Turn Me On, Dammit! -2011- dir. Jannicke Systad Jacobsen
With hit movies like Superbad, it’s obvious that raunchy, sex-driven comedies with slightly awkward protagonists hit home with audiences more often than not. The thing is, the main characters of these types of movies are usually male. Director Jannicke Systad Jacobsen strives to show that girls can just as easily hold up a movie of the same genre. From the opening minutes of Turn Me On, Dammit!, it’s clear that this is the real secret life of the American—or in this case, Norwegian—teenager.
The main character, Alma, is a fifteen-year-old girl who is understandably unhappy and bored with her life. She lives in a dead-end town (Skoddeheimen, Norway) that can only offer a “Masters in Stacking and Bachelors in Price Tagging” as a lucrative career choice. Like most teenagers, she hates her hometown so much that whenever she sees the sign that welcomes visitors, she flips it off. With nothing much to do in Skoddeheimen besides go to parties and get older men to buy her and her friends beer, Alma lives in her head, a place that is ripe with sexual fantasies about everyone around her, but particularly a boy named Artur.
Turn Me On, Dammit! could have easily gone the traditional route of romantic comedy mixed with teen angst, but instead Alma is on a first-name basis with Stig, who runs her phone sex hotline of choice, Wet Wild Dreams. Much of her time is spent on the phone with Stig or fantasizing about various sexual encounters with people in her neighborhood, including her best friend Sara’s sister Ingrid (who also has a big crush on Artur), Ingrid’s father, and Artur himself. The fantasies are blended so well into the reality of the story that sometimes it’s hard to differentiate the two until Alma is shaken out of her daydreams. When something happens in reality that has all the characteristics of a fantasy, it’s expected that the rest of Alma’s desires will come true, as well, something that both does and doesn’t end up happening.
At a party one night with her friends, Artur sees Alma outside and stands next to her. After an awkward moment, he fulfills one of her most though-about desires and exposes himself to her. When she tells Sara and Ingrid, they don’t believe her. Artur refuses to admit that he did it, and Alma’s life as an outcast begins.
The nickname “Dick-Alma” is eventually bestowed upon her, and the movie begins to show how much an evasion of telling the truth can affect someone’s life, especially someone as impressionable as a teenage girl. Alma lives in her head even more after being given the nickname. Continuing from then on, everything that happens to her, every situation she’s thrown into, revolves around sex—her mother discovering their outrageous phone bills, her job at Ingrid’s father’s store, her loner status at school. Her mother is convinced that Alma’s not normal, and eventually Alma begins to wonder this about herself, too.
During a hitchhiking trip, Alma gains self-acceptance. She becomes more comfortable with herself, her sexuality, and her status at school. Maria and her friends convince Alma that she wants nothing different than her peers; they just don’t know how to show it. The movie is able to accurately capture the insecurities and over-thinking that often run rampant in the mind of a teenage girl, and it drives home the fact that boys aren’t the only ones who are fascinated by sex. Jacobsen shows viewers that, in a world where the stigma of being interested in sex and exploring one’s body is usually reserved for boys, it’s not at all out of the ordinary and shouldn’t be frowned upon for girls to explore their sexuality, too.
The frankness of the title is complemented by nearly everything else included in the film. There are simple shots and simple, well-placed music to go along with Alma’s simple life. The movie’s ending seems like it was lifted directly from one of Alma’s fantasies, and in a story filled with them, the viewers hope that it’s real this time. Because, just as the title suggests, all she wants is for someone to turn her on, dammit!