About the Film
What price do teenagers pay to be cool, hip and popular in a sexually-charged social world? Whether it’s posting sexy photos and raunchy video on the net, ass-grabbing in the school hallway or spreading explicit gossip that shatters high school lives, harassment is commonplace, even acceptable. Through computer screens, inside all-ages clubs, with candid personal diaries and the teens’ own short dramas about sexual pressures, IT’S A TEEN’S WORLD is an unflinching exposé of three culturally diverse groups of Toronto teens who share what it’s like to navigate a tangled web of sex, lies and power trips.
“You know, you think that okay, then maybe I could grab her ass ‘cause the way she dresses, she’s telling me to grab her ass.”
- Billy, 17
“They keep doing it even if you say no or stop ‘cause they think you’re joking so it gets kind of difficult to tell them to stop.”
- Kelsie, 15
“They don’t think that the little things they do is sexual harassment. They just think it’s normal.”
IT’S A TEEN’S WORLD: wired for sex, lies and power trips is:
A 75-minute feature documentary film, chaptered with a User Guide
A set of 3 interactive classroom modules with a User Guide
A 3-hour documentary radio series
A comprehensive website to support families and educators in their efforts to promote healthy and respectful relationships among teens
Teens today are active players in a sexually-charged popular culture, fuelled by media and personal technology. But at what cost? Whether it’s posting sexy photos and raunchy video on the net, ass-grabbing in the school hallway or spreading explicit gossip that shatters high school lives, harassment is commonplace, even acceptable.
Teenagers seem to be simply absorbing the bombardment of sexually explicit language, images and behaviours into their social scripts. Even those who recognize the consequences feel powerless to stop it.
Combining documentary verite and self-directed dramatic films, three diverse groups of Toronto teens have an unprecedented opportunity to examine their provocative, fast-paced and hyper-sexualized social world more carefully and thoughtfully. Perhaps most revealing is how the kids in each group challenge each other’s assumptions, grapple with contradictions and ultimately change their perspectives.
In an unprecedented journey through computer screens, inside all-ages clubs, with candid personal diaries and inspired to make their own short dramatic films about sexual pressures, IT’S A TEEN’S WORLD exposes what it’s like for today’s teens to navigate a tangled web of sex, lies and power trips.
IT’S A TEEN’S WORLD is the thematic sequel to director/producer Lynn Glazier’s acclaimed and influential documentary film “It’s a Girl’s World: how girls use their social power to hurt each other” (NFB 2004).
It was apparent 5 years ago when I was filming “It’s a Girl’s World” (2004) – a documentary about social bullying - that the group of 10-year-old girls I was profiling was sexually aware of boys and their crushes and “dates” were contributing to jealousy and resentment in their relationships. Even their parents were dreading their daughters’ entry into adolescence and the additional pressures on the sex and dating frontiers.
It was suggested to me that taking an unflinching look at teen relationships and attitudes toward sex and power would be a documentary everyone would want to watch. Since then, the decision to make this documentary has been further validated by a major report on school violence in Toronto schools released in January 2008. “The Road to Health” by Julian Falconer and the School Community Safety Advisory Panel reported that sexual harassment was epidemic in high schools across the city with 30% of girls reporting that they’ve been sexually assaulted – anything from unwanted sexually touching to rape. Soon after, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health reported very similar findings in their study of sexual harassment and violence in southwestern Ontario schools.
What I have learned is that this damaging behaviour is universal - cutting across country, culture, socio-economic status, race and religion. As studies on all forms of bullying around the world have concluded, the underlying process is the same – the deliberate misuse of power to make you feel better at someone’s expense. These lessons are often gleaned from the violent popular culture that kids consume indiscriminately and from a lack of self-worth that may stem from difficulties in home life.
I am keenly aware that many parents have a lot of trepidation about talking to their teens about sexuality – a much more complicated conversation than the “birds and the bees” - and kids sense that this door is closed. Sometimes it’s easier for parents to deliver a lecture and set onerous rules but that approach may invite rebellion. Others look the other way and hope for the best knowing that they survived their own mistakes and regrets. It also may be that their cultural and religious beliefs preclude any discussion with their children about sexual matters. These parental perspectives have not kept up with the times. The world of adolescence has changed dramatically in the last decade with the advancements in personal technology and the most sexually explicit popular culture in history. Kids have access to everything an adult has access to with total freedom to not critically think about it. What I discovered is that kids – given some guidance – can be incredibly smart and insightful about their social world!
