Molly Ringwald Calls Out Her 80’s John Hughes Movies! Bill Maher Gives Much Needed Perspective! “Sixteen Candles” Takes On “Real Time!”

Molly Ringwald “Reviews” Her 80’s Teen Comedies – And The Internet Explodes!

An interesting controversy has erupted in entertainment, based on an article that Actress Molly Ringwald wrote for The New Yorker. In the article, she revisits several of her 80’s teen comedies like “Sixteen Candles” and “The Breakfast Club”, watching them with her daughter, and she finds many offensive aspects to the films…

Ringwald’s article has sparked much controversy, with many agreeing with her points about the material in those 80’s films, while others have argued that current thinking can’t be applied to art that was made at a different time. The #MeToo movement was Molly’s catalyst for returning to these movies…

Two of the films were directed by the late John Hughes, who is considered the “genius” behind 80’s teen angst – but Ringwald argues that the movies sent messages that were sexist and racist…

One scene she mentions is when she gives her underwear to Anthony Michael Hall, for him to share with his classmates. The inference is they had sex. Here is how she describes it, and what happened behind-the-scenes with Director John Hughes:

In “Sixteen Candles,” a character alternately called the Geek and Farmer Ted makes a bet with friends that he can score with my character, Samantha; by way of proof, he says, he will secure her underwear. Later in the film, after Samantha agrees to help the Geek by loaning her underwear to him, she has a heartwarming scene with her father. It originally ended with the father asking, “Sam, what the hell happened to your underpants?” My mom objected. “Why would a father know what happened to his daughter’s underwear?” she asked. John squirmed uncomfortably. He didn’t mean it that way, he said—it was just a joke, a punch line. “But it’s not funny,” my mother said. “It’s creepy.” The line was changed to “Just remember, Sam, you wear the pants in the family.”

Another scene involves the exchange student named, wait for it:

Long Duk Dong!

Ringwald makes the case that this character is a caricature and his name is racist…in hindsight that may be true, but those who love the film see it as just a funny character with an exaggerated name…is it more than that? That’s the controversy.

Here is a link to Ringwald’s article, very thought-provoking:

One person had a strong reaction to the article, and the subsequent controversy around it:

Bill Maher Weighs In!

Bill Maher had strong words about this issue, which he shared on his HBO show on April 13:

“You can’t enjoy any music, movies or TV from ‘back when’ for any length of time without seeing something we just don’t do any more. But aren’t we adult enough to separate what we like about an old movie from what we don’t?” Maher continued. We can watch Big as a movie about a kid who becomes an adult, not as a movie “about a grown woman who fucks a 12 year old.”

“The most beloved and wholesome act in history was The Beatles but even they wrote ‘She was just 17, you know what I mean,’ which today sounds a little Roy Moore-ish,” Maher noted.

Mahrer said on his show that every generation could be called “The What Were You Thinking Generation”. He offered these examples:

In the early 1900’s, heroin was a children’s cough medicine.
In the 50’s, amphetamines were sold to housewives as diet pills.
We used to drive without seat belts.
And drink while we were pregnant
And litter indiscriminately – just throw shit out the window!
We smokes on airplanes. We would board an enclosed aluminum tube, with old people and children and asthmatics, and light up a Chesterfield.
We had pageants where we paraded women in swimsuits and judged them on their appearance.
“Oh wait – we still do that,” Maher conceded.

He finished with this:

“And that’s the point. We’re never finished evolving,” he said, warning, “no matter how ‘woke’ you think you are, you are tolerating things right now that will make you cringe in 25 years: Beauty pageants, mass incarceration, putting our parents in old-age homes, how we treat animals.”

“One day your kids will grow up and ask you, ‘What’s Facebook and why were you on it all day? What’s a reality TV star and how did one become president?’” Maher forecast.

“We can’t believe people in old movies smoked. They won’t believe we put the cell phone in our pocket next to our nuts.”

As you can see, very strong opinions on both sides – what do you think?

Categories: Art, Books / Media, chicago, Comedy Movies, Cult Movies, Film Fight Club, Great Films, Hollywood, Los Angeles, Movies, Politics, Talent/Celebrities, TV Show, Uncategorized

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7 replies

  1. What a fascinating article today, John. I agree that society evolves and changes. Thank goodness for that. If anything you can see how far we’ve come and it’s good. I like John Hughes films–they were corny and sweet.

    • Cindy, thanks for your comment. Molly makes great points, but so does Bill Maher – we can go back and, with 20/20 hindsight critique everything…would John Hughes have made certain choices today? Probably not, but were they wrong at the time? That’s hard to say, as you point out they were corny and sweet, not as controversial as made out with today’s sensitivities….

  2. I thought Molly’s piece to be a thoughtful and well written exploration of movies made during a different time. I am a fan of John Hughes movies as I think, he more than any other movie director, captured what it was like being a teen. However, there are things in his movies that I cringe at now. And Pete brings up Pretty Baby, Blue Lagoon, Taxi Driver, and Leon, which I remember being controversial even when they were first released. I agree that movies like these shouldn’t be vilified, but instead taken within the context of their time period.

  3. Molly’s views were featured on a BBC report. It made me think back to Brooke Shields. There was ‘Pretty Baby’ (which I own on DVD) a film about a child prostitute. Brooke was 12 years old at the time. In ‘Blue Lagoon’, she appeared naked, aged 14. Producers claimed body doubles were used, but the implication is there. In ‘Taxi Driver’, Jodie Foster played a child prostitute too, and she was just 14. Natalie Portman was just 13 in ‘Leon’, and there was an ‘unspoken’ sexual element to her relationship with the title character.
    All of this looks set to come back to haunt directors and producers, but it is worth remembering that attitudes change over time. It was acceptable for a girl of 13 to marry a King and to bear his child at 14, in the 17th century. People died younger then, and did everything else much younger too.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • Pete, these are great examples of films that today would never be made, but at the time, were considered acceptable..I completely agree that we need to continue to evolve our thinking about what is acceptable, but Ringwald’s criticism goes towards a “revisionist” review that may not be fair – on the other hand, as a white male I may be the last person to have a right to complain about sexist and racist depictions in film and TV

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