually an issue only for women? This has never made much sense to me.

    The second problem with the movie is that it is so unrealistic. The real world is nothing like that. It tries to create an image of the world as one revolving around the sex act, with those that do it being evil and those that don't being pure (unless you have a gold ring on your left hand, fourth finger. Then it's different) That's so black and white, it's G for nauseating. The world is not about sex, and one shouldn't spend one's entire life aiming for the first time one has sex. East, sleep, work, play, get a job, get an education, volunteer, help your fellow man, etc, etc, etc. Sex is just one little eensey weensey bit of it, and certainly not the most important.

    If I was a Christian girl and my school, church, family made me see that, and restricted my access to boys, with my natural curiosity and with hormones raging through my system, that movie would make me seek out a boy and have sex just to see what the movie was hiding from me.

  • PhillyChief
    Thursday, February 14, 2008 at 10:49:00 PM CST  

    Down the road from where I went to high school were the catholic high schools. Plural, because one was for the guys and the other for the girls. Ah, those uniforms...
    Anyway, they're the girls you wanted, the catholic girls. They were quite, um, enthusiastic. I believe SI might have just explained why. Perhaps there was a movie like this that was shown to those girls, and I'm actually indebted to it. How funny is that?

  • Venjanz
    Thursday, February 14, 2008 at 11:29:00 PM CST  

    Never saw or even heard of this movie until today. *Shrug* Average teen Christian sexual morality flick it seems, from your well-written review. I have watched many of these movies in my life, and usually the only thing I walked away with was a desire to bed the female lead.

    I would like to make a couple of points pertaining to some of the comments here.

    While I agree the “free milk” (it ain’t quite free, but that’s another issue) adage can be offensive to some, but there is a reason that men think this way. Other than some tax breaks and the slight social stigma of being an unwed couple in America, there is really little advantage for a man get married in 21st century America. The milk IS free nowadays, and since divorce courts are generally biased against men, and the divorce rate is near 50%... many of us would rather just not play. We do a cost-benefit analysis and find that this is just a crappy deal.

    This changes if children are involved of course, and if women are more offended by the “cow” part of the adage than the actual meaning, we can come up with something better.

    You and Pimptaculis Luther M.D. are a couple of the lucky ones, OG. I salute you, and should maybe drag your asses to the casino or the horse races with me sometime.

    The second thing I would like to point out is that a sexually promiscuous female has FAR more to loose than a similarly promiscuous man, even given the biased courts. You are intelligent people, so I don’t feel the need to elaborate here.

    On a personal note concerning Christian movies, what kind of God want this woman “Left Behind?”


  • Anonymous
    Friday, February 15, 2008 at 6:47:00 AM CST  

    OG: On the MPAA and the film's content itself, I cannot help but recall the concept of "Public Puritanism but Private Sinfulness", coined by Marty Kaplan of USC Annenberg.

    I wrote about it simply as a beautiful phrase and the comments generated some interesting discussion, notwithstanding some of the earlier comments more digressions than anything profound.

    The link if you are interested is:

  • Anonymous
    Friday, February 15, 2008 at 8:43:00 AM CST  

    SI said: Why is virginity usually an issue only for women? This has never made much sense to me.

    From my (admittedly limited) readings in history, female virginity and the concept of women as property seem to be closely related. Rape in Aethenian Greece was punishable by a fine, the amount of said fine was based upon whether the girl or woman was free, slave, citizen, and virgin. A citizen virgin was valuable property for the father. She'd be worth quite a bit as a wife to be sold. Conversely, rape of a slave girl (who had most likely been sexually active since before puberty) resulted in compensation based upon any decrease in value from injuries or pregnancy, and the amount of time the act of rape took (rent a victim?).

    Sadly, this view of a girl as the property of her father, and the wife as the property of her husband, has permeated American culture. Especially among conservative christians, a girls virginity belongs to Daddy (shudder) and is 'sold' to her husband during the marriage ceremony.

    Cheerful, eh?

  • Carli N. Wendell
    Friday, February 15, 2008 at 10:49:00 AM CST  

    I kind of want to see this movie. If nothing else, the father reminds me of a young Ray Liotta. And I love me some Ray.

  • Sam
    Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 7:40:00 AM CST  

    I haven't seen this film. But your description has convinced me that it's not for me. Or my kids.
    I did take my daughter to see the Bridge to Terebanthia and nearly got up and walked out. It was Horrible. I thought it was creepy - and in the end - Ooohh Uck!! I was just gagging. Luckily my daughter had the same gag reflex I did, and we have happily classed that movie as our number one dud of all time.

  • Unknown
    Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 10:10:00 PM CST  

    Janet: Exactly!

    Ex: Oh honey you know women can say some cute things bug who'd really take them seriously.

    Philly Yeah, Christian movies (music, etc) tend to be a little behind the times as far as tech.

    t(A): I sure did watch that movie and I didn't make a single comment while it was on. My dad thought it was exactly what I needed to see even though I was married and had lived with my husband for four years prior to our vows.

    Chappy: I just kind of squirmed uncomfortably, but I could laugh now.

    SI: I agree. Sex is nothing to be ashamed about.

    V: It's not been widely released, so it's not unlikely that most people haven't heard about it. And what exactly does a woman get from a man that compensates for the relationship? I've seen guys freeload off women just as much as women have freeloaded off men.

    In a equal relationship where both partners bring something to it there still isn't anything free, but both people get something out of it. And hopefully you care about each other enough that no one is trying for a free ride.

    Shefaly: Thanks for sharing the link! I really like that line too.

    Carli: You might find it pretty funny once you actually see the full thing.

    Sam: I never saw Bridge to Terebanthia but I heard it had some pretty tough scenes. Wouldn't it be nice if they warned you about something like that before the movie?


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