Molly Ringwald penned an essay about why she finds The Breakfast Club problematic in the #MeToo era
Looking back on our favorite childhood movies can be an interesting experience. In the era we live in, it’s sometimes hard to think back on some of the things we once loved. With the #MeToo movement and a general greater sense of what’s right and what’s wrong, many of us are — rightfully so — more sensitive than we used to be. We’ve finally started to listen to and amplify the experiences of other people. We have a shorter fuse for racial injustice and gender inequality. We are continually demanding more justice from our entertainment. Movies and television shows (and music) that used to be fine are no longer acceptable. We demand diversity. Entertainment created by rich white men is no longer what the masses want to see. Fighting for more is important.
For actors, this presents an interesting perspective. Looking back on your work and realizing that you may have been complacent in content that was not responsible is tough. We’ve recently seen actors who have worked with Woody Allen come out and apologize for looking the other way in regard to his abuse allegations. And yes, it matters that people to reflect about what they said and did in the past. On Friday, April 6th, Molly Ringwald penned an essay for The New Yorker reflecting on some of her classic ’80s films through the lens of the #MeToo era. Ringwald is the iconic face of many of John Hughes’ most famous films.
Molly Ringwald elegantly detailed what she finds troubling about her very famous ’80s movies like The Breakfast Club.
Ringwald was inspired to write the essay after watching The Breakfast Club with her young daughter. The essay does a fantastic job of balancing how she feels about Hughes’ legacy and what he gave to her.
"I made three movies with John Hughes; when they were released, they made enough of a cultural impact to land me on the cover of 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. Hughes’s 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."
Ringwald’s essay hits on specific instances that made her and her mother uncomfortable as a young person. Instances like the scene in The Breakfast Club where it is implied that Bender touches Claire (played by Ringwald) inappropriately. Because she was underage at the time, a body double played Claire in that scene. But as Ringwald points out, “that clarification seem[s] inconsequential.”
Ringwald has the depth and experience and intelligence to look back and question these films that created her career.
It is rare for an actor to look back and question the director that gave them everything. She created one of the most interesting long-form pieces about #MeToo, focusing on The Breakfast Club and other huge fan favorites.
It’s important for Ringwald to look back and to move forward.
Ringwald doesn’t talk down or apologize or backtrack for John Hughes and his legacy. She simply allows herself to question what may or may not have been an appropriate approach to telling stories about young women.
"I think that it’s ultimately the greatest value of the films, and why I hope they will endure. The conversations about them will change, and they should. It’s up to the following generations to figure out how to continue those conversations and make them their own—to keep talking, in schools, in activism and art—and trust that we care."
It’s powerful, meaningful, and so well-written. We thank Molly Ringwald for continuing the conversation.