How to Destroy Nostalgia for your Youth: Look at It.

June 23, 2008

One night after dinner at the beach, Robot Boy and I decided to flip through the channels and see what we’re missing on cable.

It turns out that we’re missing the opportunity to realize how reallly offensive some of our favorite movies were.  I was not laboring under the impression that the John Hughes oeuvre was the last word in sophisticated film-making, but I didn’t recall how egregiously sexist, racist, and gay-bashing Sixteen Candles is (this was what we stumbled upon late Friday night).  This was one of those movies that I used to watch whenever the opportunity arose.  Never mind that I was about 9 when it came out, and never mind that my high school experience was nothing whatsoever like that depicted.  It was a movie about THE 80s, that blissful decade when I did a lot of growing up.

I don’t have the time or the stomach to catalog all the myriad ways it makes me want to hurl, but let me include a short, emblematic scene:

The movie is ostensibly about the Molly Ringwald character Sam, whose super sweet birthday goes largely unnoticed, right?  But if you pay attention to the film at all, Anthony Michael Hall, as The Geek (aka Farmer Ted), has as much if not more screen time, and it is he who Gets Things Done.  

Sam spends a lot of time sighing heavily and worrying about her appearance (her weight, her breasts, her complexion, etc.), egged on by he best friend.   Ted, who is far lower on the socially-attractive scale than Sam, relentlessly hounds her, profits both socially and financially from her loaning him her knickers, and eventually cashes them in to alpha-dog Jake for a shot at Jake’s blacked-out-drunk girlfriend Carolyn, who he says he “could violate…ten different ways if [he] wanted to,” but he’s not interested.  Only boredom is keeping him from raping her, and besides, he wants a “real relationship.”   Whatta champ of righteousness.  But Farmer Ted is interested.  “What are you waiting for?” he asks.   He eventually gets his hands on Carolyn’s panties too, even though he doesn’t have any recollection of the event.  But she “think[s she] liked it” too, so, you know, rape:  not so bad for girls.  Sex (which is a thing that boys get from girls), no matter how drunken, unconsensual, forgotten:  what boys gotta have.

And do I need to include a critique of Gedde Watanabe’s Long Duck Dong character?  I’m not blaming Watanabe, but really?  Hughes tries to get some slight critique out of his host family’s racial insensitivity, but it is completely obliterated by the chinky-chinky-chong-chong treatment that Hughes gives the character throughout the rest of the movie.  Asian men are nerdy and effeminate?  Check.  Asian men can’t hold their liquor?  Check.  Asian men + liquor = lusting for buxom white women?  Check.

Anyway, we couldn’t sit through the whole thing, but I’ve seen it enough to know that this is barely scraping the surface.  The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Pretty in Pink…I can’t imagine that they’re any better.  Not that I’m going to find out.  My rose-colored glasses are off.



One comment

  1. […] attention to the film at all, Anthony Michael Hall, as The Geek (aka Farmer Ted),… Source: How to Destroy Nostalgia for your Youth: Look at It. Who Would Be A Worse Mom? Paris or Lindsey? Vote Now And Get A Free iPhone. Anthony Michael […]

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