The film is as good a teaching guide today as it was then because it sticks to strict medical facts surrounding reproduction without trying to put forth any particular moral stance. Audio/Visual: Sound, Black & White Run time: How much affection is socially acceptable on a date when they are going steady?
This film explores that question with a frank discussion of how much young people should do on a date while still being respectable and respected by each other.
These educational films were aimed at constructing and influencing various social norms or attitudes among teens in the post-WWII era, a time when youthful Americans of a certain age had never known prosperity and peace in their lives, having grown up in the shadows of both the end of the Depression and World War II.
The people in charge of making these films, and distributing them, knew that these teens would soon be a powerful consumer group and a tremendous cultural and economic force, but along with that upwardly-mobile movement came the awareness of certain Cold War-era fears, particularly the problem of rampant juvenile delinquency, which flooded the daily thoughts of parents and teachers and civic leaders across America.
After all, the first issue of Playboy debuted during the ’50s, and Dr.
In the ’50s, premarital sex—or “affection,” as it was cutely called—was considered a sin to rival reefer.
Their goal was “attitude adjustment” and and their approach was subtle: to create an imitation world of malt shops, classrooms and suburban homes and populate it with average-looking teens acting the way parents wanted teenagers to act.
Only, the problem was, teens didn’t identify with characters they saw in these mental hygiene films.
In How Much Affection, a hilariously archaic 1958 Mc Graw-Hill educational film, high school sweethearts Mary and Jeff grapple with how to quell their budding sexual urges as they explore the hot new world of “petting.” One night, young Mary—who looks like she’s 35—comes home from another fabulous and sexually confusing evening out with Jeff and freaks out to her mother, wondering if it’s wrong to feel “warm and affectionate” with a boy you like.
Her mother sagely advises her not to leave it to beaver and instead rely on “judgment rather than emotion” in the matters of “affection.” Also, Mary and Jeff later run into a teen mom they used to go to school with, which helps thoroughly scare the couple into chastity.