Molly Ringwald has added her voice and joined with the hundreds of women who are speaking out about sexual harassment and sexism in the movie industry. The star of ’80s hits Pretty In Pink, Sixteen Candles, and the cult classic The Breakfast Club wrote in an essay for the New Yorker that she’s having a lot of second thoughts about her roles in the iconic John Hughes movies.
Ringwald’s worry about the movies began a few years ago when she gave in to her 10-year-old daughter’s pleas to watch The Breakfast Club together as mother and daughter.
At the time, Molly was far more worried about her daughter’s reaction than she was about her own experience. The movie is about teenagers who get into trouble in high school, and there’s a lot of swearing and sexual references. Molly thought it might be too much for the little girl to handle.
After watching her younger self on the big screen three decades after making The Breakfast Club, Ringwald realized there was plenty to disturb her. Fortunately, most of what Molly found disturbing went right over her daughter’s head.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Molly Ringwald found out that there are scenes in The Breakfast Club that were extremely “problematic amid the #MeToo era.”
The worst scene was the famous one in which Bender, one of the troublemaking teens in early-morning detention, takes advantage of Ringwald’s character, Claire, by looking up her skirt.
Ringwald’s daughter gasped when the camera zoomed in for a close-up of Claire’s underwear as Bender peered up her skirt, and Molly wrote that watching the close-up was shocking, even though a stand-in was hired for the part.
The scene might seem tame compared to some of the horror stories shared by women who have spoken out about sexual assault in the movie-making world, but to Molly, it was a sign of something very wrong.
Ringwald pointed out that Bender constantly sexually harassed Claire, treated her with “vicious contempt,” mocked her, and refused to take no for an answer. The whole thing played out exactly like all the #MeToo stories of women who put up with almost anything, according to the actress.
Despite Bender’s abusive behavior and total lack of respect, Molly’s character fell for him in the end. Molly wrote that it seemed totally normal at the time.
“I was well into my thirties before I stopped considering verbally abusive men more interesting than the nice ones.”
Ringwald referred to the problem of reconciling her admiration for John Hughes’ genius while also recognizing the harmfulness of his attitude and sexism. She pointed out that it’s tough to accept that some beloved movies can actually have such a terrible side to them.
According to Mashable, the only way to deal with it is to start to “shift the conversation” by recognizing the problem the way #MeToo does and letting the new conversation lead to change.