There are few inanimate objects in this world that deserve human funerals, but nearly all of the people who will be dressed in head-to-toe black, metaphorically speaking, for the second half of this century will do so in order to celebrate the beautiful life and tragic death of She’s Too Young. Logically, the brain can ponder the subtleties of life enough to understand that some things were not meant to be sold in superficial, flashy stores like Virgin Megastore forever. When certain DVDs are discontinued, they take on bigger and better lives on Out of Print websites and in high pressure bidding wars on eBay. She’s Too Young is still alive. The brain knows this, yes. But the heart—oh, the heart.
She’s Too Young, a made-for-TV-movie, appeared for the first time on Lifetime in 2004, and it would be an understatement to say that it was immediately recognized across a small audience—nay, the world—nay, that’s not true—as the single most beautiful piece of art ever created. While most movies today are scared to deal with complicated themes such as ninth grade, She’s Too Young bravely broke the mold, tackling tough issues such as teenage sex, teenage drugs, teenage drinking, orgies, music, syphilis, porn, and new technology such as instant messages and camera phones. I can say with complete confidence that one hundred years ago, most of these issues would have never even been alluded to on the Lifetime movie channel. But if this movie teaches you anything about teens nowadays, it’s that they are growing up faster than ever—and contracting syphilis along the way.
She’s Too Young follows the young and naïve Hannah Vogul, played by the Lolita-like Alexis Dziena, as she discovers that, in high school, to quote the tagline of the film, “to fit in, you’ve gotta put out.” She attends a school where the most popular girls in the grade equate sex to dancing, and dance the night—and days—away and away and away. The boys are no better, stealing porn from movie stores to use as inspirational videos as they try to convince girls to engage in foursomes, or maybe even moresomes.
Hannah, a cellist with the potential to soar, and a face with the potential to contract syphilis, is not involved in any of this dirty business—until the most popular boy in school, Nick Hartman (Mike Erwin), decides he wants to tap her real nice. It takes a little bit of effort on his part. He has to take her out on two full dates (maybe one and a half) before he sweetly talks her into playing his cello, using charming lines in the face of her reluctance to do so, such as, “You know for me, this was just a chance for us to get closer.” And while she doesn’t give up her Maui Melon Mint per se, or any other Orbit Gum flavor for that matter, Hannah learns shortly after her night with him that when it comes to contracting syphilis, oral totally counts.
Once Hannah has dipped her toes into the world of popularity, her life begins to spiral out of control. She becomes friends with the popular girls, among them a girl played by Miriam McDonald, who proudly shows that she can play a blonde in something else besides Degrassi. This character Nick, who once appeared charming to Hannah, even though he is a little disgusting, turns out to be not quite as sweet as he first seemed to be. When he receives his shot for syphilis, he tells the woman administering it that she should probably “Stick ‘em all, because I probably have,” which, although witty, is not really a kind way to refer to girls who one has been intimate with. It would probably be more respectful to say, “I should have used protection—I thought I loved each girl I talked into sleeping with me, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have been more careful.” The movie explains that Nick’s parents do not really supervise him, and he is left on his own quite a bit. Really, we should forgive Nick. It’s not his fault that he treats girls like objects. Is it? Of course it’s not. But the parents thing… yeah, no, it’s not his fault. No, no, just kidding—it’s totally his fault.
Or is it? Yes, it is. Maybe, right? Or maybe not… this movie leaves one with a lot to ponder.
But don’t worry, folks. There is a geek that likes Hannah for who she is. And when they share a kiss, there is a little trail of saliva that glistens in the light, connecting the two long after they break apart. Although finding symbolism in films can be tiresome, it is important to note that this string of saliva is most definitely a symbol for the kiss they just shared. Following this line of logic, it is also clearly a symbol of a penis.
Marcia Gay Harden offers a performance as Hannah’s overprotective, worried mother that is so stunning that the Emmys had no choice but to “accidentally” overlook it so as to downplay real art and keep commercial garbage alive. If they had made a comment, though, it probably would have been, “Marcia Gay Harden showed the world that, Gay or straight, good acting will always give you a Harden.” And give me a Harden she did. Every moment that she travels down the catastrophic journey of motherhood we’re right there with her, starting with “She Played a G-sharp instead of a G Street,” taking a right onto “She’s Dating a Suspicious Boy Ave,” speeding past “She Drank Illegal Alcohol Drive,” turning down “She Gave the Naughty to the Cool Kid Lane,” and ending at “I Guess It’s Time for Me to Pretend to Be Her Online to Find Out Where the Party Is Since She Snuck Out—Little Do I Know That Someone Is Trying to Date Rape Her as I Do So Place.” She handles each new crisis with the poise of a crazy woman who seems to have never even seen a teenage girl.
Although this becomes frustrating, one must remember that it is only a movie. Just calm down, guys.
I have tried long and hard to figure out how realistic this movie actually is. Having been in high school before, I have encountered disgusting things such as kissing and parties before. I also realize that at many schools, promiscuity defines the social life of high schoolers, and instant messaging exists as well. However, I have yet to hear of a high school that mirrors most or all or any of the situations in this movie. A few reviews from the internet have been helpful. “And in all honesty, it is very rare that you find a nerdy band girl whose friends with the school sluts in actual highschool settings. Its sad, but totally true.” Thank you, anonymous. That is sad. But totally true.