You’ve almost certainly heard of — and seen — the 1984 coming-of-age comedy Sixteen Candles.
I watched it last night on Netflix and was amazed by how offensive the whole thing was. I’ve read quite a few articles on rape culture which reference/criticise the film, including this one, so I knew it would have some problematic elements. However, I was not prepared for how the film — which was a critical, commercial and cultural success — was a train wreck of problematic stuff.
This isn’t exactly a hot take, but watching the film made me reflect on how acceptable behavior in 1984 is (or should be) totally unacceptable now.
Here’s some of the stuff which jumped out at me:
- The love interest Jake Ryan has a girlfriend Caroline Mulford. She gets really drunk and passes out. Jake says “I could violate her 10 different ways if I wanted to” but has lost interest, so offloads her on a younger guy (“Geek”) to drive her home. The implication being that she is free game, and won’t be able to tell the difference between the Geek and Jake. Uh, hello? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out he’s basically giving the Geek a green light to rape his girlfriend, and they do seem to end up having sex (although they are both too drunk to remember what happened).
- The Geek continuously hounds the protagonist Sam Baker, despite her showing absolutely no interest and telling him to piss off. Despite how creepy and overbearing he is, eventually she is inexplicably nice to him — perhaps because he listens to her problems for about two minutes.
- There is a Chinese exchange student is called “Long Duk Dong”. Every time he appears on screen a gong sound is played, and characters make fun of his poor English.
- There is a character with a back brace whose only purpose seems to be comedic relief as she struggles to drink out of a water fountain or from a drink.
I’m glad times have changed since the 1980s.
As part of my continuing campaign to educate myself film wise I’ve been trying to see as many oldish movies as I can recently. I’ve realised that I’m quite partial to the odd post-apocalyptic/world in state of turmoil movies now and then. There is something about imagining a world gone horribly wrong that appeals to me. Last year in my English class we studied dystopias and I really enjoyed reading 1984 and The Handmaids Tale. Some of my favourite movies are V for Vendetta and Children of Men which both fit into the post-apocalyptic/dystopia category. I watched 28 Days Later last night and Cloverfield a few days ago. I liked both of them. Even though I’m an incredibly bad judge of goodness I’m going to give you the run down!
28 Days Later was a tad weird, like at one point he set infected on all those (admittedly evil) military men, and stuck his thumbs into some guys eyes (ewwww). Selena witnesses all of this and is then motivated to KISS his blood covered face. If I had just witnessed such brutality I don’t think I would be in the kissing mood. I thought it was an interesting idea that people were infected with ‘rage’ — not an abstract concept but a virus or disease. A cooler idea than the run of the mill zombie disease cliche. The movie was pretty similar to I am Legend, the same ‘We’ve got to get back to safe place before dark!’ set up and meeting up with some people then trying to get to a safe haven ages away. I thought in the end it didn’t really have very much depth, the whole movie felt a little rushed. Perhaps that was intentional? To the protagonist it must have all happened rather quickly.I would probably give it a 4/5?
Although Cloverfield was incredibly cheesy — I’ve got to go back into the danger-zone and get my lost love! — and gimmicky I enjoyed it. The camcorder film style was a bit ridiculous at times but I thought it was an interesting way of telling the story. Some bits to me seemed quite reminiscent of 9/11, like when they were on the street and a building collapsed the whole street was enveloped in a cloud of dust. I wonder if that was intentional? My friend who works at a movie theatre was telling me how the movie made a lot of people throw up, which is understandable I think. I can see how the combination of shaky camera work, exploding people, and gross aliens might induce people to vomit everywhere. 3/5?