Sunday 22 April 2018

Molly Ringwald 'troubled' after reevaluating John Hughes' 80s classics The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles in wake of #MeToo

Ringwald starred in both films

Molly Ringwald in The Breakfast Club
Molly Ringwald in The Breakfast Club
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Actress Molly Ringwald has revealed that she finds aspects of movies she starred in as a teenager 'troubling' in the wake of the #MeToo movement.

Ringwald said she "reevaluated" John Hughes' films The Breakfast Club (1985) and Sixteen Candles (1984) recently, several years after she sat down to watch the former with her 10 year old daughter for the first time.

Writing in The New Yorker, she says she worried that her daughter would "find aspects of it troubling.  But I hadn't anticipated that it would ultimately be most troubling to me."

The character of John Bender, played by Judd Nelson, was her main issue.

Molly Ringwald
Molly Ringwald

"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," she writes.

She adds, “Bender sexually harasses Claire throughout the film. When he’s not sexualising her, he takes out his rage on her with vicious contempt, calling her 'pathetic'."

She also takes aim at Sixteen Candles and the scene in which Jake gives his drunk girlfriend to another man in exchange for underwear belonging to Ringwald's character.

“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.' (Neither of them seems to remember much.) Caroline shakes her head in wonderment and says, 'You know, I have this weird feeling I did.'" writes Ringwald.

Judd Nelson and Molly Ringwald in The Breakfast Club
Judd Nelson and Molly Ringwald in The Breakfast Club

"She had to have a feeling about it, rather than a thought, because thoughts are things we have when we are conscious, and she wasn’t.”

Hughes died in 2009.  Among his directing credits are other 80s classics including Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Pretty in Pink, which also starred Ringwald.

Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, Molly Ringwald and Michael Hall in The Breakfast Club
Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, Molly Ringwald and Michael Hall in The Breakfast Club

Although the actress points out that Hughes gave a voice to female teenage protagonists in his films, and she acknowledges that even people from the LGBT community have praised him for his portrayal of characters who are struggling with their identities, she also questions his "glaring blind spot". 

She says that at the time she was "only vaguely aware of how inappropriate much of John's writing was", adding that it could at times be "considered racist, misogynistic, and, at times, homophobic."

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