April 7, 2018

Molly Ringwald "can see now, Bender sexually harasses Claire throughout the film" — "The Breakfast Club."

Ringwald is writing in The New Yorker.
When he’s not sexualizing her, he takes out his rage on her with vicious contempt, calling her “pathetic,” mocking her as “Queenie.” It’s rejection that inspires his vitriol. Claire acts dismissively toward him, and, in a pivotal scene near the end, she predicts that at school on Monday morning, even though the group has bonded, things will return, socially, to the status quo. “Just bury your head in the sand and wait for your fuckin’ prom!” Bender yells. He never apologizes for any of it, but, nevertheless, he gets the girl in the end.

If I sound overly critical, it’s only with hindsight. Back then, I was only vaguely aware of how inappropriate much of John [Hughes's] writing was, given my limited experience and what was considered normal at the time.... I’m a little embarrassed to say that it took even longer for me to fully comprehend the scene late in “Sixteen Candles,” when the dreamboat, Jake, essentially trades his drunk girlfriend, Caroline, to the Geek, to satisfy the latter’s sexual urges, in return for Samantha’s underwear. The Geek takes Polaroids with Caroline to have proof of his conquest; when she wakes up in the morning with someone she doesn’t know, he asks her if she “enjoyed it.”...

John’s movies convey the anger and fear of isolation that adolescents feel, and seeing that others might feel the same way is a balm for the trauma that teen-agers experience. Whether that’s enough to make up for the impropriety of the films is hard to say—even criticizing them makes me feel like I’m divesting a generation of some of its fondest memories, or being ungrateful since they helped to establish my career. And yet embracing them entirely feels hypocritical. And yet, and yet. . . 
Much more at the link.

The "impropriety of the films" is a strange phrase. Fictional characters do all sorts of bad things. It doesn't make the film improper. You need bad things to happen in fiction. It's kind of the whole game. But you may ask, what is this film trying to make me think? Am I supposed to disapprove of what this character did or not? If it's hard to answer that question, that might be a sign it's actually art. If we identify with or enjoy or empathize with a bad boy like John Bender and we hold the film responsible for choosing to make that happen to us, does the film become "improper"? I don't think so, and yet I do think films have worked powerfully to shape our ideas about how men and women should treat each other.

84 comments:

Earnest Prole said...

I found out a long time ago: What a movie can do to your soul. Aw, but they can't take you any way you don't already know how to go.

David Begley said...

John Hughes made Molly a star. What an ingrate.

Fatal error. You can’t apply today’s culture and standards to a movie that is about 30 years old.

Shouting Thomas said...

Movies should be scripted in a conference room meeting overseen by Diversity consultants.

The fag hags from corporate HR should have ultimate censorial power.

Shoots must be policed by a morals squad.

Snitches should be stationed in movie theaters to watch for inappropriate responses. The spy camera in TVs should always be turned on for those who attempt to escape surveillance by watching at home.

How in the fuck do you “sexualize” somebody? This is the ultimate in dumb ass dogmatic buzz words. People are “sexualized” from birth unto death.

rhhardin said...

Teen movies have the problem of being trite prom-nite stories. I don't offhand remember 16 candles - ah, here's the trouble, I have it but haven't watched it - but breakfast club was okay. It was about getting along, diversity of talents, not sex.

gilbar said...

wait a minute;
you're saying that Sixteen Candles ISN'T appropriate guidance for my life?

rhhardin said...

The Edge of Seventeen (2016) and Juno (2007) would be my favorite teenage movies.

A trite fake-plot in the former doesn't detract from a great performance with Woody Harrelson. Check out the gag reel for more moments.

Shouting Thomas said...

Sitting here in the cafe eating breakfast and listening to some horseshit hair rock band.

We really over praised the women when we were young. We were just trying to get in their pants. All the poetic ranting about how wonderful they were really went to the women’s heads, didn’t it?

Dylan was just trying to get in some girl’s pants too. He was good at it. Frizzy Jewish haired intellectual crooning social justic anthems for the shiksas.

