Monday, April 9, 2018

Discussion of "The Breakfast Club," at the NewYorker Movie Facebook Club

Great article and I had the same experience watching these Hughes films recently with my teen daughters:
"Back then, I was only vaguely aware of how inappropriate much of John’s writing was, given my limited experience and what was considered normal at the time," Molly Ringwald writes.
NEWYORKER.COM
Revisiting the movies of my youth in the age of #MeToo.
LikeShow more reactions
Comment
Comments
Tricia Walter It was very well written.
I agree. As I've become older, I've had a harder time with these movies. Some things I didn't like when the movies came out.
But as Ringwald stated, you can still love them and oppose aspects of them.
Manage
LikeShow more reactions
Reply1d
Mark Filla Thanks for reminding me to finish reading this (I started it yesterday but couldn't finish it then). It's an interesting read and it's true that a lot of what's in those movies would never fly by today's standards. We've re-watched Sixteen Candles and Breakfast Club within the last several years with our daughter, and I also cringed a bit at some of those scenes - especially the trading girlfriend for underpants scene in the former. But at the same time, I still love those movies and I don't think that will ever change.
Manage
LikeShow more reactions
Reply1dEdited
Heidi Dawn Yeah- Molly's an excellent writer. I read one of her books recently too. 

I think with teens- male or female- after watching the movies and then discussing what's inappropriate or off, works. Similarly, with older movies (and current) and the racist and/or stereotypical scenes/characters or other issues (sexuality, what have you).


It's a teaching moment.
Manage
LikeShow more reactions
Reply1dEdited
Mark Filla She did an interview for Alec Baldwin's podcast (Here's the Thing) back in 2016. It was very good. She didn't talk about the issues she raised in this article but she did talk a lot about her relationship with Hughes.
Manage
LikeShow more reactions
Reply1d
Joao Paulo Delgado Following this debate from outside is a strange experience. Does an American actress and director realy thinks that if there is not a black, or gay, or female character in a movie, blacks, or gays, or women cannot connect with it? For me this seems the weirdest form of racism, or homophobia, or sexism. Concerning the main point of the article: the world is changing, fortunately, but the artistic artifacts of the past remain in the past. And that is "a foreign country". They are the new "other". And as such we have to respect them.
Manage
LikeShow more reactions
Reply1d
Bonnie Lass I think there are various connections, ranging from shallow (good guy kills bad guy) to more complex and personal (lesbian redneck struggles with conservative family and self and dating in midst of political shitstorm). Honestly, in the 80s/90s, we didn't really have a lot of choice, so we made do, and we tried to see ourselves in John Cusack and Molly Ringwald and the Coreys, etc. But it was hard sometimes.  

