“Bad” teachers are hot, writes Dana Goldstein. “The bad teacher has also become an overhyped target for our national anxiety about public education.”
In Alissa Nutting’s new novel, Tampa, a Florida middle-school teacher lures two eighth-grade boys into sexual relationships.
(Celeste) Price is a coldhearted nymphomaniac who, after feeding her sexual needs, wishes for the deaths of her victims. She is based on Debra Lafave, a real-life Tampa pedophiliac teacher — and former high school classmate of Nutting’s — who avoided jail time after her lawyer argued that she was too beautiful to get locked up.
. . . Though the writing in Tampa is pedestrian in comparison with Nabokov’s Lolita, the great classic on which it is based, it certainly represents a gutsy attempt by a young, female author to embody a wholly unsympathetic female narrator and probe the question of whether society lets women essentially get away with crimes for which men are excoriated.
Sexually abusive teachers exist, but they’re very rare, Goldstein points out.
Price, who’s depicted as a lousy teacher, has one ally, “an obese, ‘joyless’ woman who seems to hate children and eventually loses her job after cursing out students and throwing a chair,” Goldstein observes. Although most of the action takes place in a school, Tampa portrays no competent teachers.
The Cameron Diaz movie, Bad Teacher, will become a TV series about a “former trophy wife who masquerades as a teacher” to find a new sugar daddy. (Who looks for a wealthy husband in a school?) It’s a “vote of no confidence” in teachers, writes Lisa Suhay on Christian Science Monitor.
The premise, which plays to every possible negative stereotype of educators and women, may make the grade with network executives, but it will set up middle- and high-school teachers for failure in the eyes of students who watch the show.
The movie teachers that “being a narcissistic, sadistic, incompetent teacher is cool” and “bullying is funny,” writes Suhay. Also, “competent teachers are socially inept, overweight, clueless, and timid.”
A sequel to the movie, Bad Teacher 2, is in the works.