Dylan made a lot of money and achieved universal fame, which made him every girl’s favorite alpha, so they all wanted him to get in their pants.

We men paid a huge price for crooning about the wonders of our girls, didn’t we? The girls were spoiled brats who had never missed a meal in their lives, but they spent the next 50 years bitching that they were oppressed just like the Negros under Jim Crow.

Molly said...

As is now the accepted thinking on art and aesthetics -- the value depends critically on the intention of the creator. So men doing bad things to women is bad art if the author (of Breakfast Club) intends to glorify the men; men doing bad things to women is good art if the author (of Handmaid's Tale) intends to glorify the women and/or denigrate the men.

We are permitted to (required to) make inferences about the creator's intention by studying their personal lives and their political contributions.

The importance of intention is now fundamental even to the definition of art. This afternoon (weather permitting) I will spread fertilizer on my lawn. If I was a little more politically liberal and had more visible tattoos and a worse haircut and more friends who self-identified as "artists", I could self-identify as an artist and apply to the National Endowment of the Arts for a grant to sponsor my "performance art" -- spreading fertilizer on my lawn as a statement about the emptiness of existence for suburban women in the Trump era. If I just intend to fertilize my lawn, the act is not art; if I intend it to be art, the same act is art.

Ralph L said...

Molly is also upset that the Geek's career was longer than hers.

Tank said...

Game.

Birkel said...

Bigger problem:
The New Yorker gave this silliness the stage over all the more important things that could be written. Poor editorial choices are ruining journalism.

Tank said...

Truth.

Fernandistien said...

Bender sexually harasses Claire

Well that's nice, or not nice, but did anyone get shot?

I seem to remember some movie where a lot of people got shot and died.

rehajm said...

Since we're going full PC still calling him the Geek is another kind of behavior for which you should repent.

The Germans Have A Word For That. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Just looking for attention.

Christopher said...

John Hughes made Molly a star. What an ingrate.

That's not the takeaway I got. It's a thoughtful piece. She's looking back on all that from an adult perspective, which is interesting, and a bit too much of a feminist perspective, which clouds some of her thinking. But she gives John Hughes his due--I think most folks would conclude she's quite aware of and thankful for the role he played in her career.

Larvell said...

Not even a word about Long Duck Dong? Ringwold’s wokeness is insufficiently intersectional. She needs to check her white privilege.

Sally327 said...

I guess Ringwald doesn't have any real world #Metoo stories to tell so she's resorted to picking apart fictional experiences from the movies she was in.

The only movie of hers I think I've seen is "Betsy's Wedding" which I remember as funny and don't think there was any "inappropriate writing", which is probably the case since it was written and directed by Alan Alda, the original Woke man.

The Germans Have A Word For That. said...

John Hughes had many moments that don't age well in the Woke Era.

From a book on Hughes regarding "The Breakfast Club":

"To break up a highly claustrophobic talkathon, Hughes had written a sequence in which the school's synchronized-swimming team came by to practice with its extremely sexy P.E. teacher. The youngsters would sneak out of the library and find a peephole into the women’s locker room. There, they would spy the well-endowed P.E. teacher topless. Karen Leigh Hopkins, who would later find success as an actress and screenwriter, was cast in the role.

This is really sexist and misogynistic, they told Hughes. Why would you do this?

Hughes listened. That night he sat down to rewrite. The next morning Hughes came in with a new version, where a janitor replaced the P.E. teacher.

This was heartbreaking news for Hopkins, but Hughes was ecstatic when none other than Rick Moranis agreed to play the janitor.

John was a big fan of the Second City TV veteran, a comedian very much in the National Lampoon spirit. Then Moranis showed up on the set. His hair was severely cut, gold caps were on his teeth, and he was playing the role in the accent of a Russian immigrant.As Manning tells it, when the dailies got to L.A., the film’s gruff producer, Ned Tanen, couldn’t get to the phone fast enough.

“What the fuck was that?” Tanen screamed into the phone.

“Well, Rick came and that is his interpretation of the janitor,” Manning reported.

“No, we’re not going to do that,” he stated. The Russian caricature would pull the audience completely out of what was really a serious movie, he insisted.