I chose the participant groups randomly by geography – in central, east and west Toronto. I did not “cast” the teens. I began to feel strongly that I wanted to give the teens (ranging in age from 13-17) who were prepared to share very intimate and sometimes painful experiences in their actual social and sexual lives an opportunity for meaningful authorship. A few courageous teens took small cameras home and had the dreaded sexual pressures talk with parents or grandparents. A number of excerpts from these remarkably candid conversations can be seen in the feature documentary film.
I also felt that the teens needed a creative outlet to explore the meaning and consequences of their complex social lives. The idea of having three culturally diverse groups of teens create, write, direct, and act in their own short dramatic films on the topic of sexual pressures and allowing the professional camera crew to document their progress was immediately embraced. In this way, it made telling their own real life stories easier and allowed me to document that in a parallel fashion to their own filmmaking. I gave no instructions for the type of fictional story for their short dramatic films. The only parameters I gave each group was that their fictional accounts had to be honest and authentic, not some Hollywood version of teen life.
IT’S A TEEN’S WORLD is an unprecedented social experiment where teens examine their provocative, fast-paced and hyper-sexualized social world more carefully and thoughtfully. Kids today seem to be simply absorbing the bombardment of sexually explicit, abusive and misogynistic images, language and behaviours into their social scripts. Even those who recognize that much of what they are emulating is sexual violence feel powerless to do anything about it without being labeled a snitch and losing all their friends. What I asked the teens in the documentary to do is to “slo-mo” all of that. Stop, think and consider what this means and if it actually serves them well. Perhaps most revealing is how the kids in each group challenged each other’s assumptions, grappled with contradictions and many of them ultimately changed their perspectives by the end of the filming process. Another legacy of the film is the amazing rap song “Under Pressure”. The lyrics 14-year-old Ryan wrote were inspired by a girl he knew in middle school who learned a tough lesson about sexual promiscuity.
The teens are very motivated to pass on what they have learned to others. Each of the three groups had an opportunity to present their short dramatic films to a YWCA and White Ribbon Campaign conference last fall called “Respect for Being a Boy and the Power of Being a Girl” to a much appreciative audience of high school students across Toronto. They also brought their films to an event sponsored by the Female Eye Film Festival commemorating the 1989 massacre of 14 women at L’Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal.
It is my hope that the teens who participated in the documentary continue to be ambassadors for change in their peer groups, schools and communities.
Meet the Filmmakers
Lynn Glazier’s career as a documentary director, producer and writer spans 30 years.
Her new project, IT’S A TEEN’S WORLD: wired for sex, lies and power trips, is a documentary film about sexual pressures among adolescents, broadcast on CBC News Network’s “The Passionate Eye”, premiering in October 2009. It is accompanied by a three-hour radio documentary series for CBC’s Ideas program, interactive educational materials with user guides, and a comprehensive website.
She also directed the acclaimed feature documentary IT’S A GIRL’S WORLD (2004) for the National Film Board of Canada about social bullying among girls. The film has won the prestigious Silver Chris Award at the Columbus International Film and Video Festival, the Award of Excellence from the Association of Media and Technology in Education in Canada, and the Silver Plaque in Education at the Chicago International Film Festival and has garnered international attention in New Zealand, Australia, the US, and in Japan where it was seen in theatres. The radio version of the film for Ideas won “Program of the Year” in the CBC national radio competition.
In addition, Ms. Glazier has been in demand as a speaker on the issue of bullying and sexual harassment for diverse audiences including teachers, parents and students. She is currently working on the third installment of her trilogy on bullying called “It’s a Woman’s World: the bitch at work”.
Other independent film credits include producing BOXING: IN AND OUT OF THE RING (2001), a feature length independent documentary investigating the corrupt world of professional boxing, for the A&E Network, TVO and Sky TV in Britain. The program was nominated for a Rocky Mountain Award at the Banff Television Festival and a Gemini Award for best sports program.
Ms. Glazier has also co-produced investigative television documentary programs for CBC TV’s “the fifth estate” and co-produced the first two episodes of the landmark CBC TV documentary series CANADA: A PEOPLE’S HISTORY.
