All I knew about love I learned from . . .

Here’s a plot line for you. Try to guess the movie.

A guy is dating someone for a long time and doesn’t have much respect for them. He starts liking someone else and finds out they like him so he’s thinking of cheating on his girlfriend.

She’s drunk one night so he just gives her to the guy who tells him information about the new girl and sends him off with her. It’s okay though because when the guy sleeps with rapes her — her thinking it’s her boyfriend because she’s so drunk — she kind of likes him more and he’s really tender and sweet.

The guy who gave her away like that is still the desired guy of the new girl and all of these things were just an obstacle to their love so when he shows up for her she’s over the moon and her wish came true.

Did you get it? Does it at least sound familiar? If you grew up watching John Hughes films you might have already pegged it as Sixteen Candles And if you haven’t watched it recently you might be having a moment of disconnect because we were sold this as an incredibly romantic movie and that doesn’t fit with what we now understand about rape and romance.

I watched it with my daughter last night. I was sharing old movies with her and we watched Pretty In Pink. We talked about how far at least our area of the world has come with breaking tPretty In Pinkhrough socio-economic barriers that would have meant so much more in the 1980’s and she asked questions about why these people couldn’t even talk to those people and why was this even an issue? I told her movies like this caused us to question our social expectations and made us look at people differently.

We did talk about the reality that Duckie was an unapologetic stalker who sexually harasses every girl he comes in contact with all while declaring his undying love for our main lady who gets 100 messages from him while she’s not home and he forces a kiss on Annie Potts’ character . . . but it’s okay because it’s a good kiss.
I had seen Sixteen Candles on Netflix. A friend had mentioned watching it with her daughter recently and being a bit surprised at some of the subject matter and the language that we just took for granted. I was prepared. . . but I wasn’t. Because I was suddenly confronted with scenes that we just took for granted as being normal that were horrifying me.

Like the scene when she is physically trapped on the bus by the King of the Dipshits as he tries to force himself on her and he blames her for being rude and not wanting his advances. She’s made to look rude and even feels badly enough about it that she gives him her panties so that he can tell everyone in the school that he slept with her.

Sixteen CandlesI’m not even going to get into the ageist portrayal of the grandparents or the racist portrayal of the Asian exchange student and what a mess Long Duck Dong was–from his name to his finally having a “place to put his hand” on his “sexy American girlfriend.”

I want to grab the birthday girl and ask her what she’s thinking. Does she really want to imagine spending the rest of her life, or even giving her virginity, to this guy who treated his ex-girlfriend likes such human property and garbage. He literally sold her to a guy she didn’t know in exchange for information and the underwear he’d been given. He told her, in her drunken state, that the other guy was him and then sent her off into the night with him. Is that what she wants for her future? That is really her dream guy?

So we have John Hughes to thank for calling our generation to question socio-economic barriers and how we treat people who are different from us. And he carries blame for reinforcing sexual abuse of women and dismissing men behaving horribly.

At one point in the movie I turned to my daughter and said, “If you ever wonder why women my age are often so unapologetically feminist, this is why. We were sold this bucket of garbage as romance and some of us are really pissed about it.” She just nodded her head.

I am so grateful she lives in a different reality than I did and she can see this for what it is at such a young age.


  1. Now I am sitting here thinking to myself, “Why the heck didn’t I see this crap for what it was back then?!”

    • Crystal Lutton says

      I have that conversation with myself often! I kind of want to do a marathon and retrain my brain 🙂

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