“Ned said we’re not doing that,” Manning reported to Hughes.

“Well, I can’t fire Rick Moranis,” responded Hughes.

“Then I guess I have to,” said Manning..."


On the other hand, Hughes got the quintessential Alec Baldwin performance in one of his movies: here.

So there is that.

The Germans have a word for this.

The Germans Have A Word For That. said...

The Alec Baldwin scene is actually here.

tcrosse said...

"You see, this is my life! It always will be! There's nothing else! Just us, the cameras, and those wonderful people out there in the dark!… All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up."

dda6ga dda6ga said...

Molly feeling neglected, just wants to see her name in the media again..next up Molly bakes on the Food Network..

Ralph L said...

Back when Baldwin was a Baldwin.

LarsPorsena said...

Molly should also address the fact that there were no POC.
(South Asians are considered white)

Jeff Roth said...

The PC thought police will require the feminization of all films, both new and old.

Then those results will be redone.

The revolution always eats its own in the end.

Whatever you say said...

I don't know about other districts, but in my city there is no such thing as Saturday School or Breakfast Club. Imagine the HORROR of punishing students or inconveniencing parents. It just isn't done, especially for the types of misdeeds the Breakfast Club kids committed.

MayBee said...

I didn't care for Breakfast Club.

But I was thinking the other day about how odd it is that so many mainstream films involve simulated teen sex and naked high school girls (older actresses of course representing them on film. But in the film, it is clear we are looking at a nude high school girl). John Hughes had them in his early films, and I remember reading Molly encouraged him to not have them in his later movies.

But the shower scene in 16 Candles, Natasha in American Pie.....all supposed to be naked high school girls in entertainment geared for adults. Isn't that creepy?

MikeD said...

I saw the name "Bender" & immediately tho't "Futurama". Color me disappointed!

EDH said...

Actually, just a few of years ago, wouldn't the narrative have been that Bender -- in his final rant in that scene -- is striking back against "inequality"?

the 4chan guy who reads Althouse said...

"...all supposed to be naked high school girls in entertainment geared for adults. Isn't that creepy?"

One person's creepy is another person's opportunity to masturbate.

In the movie "Not Another Teen Movie" a female high school chick says "How come whenever I tell a guy he can do me where ever he wants he picks in the ass?"

I mean, that's a great line, but it coming from a high school chick makes it really good.

Because we know the high school chick isn't really a high school chick, so it's okay that it's hot.

Anyway, there are teen magazines now that tell young chicks how to do the butt-sex, so you can't even blame it on 4chan.

Michael E. Lopez said...

Bender's behavior isn't supposed to be a model of decorum.

Of *course* he's harassing Claire. He's an asshole.

That's sort of the point.

So does he get the girl? Yeah. But they clash when coming together, like to pieces of hot iron that need to be hammered together, there's sparks. And in the end, maybe she'll be a better person for developing a more rebellious streak and finding the nerve to actually stand up for what she really believes rather than just going along with social pressure, and maybe he'll be... civilized, dare we say?

Or is the notion of women civilizing men sexist?

Mark said...

Molly/Claire needs to check her privilege.

Bender was the marginalized, the poor, the bullied by being outcast.

It was the rich and pampered Claire who was the bad person and in the wrong in the film.

Eleanor said...

Molly Ringworm is upset she wasn't as successful as some of the members of the "Brat Pack". I bet most folks under 30 don't know who she is. "Sixteen Candles" isn't available in the US on Netflix and isn't free on Amazon Prime. She doesn't have a "MeToo" story out there. She's just trying to be relevant.

Seeing Red said...

Still like them and still going to watch them.

Gahrie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gahrie said...

When he’s not sexualizing her, he takes out his rage on her with vicious contempt, calling her “pathetic,” mocking her as “Queenie.” It’s rejection that inspires his vitriol. ........ “Just bury your head in the sand and wait for your fuckin’ prom!” Bender yells. He never apologizes for any of it, but, nevertheless, he gets the girl in the end.