Her publicly and critically acclaimed work for CBC Radio could be heard for many years on Sunday Morning. Her cutting-edge documentaries from around the world won numerous national and international awards including four Canadian Association of Journalists awards for investigative journalism; Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals at the New York International Festivals and a Gabriel Award.
Ms. Glazier holds an Honours B.A. in English Language and Literature and an M.A. in Journalism, both degrees from the University of Western Ontario.
Storyline Entertainment CEO and Emmy Award-winning producer Ed Barreveld is one of Canada’s top independent documentary-film professionals. A hands-on producer with 35 years of experience in both financing and the field, Barreveld brings together Canadian and international storytellers, investors, and partners on documentaries that explore underexposed places and perspectives in society and culture.
Barreveld has partnered with producers and investors in Germany, Belgium, Australia, Greece, France, Chile, and the U.S.A. He regularly attends many of the top documentary market events.
Storyline titles have sold internationally, screened at Tribeca, Hot Docs, IDFA, and TIFF, and garnered numerous festival accolades, as well as Emmy, Gemini, and Canadian Screen awards and nominations.
Barreveld is a member of the Documentary Organization of Canada, the International Documentary Association and the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television’s Documentary Film Committee.
About the Teen Participants
There are 21 teen participants in the documentary film from three areas of Toronto. In addition to sharing their personal stories about navigating a hyper-sexualized culture, each group undertook the task of making an 8-minute fictional film about social and sexual pressures in teen life. They came up with original scenarios with only one condition imposed – the story could not be a Hollywood version of teens but something true to their own real life experience. Over several months, they wrote the scripts, attended filmmaking boot camps, directed and acted in their films. Selected scenes from each film appear in the documentary. The complete dramas have been adapted as educational modules on the topic of teen sexual harassment for use in the classroom and youth groups.
In CENTRAL TORONTO, the group members comprise 3 siblings – Billy, Maria and Stephanie (17,16 and 14 respectively) who are proud of their Greek heritage. Maria’s poignant story of a sexual assault that happened to her in middle school sends an important message to all youth. 16-year-old Mikey moved here from Yellowknife three years ago. He’s on the football team and is the guy who knows everyone and everything that goes on in his high school. 14-year-old Ryan – he composed lyrics to a rap song for the film - aspires to be in the music business and has just started a recording company with a friend. Their short dramatic film “Under Pressure” highlights the consequences of sexual rumours on the high school careers of many people they know.
EAST TORONTO is an all female group from diverse cultural backgrounds and are in Grades 10 to 12. The idea for their short dramatic film “The Pursuit of Popularity” stems from their experience of seeing many girls start high school in the misguided belief that they have to be sexy in order to be “cool”. The main character Jane is actually played by a different girl in every scene to demonstrate that anyone from any background can be negatively influenced by this kind of peer pressure. For their film research, the group interviews 3 girls just finishing Grade 8 – Pam, Olivia and Alessa – who offer candid insight into the real teen pressures of doing what it takes to fit in. Olivia’s Mom – a high school teacher – gives her daughter and the viewer a powerful analysis of the influence of pop culture and how that’s changed since her own adolescence.
In WEST TORONTO, a group of 5 kids just graduating from Grade 10 choose a dark theme for their short dramatic film “It Could Happen To You”. It is a cautionary tale of teen rebellion involving a creepy boyfriend, the no-holds-barred environment at an all-ages club and a date rape drug. 15-year-old Marta brought much of her real life experience to the script. She has been clubbing since her 13th birthday and mid-way through filming the documentary, she decided to party all weekend with her friends without telling her parents where she was. Marta came home safely but some wild teens find themselves in situations they cannot control, with tragic consequences.
PRESS & REVIEWS
“In the hands of the creative, skillful and caring filmmaker, Lynn Glazier, It’s A Teen’s World: wired for sex, lies and power trips and the accompanying educational materials are a much needed and invaluable resource for teens, their parents, educators, and the wider community.”
-BARBARA COLOROSO, AUTHOR & EDUCATOR
Read Barbara Coloroso's full review here:
"I urge you to watch this film. It provices an unprecedented glance into the confusing, pressure-cooker sexual worlds of teens in every class, school and community."
