Barbara Nicolosi on “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”

Barbara Nicolosi, and her blog, Church of the Masses, is one of the reasons why I started the current iteration of this site. Her writings on pointing to God by creating art in pop culture are amazing, and her reviews of shows and movies often give me deeper insights and/or help me to better put into words nagging feelings that I already had.

Today, she reviewed “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”. The book on which the film is based was very popular among one circle of my friends a decade ago. I have read it several times, and liked it less each time. The choices of the main characters seem foolish. The namechecking of books, bands, and movies feels like a forced attempt to seem cool. And the ending is ultimately …ugly. Eventually I swore off re-reading it for fear that I might come to hate it.

The delightful Barb Nicolosi has similar feelings about the movie, which was written and directed by the book’s author. From her review:

Rated PG-13 for drug use, homosexuality, sexual abuse, bullying, suicide, and every other depressing thing you could throw in a movie about teenagers.

Somebody has to say – for the record – while certainly well-intentioned, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is fundamentally perverse in the premise of the main character’s arc of transformation.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower proposes that the way to find healing from one kind of childhood sexual abuse, is to experience another kind of childhood sexual abuse. There it is. A lie. Particularly twisted because the second act of sexual abuse is couched as a loving self-donation of the older, more sexually experienced character for a young boy.

As one of my students protested to me, “When Sam takes Charlie to bed, she is doing it as an act of love! It wasn’t rape!” To which I replied, “Charlie was just fifteen, still mostly inexperienced and a freshman. Sam was a sexually experienced Senior. And if there is anything we all have learned this past Fall it’s that ‘rape is rape.’ Right?” I went on to say that in the movie, that Sam was a victim herself doesn’t change the nature of her actions. She’s a young victim who, in failing to make a more heroic choice, victimizes another child.

The whole review is great, and the ending is great — I won’t spoil it. Read the rest of her review at her site!

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