To then be raped or to have nonconsensual sex, haviland clarified. thats not a one-way street. Heres a girl who gets herself so bombed that she doesnt even know whats going. There was a time in my early twenties when I had too much to drink at a party and ended up in a bedroom sitting on the edge of a bed with a producer I didnt know, lightheaded and woozy. A good friend, who had followed me, popped her head in the door a couple of minutes later and announced, time to go now, molly! I followed her out, trying not to stumble, and spent the rest of the night violently ill and embarrassed—and the rest of my life grateful that she had been there, watching out for me, when I was temporarily incapable of watching out for myself.
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Im a little embarrassed to say that it took even longer for me to fully comprehend the scene late in Sixteen Candles, when the dreamboat, jake, essentially trades his drunk girlfriend, caroline, to the geek, to satisfy the latters sexual urges, in return for Samanthas. The geek takes Polaroids with Caroline to have proof of his conquest; when she wakes up in the morning with someone she doesnt know, he asks her kannada if she enjoyed. (Neither of them seems to remember much.) Caroline shakes her head in wonderment and says, you know, i have this weird feeling I did. She had to have a feeling about it, rather than a thought, because thoughts are things we have when we are conscious, and she wasnt. Thinking about that scene, i became curious how the actress who played Caroline, haviland Morris, felt about the character she portrayed. So i sent her an e-mail. We hadnt seen or spoken to each other since she was twenty-three and I was fifteen. We met for coffee, and after we had filled each other in on all the intervening years, i asked her about. Haviland, i was surprised to learn, does not have the same issues with the scene as. In her mind, caroline bears some responsibility for what happens, because of how drunk she gets at the party. Im not saying that its.
Whats more, as I can see now, bender sexually harasses Claire throughout the film. When hes not sexualizing her, he takes out his rage on her with vicious contempt, calling her pathetic, mocking her as queenie. Its rejection that inspires his vitriol. Claire acts dismissively toward him, and, in a pivotal scene near the end, she predicts that at literature school on Monday morning, even though the group has bonded, things will return, socially, to the status quo. Just bury your head in the sand and wait for your fuckin prom! He never apologizes for any of it, but, nevertheless, he gets the girl in the end. If I sound overly critical, its only with hindsight. Back then, i was only vaguely aware of how inappropriate much of Johns writing was, given my limited experience and what was considered normal at the time. I was well into my thirties before i stopped considering verbally abusive men more interesting than the nice ones.
It originally ended with the father asking, sam, what the hell happened to your underpants? Why would a father know what happened to his daughters underwear? He didnt mean it that way, he said—it was just a joke, a punch line. But its not funny, my mother said. The line was changed to just remember, sam, you wear the pants in the family. My mom also spoke up during the filming of that scene in The Breakfast Club, when they hired an adult woman for the shot of Claires underwear. They couldnt even ask general me to do it—I dont think it was permitted by law to ask a minor—but even having another person pretend to be me was embarrassing to me and upsetting to my mother, and she said. That scene stayed, though.
But, more than that, i felt that he listened to me—though certainly not all the time. Coming out of the. National Lampoon school of comedy, there was still a residue of crassness that clung, no matter how much I protested. In the shooting script of The Breakfast Club, there was a scene in which an attractive female gym teacher swam naked in the schools swimming pool. Vernon, the teacher who is in charge of the students detention, spied on her. The scene wasnt in the first draft I read, and I lobbied John to cut. He did, and although Im sure the actress who had been cast in the part still blames me for foiling her break, i think the film is better for. 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.
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That script became sixteen Candles, a story about a girl whose family forgets her sixteenth birthday. The studio loved the script, perhaps because, in form at least, it had more in common with proven successes—Porkys.—than it did with The Breakfast Club, which basically read like a play. A meeting was arranged, we hit it off, and I filmed Sixteen Candles in the suburbs of Chicago the summer after I completed the ninth grade. Once we were done shooting, and before we began filming The Breakfast Club, john wrote geography another movie specifically for me, pretty in Pink, about a working-class girl navigating the social prejudices of her affluent high school. The films dramatic arc involves getting invited and then uninvited to the prom.
In synopsis, the movies can seem flimsy—a girl loses her date to a dance, a family forgets a girls birthday—but thats part of what made them unique. No one in Hollywood was writing about the minutiae of high school, and certainly not from a female point of view. According to one study, since the late nineteen-forties, in the top-grossing family movies, girl characters have been outnumbered by boys three to one—and that ratio has not improved. That two of Hughess films had female protagonists in the lead roles and examined these young womens feelings about the fairly ordinary things that were happening to them, while also managing to have instant cred that translated into success at the box office, was. (The few blockbuster films starring young women in recent years have mostly been set in dystopian futures or have featured vampires and werewolves.). I had what could be called a symbiotic relationship with John during the first two of those films. Ive been called his muse, which I believe i was, for a little while.