- DR. DEBRA PEPLER, PHD, C. PSYCH. DISTINGUISHED PROFESSOR OF PSYCHOLOGY, YORK UNIVERSITY AND SENIOR ASSOCIATE SCIENTIST, HOSPITAL FOR SICK CHILDREN IN TORONTO
Read Dr. Debra Pepler's full review here:
“Lynn Glazier drills into the attitudes, feelings and perceptions of teenagers and reveals how these pressures place both boys and girls at risk for unintended harm in their relationships. This documentary is meant for kids and their parents to see and learn from.”
-DR. JENNIFER CONNOLLY, PHD, DIRECTOR OF THE LAMARSH CENTRE FOR RESEARCH ON VIOLENCE AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION, YORK UNIVERSITY
Read Dr. Jennifer Connolly's full review here:
“Chilling and compelling viewing”
-THE GLOBE AND MAIL
“The documentary takes an honest look into the lives of teenagers, as it is told only through their voices…Glazier’s film opens up a discussion among Canada’s youth.”
“Alarmingly raw and candid, It's a Teen's World exposes such a disturbing underworld of teen life…the story every parent needs to see!”
-ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT CANADA
“It’s a Teen’s World is a brutally honest look at the world of the modern teenager, a world in which boys have come to believe that sexual harassment is just harmless fun, and girls have been sold a sexual image of themselves that is one step away from serfdom.”
READ DIRECTOR LYNN GLAZIER'S TAKE ON SUMMER CAMP IN CANADA CAMPS MAGAZINE
What You Can Do
We recognize that many parents and kids do not talk about sexual bullying, harassment and pressures because they are deeply uncomfortable with the topic and lack knowledge. Parents will often assume – incorrectly – that their kids would come to them if they had a problem, and kids assume – incorrectly – that their parents don’t know anything and couldn’t possibly help them. It’s our hope that the educational materials and website can be a conduit for families looking to bridge those gaps and who want to start a conversation but don’t know exactly how to do that. Today’s teens are greatly challenged by the violent and misogynistic messages in the media they consume and their own impulsiveness and risk-taking behaviour. They need – and actually want – adults to listen to them and guide them without lectures and judgment. The film provides many examples and opportunities for families to discover their own path.
Teachers and youth group leaders are in a position to help teens think more critically about their social and sexual behaviours, especially with their peers. Many schools do not address this topic in any depth other than to say that sexual harassment is bad and to beware of sexual predators on the internet. The film and the accompanying education modules provide a much needed resource on the topic of sexual harassment and peer relationships.
Scroll below and check out Ryan’s rap video “Under Pressure” and the three short dramatic films about sexual pressures made by the teens in the documentary.
Become inspired – just like the teen participants in the film – to be ambassadors for change in your schools and communities. Make your own film, write your own song, story, poem or create art to spread the message of respect.
It's a Teen's World: Wired for Sex, Lies, and Power Trips- Trailer
Watch Ryan's Hit Rap Song "Under Pressure"!
UNDER PRESSURE is a dramatic film about
sexual gossip and its consequences.
Directed and written by Central Toronto Teens.
THE PURSUIT OF POPULARITY is a dramatic film about the
consequences of changing yourself to fit in with the cool group.
Directed and written by East Toronto Teens.
IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU is a dramatic film
about the abuse of trust in dating relationships.
Directed and written by West Toronto Teens.
Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre. Sexual Harassment in School: Your Rights & Responsibilities, Teachers Manual. Calgary, Alberta: University of Calgary, 1997.
Brandenburg, Judith B. Confronting Sexual Harassment: What Schools & Colleges Can Do. New York: Teachers College Press, Columbia University, 1997.
Clavier, Ron. Teen Brain, Teen Mind: What Parents need to Know to Survive the Adolescent Years. Key Porter Books, 2005.
Cohan, Audrey M. & Hergenrother, Johnson Y. & Mandel L. & Sawyer J. Sexual Harassment & Sexual Abuse: A Handbook for Teachers & Administrators. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin Press, Inc. 1996.\
Duncan, Neil. Sexual Bullying: Gender Conflict & Pupil Culture in Secondary Schools. Routledge, 1999.
Larkin, June. Sexual Harassment: High School Girls Speak Out. Second Story Press, 1994.
McLaughlin, Miriam Smith & Peyser, Sandra. Preventing Sexual Harassment in Schools. Enslow Publishers, 1999.
Nash, Carol Rust. Sexual Harassment: What Teens Should Know. Enslow Publishers, 1996.