I'm just glad that kids today have more to choose to from, that they have a good chance to find a gay/lesbian/minority movie with characters that actually mirror them and their lives and can maybe give them deeper connections. Because it's hard sometimes to pretend that a suburban straight male teen isn't the exact opposite of you.
Manage
LikeShow more reactions
Reply1d
Fiona Taylor That wasn't her point at all. In fact, she was saying what Nidia is saying below--that you can love something, but still recognize that it is problematic in many ways.
Manage
LikeShow more reactions
Reply1d
Joao Paulo Delgado You love a film (a book, a painting...) "because" it is problematic, not "even though" it is problematic. I don't care about a art that not presents problems.
Manage
LikeShow more reactions
Reply23h
Nidia RG I read it on the New Yorker yesterday and had the same experience as well watching it with both my teens... son &daughter. It really is a great article that resonated with me. It’s ok to look back with love & nostalgia at a movie, book, etc... and still recognize that it’s problematic. Not recognizing this and thus repeating these same problems would be an offense.
Manage
LikeShow more reactions
Reply1d
Bonnie Lass I was pleasantly surprised by how sensitive and neutral the article was. I'd half expected a bitter tirade. And I love how she didn't dismiss the movies entirely, or even their worth now. The line about how these movies still warrant discussion, but maybe the conversations need to be changed. I like the idea of a film being organic, changing as time goes on, passing through several generations.
Manage
LikeShow more reactions
Reply1d
Averil Frances Loved this article. Hughes' films really spoke to me as a teenager, and I remember that when I watch them now. But it also reminds me how normalised sexual harassment of women was at that time. It's such a relief that's changing.
Manage
LikeShow more reactions
Reply1dEdited
Brownell Landrum First, let me clarify that I also have my own #MeToo stories, and I strongly advocate for women's rights, especially women's rights not to be harassed. And that especially relates to the harassment behind the scenes in the film industry. That being said, I think this has gone too far as it relates to what goes on IN movies and films. Is she saying a film can't portray a disturbed, lecherous teen who's trying to melt the self-righteous ice queen? Or we can't have any silly Asian characters? Where will this lead? To MORE stereotypes and FEWER opportunities for minority characters with (or without) so-called flaws...
Manage
LikeShow more reactions
Reply1d
Nidia RG No, I think what it’s saying is that the lecherous teen’s behavior is normalized and it’s not ok. And that the “self righteous ice queen” as you labeled her does not earn sexual violation as comeuppance for her behavior. As for your last sentence...I really have no idea what you are trying to convey here. Are you saying that minorities will suffer with lack of roles because Hollywood will not write minorities that are not cartoonish? To this I say... more power to us because what we need is to demand that our roles not be to only provide comedic relief by playing some cliched version of ourselves. Hollywood has even wrote Oscar worthy roles meant to be played by minorities & cast whites in them so yes they can definitely write for us. And more importantly we can write for ourselves which we are seeing more of now. I could go on for hours about my thoughts on this but I'll leave it at that.
Manage
LikeShow more reactions
Reply1dEdited
Brownell Landrum Let me add that I'm a writer. And I'm conscious of gender and race and sexual orientation and nationality with every character I write. And articles like this set an impossible standard that ruins the future of writing for film or television. Or any kind of writing, for that matter. When I write a villain I have to think through the question of, "Well I better not write a villain who is this race or this gender or this nationality because then people will think that every one of this race or gender or nationality or sexual orientation or whatever must be a villain. Or a letch. Or an Ice Queen. Or funny or silly. Or any other human characteristic."  

For example, I was writing a scene recently with 3 villains in the room. For the life of me, I couldn't write them as female because I didn't want people to think I was portraying women as villains. But then what I was doing was actually writing a scene with no women in it. 

The same with John Hughes. He wrote a character that was very real. There are a lot of disturbed letches in high school with one thing on their mind. Just as there are mean girls. And jocks. And nerds. And basket cases. And every other character in the film. Is he not allowed to portray them because you think that "normalizes" that behavior? Would you have felt better or worse if the Ice Queen had been a different race?

Now do you understand what I'm saying? How articles and attitudes like this limit creativity and expression as well as opportunities for people of different races in genders and other characteristics?
Manage
LikeShow more reactions
Reply21hEdited
Heidi Dawn I understand you- it's really all about being thoughtful versus reactionary and knee-jerk- and open to feedback as cultures evolve. At the table last night my husband, who dearly loves to make fun and joke about EVERYthing, was trying to sell "Blazing ...See More
Manage
LikeShow more reactions
Reply21h
Heidi Dawn Like to add: I think her article was written compassionately and with a good attempt at introspection. I would hope that we all aspire to that to some degree, no matter the "strata" from which we are born.
Manage
LikeShow more reactions
Reply21h
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Brownell LandrumSamantha Marie Daniels 

Re: melting the self-righteous ice queen


William Deresiewicz has argued that the current generation of elites, people who would see themselves in Claire and who clearly -- given the NewYorker's eager acceptance of her -- would include Molly Ringwald herself and will be eager to include her daughter, basically operate now as they are right about everything. Even if it would be predictable of them to ostensibly be the first to admit their flaws, if it would fit accepted decorum, basically they'd admit that they probably the end-point to which humanity was over thousands and thousands of years, evolving to/reaching. The future will be a further expansion of a viewpoint -- their own -- into more and more areas, but it will not be, could not possibly be, a future that would illuminate that they were actually themselves problematic; that they would superseded by a more evolved form, and how. 