I hate to break it to Molly..but this was one of the truest most accurate parts about the film. Many many high school girls are attracted to the bad boys. The Benders of the world do get the girl and the Brian Johnsons never do.

Mark said...

The whole message of the film was the dynamic between (1) the privileged elites who were everyone's favorites and (2) the downtrodden pushed to the peripheries and treated like losers.

I guess Molly missed that part about the injustice of the division of the social classes.

Mark said...

this was one of the truest most accurate parts about the film. Many many high school girls are attracted to the bad boys.

The most truest of these teen films of the 80s (brutally so) was The Last American Virgin.

Mary Martha said...

I was a young teen when I first watched the movie and I understood more than the adult Molly Ringwald does today.

It was about how all of us treat each other terribly because we don't know each other as individuals - we just categorize others and see their actions as representative of their groups.

Ideally we grow out of this by the time we are adults through having enough experiences where we interact with members of groups as individuals.

In The Breakfast Club these few students have individual experiences and grow to see that everyone is dealing with something - be it bullying, depression, family pressure, abuse, social pressure. It was a first step for them growing into individuals beyond their assigned groups.

It's all in the final essay! "You see us as you want to see us… In the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain… …and an athlete… …and a basket case… …a princess… …and a criminal."

The problem is today's adults no longer seem to learn that lesson. Instead they are still stuck at only viewing/judging groups - not individuals.

For that reason this movie must be destroyed- it shows individuals are more than their assigned groups - this is dangerous individual thinking.

rhhardin said...

The time-travel teen movies (old guy winds up back in high school as a kid) with the guy correcting the teacher on this or that is always good.

An overturning of teacher authority by use of reason.

Nobody's made a plot point of it though. It would be a more interesting movie that teen romance.

Phil 3:14 said...

I see Molly has moved on and is now a sophomore at Vassar.

tcrosse said...

One great High School show is Strangers with Candy, with Amy Sedaris as a 46-year-old ex-con ex-junkie who returns to finish High School. Not for everyone.

Known Unknown said...

Bender was a dirty, cracked mirror that let Claire discover who she truly was.

Known Unknown said...

Also, it's hard to create drama when everyone is being sweet potatoes to everyone else in the story.

Known Unknown said...

And! You would think Ringwald would have more sympathy for the guy from the wrong side of the tracks since she played one in Hughes' Pretty in Pink.

Kevin said...

I never assumed the geek slept with the drunk girl.

It seemed she just assumed from previous encounters that if she woke up from a drunken night with a man that they must have done it.

It’s when she realizes he didn’t take advantage that she considers him worthy of getting to know better.

The Toothless Revolutionary said...

Good post.

If the films worked for their time then they worked for their time. Kids go through stuff and conform nonetheless. Maybe not to what they would have before detention but it just goes to show that in the end a sexually frigid culture isn't going to cure America of whatever ills Ringwald's jumping on the bandwagon to accuse the country of perpetuating, either.

Otto said...

"... I do think films have worked powerfully to shape our ideas about how men and women should treat each other."
Actually that is a sign of a weak secular upbringing.

rcocean said...

Bender was an obnoxious, whiny asshole with nothing to be arrogant about.

Everyone should have gotten together and kicked his ass.

rcocean said...

Today Bender is on the internet trolling everyone.

I bet he's Chuck.

JaimeRoberto said...

Bender was a jerk to everyone. If he couldn't sexually harass Claire, he would have found another way to harass her.

FullMoon said...

Bender was an obnoxious, whiny asshole with nothing to be arrogant about.

Everyone should have gotten together and kicked his ass.


Wasn't Bender Toothless Ritmo's avatar once upon a time?

Bay Area Guy said...

The Left wants to re-write all movies where every single female character must be strong and assertive and every act of irreverent horseplay or sexual adventure is seen as sexual harassment and/or assault.

Have fun with that Hollywood!

Your recent Oscar for Best Movie depicted a love affair with a female and amphibian male mermaid? Yeah that's the ticket to box office riches...

Known Unknown said...

"I never assumed the geek slept with the drunk girl.

