Alex Blaze

Vintage Homophobia, Modern Victim Blaming

Filed By Alex Blaze | October 17, 2013 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Gay Icons and History, Media
Tags: Boys Beware, film, homophobia, victim blaming

Trigger warning: this post discusses rape, child molestation, and extreme homophobia.

I just happened upon and re-watched Boys Beware, the 1961 homophobic propaganda film shown in schools to make kids fear "homosexuals" kidnapping, raping, and murdering them.

One thing that struck me was just how victim-blamey the whole thing is. Yes, younger kids need to be told not to get into cars with people they don't know. But the message here isn't to not get in cars with strangers, but to watch out if strangers, in or out of cars, are too intimate or if they seem like they want something and to avoid isolated areas if sinister-looking people are around. I'm no expert in child development, but it seems rather demanding to ask anyone, much less a kid (I'm guessing this film was intended for an age group younger than the boys acting in it), to accurately profile a child molester.

Also, why did Jimmy get probation?

Did he get prosecuted under a sodomy law? If "homosexuals" are such awful predators who force themselves on their victims, then why prosecute Jimmy? If Jimmy chose this relationship, as being punished for it would imply, then isn't the film's whole point moot because boys have no reason to try to avoid people like Ralph?

The message is summed up when the narrator says, "The decision is always yours." But if people could decide, they would decide not to be victims of those acts. It seems more logical that the decision is never the victim's, simply by definition.

Unless, of course, the point is to shame boys who are the victims of these acts because, hey, they were warned, so if something happened then they probably wanted it and we don't have to actually do anything to prevent these crimes.

That mentality is still too common. These old-timey films are usually presented to show how far we've come, but we're less likely to notice the ways in which we haven't come all that far at all.

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