There aren't many who could counter their self-perception that would have any chance of being listened to, but there is one, Jessa Crispin, who's been given good write-ups in NewYorker/NYMag/Jezebel, even as she hasn't had much overall influence. She argued that this strata of people has been able to count on encouraging feedback from the deep resources of their psyches that all is just as well with them as they figure, because they've been using the white working class as, what she calls, "sh*t containers," into which to project anything they might not like about themselves, anything adverse about themselves -- same psychic phenomena behind racism and is being illuminated through #MeToo: others are made to contain aspects of yourself you need to deny, so "you wouldn't have to acknowledge its existence." 

If she's right about this, if this is what WE are doing, why we're feeling so sure about ourselves, even as we probably do represent the most emotionally evolved people of our time we've still got deep, deep problems. This would be no problem if the influence of films like "the Breakfast Club" had also permeated into us, so we've been shown that deep adjustments in ourselves, owing to terrifying feedback, is something we can still ultimately withstand, and actually represents a part of our background we may have forgotten about but are proud to have previously entangled ourselves sufficiently with that it can yet be recovered. 

But this is not what happened. Instead, we've expanded the number of categories that can allow for our feeling righteous in wholesale dismissing people, fixed within ourselves. Plus, we've isolated ourselves amongst one-another for so long that anyone who doesn't represent our viewpoints is going to seem different from us in a way where it will take deep resources on our part to dismiss the ostensibly trivial about our "antagonists" and focus on the shared humanity; deep resources, that were being imbued in movies like the "Breakfast Club" but which we left afterwards, almost entirely undeveloped, because we foresaw an ostensibly more sure course for our assent. By the manner in which someone acts, presents themselves, we're almost as if back to the 18th-century, BEFORE people felt there was any chance they could pretend. "I don't know how exactly this fellow Bender got in the room with us, but not only is he a sexual predator, but... a derelict. [Where exactly is his NewYorker manner?]" 

All depends on our mastery of the cultural sphere, how powerful our echo chamber is. Unfortunately, it's slipping. Five years ago Hillary Clinton could talk "deplorables" without counter from our sort, but today when she does the same the like of Naomi Wolf/Naomi Klein and Katrina Van den Heuval go about as if they want to strangle her for it -- "lady, do you not have an off switch!" For very briefly after the election, we experimented with beginning to redeem the deplorables, the people who voted for Trump, the white working class, what to find out about that class of people, perhaps genuinely, that we didn't know, and then immediately switched off to focussing almost exclusively on either Russia or Trump and his cabinet, in hopes that thereby, without ourselves attending to them, we could keep our representation of them intact, that we'd come to sense we simply cannot allow to be adjusted for it's perhaps being foundation for our daily equilibrium. We're worried about what might happen to us, what other courses our psyches will force us to take, what deplorable, regressive forms, if we deny ourselves the poison containers we've learned to only situate the Benders, the John Hughes's, of the world, the would-be healers and helpers, into.
Manage
LikeShow more reactions
Reply23hEdited
Brownell Landrum I'm not sure how to respond to your post here (I'm honestly not sure what point you're making, tbh) - though I confess I went to your profile and read your review of this article and really liked what you said there. If I may, I'd like to post your 2nd paragraph, which I think is insightful:

