Bad Writing. Bad Educating.

Okay. I’m an English teacher. As such, I am a lover of the written word. Give me the sparse, uncluttered work of Hemingway. Give me the plashy purple prose of L.M. Montgomery. Give me the often-baffling Shakespearean turn of phrase. Give me the slightly antiseptic-tasting dreamy precision of William Gibson. Hell, give me the overwrought similes of Jilly Cooper.

But please save me from the current safe sex ads on Public transit. They are appalling in every single way I know. It’s the “Fill in the Blanks” one. The tagline is, “Don’t Be a Blank”, which means absolutely, positively thing at all (can I just point out?) The gimmick is that parts of the text (girl and guy at a party go and make out in a car, but they don’t have a condom, so-oh no-what will happen next?) are blanked out so the casual reader can add his or her own twist to things. There might even be a prize if you send them to someone, I don’t know who, it’s not Planned Parenthood. They’re better than this.

Wrong: Referring to the kids’ sexual activity as “a face eating session”. I am sorry, but they’re not eating each other’s faces. They’re kissing. “Face eating” as a metaphor is not used by the current teenage population. I know, because I’ve heard several representative groups of teenagers mocking this ad openly.

Wrong: Making the narrative play out that intercourse is the only alternative or everyone goes home sad and unfulfilled. Kids! You have fingers and tongues! Use them to your advantage! You don’t need to have sex, you’re in a car, and that’s damned uncomfortable, most times! Any mutual touching/fingering/licking/sucking can be done at a number of much more convenient angles than actual genital contact would be.

Wrong: The phrase, “I shoulda grabbed one from CAPP class.” Shoulda, I can let slide, although it doesn’t work with the overall tone of the piece. But at this juncture, the kid would refer to it as CAPP, not CAPP class.

Wrong: The narrator. I expect he’s (It just sounds like a he) supposed to sound all confidential and heh-heh-aren’t-we-in-the-know-here, but he sounds like an inexperienced voyeur who’s seen it all on the pages of Playboy, but has yet to see an actual, real, live breast. He’s Anthony Michael Hall in Pretty in Pink, but insensitive and sleazy. Ew.

Which brings me to: Wrong: Choosing whoever it was who wrote this degrading piece of tripe. Degrading? Yes! Teenagers have bullshit radars. Even my aging, decrepit bullshit radar can smell that this ad is a hot, steaming pile in the middle of the path. Teenagers will have spotted more than that, and most will have become offended. The more sensitive may go so far as to consider unprotected sex with drunken frat boys as a violent reaction to seeing this ad. I know I would have.

Really, there are so many fresh, authentic voices out there who write for teenagers, who are teenagers, who sound like teenagers. Safe Sex people, please. Pick one of them next time you want to sound like a teenager.

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