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Applause For Clap
By Ghia Vitale
Clap is a short film that’s written and directed by Allison Raskin. As reflected by the video’s namesake, STI destigmatization is central to the plot. As such, I think this film provides realistic representation that serves as a helpful step towards destigmatizing STIs.
As you might guess, Clap is about a young woman named Beth (played Dylan Gelula from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) who contracts Chlamydia. The video starts right before the doctor calls her to inform her of her diagnosis. Eventually, Beth’s played mom (played by Carrie Clifford, actress and producer of Crazy Ex Girlfriend) feels the need to tell her husband/Carrie’s father (Pete Gardner from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend). How the situation turns out is surprising by the standards of today’s society.
If Allison Raskin’s name sounds familiar, it’s not just in your head. Aside from being the writer and director of Clap, she is a co-star alongside Gaby Dunn on Just Between Us, a popular YouTube channel. Raskin has also co-authored two YA novels with Dunn that were published by Wednesday Books: I Hate Everyone But You and the sequel, Please Send Help. In Please Send Help, one of the main characters (Ava) contracts an STI. Unlike other book plots that involve STIs, the diagnosis doesn’t destroy Ava’s life. Instead, she decides to open up about having an STI and the results are actually refreshing for a change. This deviation from the stereotypical narrative about STIs is part of what makes Please Send Help a powerful piece of young adult literature. I applaud how Allison Raskin is using her creativity destigmatize STIs.
Despite the underrepresentation of STIs in young adult books, STIs are a reality faced by many young people. According to the American Sexual Health Association, Around 1 in 2 sexually active people will contract an STI before they turn 25 years old. Although young people comprise half of new STI cases, a recent survey shows that only around 12% got tested for STIs in the last year. Clearly, STIs are a subject that needs to be discussed more. If we could have honest conversations about STIs without the fear of being stigmatized, more people would get tested and be open about their results.
This film demonstrates just how difficult it is to have honest conversations about STIs due to the stigma. Because of this, people who contract STIs feel an undue amount of shame and embarrassment. This short film is an honest reflection of what many people go through when they’re diagnosed with an STI. Because of this, the entire video is informative and entertaining all at once.
Destigmatizing STIs is an important theme in Raskin’s work. In fact, Raskin even says that STI destigmatization was one of her primary hopes for Clap:
"My hope with this film was to destigmatize STIs and show my skills as a director," said Raskin. "If this does either, I'll be thrilled!"
This short film is brilliant because it appeals to both people who’ve been diagnosed with STIs as well as people who’ve never had an STI. If you’ve ever had an STI before, you could probably relate to the emotions and stress that Beth deals with after finding out about her diagnosis. If you’ve never had an STI before, Clap will give you a glimpse into what is a lived experience for many people.
Clap does a good job at busting stereotypes that surround STIs. One popular misconception about STIs is that the only people who get them have a lot of sex. (This stereotype, in turn, plays into the popular sex negative belief that having a lot of sex or sex with multiple partners are bad things, but that’s another rant for another time.) However, this film deviates from that stereotype: Beth was a virgin until she had (protected) sex for the first time and contracted Chlamydia as a result. The truth about STIs is that anyone can contract one.
STIs aren’t moral failures. STIs are health conditions that don’t discriminate. They aren’t the negative reflections of someone’s character, sexuality, or identity that society makes them out to be. The widespread recognition of these truths is an essential component for building a sex positive culture. Stigmatizing STIs has no place in sex positivity.
Clap made me laugh, gasp, and smile. This short film packs a strong punch in less than 10 minutes. Honestly, it’ll be worth your time to watch the YouTube video below. To learn more about Allison Raskin, you can visit her website. For more updates, follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
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