"Ringwald sees the finish where she ends up with Bender as further evidence of the invisibility of sexual harassment in the film: you weren't harassed, but probably had a crush on your ostensible "victimizer" the whole time. It didn't feel this way to me -- that is, an abnegation of her and her pain -- but rather more like a decision on her part to try dating someone who didn't let her get away with things that ultimately wouldn't be of help to her; with someone she was coming to see as helpful and heroic, rather than the person she had learned to superimpose on him, regardless of who he actually was, to "fit" her own regressed self-image needs: the loser who doesn't count at all."
Manage
LikeShow more reactions
Reply21h
David Kaiser I would like to quote a paragraph from the article:

And yet I have been told more times than I could count, by both friends and strangers, including people in the L.G.B.T. community, that the films “saved” them. Leaving a party not long ago, I was sto
pped by Emil Wilbekin, a gay, African-American friend of a friend, who wanted to tell me just that. I smiled and thanked him, but what I wanted to say was “Why?” There is barely a person of color to be found in the films, and no characters are openly gay. A week or so after the party, I asked my friend to put me in touch with him. In an e-mail, Wilbekin, a journalist who created an organization called Native Son, devoted to empowering gay black men, expanded upon what he had said to me as I had left the party. “The Breakfast Club,” he explained, saved his life by showing him, a kid growing up in Cincinnati in the eighties, “that there were other people like me who were struggling with their identities, feeling out of place in the social constructs of high school, and dealing with the challenges of family ideals and pressures.” These kids were also “finding themselves and being ‘other’ in a very traditional, white, heteronormative environment.” The lack of diversity didn’t bother him, he added, “because the characters and storylines were so beautifully human, perfectly imperfect and flawed.” He watched the films in high school, and while he was not yet out, he had a pretty good idea that he was gay.

In other words, great art can appeal to all of us because it deals with issues we all face, regardless of our gender, race, or sexual orientation. And I will never accept the idea that only people of a particular gender, race or sexual orientation can speak for those who share those demographics.
Manage
LikeShow more reactions
Reply11h
Nidia RG I agree that as humans we all face issues that transcend race, color, sexual orientation etc... but as a minority I can tell you that we also face issues that are exclusively ours. And moreover as a white person in this country you can turn on your tv at any given time or walk into a movie theater and see yourself on the screen. We can’t. You don’t even think about it because it’s the norm. When the animated film Coco was released you have no idea what it felt like for Latinos to see ourselves on the big screen. Though I’m not Mexican and it was a Mexican story, it still felt wonderful. My children who are half Mexican were overjoyed. And the consensus in the Latino community was the same. Coco was a monumental hit. The same can be said for Black Panther. There’s a reason these movies are so successful. So as stated before, yes we can agree that films and television can transcend color, race, sexuality but representation matters. I will always look back with fondness at movies like Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club, etc... They are the movies of my childhood & of my teen awkwardness but I’m excited about the direction & progress albeit slow... that Hollywood is moving in for minorities.
Manage
LikeShow more reactions
Reply10h
David Kaiser I know there are differences between the experiences of white and nonwhite people in this country, Nidia RG. However, I feel when I read something like your comment that the differences are not what the new stereotypes say they are. For instance, you write: "And moreover as a white person in this country you can turn on your tv at any given time or walk into a movie theater and see yourself on the screen." In fact, it never occurs to me, and it never has, to identify with anyone I see on the screen automatically just because they are white. To use an extreme example, I do not see myself when I turn the TV on and see Donald Trump. There are white characters in film I identify with. There are many other white characters whom I do not identify with, at all. In neither case is it because they are white. I'm sad that many people seem to be adopting the idea that if a film doesn't show their demographic it can't be about them. (I note you did not say that, by the way.)
Manage
LikeShow more reactions
Reply10h
Joao Paulo Delgado That part of the article also strikes me as disturbing. Did the author realy used to think (before interviewing the minority member) that a person, for being black and/or gay, is immediately cut from the rest of Humanity? Only people from Krypton can understand Super-Man?

No comments:

Post a Comment

My books at Amazon.com

Essays on the Lord of the Rings Draining the Amazon's Swamp Wendy and Lucy, Star Trek, and The Lord of the Rings (and free at scribd...