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Boys Beware (1961)

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So I just watched Boys Beware (1961), a mental hygiene film warning teenaged boys against “homosexuals.” My brain broke because

there was so much stupidity in the film that I didn’t know where to start in addressing it. I could do an exhaustive analysis of the film, but I’ll just say three things.

1. The boys in the film were so stupid, even by the standards of the day. Hitchhiking I can understand, as it was more societally acceptable, but what about hopping into a car just because some guy says he’s chasing kids on stolen bikes? Or just watching your friend hop into said car with a stranger and doing nothing, not even trying to dissuade him from vrooming off with a stranger, but only casually writing down the car’s license number? All of that is appalling ignorance that demonstrates a complete disregard for self-preservation.

2. While the film technically has a correct definition for “homosexual,” the film is only about homosexual desire in the most general sense, in the same way that a story about a father sexually abusing a daughter is about heterosexual desire. Since the film focuses on sexual predators who pursue children, any uses of “homosexual” should be replaced with “child molester.” There is no equivalence between the two terms, just a confusion on the film’s part.

3. Of all the misguided, harmful and downright wrong things in this film, a comment near the end struck me the most. The narrator says something like, “Never get into a stranger’s car unless you have your parents’ or teacher’s permission.” This sentence is the culmination of an entire film that portrays the perps of sexual abuse as predatory strangers, foreign intruders who stand in stark contrast to trustworthy parents and teachers. The film’s inaccurate conception of molesters as strangers disguises the true statistical fact that a child or teenager is much more likely to be taken advantage of by a parent, a teacher, a clergy member, a babysitter, a relative — someone familiar with the victim who abuses the victim’s trust.

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