Molly Ringwald is the original—and definitive—teen movie star. For many of us, watching Ringwald’s coming-of-age movies was a coming-of-age experience in itself. However, it’s not an experience the star plans to share with her own children.
Molly Ringwald and John Hughes: The Teen Movie Trifecta
Her charm was unmistakable Pretty In Pink. She found herself in The Breakfast Club. She made it available to everyone, except her family on-screen. Sixteen Candles unforgettable. If you’re reading this and aren’t familiar with the plot of Ringwald’s breakout role, she played Sam, a teenager whose family was so wrapped up in her older sister’s upcoming wedding they forgot her milestone birthday.
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They were teens movies, yes, but they were for many more. They covered everything from rites-of-passage to social issues. They examined the wealth gap and peer pressure, family dysfunction, stereotypes, and gender roles. They captured crushes, first kisses, and heart break—and don’t forget the parties, underage drinking, and iconic nicknames. These weren’t just teen movies; they were distinct stories united by universal themes: the search for identity and the struggle to fit in.
But there are other things. Ringwald highlighted this in an essay he wrote in 2018. The New YorkerThey were also problematic in her films with John Hughes (writer/director). They “could also be considered racist, misogynistic, and, at times, homophobic.”
“How are we meant to feel about art that we both love and oppose?”She wrote. “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.”
Breaking Down The Breakfast Club
Ringwald’s essay reflected on the experience of watching. The Breakfast ClubMatilda, then ten years old, was her daughter “It’s a strange experience, watching a younger, more innocent version of yourself onscreen,”She wrote. “It’s stranger still—surreal, even—watching it with your child when she is much closer in age to that version of yourself than you are.”
“I worried that she would find aspects of it troubling,”The actress wrote “but I hadn’t anticipated that it would ultimately be most troubling to me.”
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Watching The Breakfast Club with her children isn’t an experience Ringwald plans to repeat. Now that her youngest children, twins Adele and Roman, are officially teens, she says she won’t watch her classic movies with them
“There is still so much that I love in them,”She wrote. “But lately I have felt the need to examine the role that these movies have played in our cultural life: where they came from, and what they might mean now.”