Facepalm Warning: Musings of Molly Ringwald on John Hughes Films

Facepalm Warning: Musings of Molly Ringwald on John Hughes Films

Facepalm Warning: Musings of Molly Ringwald on John Hughes Films

One has not lived lived through the 80s unless he or she has watched at least one John Hughes film. Molly Ringwald was the one of the iconic actresses of the time, a member of the “Brat Pack” and she has since sounded off in The New Yorker about her role in The Breakfast Club:

Ringwald penned The New Yorker essay explaining the first time she showed the film to her 10 year-old daughter:

“At one point in the film, the bad-boy character, John Bender, ducks under the table where my character, Claire, is sitting, to hide from a teacher. While there, he takes the opportunity to peek under Claire’s skirt and, though the audience doesn’t see, it is implied that he touches her inappropriately. I was quick to point out to my daughter that the person in the underwear wasn’t really me, though that clarification seemed inconsequential. We kept watching, and, despite my best intentions to give context to the uncomfortable bits, I didn’t elaborate on what might have gone on under the table. She expressed no curiosity in anything sexual, so I decided to follow her lead, and discuss what seemed to resonate with her more. Maybe I just chickened out.”-Molly Ringwald

But wait a moment…here it comes:

“But I kept thinking about that scene. I thought about it again this past fall, after a number of women came forward with sexual-assault accusations against the producer Harvey Weinstein, and the #MeToo movement gathered steam. If attitudes toward female subjugation are systemic, and I believe that they are, it stands to reason that the art we consume and sanction plays some part in reinforcing those same attitudes. I made three movies with John Hughes; when they were released, they made enough of a cultural impact to land me on the cover of Time magazine and to get Hughes hailed as a genius. His critical reputation has only grown since he died, in 2009, at the age of fifty-nine. Hughes’s films play constantly on television and are even taught in schools. There is still so much that I love in them, but lately I have felt the need to examine the role that these movies have played in our cultural life: where they came from, and what they might mean now.”

The essay was called a “gentle reckoning for Gen X”. It was called “powerful” by some. But others did not feel the same way:

Ringwald may have been a naive teenager then, but she happily raked in the millions and calls herself “your former teenage crush” on her Twitter handle. Her family, was happy to allow her to star in such “oppressive” works of art by John Hughes…not once..not twice..but three times! She even told Lena Dunham (yes, I know…like, gag me with a spoon) that she enjoyed being the crush of many a teenage boy. so she’s not that butt-hurt about John Hughes’ sexist undertones in his movies. She can’t be. But hey, #MeToo and politically correct rhetoric sells.

The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles and the movie John Hughes wrote specifically for Ringwald, Pretty in Pink. All highlight timeless teenage angst about cliques and fitting in. There’s sexual tension and boys acting like little perverts and inappropriate conversation because they are teenage boys with raging hormones. There was mischief, school skip days, underage pot-smoking, drinking, partying and sex. If we think none of this (and then some) happens today, we are sadly mistaken.

Now, think of an 80s teen movie written in the political context of our climate right now and what a drag that all would be. Picture David Hogg serving Saturday morning detention with his smug little mug mouthing off to the principal. But wait…detention doesn’t exist any more because we could not possibly discipline these kids! Scene Two: Think of kids in classrooms eating Tide Pods and snorting condoms and telling the NRA to F-off at the same time. Or of kids yelling out “bigot” and “racist” at one another any time a fellow student disagrees with them and subsequently going on social media to threaten them. Or think of the girl yelling out “sexist” if a boy she doesn’t like looks at her in what she thinks the wrong way (despite the semi-naked Insta photo SHE posted that got circulated around school). I can see the plot now: “Where are we going today?! To the city to a fancy restaurant to only dodge the bill and end up at a parade singing Danke Shoen? Nope. We’re not doing that. We’re going to the Women’s March!” Unless we’re talking satirical comedy, can you imagine what a yawn-fest that film would be?!

My “gentle reckoning” as a member of Generation X is that things aren’t now in high school what they were back in 1984. Nope, they’re a lot WORSE. Anybody watch Undercover High? For all of us girls who are part of Generation X, we all have dealt with at least one “John Bender” type in high school and most of us did not feel like victims…we just told them all to get lost (some of us in more colorful ways than others)! If I had a 10 year-old daughter, I’d probably start with telling her that (if I even let her watch The Breakfast Club). Ringwald can be as introspective and analytical as she wants if it makes her happy to be relevant in the world of the #MeToo girls. After all, if her roles in those John Hughes films indicate anything it’s that everybody wants to be part of the “cool” group.

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7 Comments
  • SED says:

    Good point.

  • David Lentz says:

    It seems that Ms Ringwald is more concerned about the rape of fictional character, then Roman Polanski’s rape of a real minor female. Hint to actors, directors are akin a god and characters exist to do what their god commands. If you don’t like it, find another line of work. I hear McDonald’s is hiring.

  • NMH says:

    Well said.

    i am so over this ‘woke’ moment and the rest. the line between boorish behavior and sexual harassment has been blurred beyond belief. i have a 13 yo son. i’m not sure how he is supposed to interact with his female peers anymore….

    • GWB says:

      He’s not supposed to interact with them! He’s supposed to become one of them.
      Haven’t you been paying attention?

  • harkin says:

    Watching The Breakfast Club in Southern CA in the 80s was a hoot. We felt sorry for these kids (except for Bender, any idiot who acted/dressed like Bender at our high school was a joke) and what they considered a transformational morning. The dance sequence brought everything together though. lol

  • Joe Miller says:

    Anybody else think that going back and re-evaluating things from the past is just too exhausting?

  • marc johnson says:

    Maybe the Hollywood PC police can slap on a new ratings system to all movies. Not only could they warn us to the dangerous activity, but they could blur out any offensive imagery or activities

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