In the wake of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s claims during Thursday’s hearing that sexually degrading comments he made about a female classmate in his high school yearbook were understandable given that similar jokes were made in movies of the time, Molly Ringwald has spoken out about the problematic way that such movies — many of which she starred in — treated female characters. “Some editors and students wanted the yearbook to be some combination of Animal House, Caddyshack, and Fast Times at Ridgemont High, which were all recent movies at that time,” said Kavanaugh on Thursday.
Ringwald, who now has a teenage daughter of her own, starred in similar coming-of-age classics such as Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club during the ‘80s. Speaking with Lulu Garcia-Navarro of NPR, she recalled the uncomfortable scenes that appear to normalize sexual assault and “female subjugation,” including one scene from Sixteen Candles during which popular and handsome high school student Jake Ryan, who is played by Michael Schoeffling, casually remarks that he could violate his passed out girlfriend “10 different ways if I wanted to.”
“Times were different and what was acceptable then is definitely not acceptable now and nor should it have been then, but that’s sort of the way that it was,” Ringwald told NPR. “I feel very differently about the movies now and it’s a difficult position for me to be in because there’s a lot that I like about them. And of course I don’t want to appear ungrateful to John Hughes (the director of Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club), but I do oppose a lot of what is in those movies.”
What made those films powerful, she added, was the degree to which they did capture attitudes of the time — the good and the bad alike.
“I know what my own experience was. I feel like the movies that I made then were very much representing the culture at the time. And I feel like that is why they resonated with people, because it was their experience and they did feel that they had these films that were real. They didn’t have that sort of “After School Special” feeling where somebody was teaching them a lesson,” she explained. “I believe that there is still a lot of good in the films and there’s a lot that I’m proud of. And I feel like in a lot of ways they’ve touched teenagers and sparked a conversation that is important. And having a teenage daughter myself, I know that it’s not always easy to get teenagers to talk. But these films sort of break through that.”
Listen to the full conversation with Ringwald below.
Read the full story at NPR.