Slash

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
Slash Movie Poster Image
Teens write porn fan fiction; sex and language.
  • NR
  • 2016
  • 100 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

"Mainstream success is for chumps." "Real writers let people read their s--t."

 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Both Neil and Julia are talented writers.

Violence

Fictional superhero characters fight. A big guy in his 20s taunts a 15-year-old boy until the younger knocks the older one down.

Sex

Two teens write florid and passionate prose about fictional characters having gay sex. A guy rubs his clothed genitals. Two men make out. The Vanguard character is seen shirtless making out with two women. He's later seen kissing a man. A 16-year-old girl announces that all women are bisexual. A reference is made to erotica written by the Bronte sisters. It's suggested that a man likes to have sex with 12-year-olds. There's a reference to Brady Bunch erotic fan fiction, as well as stories about The Hobbit, Harry Potter, and Ninja Turtle characters. A 15-year-old boy comes on to a gay man, and the man turns him down, afraid he could go to jail for being with a minor.

Language

"F--k," "s--t," "d--k," blow," "piss," "engorged pelvic region," "ass," "erect penis," "f-ggot," "bitch," "bulge in his pants," "erect member,"  "up my hole," "damn," "clitoral majora," "popped a chub," "boner," "masturbation," and "queer."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teenagers consume alcohol, smoke cigarettes and marijuana, and take drugs.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Slash is about two high school students who write fan fiction porn and post it online, so the language is highly sexualized and, in some cases, accompanied by graphic images. There's no nudity, but descriptions are erotic and frank. A 15-year-old and 16-year-old kiss and have sex offscreen. Students smoke marijuana and cigarettes and take drugs. Sexual identity, gayness, and bisexuality are discussed. A boy kisses a man. Language from the world of fan fiction porn, which encompasses the imagined sex lives of fictional characters from Harry Potter characters to Ninja Turtles, includes "f--k," "s--t," "d--k," blow," "f-ggot," "bitch," "erect member," and more.

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What's the story?

SLASH sets as its backdrop the combined worlds of high school and the niche corner of erotic same-sex fan fiction, known as "slash." Fan fiction is written by a fan of, and featuring, characters from, books, movies, and TV shows. Fifteen-year-old Neil (Michael Johnston) adds throbbing sexual encounters to his fan fiction, which he secretly scribbles in his notebook. The notebook is passed around by bullies at school, outing his secret. Neil is concerned that he might be gay, another secret that makes the shy and cautious boy feel uncomfortable among his high school peers. When he meets the far-more-experienced and outgoing 16-year-old Julia (Hannah Marks), his world changes. She brings to him adventure -- drugs, sex -- and pushes him to claim he's 18 on a website where he can publish his material and enter it into a fan fiction porn contest. She drives him to Comic Con, where he's invited to read his story about Vanguard, a pansexual outer space super hero. At Comic Con, Neil connects with Denis (Michael Ian Black), a 38-year-old writer and online fan. After taking MDMA, Neil has sex with Julia, but when she downplays the importance of their connection the next day, Neil tries to kiss Denis, seemingly on a mission of self discovery -- if Julia rejected him, maybe he's gay. Denis recognizes that the baby-faced Neil is underage and says no, but against the rules he lets the underage boy read his erotica at the fan fiction gathering. It's clear that Julia remains the troubled product of her broken home and Neil, from supportive and kind parents, struggles in his own way with growing up. Denis suggests that Neil isn't gay but just wants to be, in order "to fit in, somewhere small," because trying to fit in with the larger world would be too daunting.

Is it any good?

This movie succeeds in offering a view of that famously churning period when teenagers wrestle with growing up and worry about fitting in. Neil and Julia feel alienated partly because of the fact that they're writers, who are notoriously stand-apart members of society, but also because the writing they do is hidden, owing to its sexual content. They obsess over fictional characters and create their own new fictions in which those characters, created by other writers, are launched into unpredictable sexual interactions.

Slash raises valid questions about the safety of minors negotiating an internet where predators can digitally seduce kids. The filmmakers studiously avoid asking why writers would invest so much energy in creating situations for fictional characters created by others. Does that endeavor enhance the pleasure they first experienced when reading/viewing the original work? In the end, what makes this interesting is that Slash doesn't shy away from shining a light on the human tendency to imagine what other people are doing behind their closed curtains. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about their thoughts on pornography. Do you think it's a good thing, bad thing, or somewhere in between? Why?

  • Do you think written porn (books, magazines, or online stories like you see in Slash) affects consumers differently than visual porn (pictures, videos, movies)? Why?

  • Some childhood experts say that today's visual porn is more objectifying and unrealistic than porn of years ago, giving kids who consume it the wrong idea about what to expect in their sex lives. Do you think exposure could be harmful to a child's or teen's normal sexual development?  How so?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love coming-of-age tales

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