Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Molly Ringwald has a point

I think Molly Ringwald is right. There is something disturbing about the scene where Bender, crawling under the desk, looks up her skirt and then gropes her.
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.
Note the passive voice, "... it is implied that he touches her inappropriately." Any time we see passive voice we should look for hints the writer is being dishonest with themselves. I emphasize the "with themselves"—as I've said many times before, they're not lying to us. There is nothing implied about what happens. You don't actually see the grope, only Ringwald's facial reaction.—but her facial reaction is a sexual reaction. You know where he touches her.

Amazingly, conservatives of a certain stripe are defending the film. National Review's Kyle Smith writes, "It’s the sort of thing directors have randy teens do in larkish high-school comedies because kids watching know they can’t actually get away with it in school. Yet Ringwald is determined to make a thing of it." Well, that's a relief.

Bender and Claire, if you remember the plot,  become a couple by the end of the movie. That's not implausible and it may even be that his "touching her inappropriately" contributes to that. As much as we might wish otherwise, inappropriate behaviour sometimes pays off. The underlying message the movie sends is that this happens and that it's okay when it pays off because sexually inactive girls like Claire need bad boys like Bender to save them from being stuck up. It's essentially the plot of every Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello movie inverted. At the time, most of us approved of that but I'm not sure why a conservative would laugh it off the way Kyle Smith does.

For decades now, social conservatives have argued that it's the tacit approval that movies such as The Breakfast Club give to sexual transgression that has created the current mess. (Liberals and conservatives may hate one another but they at least seem to agree that there is a current mess.) I'm not sure I buy that. I'd be more inclined to believe that the sexual mess that was the 1980s (it was the decade of peek promiscuity) is what created movies such as The Breakfast Club. Something went wrong and Ringwald is perfectly correct to point it out.

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