By Grace Stafford, Features Editor —
With the tumultuous events in Hollywood with the #MeToo movement, it’s hard not to look back on iconic movies from previous decades with a harsher lens. Actress Molly Ringwald who starred in many of the 80s most memorable titles did just that.
In a piece published in the New Yorker early in April, Molly Ringwald reflects her time acting in many of the late John Hughes’ films, such as “Pretty in Pink,” “The Breakfast Club” and “Sixteen Candles.” This piece comes as Ringwald rewatches “The Breakfast Club” with her 10 year old daughter with a more maternal and modern gaze.
She particularly notes that the scene where Bender ends up underneath a table in detention where he offscreen touches Ringwald’s character Claire inappropriately. While she found this scene uncomfortable to watch, especially with her young daughter, Ringwald acknowledges that she is only now realizing the character Bender’s repeated sexual harassment throughout the film, but yet the two characters still come together and kiss at the end of the film.
Ringwald continues to explain many instances of John Hughes’ other writing that has been misogynistic and stereotypical, in its kindest definition. Yet, while riddled with grotesque stereotypes and sexual harassment, Hughes managed to make films that still resonate with viewers to this day. I know I like his films so much thanks to my mom who aspired to be Molly Ringwald in high school and thus showed me all of the best films as soon as I was old enough. I found comfort, like so many others, in the characters as they navigate the social workings of high school and relationships.
This reflection upon older films, especially when the director is now deceased, seems almost futile, but it stands to measure the changing attitudes of Hollywood and society towards the issues of the #MeToo movement. The ability to separate art from the artists can become increasingly challenging when themes of harassment encroach upon the art itself. Like Ringwald, I agree that Hughes’ films have and should continue to be shown and taught to high school students for years to come, but that the conversations around them should change with the times.