Sunday, January 4, 2015

Defending Sixteen Candles

Okay…we all know I have a general disdain for The Huffington Post as left-leaning propaganda for liberals and buffoons, and by and large I refuse to read their articles on general principle. However, early last month an article at the HuffPo generated a veritable shitstorm amongst my peerage in the mid-40s age range when a near and dear part of our teenage years was crapped upon by a pretentious kid from upscale suburban New Jersey, 15 miles out of Manhattan.

The kid in question, Deryn Mierlak, is a junior at Montclair High School where she is co-editor of the art and literature magazine. Deryn writes fiction, poetry, and book and movie reviews. Now, when I was a kid we barely had a school newspaper, let alone an arts and literature magazine. Somehow she managed to get a piece published in the HuffPo that I will quote here, and submit my own commentary to. 

Hi, Deryn. I'm Steve. I wrote reviews and funny stuff for my school paper when I was a kid.. I was 15 when Sixteen Candles came out.

You see, it’s easy to go back and proselytize on a movie from a generation before yours but this is a movie that came out around the time I was your age. It was the product of a man who made the defining teen movies of my generation. You’ve trod upon sacred ground here, kid, and the natives are now restless.

Many people regard the 1984 flick Sixteen Candles as a John Hughes masterpiece and a classic portrayal of teen life in the '80s. Starring Molly Ringwald, the film follows sophomore Samantha Baker (Ringwald) on the day of her 16th birthday, which everyone in her family has forgotten due to her sister Ginny's impending marriage. Sam spends the day fighting off the attentions of the school nerd Ted and longing for the affection of senior hottie, Jake.

Well, I'm a teen experiencing the gritty reality of 2014, and as the thirtieth anniversary of the beloved movie draws nearer, I decided to watch Sixteen Candles to see how it measures up to today's standards. My results? Surprising.

Hey, Princess….in 1984 we thought our reality was gritty, too. Wait till you’re 45 and then look back at 2014 and realize how easy you had it, the same way I look back at 1984 and realize how easy I had it.

At first look, it was easy to love Sixteen Candles. The film retained a timeless appeal and wit that was completely charming. I loved the characters, from Jake's party-animal girlfriend Caroline to Sam's grumpy grandparents.

And yet, when you peel back a few layers of the movie, there were parts that seriously hindered my enjoying it at all. I've listed them here, so we can all reflect on how the times have changed since the idyllic '80s.
 Oh, yes, Professor Precocious. Let’s all reflect. Regale me with the wisdom of your decade and a half on this planet and the wealth of experience it has provided you.

Date rape

Maybe it wasn't called rape back then, but Sixteen Candles blatantly glamorizes non-consensual sex between a sober guy and a drunk girl. After a wild, raving party at Jake's house, his girlfriend Caroline is cripplingly drunk. Rather than drive her home himself, Jake hands Caroline off to Ted and tells his friend to "have fun with her." A close-up reveals that Caroline's dress has bunched around her thighs, leaving her underwear exposed. Later, we learn that Ted and Caroline have had sex, but Caroline doesn't remember much. Clearly, this is nonconsensual sex. Today, we would call that date rape.

You act like this small scene is the whole crux of the film instead of a kid lamenting her self-absorbed family forgetting her Sweet 16. This film was WAY more than this one scene.

A raving party? Raves hadn’t been invented yet in 84. They were still a good five years away from being spawned in Manchester, England instead of mythical Shermer, Illinois. Jake, disgusted with the way Caroline has trashed his home and acted like a twat, has Ted drive her home in return for keeping Sam’s borrowed underwear so that he can return them to her himself. He’s letting a nerdy underclassman drive home the most popular girl in school and originally offers to let him drive his Porsche. Unable to drive a stick, he instead ends up in Jake’s dad’s Rolls Royce. 

You’re mistaken on a couple things here that need to be corrected. Caroline’s dress crawled up as she was being placed in the car, not after the alleged rape as you seem to suggest. Rather than this being the go-ahead green light for Ted to verily sodomize her like a Jihadi on a goat, it’s more of a Holy Cow I Saw A Hot Girl’s Panties moment. And would a drunken lecherous rapist have the forethought to pull her britches back up for her after violating her? I kinda doubt it.

Jake does not just hand her over like a door prize and say “Have fun with her’”. He insists that Ted make sure she gets home safely and not just dump her somewhere. What Jake actually says is “Start the car and have fun”, by which he means enjoy driving the Rolls. 

Later we see Caroline and Ted trying to figure out if they had sex, and neither is really sure. Maybe, maybe not. Caroline is the one who suggests they did when Ted asks, and she insists that she’s okay with it, even saying she was pretty sure she enjoyed it. Now, Caroline is no pushover or wallflower. She’s a forceful, confident, controlled person and would brook no chicanery from a dorky freshman half her size. She ends up making out with Ted and even leaves Jake to date Ted. You may want to go watch that scene again, kiddo. I’ve seen the movie in excess of 200 times in 30 years and I assure you no one was date raped. 

Furthermore, Ted remembers damn near nothing of the events, yet you fail to mention that. You instead only mention Caroline’s lack of memory. This begs the question: when a man and a woman are both inebriated and they end up in bed, why is the man held responsible for his actions yet the woman is considered a victim instead of a drunkenly willing participant?
 Drugged up brides
Playing for the gag, Ginny is so overcome with menstrual cramps on her wedding day that she takes four muscle relaxers. Soon she's reluctantly stumbling down, incoherent. Nobody seems to mind that the bride is too out of it to meaningfully take her vows. Just like date rape, here we have another example of an incapacitated woman getting roped into something she's in no condition to undergo. Maybe it was supposed to be funny, but it was so overdone that it made me seriously uncomfortable.