Stein, Nan & Sjostrom, Lisa. Flirting or Hurting? A Teacher’s Guide on Student-to-Student Sexual Harassment in Schools. Washington, D.C.: National Education Association & Wellesley College Centre on Women, 1994.
Strauch, Barbara. The Primal Teen: What the New Discoveries About the Teenage Brain Tell Us About Our Kids. Anchor Books, 2003.
Buy the DVD!
A comprehensive and unique DVD package that includes:
The feature length documentary film divided into chapters [accompanied by a User Guide]
Three interactive classroom modules based on the full 8-minute dramas on sexual pressures created by the teen participants in the film [accompanied by a User Guide]
Excerpts from the radio documentary programs
Bonus — Ryan's rap video "Under Pressure"
Be part of the solution! For teens, parents, educators, youth groups, social services and health care professionals interested in taking action to promote healthier relationships among adolescents.
NOTE: A consumer price of $29.95 is available for individuals who want to support the film or add it to their personal libraries.
Available in the US from Women Make Movies
Call 212-925-0606 ext. 360
Available outside Canada and the US from Cat & Docs
Call +33 1 44 59 63 53
DIRECTED AND WRITTEN BY
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY
Derek Rogers CSC
ORIGINAL MUSIC COMPOSED AND PERFORMED BY
Aaron Davis and John Lang
Robin Lupita Bain
Stan Barua CSC
Michael Grippo CSC
ADDITIONAL LOCATION SOUND
ADDITIONAL ORIGINAL MUSIC COMPOSITION
Aram Siu Wai Collier
SOUND EFFECTS AND DESIGN
ONLINE EDITOR AND COLOURIST
POST PRODUCTION COORDINATOR
ARCHIVAL AND MUSIC CLEARANCES
EDITOR FOR TEEN DRAMAS
ASSISTANT DIRECTORS FOR TEEN DRAMAS
SECOND ASSISTANT DIRECTORS FOR TEEN DRAMAS
J. Elizabeth Marsh
Dr. Jennifer Connolly
Dr. Debra Pepler
OUR HEARTFELT THANKS TO
The families of our teen participants who opened their homes to us and generously shared their experience in parenting teenagers.
The many friends and classmates of our teen participants who volunteered as background performers for the short dramatic films.
The Teen and Dating Violence Relationships Lab at York University and the PrevNet Lab Group for their valuable contributions to our educational materials.
Raine Liliefeldt and the YWCA Common Ground Conference
The Taggio family
City of Toronto Parks and Recreation
City of Toronto Public Health
Franklin Horner Community Centre
Grand Bacchus Banquet Hall
Marchant’s School Sport Ltd.
Oakham House and Ryerson University
Planned Parenthood of Toronto
Ray Twinney Recreation Complex
Spirale Banquet and Conference Center
Steam Whistle Brewing
Toronto Film and Television Office
YWCA Toronto Girls Centre
STOCK PHOTOGRAPHY PROVIDED BY
Performed by: 50 Cent
Composers: Curtis Jackson, Scott Storch
Publishing: Universal Music Publishing, TVT Music Publishing
Courtesy of Interscope Records under license by
Universal Music Canada
© 2005 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
DO I LOOK LIKE A SLUT?
Performed by: Avenue D
Composers: Daphne Gomez Mena, Debbie Attias,
Michael Pedraza, Lawrence Thom
Publishing & Recording: Daphne Gomez Mena & Debbie Attias
© 2005 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Performed by: Famouz
Composers: Reginald Stephens, Montay Humphrey
Publishing & Recording: Spinrich.com
© 2007 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
DIRECTOR OF ORIGINAL PRODUCTIONS - CANAL VIE
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER FOR CBC RADIO ONE IDEAS
TECHNICAL PRODUCER FOR CBC RADIO ONE IDEAS
COMMISSIONING EDITORS FOR CBC NEWSWORLD DOCUMENTARIES
with assistance from CBC TV and the National Film Board of Canada
Teensworld Productions Inc. with Storyline Entertainment
in association with CBC Newsworld, Knowledge Network and Canal Vie owned by Astral Media and with the participation of the Rogers Cable Network Fund, the Rogers Documentary Fund, the Canadian Television Fund created by the Government of Canada and the Cable Industry, with the assistance of the Canadian Independent Film and Video Fund, the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit, and the Ontario Media Development Corporation Film and Television Tax Credits.