A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that My Summer as a Goth is a coming-of-age young adult drama about a girl who tries the goth lifestyle to impress a boy. Having to spend the summer with her grandparents, lead character Joey becomes infatuated with the boy next door, Victor. He also seems to be intrigued, but starts to reveal controlling and manipulative behavior. It's standard girl-meets boy-loses boy-realizes-never-needed-boy-plot tweaked by the bisexuality of the boy, as Victor is discovered to have also seduced Antonio, who later strikes up a friendship with Joey. Joey and Victor drink and smoke marijuana a handful of times and without consequence except for some openly worried grandparents. Joey gets very drunk at a party. Many romantic kissing scenes, some nonconsensual kisses, and a couple in bed and in underwear. Joey almost gets assaulted, but Antonio saves her by brandishing a knife. Some language ("bitch," "bulls--t," "ass," "hell," etc.) and some jokes about drugs, drinking, and virginity. In terms of diversity, the film features all white actors except for Antonio, played by Eduardo Reyes.
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Blood in the coffee! THE CHILDREN ARE BURNING IN TARGET HELP THEM THIS IS IMPORTANT. the coffee is black like my soul.
Confiteor Deo Omnipotenti (I confess to God almighty)
Beatae Mariae semper Virgini (To blessed Mary ever Virgin)
Beato Michaeli arc... Continue reading
What's the story?
In MY SUMMER AS A GOTH, teen Joey (Natalie Shershow) is forced to spend the summer with her quirky grandparents (Fayra Reeters, Jonas Israel). She meets their neighbors and their son, Victor (Jack Levis), a goth who acts like he knows everything. Joey falls for Victor and his goth ways and soon becomes a goth herself, learning how to dress, act, and do her hair and make-up goth style. Victor and Joey party, stay out and up late, dance, and kiss a lot. Joey's grandparents worry. Victor might not be as truthful as Joey thinks, and he keeps telling her to reapply her lipstick. If she isn't careful, Joey's perfect summer might start fading to black.
Is it any good?
Perfectly average for its kind, this light teen dramedy just about stays together. In My Summer as a Goth, main character Joey is sincere, funny, decent, and kind. Shershow shows a deft desperation in Joey that's far and beyond the most nuanced aspect of the entire film. She yearns for something, a connection, love, to maybe replace the connection and love she had with her father before he died. It doesn't matter what kind of love or connection, just as long as it's genuine and true. She thinks she finds these in Victor, but he's quickly revealed to be an abusive and selfish manipulator. The problem, though, is that Joey is the last to know and doesn't stand up for herself because of Victor's awful behavior, like how he constantly shames her for how she looks, often ditches her without explanation, or pressures her into engaging in dangerous activities. Joey doesn't stand up for herself after these signals and red flags, after warnings from her grandparents, but only after she sees Victor in bed with another woman.
Outside of Shershow's wonderfully emotive performance, Joey is too often written as naturally agreeable and passive: always blindly following Victor's commands, constantly chasing after him asking people where he is, and generally too willing to go along with risky decisions. The writers also give the honor of enacting Victor's comeuppance to Joey's mother, who appears very briefly, over Joey, which robs her and the audience of any greater sense of victory over the abusive and toxic Victor. The film also seems to condone underage drinking and drug use (marijuana only) because there never are any consequences for these behaviors. Further, it feels like the film skates over Victor's couple of nonconsensual kisses, moments of witnessed abuse, and Victor's general horribleness because all Joey does is keep trying (until she sees him with another woman) and her goth friends do and say nothing to help or to Victor to maybe try to let him know that it's not nice or ethical to "toy" with an innocent young woman. In the end, My Summer as a Goth doesn't really depict goth culture warmly.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how My Summer as a Goth depicts goths and goth culture. Do you think people who identify as goth appreciate or disagree with their representation here? Why?
Why did Joey fall so quickly for Victor? Why couldn't she see what everyone else could see?
How might Joey have been written differently to give her more agency and authority in her own story?
How do you think the film portrayed drug use and underage drinking? Why were there no consequences for these behaviors?
What moments between Joey and Victor made you uncomfortable? Why?
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