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