Yet Another Side Effect of Netflix

Is that you rewatch movies you loved as a tween and discover that they’re all essentially the shits for women.

Well, maybe not all. Pretty in Pink holds up as basically sound romantic comedy, if flawed in the way of nearly every Hollywood romantic comedy, which is that the two leads fall in love without actually knowing each other, therefore rendering me unable to invest in their union. (Plus, what an additional few decades of life teaches you/me is that Duckie is far more delightful than Blane ever could be and that Andi should definitely, definitely have ended up with him.)

But Flashdance? Is male wish fulfillment by way of barely legal stripper—not, as I had believed at age 11, a movie about a young woman who dreams of a career in dance. Jennifer Beals’ character is 19. Michael Nouri’s is 40. He owns the steel mine. She “dances” at a club he goes to. When he takes her to an upscale restaurant, she removes her jacket to reveal that she is wearing a tuxedo bib. And nothing else.  Her character is essentially a pornographic construction—a young woman who exists to sexually arouse men, not for her own reasons. BLECH.

And The Breakfast Club, despite demonstrating more sensitivity toward people in general, is still grossly sexist. First, there are only two female characters: Everyone else in the movie (including the teacher and the janitor) is male. Second, the only two types of girl the writer could come up with were the queen bee and the “basket case.” (I guess we can be grateful that there wasn’t a “slut”—but was that even a type, then? Amazing to think that it might not have been.) Throughout the entire movie, Judd Nelson’s character sexually harasses Molly Ringwald’s in scary and disgusting ways, driving her to tears more than once, but she still kisses him and gives him her diamond earring. And Allie Sheedy’s character becomes appealing to the boys only after she gets a makeover. HURL.

What else you got for me, 1980’s?



4 Responses to “Yet Another Side Effect of Netflix”

  1. Eric says:

    So my little 2 1/2 year old is obsessed with cars, and anything else with wheels. Trying to think of a good music video that a good dance number and images of cars that we could sing and move around to, I immediately thought of one of my childhood favorites (from 1978, almost the 80s): the Grease Lightening scene from Grease.

    At 6, I loved it. I knew it was a little “inappropriate” but just because it said the word “shit”. But now, 35 years later, I thought the word shit would be harmless.

    So I downloaded that scene and showed it to my kid. He absolutely loved it. The problem is that I can’t really sing the words to him. They are completely sexist and vulgar. It’s interesting because I never noticed as a child that the song was all about getting laid (to use another 80s expression) with loads of girls..

    So I continue to show it to him and he continues to love it. I just assume that he, like me, won’t get the tastlesness of it all until he’s 40.

    By the way, one thing that surprised me about the Breakfast Club when I tried force feeding my non-American wife a healthy doses of 80s American pop culture was how many lines in that movie were controversial in the 80s (ie, telling an adult to “bite me”) but today wouldn’t even cause us to blink an eye.

    And when I recently made her watch the entire Cheers series . . . how Sam is always on the verge of giving Diane a beating, which would be totally shunned in today’s culture. I was also surprised about the glorification of beer consumption, but then again I am completely shocked now when I watch see the amounts of booze, especially women, consume on TV shows these days. The solution to every problem and the end of every hard day is met with a glass of wine.

    But I digress.

  2. Melissa says:

    You made her watch the *entire* Cheers series? Like, every season?

  3. Eric says:

    Every season!

    Look. We got a little kid, have no family near by and very little access to a babysitter. So at night we read for an hour and watch TV. As you know, TV is horrible, so we download old shows. Once you start, it’s hard to stop, and actually Cheers is pretty good overall.

    Now we are watching Seinfeld and are on season 4.

  4. Melissa says:

    That does make sense — and it sounds fun, too. But actually, a lot of new television is incredible (Mad Men, Enlightened, Girls, Orange is the New Black [which I guess is not technically television]), so I personally don’t discriminate against new stuff. It must be fun to get a non-American perspective on our cultural effluvia.

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