Posted by Pablo Kjolseth on March 29, 2009
Last night I revisited an old VCR tape that had on it a short compilation of 16mm educational films compiled by Alpha Blue Archives titled Pink Slip. These were films primarily targeted at young women during the 1960′s and ’70′s that required a signed “pink slip” from parents before they could be seen by the kids, due to their “sensitive” subject matter. Topics on this particular collection deal with menstruation, juvenile delinquency, adult predators, therapy, menstruation again (but this time aimed at children with Down syndrome), and teenage runaways.
? Menstruation ?
Kids are interviewed, animation is used, and the narrative is straightforward with no big surprises except for some of the “controversies” that are addressed. “Should you bathe? Or wash your hair during your period? Some people used to think that you shouldn’t.” But don’t worry, it’s now okay to bathe and shower every day. And rest. And eat a balanced diet. Next up: cramps, followed by dubious exercises that will stop, help, or relieve them. Then a tutorial on tampons, along with the suggestion of getting “fresh air and exercise.” It’s all topped off by a “follow your dreams” coda that shows adult women in a variety of different professions.
This untitled clip begins when Meg, an innocent kid from the country, visits her cousin Julie in the city. She soon finds her life sucked into a fast descent into delinquency. Julie is obviously trouble, she wears makeup, no bra, smokes cigarettes, and takes Meg out to meet guys at night who hit the hard booze until they get chased by the cops. Day-for-night shots are murky and near-unintelligible and the police raid is deeply unsatisfying (only police lights are used, we don’t even see a cop car)… and although it might seem ridiculous to get into the mise-en-scène instead of the shag carpet, some of the clips coming up are clearly more ambitious.
Beware of adult predators!
“Growing up and becoming a woman means lots of things.” And one of those things is being aware of sexual abuse by adults. Where the previous clip started out with elements that might have dipped into seriously ominous Last House on the Left-type terrain, but never did, here we go off the deep end. Judy is teenager with a babysitting gig who gets a call from a stranger and takes the job. Being responsible and cautious, she takes down the phone number and address and leaves this information where her mother can see it. But when she meets the guy at the given address, he pulls a bait-and-switch on her, takes her to a seedy apartment were another predator also lies waiting and… next thing we see is her dead body in some dirty alley by cigarette buts and a discarded box for bathroom tissue. Truly horrifying.
The next girl, Maria, is far luckier. We know she’ll live because she narrates her story of meeting “Larry,” a seemingly friendly adult who buys her clothes and food, picks her up in a nice car, and in general gives her lots of attention and treats her nice. It took Maria “a couple weeks to figure out what he really wanted”: to take naked pictures of her for a dirty magazine he worked for. Thanks to some fancy footwork, Maria escapes and lives to tell her tale.
The third story involves a girl who gets unwanted attention from her step-father. He takes her on hikes, touches her, kisses her, and she “tried to make him stop.” Unpleasantness abounds, but a talk with the teacher brings clarity.
What do you want me to say?
This one’s the clear dud of the whole group. Susan and her doctor debate whether Susan needs a shrink. These two talk and talk and talk, and neither is enjoying the conversation, and who can blame them? Or us, when we skip over this turkey.
Menstruation for Children with Down syndrome, followed by Insight.
These last two are sociological gems. One for providing earnest and unabashed visual information that doesn’t shy away from the material, and the other for providing far more visual complexities than are usually found in such films (it superimposes images and uses a feverish framing device that emulates a gritty crime thriller). In trying to find more information about them, I found capsule reviews by Lynn Peril that were both spot-on (see below), and she not only reviews Pink Slip, but nine other similar shorts. Given how all of these films were made with young women in mind, I’ll let her cap of the last two shorts for Pink Slip and also urge readers to check out her link for her take on these same shorts, as well as many other fascinating and historical slices of ephemera.
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