Video attempts to answer teen-agers' questions about love and intimacy
Los Angeles — ``You get really tingly up and down your spine.'' ``Rainbows and stars.'' ``Elation.'' ``Like no other feeling.'' ``A white light.'' These are a few of the answers given by teen-agers at University High School, Los Angeles, when asked ``how can I tell if I'm really in love?''
The phrase is also the title of a new video produced by Paramount, which tries to sort out the difference between love, infatuation, and sexual attraction while shedding some light on obsession, immaturity, and selfishness in those realms. Justine Bateman, co-star of television's ``Family Ties,'' her brother Jason Bateman of ``Valerie,'' and Ted Danson, star of ``Cheers,'' host this fast-paced combination of entertainment and advice.
The hour-long video stays clear of preachy dogma. Rather, it attempts to provide a window on discussion by one group of teens as a catalyst for other groups.
The words of Sol Gordon, a recognized authority in the field of family and sex education, are a refrain throughout the video. Founder of the Institute for Family Research Education and author of six books (most recently ``Raising a Child Conservatively in a Sexually Permissive World''), Dr. Gordon is filmed talking to teen-agers at a school assembly.
``Let me admit from the start,'' Gordon admonishes, ``I don't think any one below 18 - even in a committed relationship - should be having sex. You're too young and vulnerable.''
Sprinkled throughout the video are the very openly, if sometimes airily, expressed opinions of individual students at University High.
Due for release in stores next Wednesday, the tape has already stirred the interest of teachers, church groups, juvenile centers and family planning administrators across the country.
``I've seen hundreds of adolescent sexuality films dealing with problems of dating and intimacy - and this one is going to get kids' attention,'' says Jane Quinn, Director of Program Services of the Girls Clubs of America. ``This video offers sound advice and sensible answers to many of their most pressing questions.''
``This gives teens a number of ways out of the awkward, but common, sexual situations they face today,'' says Hugh Anwyl, executive director of Planned Parenthood-World Population in Los Angeles. ``It captures very well the real situations and questions that are asked of me by teen-agers.''
Among teens who've seen the video, reviews are somewhat mixed. Some thought it too repetitive, perhaps more appropriate for middle school-aged viewers.
``It drags a bit, and seems a bit repetitive at times,'' said Liz Kintner, 17, part of a group of Seattle-area parents and teen-agers who screened the film before release. ``But that's OK for some people who need to hear the same message in different ways.''
A 16-year-old from Massachusetts was more critical: ``They [the producers] could have clipped out five minutes at the beginning. They could have clipped the whole thing down - just give the strong points and do it in half an hour.''
She also had little tolerance for the observations of her peers on the video. ``They keep saying, `Love is this, this, this.' But how do they know? They're just teen-agers like the rest of us.''
On the other hand, some were unqualified in their praise. ``I really wish my boyfriend would watch this,'' said a Bellingham, Wash., teen-ager. ``It shows you don't have to have sex with someone to show them your love.''
Most aspects of relationships, including pregnancy and contraception, are candidly discussed on the tape - frequently with an eye to erasing various misconceptions. Some sobering statistics are shared: 1986 saw 1,300,000 teen pregnancies in the United States, 14,000 by mothers under age 14. Less than 10 percent of all first sexual encounters are accompanied by contraceptive devices.
From beginning to end, video watchers are urged to stop the tape, if they like, and begin their own discussion.
``You can pick and choose what you want to discuss, fast forward or reverse or pause,'' says Ms. Bateman. ``Come on guys,'' says her brother Jason, ``this is a no pressure video.''
Following on the success of an earlier Paramount video, ``Strong Kids, Safe Kids,'' a family guide to questions surrounding child sexual abuse, the tape is intended for school, church, synagogue, and home use. It tries to hold attention with a background of contemporary music and staccato-style visuals.
``Kids nowadays expect slick production values, and you have to give it to them to get your message across,'' says Hollace Brown, Paramount's vice-president for advertising.
Ms. Bateman unabashedly warns against a litany of oft-used ``lines'' used by men. Among them: ``If you really loved me ...''; ``Making love is a natural development in our growing relationship''; and ``God gave you a beautiful body, share it.''
Danson, Bateman, and Gordon all agree on two points: sex is never a test of love, and any attempt to make it so is a signal of selfishness - and thus of immature love.