News & Politics

Molly Ringwald Revisits 'The Breakfast Club' and Finds a #MeToo Moment

Actress Molly Ringwald is running her old star-making films through the #MeToo rubric. In an article published in The New Yorker, Ringwald concludes that famed director John Hughes had a glaring blindspot of inappropriateness that often devolved into glorifying and promoting sexual harassment and even violence.

The impetus for Ringwald’s reflection came from a screening of The Breakfast Club with her ten-year-old daughter. Acknowledging that the movie isn’t appropriate for ten-year-olds, she explains how she swallowed her misgivings to sit down with her daughter and watch the classic high school flick together.

While watching, questions arose and discussions were had between the pair. However, it was her daughter’s response to the “underwear scene” that stayed with Ringwald and prompted further thoughts about how the #MeToo movement now frames her past movies.

After telling an anecdote about her and her daughter’s discomfort with the “underwear scene” and explaining how they tried to get Hughes to remove it from the screenplay, Ringwald confesses, “I can see now, Bender sexually harasses Claire throughout the film.”

“When he’s not sexualizing her, he takes out his rage on her with vicious contempt, calling her ‘pathetic,’ mocking her as ‘Queenie,’” she said. “It’s rejection that inspires his vitriol. Claire acts dismissively toward him, and, in a pivotal scene near the end, she predicts that at school on Monday morning, even though the group has bonded, things will return, socially, to the status quo. ‘Just bury your head in the sand and wait for your f****n’ prom!’ Bender yells. He never apologizes for any of it, but, nevertheless, he gets the girl in the end.”

Look, I appreciate Molly Ringwald’s willingness to hold her own movies up to the same standard she expects of others. And I don’t disagree with her assessment of John Hughes and the inappropriateness, if not downright problematic nature, of many of the scenes peppered throughout the movies she starred in. However, I do think that Ringwald has missed the wider problem, as does the #MeToo movement in general.

In a blog post, I wrote, “Like the Tower of Babel, the #MeToo movement is doomed to come crashing down in failure because, like the ancients at the Tower of Babel, the #MeToo movement insists on humans’ autonomy from their Creator, specifically regarding sexuality.”

Not to pick on Molly Ringwald, but one of her most recent films is Siberia, a movie rated “R” for strong sexual content and nudity. She also has a recurring role on the teenage drama “Riverdale.” The show explicitly trades the sexuality of the actresses for ratings (with the understanding that Netflix eschews the word “ratings”). In fact, IMDB’s parent’s guide for the show warns, “A teenage girl stripteases to underwear in front of a large gang crowd as part of an acceptance ritual.”

While “mild” when compared to the content of other movies and series, that scene, as described by IMDB, sounds far more exploitative than the “underwear scene” in The Breakfast Club. And no matter how the producers or the actress involved spin the scene to include words like “empowerment,” assuming they do, the fact remains that a female stripped down to her underwear for the enjoyment of the viewers. As I asked in my blog post, “How is it empowering for females when men masturbate to [near] naked images of movie stars?”

Clinging to the “freedom” won by the sexual revolution demands the exploitation of humans, most often that of young women. As I’ve pointed out before, no matter how “diverse” things like Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue become, men aren’t buying the magazine to help empower women. One of the greatest tricks of late, I think, is how men, adopting the language of the #MeToo movement, have convinced women to participate in their own exploitation.

As long as Molly Ringwald and other active proponents of the #MeToo movement continue to support the sexual revolution, the objectification and denigration of women (and men) will continue.