10 Things I Hate About You raises just one question.

My summer session class finished this morning so we watched a movie to celebrate. After a brief voting process in which no two people had the same preference, I decided 10 Things I Hate About You would be the most satisfying. Bad idea – for a simple teen romcom, almost all of the movie’s humor is in the writing, almost all of which was over my students’ heads. There were also no Chinese subtitles. Where’s an Amanda Bynes movie when you need it?

One girl in particular found it fascinating that a) the school seemed so “free” (I did explain to them that it was an exaggerated depiction of American high school life) and that b) it made it seem relatively common for American teens to have sex. In a society devoid of Bristol Palin and Jamie-Lynn Spears – scratch that – in a society that, if it had its own Bristol Palin’s or Jamie-Lynn Spears’s, would put them in a cave, I had to explain that high school is a very different time of life for American teens than it is for Chinese (and Korean) teens.

“When I moved to Virginia and started at a new school,” I told the student, “one of the first things that one of the first students I spoke to asked me was, ‘have you had sex yet?’,” and when I answered in the negative, they chopped it up to my age, fourteen. This person was fifteen.

“Do people in your school have sex?” I asked.

“Maybe only very few people have had sex, but not many!”

Newsflash, straight from the source: brief study shows American teens have more sex than their Chinese counterparts. Denying the existence of promiscuity is an effective way to curb teen pregnancy! Oh…unless you’re Sarah Palin.

Ah! Too easy, I know! Such a low blow on such a public punching bag! But what can I say, it’s the only solid punchline I could think of.


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