The successful teen comedies of the period, such as Animal house and Porkys, were written by men for boys; the few women in them were either nymphomaniacs or battleaxes. (The stout female coach in Porkys is named Balbricker.) The boys are perverts, as one-dimensional as their female counterparts, but with more screen time. In 1982, fast Times at Ridgemont High, which had the rare distinction of being directed by a woman, Amy heckerling, got closer to an authentic depiction of adolescence. But it still made room for a young males fantasy of the actress Phoebe cates striding topless in a soft-porny sprinkler mist. And then Hughes came along. Hughes, who grew up in Michigan and Illinois, got work, after dropping out of college, writing ad copy in Chicago.
The job brought him frequently to new York, where he started hanging around the offices of the humor magazine. He wrote a story called Vacation 58—inspired by his own family trips—which secured him a job at the magazine and became the basis for the movie national Lampoons Vacation. Another story caught the eye of the producer lauren Shuler Donner, who encouraged him to write what became. Those movies helped him get a deal with Universal Studios. The Breakfast Club was to be his directorial début; he planned to shoot it in Chicago with local actors. He told me later that, over a july 4th weekend, while looking at headshots of actors to consider for the movie, he found mine, and decided to write another movie around the character he imagined that girl.
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Young-adult novels had not yet exploded as a genre. Onscreen, the write big issues that affected teens seemed to belong largely to the world of abc afterschool Specials, which premièred in 1972 and were still around as I came of age, in the eighties. All the teens i knew would rather have died than watch one. The films had the whiff of sanctimony, the dialogue was obviously written by adults, the music was corny. Portrayals of teen-agers in movies were even worse. The actors cast in teen roles tended to be much older than their characters—they had to be, since the films were so frequently exploitative. The teen horror flicks that flourished in the seventies and eighties had them getting murdered: if you were young, attractive, and sexually active, your chances of making it to the end were basically nil (a trope spoofed, years later, by the Scream franchise).
I made three movies with John Hughes; when they were released, they made enough of a cultural impact to land me on the cover. Time magazine and to get Hughes hailed as a genius. His critical reputation has only grown since he died, in 2009, at the age of fifty-nine. Hughess films play constantly on television and are even taught in schools. There is still so much that I love in them, but lately i have felt the need to examine the role that these movies have played in our cultural life: where they came from, and what they might mean now. When my daughter proposed watching The Breakfast Club together, i had hesitated, not the knowing how she would react: if she would understand the film or if she would even like. I worried that she would find aspects of it troubling, but I hadnt anticipated that it would ultimately be most troubling. It can be hard to remember how scarce art for and about teen-agers was before john Hughes arrived.
wasnt really me, though that clarification seemed inconsequential. We kept watching, and, despite my best intentions to give context to the uncomfortable bits, i didnt elaborate on what might have gone on under the table. She expressed no curiosity in anything sexual, so i decided to follow her lead, and discuss what seemed to resonate with her more. Maybe i just chickened out. But i kept thinking about that scene. I thought about it again this past fall, after a number of women came forward with sexual-assault accusations against the producer. Harvey weinstein, and the metoo movement gathered steam. If attitudes toward female subjugation are systemic, and I believe that they are, it stands to reason that the art we consume and sanction plays some part in reinforcing those same attitudes.
But my daughter insisted that her friends had already seen it, and she said she didnt want to watch it for statement the first time in front of other people. A writer-director friend assured me that kids tend to filter out what they dont understand, and I figured that it would be better if I were there to answer the uncomfortable questions. So i relented, thinking perhaps that it would make for a sweet if unconventional mother-daughter bonding moment. Its a strange experience, watching a younger, more innocent version of yourself onscreen. Its stranger still—surreal, even—watching it with your child when she is much closer in age to that version of yourself than you are. My friend was right: my daughter didnt really seem to register most of the sex stuff, though she did audibly gasp when she thought I had showed my underwear. 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.
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Its hard for me to understand how John Hughes (in glasses) was able to write with so much sensitivity, and also have such a glaring blind spot. Photograph from Universal Pictures / everett. Earlier this year, the Criterion Collection, which is dedicated to gathering the greatest films from around the world, released a restored version. The Breakfast Club, a film written and directed by business john Hughes that i acted in, more than three decades ago. For this edition, i participated in an interview about the movie, as did other people close to the production. I dont make a habit of revisiting films ive made, but this was not the first time Id returned to this one: a few years back, i watched it with my daughter, who was ten at the time. We recorded a conversation about it for the radio show This American Life. Ill be the first to admit that ten is far too young for a viewing of The Breakfast Club, a movie about five high-school students who befriend one other during a saturday detention session, with plenty of cursing, sex talk, and a now-famous scene.