It seemed she just assumed from previous encounters that if she woke up from a drunken night with a man that they must have done it.

It’s when she realizes he didn’t take advantage that she considers him worthy of getting to know better."

Bingo. I'm glad someone else noticed this.

Known Unknown said...

"Your recent Oscar for Best Movie depicted a love affair with a female and amphibian male mermaid? Yeah that's the ticket to box office riches..."

It's a good movie, though.

The Toothless Revolutionary said...

Wasn't Bender Toothless Ritmo's avatar once upon a time?

So nice to see you crawl up from out of your hole to play with your little penis, FullNoob.

mccullough said...

Bender had the worst home life. He was basically the “black guy.” Molly Ringwald was privileged. It would have been great if Bender had been black. The movie would have been even more interesting.

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The Toothless Revolutionary said...

It would have been great if Bender had been black. The movie would have been even more interesting.

Or predictable.

What's up with all this Bender hate from those perpetual losers (FullNoob and ocean ho) above? Bender didn't take shit from anybody. I think they hate him because they're both cucks who take everything from anyone. Trump could spit in their faces and they would scrape off and frame the saliva - saving it like Lewinsky did the blue dress. Putting it behind an LED-illuminated showcase, and probably asking him to autograph the moment.

I have no doubt about this. Behind every right wing rage-a-holic is a fawning sycophant. You just have to find the tyrant to whom they would gladly pledge away their very meaningless lives.

The Toothless Revolutionary said...

Bender was kind of like a less whiny, less obsessive version of Trump.

One who didn't need hours every morning to work on his hair.

Can anyone imagine Bender needing a Twitter account to air his never-ending little schoolgirl grievances? Hahaha. Right.

The Cracker Emcee Classic said...

“The "impropriety of the films" is a strange phrase. Fictional characters do all sorts of bad things. It doesn't make the film improper”

The Golden nugget in the post. Once this reasoning is no longer acceptable, then we get the firemen.

mccullough said...

Bender got his ass kicked by Andy. They both had shitty fathers but Andy was tougher. Andy was the white working class kid and Bender was the stand in for the black kid. He could even dunk a basketball. Hughes should have just had a black guy play Bender. It was distracting to have a semi swarthy white guy do it.

Andy and Bender eventually became friendly when Andy agreed to smoke Bender’s weed. Mutual love of weed heals racial tensions.

Kevin said...

"It would have been great if Bender had been black. The movie would have been even more interesting."

If Bender were black, Molly Ringwald's piece would be about how he broke racial stereotypes and spoke of white privilege before it was cool to do so.

There is no way white women are going to have a #MeToo moment by outing a sexually aggressive black man, when they can instead interpret their aggressiveness as a reasonable attack on racial divisions and class dynamics.

Also if Bender were black, the whole movie implodes. The premise is that they each contain all the stereotypes and thus all are truly one. There is no way to do that in a movie of this time period where four white teens connect with the experiences of their black classmate.

The principal's attacks singling out Bender would also come across as racist rather than against his lawlessness.

The Toothless Revolutionary said...

Bender got his ass kicked by Andy.

When?

They both had shitty fathers but Andy was tougher.

By lacking the courage to stand up to his father he was tougher. Right.

Andy was the white working class kid and Bender was the stand in for the black kid.

He was not working class. He was a preppy. I think that's what you loved about his otherwise empty-headed character.

The Toothless Revolutionary said...

Andy was tough enough to get a few guys to gang up on a partially immotile fat kid so that they could tape his buns together.

Yep. Real tough.

Sure, he was the better wrestler, but so was Al Franken.

BTW, most sports have a gay element to them, but none moreso than wrestling.

Howard said...

TTR's never seen a womens rugby team

mccullough said...

Toothless,

You need to watch the movie. Bender is a half head taller than Andy, who quickly pins him to the floor during their fight. Ass kicked. Neither of these guys stands up to their Dads. Andy is physically strong and tough and Bender is not. That was established early on and is an important part of their characters and how they change.



Jim at said...

Surprised she didn't start bitching about how racist the character Long Duk Dong was.

