Date of Award


Document Type


First Advisor

Jonathan Nichols-Pethick

Second Advisor

David Newman

Third Advisor

Christina Holmes

Fourth Advisor

Leigh-Anne Goins


This thesis examines messages that teen comedy films send to audiences surrounding the topic of sexual assault. Sexual assault is arguably one of the largest issues on college campuses today, and while colleges, non-profits, and government offices have sponsored numerous sexual assault prevention efforts, across the United States, sexual assaults still occur. While watching comedy film, viewers often excuse mixed messages about sexual assault because comedy films are made for entertainment purposes, however, teenagers normalize messages in film. In fact, many viewers do not notice the negative messages about sexual assault in film because a film’s humorous aspects may overshadow its problems. This thesis will build on previous research about the normalization of messages in film, gender schema in film, and sexual assault and sexual violence in film as well as in real life. It will use film popular comedy films to showcase the pervasiveness of these messages in teen comedy film, and how comedy distracts from problematic behavior. The films of focus include Sixteen Candles, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Revenge of the Nerds, Superbad, and Easy A.


Honor Scholar thesis