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The strange power of John Hughes teen flicks

I don’t know our readership demographics, but if they include any women who were in high school (or the UK or other equivalent) in the 1980s, may I ask: Is all this stuff true about lifetime longings for the Jake Ryan character in the John Hughes teen flick Sixteen Candles? (I think the hook for this article is Valentine’s Day.)

Now I was long past high school in the 1980s, and I vaguely remember watching at least part of Sixteen Candles on TV. But for me it’s another John-Hughes-teen-flick-starring-Molly-Ringwald– namely Pretty in Pink— which I’ve never quite gotten over.

Specifically the character of Duckie (Jon Cryer), the geeky friend who hopelessly loves Andie (Molly Ringwald), only to be a good sport and stand aside when she falls for some generic nice rich kid. How could any girl resist a guy like Duckie who lipsynchs Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness” to her? I spent the whole movie rooting for the unwealthy Duckie and Andie to end up together– for reasons of class solidarity, if nothing else– only to have my heart broken at the end along with Duckie’s.

The class issues raised by Pretty in Pink are worthy of a Marxist-studies seminar. But I still can’t forgive Andie. And I still feel bad for Duckie.

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