Or maybe she already did. I can't be bothered to care.

Don't like the content of the movies you starred in? Return the money.

FullMoon said...

Haha!
The "Revolutionary"'s defense of Bender answers my question.
Obviously Goofies heroic avatar in the past.

What a Maroon.

Mike makes Right said...

It seemed to me Johnson and the Prom Queen got it on. He doesn’t remember and makes a motion with his fingers indicating what he’s talking about and asks “Did we?” And she answers yeah, “I’m pretty sure. She is sort of touched when he asks if she enjoyed it. The poster mentioning Last American Virgin was right, an uneven movie with realistic, devastating heartbreak and a real good guys finish last moment.

langford peel said...

Some films accurately reflect universal truths that are clearly self evident and reflect conventional thought at the time the are created. Then they are repudiated by polite society in spasms of political correctness and have to be denounced or you will be stoned.

"The Breakfast Club" is one,

"The Birth of a Nation" is another.

langford peel said...

The original one by DW not the one by the rapist.

Char Char Binks said...

I watch you passed out forever
I touch your face, you start to smile
And on your note is my reply
I wish I loved you
I wish I loved you
Don't ask why, don't ask why
Don't ask why, don't ask why
Don't ask why, don't ask why, don't ask why
Sixteen candles down the drain

JLScott said...

Interestingly, YouTube recently offered up this to me, in which Ringwald and Sheedy state that a remake of The Breakfast Club should never be made, but if one is, it shouldn’t be “so white”: https://youtu.be/xkWLg8vJX_Q

Known Unknown said...

"Interestingly, YouTube recently offered up this to me, in which Ringwald and Sheedy state that a remake of The Breakfast Club should never be made, but if one is, it shouldn’t be “so white”: https://youtu.be/xkWLg8vJX_Q"

John Hughes, classic Liberal, lived in suburban Chicago. Hence, the characters he wrote about lived in suburban Chicago, which I believe, is mostly white.

tim in vermont said...

http://deadline.com/2013/01/quentin-tarantino-has-heated-exchange-with-uk-journalist-on-movie-violence-says-im-not-your-slave-video-401861/

The Toothless Revolutionary said...

You need to watch the movie. Bender is a half head taller than Andy, who quickly pins him to the floor during their fight. Ass kicked.

I don't consider a half-completed attempt at completely pinning someone a kick of the ass. No blows were exchanged. All the jock did was restrain him part of the way to the position where he gets ready to have anal sex with his extra-mural boyfriends, nothing more nothing less. You might like the sound of the words "ass kicking" but I don't think that pertains to anything where there wasn't actually a fight involving someone at least punching or incapacitating someone else through a knock of some sort. Restraining someone is just a control move; doesn't prove anything. You might as well call a halfway decent hypnotist or liar an ass kicker. Or someone who merely locks someone else out of a room. Or tapes together the buns of a fat kid. Good grief.

Bob Loblaw said...

Heh. She could have shorted the whole thing to "I am old now."

JAORE said...

There should be a term, riffing off of Rip Van Winkle, about all these women who are now woke after decades of slumber.

Perhaps "she has Rip Van Wrinkles".

Michael said...

My son watched Breakfast Club when he was about 16 and had two comments:

1) The goth art chick wouldn't be an outcast now, she'd be cool.

2) The whole story would never happen, because they'd spend the whole day on their phones.

mikee said...

Bender should go make his own Breakfast Club, with blackjack and hookers.
Oh, wait, I'm thinking of another character entirely.

mikee said...

Bender should go make his own Breakfast Club, with blackjack and hookers.
Oh, wait, different show! Never mind.

Unknown said...

Important thing here to full accept that YOU ARE A STAIN

In your mitochondria, below your DNA, every bit of your history, even the innocent movies you watched in your youth are micro aggressive oppression to the angels, the people of color, the women, and any non-christian religion, the climate... all that is holy

There is nothing you can to do abate all this, so just kill yourselves and let the anointed establish utopia under President David Hogg and secretary of commerce Bernie Sanders.

You are all an abomination.

GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTY! GITLY!