‘Savage U’ tackles tough topics on college campuses
Published: Monday, April 2, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 2, 2012 23:04
“Savage Love” sex columnist and co-creator of the “It Gets Better Project” Dan Savage is bringing his trademark frank advice to college students around the country in his new MTV series, “Savage U.”
Though Savage has enjoyed fame with his syndicated sex and relationship column, the “It Gets Better Project,” a series of online videos encouraging young people in the process of coming out, further increased the profile of the media personality.
Now, Savage and his on-air partner and producer Lauren Hutchinson have completed a nationwide tour of 12 college campuses to film “Savage U,” which premieres tonight at 11 on MTV.
“(We) really wanted to (show) all sorts of different kinds of university environments,” Savage said in a conference call.
The show, which filmed at the University of Central Florida in November, follows Savage and Hutchinson as they try to answer any questions students throw their way and give advice where needed.
Hutchinson said her favorite of the 12 universities the two visited was Ohio State.
“Dan … learned how to throw a football there — that was pretty fun to watch,” she said.
“I did learn how to throw a football,” Savage said. “I haven’t thrown one since. I haven’t adopted the football-throwing lifestyle.”
Savage said the advice he and Hutchinson give on the show could help students watching at home more than they may realize.
“When it comes to sex, everyone wants to pretend that they know everything and that they’re good at everything and that they’re an expert already,” he said. “That can translate into kind of bluffing your way through ignorance, which can then lead to really dicey situations and negative experiences because people are afraid to admit they don’t know what they’re doing. They need help and they need advice.”
Savage said when he was a student, people were not afraid to plead ignorance and go to friends for advice.
“We’d all run our dates by each other — gay and straight — and people would say, ‘good one,’ ‘bad one,’ ‘don’t do that,’ ‘he’s a jerk,’ ‘you’re being used,’ or ‘that’s abusive,’” Savage said. “And people should do that. People should use their friends to vet their romantic partners.”
While filming “Savage U,” the questions Savage and Hutchinson elicited from students across the nation ranged from topics of monogamy to the ever-present “double standard.”
“For me, I think a big misconception or just a big thought amongst the college population is that it’s not possible or not right to start a relationship or believe that you can have a relationship with someone who you just had a one-night stand with,” Hutchinson said.
“And that’s really a huge problem,” Savage said, “Particularly where it intersects with that sexist double standard. You know, guys saying they would never date a girl who had done something that they themselves had done. We were constantly challenging people on that.”
While sex education continues to be a controversial topic in high schools around the nation, Savage said he thinks the advice he offers is meant to reverse the damage done by conventional “sex ed.”
“Sex ed is too often reproductive biology,” Savage said. “If we taught driver’s ed the way we teach sex ed, nobody would survive their first trip in a car. We would be all about how the internal combustion engine works and nothing about how to drive.”
Though “Savage U” is Savage’s first venture into television apart from a few guest spots on shows such as “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” and “Anderson Cooper 360,” he said he believes the cameras and Hutchinson bring a level of sincerity to the advice that is often lost on readers or podcast listeners.
For Hutchinson, her role in the show is still being discovered.
“My role is to get you to do something other than just singing showtunes all the time,” Hutchinson said to Savage with a laugh. “I’m there to make sure that we get to our interviews on time and that we stay focused and to bring a female voice to the show.”
Savage said the one thing that everyone needs is advice — even if doesn’t come from him.