Our July film manages to be farcical about teen girls’ sex desires

While still in community college in Pasadena, Mike and I were big fans of the Nazarene College basketball team which had won a couple of NAIA (small college) national championships. We started dating a few Nazarene college girls, but we didn’t expect much and didn’t try much. After all, Nazarene girls were reportedly chaste. They wore no make up, never showed leg, wore no ribbons in their hair, never cursed, drank or smoked, and never went to movies. But these embargos had nothing to do with our back-seat shenanigans in Mike’s ‘46 Ford. These young ladies were pretty willing.

Being just three degrees less chaste myself, I learned a lot from them. There were lessons here, though I did not ponder them at the time. Mainly, you just can’t tell. And the same lesson is played out in our June film, entitled. Turn Me On, Dammit! No, the film isn’t about religious girls or basketball teams; it’s about a fifteen-year old girl named Alma, and the title says it all. She is just as horny as the boys she’s with. Maybe more so. Maybe it’s about time we learned some secrets about teen girls who have their hands down their pants as they do phone sex.

Turn Me On, Dammit! is a Norwegian film about an innocent-seeming girl, an unLindsey Lohan.  It was directed by Jannick Systad Jacobsen and written by Jacobsen and Olaug Nilssen. Alma is played by Helene Bergsholm.

Hollywood doesn’t do horney-girl movies often. Always it’s the boys in these films who have the hots. The girls are coy. In Knocked Up, Seth Rogen gets Katherine Heigl pregnant. Katherine never sticks her hands down her pants. In fact, she was probably cast because she seems so unsullied. Writer and director Judd Apatow has to contrive a party where Katherine gets drunk and lets her guard (later, her pants) down, so that Rogen can do the deed.

In 50/50, a nice young man has a fifty-fifty chance of having his cancer cured. But this is a rotten premise for a Hollywood movie. Who wants to see a movie about a nice man who might be stuck with cancer? So director Jonathan Levine inserts Rogen to leer at girls and talk semi-dirty to spice the story up. Does the main guy get cured? Hint: This is a Hollywood movie.

Thus Turn Me On, Dammit! alters several movie stereotypes. Watching a girl masturbate on the kitchen floor? And such a sweet-looking girl, not a hard-edged female like the one from that dragon tattoo movie.

This is a funny film. The irony of the plot makes it funny. Many reviewers call it farce. It was a big hit at the Tribeca Film Festival in NYC, where it won the best screenplay award. As Andrew O’Hehir of Salon.com has written:

This yarn about an innocent-looking but desperately horny teenage girl might not have that much commercial upside, but its bittersweet, faintly depressed brand of Nordic humor is definitely enjoyable.

Alma can’t keep her sexual fantasies to herself. When she shares them with friends, she becomes a pariah, the subject of toilet art. It’s part of the price she pays and a large part of the film’s lesson: It’s not okay to verbalize sexual daydreams to your peers, even though, hypocritically, they may have the same dirty-minded whims as you.

The film ends up asking fundamental questions about budding sexuality. Are young boys and girls fundamentally the same in their sexuality, the latter potentially just as verbal and expressive about what they really want as are boys? Far be it for me to answer such a question. Yet those Nazarene girls I was with in the back seat of Mike’s Ford decades ago taught me more than did those awkward sessions in sex education I had to sit through at Pasadena High.