It is too easy to make fun of all things 1970s — it’s kind of like making fun of someone who is fat or unattractive and is altogether a form of self-loathing.
However, in my search for public service announcements (or “PSAs,” as us connoisseurs call them), I came upon the following tragic piece of video from the 1970s, a real PSA (or, perhaps, a sex-ed film) about teenage boys’ favorite activity:
There are so many things patently false about this scene that it makes me see the light for striking television and film writers: often denigrated, disowned, and under-appreciated, these paragons of verisimilitude would never have stood for the travesty above. I mean, Ricky isn’t upset. His mother isn’t upset. He doesn’t reach for the closest sharp object and slash it across his throat.
Ricky’s mom counsels him that he needs to “control these feelings,” which is tantamount to saying, “Don’t be horny and don’t masturbate,” advice young men have ignored for as long as they have had penises.
If you really wanted to keep teenage boys from doing what comes naturally, a professional writer — like those on strike — would pen the following:
The scene: Ricky is lying in bed, hands under covers. His eyes are shut and his teeth are gritted.
RICKY (moaning): Oh, Mrs. Tasty, Oh, yes, Mrs. Tasty. I want you Mrs. Tasty, I want to take you now, Mrs. Tasty…
Outside, Ricky’s mother hears something from her 13-year-old son’s room. She turns the knob, but is surprised to see that it’s locked.
CLUELESS 70s MOM: Ricky, why are you saying your English teacher’s name over and over? What’s that about taking her someplace? What is going on in there? You never lock your door!
RICKY: GO THE HELL AWAY!
C7M: Well, I never!
Seconds later, Ricky’s mother returns with a key. She quickly opens the door and lets herself in.
C7M: Now, listen here, Eric Miles Bonert, you never talk to your Mother like that…oh my goodness, what are you doing?
RICKY: AAAAAAAAAAAH! GET THE HELL OUT NOW!!!!!!!
C7M: Oh, you’re masturbating!
RICKY (hiding under covers): SHUT UP AND GET THE HELL OUT!!!!!
C7M (thoughtfully): So that would explain why you go straight to your room for a “nap” every day after school! And all those yellow stains on your undershirts and your socks. I couldn’t figure that out for the life of me! Do you want me to get you something to clean up with, so you won’t ruin your clothes?
RICKY: I HATE YOU! GO AWAY!
C7M: Alright then, if you’re going to be that way to me, fine. But I don’t understand why you feel like you need to submit to your urges.Mother leaves. Dissolve to a long shot of her talking on the telephone.
C7M: Really? Well, I had no idea that what was happening. That’s good news. I’ll be sure and tell him.
Back in his room, Ricky is freaked out, and has masturbated six more times. His mother enters without knocking.
RICKY: Go away. I told you never to come in here without my permission! I’m 13 already!
C7M: Just listen here, Eric Miles. I really was ignorant about this — I had no idea that you were going through such things. I’m just glad that you did it in the privacy of your own room. What you did is perfectly normal — well, your father has a slightly different viewpoint–
RICKY: You told Dad? I don’t believe you did that!
C7M: It’s his right as a father to know, Ricky. He deserves to know. He’ll have a long talk with you when he gets home.
RICKY: What did he say? Did he say it’s just a normal part of puberty and adolescence, that he did the same thing I did, like five times a day?
C7M: No, I’m afraid he said “No son of mine is going to be a hairy-palmed pervert meat whacker! He’s going to military school!” But that’s just your Dad!
RICKY: I’m going to kill myself.
C7M: Now, I was afraid you’d be upset, so after I got off the phone with Dad, I called Mr. Cutler–
RICKY: You told my guidance counselor?
C7M: Only after Mrs. Tasty said I should talk to him. She sounded a little embarrassed that you were moaning her name while you were masturbating.
RICKY: Oh my God.
C7M: Don’t worry! I eventually spoke to Mr. Cutler. He didn’t want to talk about it except he said it was a normal part of adolescence.
RICKY: I don’t believe you called Mr. Cutter!
C7M: But Ricky, I also called Tommy Barnes…
RICKY: You WHAT? You called my best friend?
C7M: Now, don’t worry, Ricky, Tommy is a good friend and he proved it when I spoke to him. I asked if other boys masturbated–
RICKY: I’m going to kill every member of my family and then myself.
C7M: …and Tommy said, no, he didn’t masturbate. At least that’s what he said after he finished laughing.
RICKY: You’ve ruined my life.
RICKY: I can’t go back to school. My life is over in the seventh grade…I’m going to die.
C7M: Now, why on earth would you say that?
Any teenage boy sees that, he’ll never bop the baloney again. Unless he’s in the shower, in the school bathroom alone, late at night in bed…
You see, in the hands of a savvy writer like myself — even one with no screenwriting experience like myself — a delicate, sensitive topic like whackin’ off is made real and addressed seriously. Writers are generally considered fungible, but we’re not.
Let’s end this ridiculous writers’ strike now, and write sex-ed films that actually frighten kids from touching themselves.
The reason is clear: about 592 million boys worldwide are masturbating at this very second. And unless we can scare the shit out of them, they’re not going to stop until every white T-shirt and pair of socks on this planet are ruined.