Oh, sweet Jesus on a popsicle stick. Have the feminazis really indoctrinated you in the She-Ra Man Hater Club so early in life? Yeah, sure, all men are evil rapists seeking to enslave womankind. Get real. 

Ginny is a slag. She’s bitchy and snotty and self-centered and not even period cramps are gonna stop her from sinking her marital claws into her “oily bo-hunk”. Her character was written to be unlikeable, she’s played as unlikeable, and you’re supposed to laugh at her misfortune as her own shittyness ruins her wedding. It’s called Schadenfreude. You portray her like she was kidnapped by Boko Haram and married off to an Al Qaeda bomb maker in Helmand Province after being dosed with opiates.


Is drunk and sloppy really funny?
 Again, the differences between 1984 and today: is drunkenness actually funny? Sixteen Candles sports many scenes involving drunk driving, drunk partying and even drunken sex. But as a 16-year-old in 2014, the constant intoxication just doesn't embody comedy. In one scene, Ted and an inebriated Caroline pose for photos, Caroline's underwear exposed and bra out. As the camera flashes, she looks confused and distracted. Now, that would be considered a crime, and watching the scene just made me wince.

Sweety, your generation is OBSESSED with taking half-naked bathroom selfies as you squish your mouth into a duckface or filming your thong-clad asses twerking with your tongues out like tarted up stroke victims. My generation didn’t have cameras in our phones with auto flash, auto focus, and instant Photoshop filters and editing. We had crappy Polaroid Instamatics with flash cubes and if you moved or blinked or the flash didn’t go off, you were stuck with a shitty picture. 

Unconcious in a field of cups. Kinda screams BOOZE.

A fake ID to buy booze and this movie made millions.
 Drunkeness is obviously as funny today as it was in 1984, because two years ago the film Project X outdid anything its predecessor Superbad did in regards to drinking, doing drugs, getting laid, and breaking multiple other laws and commandments and moral codes. Damn near every movie centered around teens made in the past 30+ years has featured a huge party scene and underaged drinking, rampant drug use, and more sex than a dinner at Ron Jeremy’s house. (For the record, Superbad had 22 awards nominations and 9 wins, and grossed over $169 million worldwide. Project X may have been raunchier but only did $54 million and had 4 awards nominations)

I enjoyed Sixteen Candles as a teenager who doesn't latch on to any morals, but as a thinking individual, I had serious reservations.

You left out a ranting diatribe on racism towards Asians. You left out an accusation of stalking because Ted pursues Sam. He may have even murdered her and stolen those panties as a trophy, because men are evil.
 Not even a peep about how Sam’s grandparents creepily felt her tits to gauge her pubescence? Come on now. Do I have to do all the work for you?

Oh, Fred, she's gotten her boobies.....

Oh, your uber-liberal teachers must be so very proud of you. You claim to not latch onto morals yet sanctimoniously look down your upturned nose at evil rapey men-monsters who are guilty before ever committing a crime. Thinking individual? More like a wet behind the ears pup regurgitating whatever crap you heard on The View in order to get a HuffPo by-line on your college app to Wellesley or Berkeley.

In all fairness, it wasn't the grownup HuffPo, though. It was HuffPo Teen, because the Left needs to indoctrinate them young when their minds are still pliant. 

Sixteen Candles was a comedy. It was meant to exaggerate and poke fun. It showed teen fears and angst and adult bad behavior and self-absorption. It showed people behaving badly and crassly. And it showed misfits finding love.

It's a classic. Your generation could use a John Hughes or two. Trust me.


Danielle L. said...

Adversus solem ne loquitor... stultus est sicut stultus facit. Derideo te.

Steve: The Lightning Man said...

Omnia miha lingua Greaca sunt. Sci hoc legere scis nimium eruditiones habes.

Ergo, I laugh right back at you. Mind your betters, sweet pea. I may be a college dropout but I dropped out with a fucking 3.67 GPA and a healthy disdain for pretentious assholes.

Juliet J. said...

Too bad you didn't acquire a disdain for condescending ones...

John Green said...

I think that your just a hater reading huffington post teens and caring about them way to much. I mean how much freaking effort did you put in to this? This Girl obviously knows about the racism towards asians in the movie, but that's not what she is righting about! Everyone has the right to free speech, and she can express her opinions about 16 candles, wether you like it or not. I do not promote hatred, and plus she's just a kid!

Steve: The Lightning Man said...

Oh, fuck, where do I even begin?
It's "you're", not "your". If you're (see what I did there?) going to attempt to chastise me, please do so with proper grammar and diction. Again, I may be a college dropout, but I had a 3.67 on the Dean's List when I left. If we're to be good examples for these pretentious children, let's maintain above a third-grade reading level, son. I know damned well your phone and your PC both come with spell-check.How much effort did I put into my article? Maybe 10 minutes. I've taken longer dumps. To clarify, I do not, and did not, read HuffPoTeen to find this. I came across the article via an article about the piece, via Slicing Up Eyeballs, I believe. Elsewise, I wouldn't have deigned to read *anything* from that Liberal dung heap. It's "writing", not "righting", "Asians" with a capital A, and "whether", not "wether". Yes, everyone has the Freedom of Speech, including people who write blogs like mine. Or are you trying to say she has it but I don't? I think YOU troll blogs like mine looking for shit to complain about. But hey, thanks for playing.

Steve: The Lightning Man said...

Oh, and I didn't forget you, Juliet. My disdain for your condescension was such that I wasn't even going to acknowledge you, but I felt magnanimous today. Cheers!