The 1985 cult classic film, “The Breakfast Club” has some of the most infamous scenes in film history.
Anything from the kids blazing up in detention and dancing, to John Bender emotionally thrusting his fist in the air while “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” brings the movie to a goosebumps-inducing end.
The John Hughes classic coming-of-age movie about a pack of ’80s kids learning about each other and themselves is widely regarded as one of the best films. However, is there a chance one scene should have been left out of the epic storyline?
Molly Ringwald and John Hughes
Molly Ringwald, who played Claire Standish, had one of her first appearances in cinema with this Hughes film. She played the snobby, rich and popular girl.
The movie would mark the long-standing working career between her and Hughes. In fact, she would go on to star in two of his other films, “Sixteen Candles” and “Pretty in Pink.” Hughes is one of the most successful directors in cinema.
He is also known for “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “Home Alone,” and “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.”
Molly Ringwald said in a 2009 interview with People the kind of impact Hughes had on her growing up. “John saw something in me that I didn’t even see in myself. Eventually, though, I felt that I needed to work with other people as well. I wanted to grow up, something I felt (rightly or wrongly) I couldn’t do while working with John.”
Her choice to take a break from working with Hughes resulted in 20 years of not speaking to one another. Hughes held a grudge over her decision. Eventually, Ringwald admitted how important he was to her and the two reconciled.
Molly Ringwald and Mother Express Discomfort
However, this isn’t the reason why Ringwald’s mother came to her defense. In fact, it had to do with one particular scene in “The Breakfast Club” that made her uncomfortable.
Both Ringwald and her mother looked back at the film from the ’80s during the current MeToo movement in society. The goal is to generate more conversation regarding both sexual assault and harassment. It also allows women to come forward and make their voices heard and believed.
For the Ringwalds, they found that some scenes in the movie normalized sexism and sexual assault.
Ringwald wrote an essay to The New Yorker in 2018. It explores how she is revisiting her past films in a new context. She is now revisiting it as a mother of a teenage daughter herself.
“At one point in the film, the bad-boy character, John Bender (Judd Nelson), ducks under the table where my character, Claire, is sitting, to hide from a teacher. While there, he takes the opportunity to peek under Claire’s skirt and, though the audience doesn’t see, it is implied that he touches her inappropriately,” Ringwald wrote.
At the time, she was only 16. She was so young that the filmmakers had to use a body double to film them. Perhaps, this should have been a red flag as it is to convince them to not include it.
Scene Stays in ‘The Breakfast Club’
However, the scene is very much in “The Breakfast Club,” despite Ringwald’s mother’s distaste for it.
“My mom also spoke up during the filming of that scene in The Breakfast Club, when they hired an adult woman for the shot of Claire’s underwear. They couldn’t even ask me to do it—I don’t think it was permitted by law to ask a minor—but even having another person pretend to be me was embarrassing to me and upsetting to my mother, and she said so. That scene stayed, though,” Molly Ringwald wrote.
The scene continues to haunt Ringwald, even now. She wrote that after the women came forward with sexual-assault accusations against people like Harvey Weinstein during the #MeToo movement, she began thinking more about the impact of films. She believes that things like sexism and objectification are systematic, therefore what we see in the media can reinforce these negative ideas.
While there’s a lot she loves about the films, she recognizes their inherent faults as well.
A Discussion on ‘Sixteen Candles’
Ringwald notes that the ’80s were filled with films that were gruesome and exploitative. In fact, most teenage roles had to be played with actors that were older. She points out is okay to love the art of the past, but it’s also important to recognize the inherent faults.
“How are we meant to feel about art that we both love and oppose? What if we are in the unusual position of having helped create it? Erasing history is a dangerous road when it comes to art—change is essential, but so, too, is remembering the past, in all of its transgression and barbarism, so that we may properly gauge how far we have come, and also how far we still need to go,” Ringwald wrote.
Ringwald has also taken a look back at her film, “Sixteen Candles,” according to an interview with NPR.
She said, “There were parts of that film that bothered me then. Although everybody likes to say that I had, you know, John Hughes’ ear, and he did listen to me in a lot of ways, I wasn’t the filmmaker. Sometimes I would tell him, ‘Well, I think that this is kind of tacky’ or ‘I think that this is irrelevant,’ or ‘This doesn’t ring true,” and sometimes he would listen to me but in other cases, he didn’t.”
For example, in one scene a male character says, “I could violate her 10 different ways if I wanted to” regarding a woman passed out at a party. In another scene, a female character wakes up unsure if she had sex with the boy who was just supposed to bring her home.
It is these scenes that made young Ringwald uncomfortable, then and now.
H/T: Showbiz CheatSheet