It’s Valentine’s Day, the official day of love, but the month of February is also Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. To call attention, Day One and BBDO New York have released an animated film that warns teens of dating abuse.
The short film called Sunshine taps into a disturbing teen relationship that seems innocent at first glance, but abusive when examined more closely.
The film, directed by Guilherme Marcondes, opens with an intentionally clichéd love at first sight romance. The two main characters quickly fall for each other, set to the upbeat classic song Walkin’ on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves. As the film progresses, however, we notice some warning signs — the man becomes more controlling and possessive, keeping tabs on the clothes she wears, the food she eats, and the people with whom she associates. This causes some of his earlier behavior to be re-evaluated, like his invasive selfie on her phone or showing up uninvited at her front door. The signs are subtle at first until it’s too late and the young woman seems stuck. By the end, the sweet, happy vibe of the song takes on a more ironic, dark twist.
The film is meant to highlight the fact that not all abuse is physical. Emotional and verbal abuse is often even more insidious and difficult to separate from devotion, which is succinctly captured in the film’s final line: don’t confuse love and abuse.
Day One is an organization dedicated to reducing the prevalence of sexual abuse and violence as well as supporting and advocating for those affected by it. The organization states that one in three teens reports experiencing some kind of abuse in their romantic relationships, and just because a relationship is not physically violent doesn’t mean that it is healthy.
The primary audience for the piece is ages 16-19, and those who support the movement are encouraged to post to social media with the hashtags #ThatsAbuse #teenDVmonth #MeToo #TimesUp #ValentinesDay #DayOneNY.