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The Ridiculous Messages 1980s Movies Give To Women
Romantic comedies from the 1980s were funny, but these films also give women some very ridiculous messages about how to act and behave. Although women's liberation had taken place two decades earlier, many women in eighties movies were given limited or stereotypical roles. Not all movies follow these stereotypes, but there were several movies I really liked as a child that had very weird messages for women. Recently I was watching Desperately Seeking Susan and Pretty in Pink, but this time around I saw some very ridiculous messages I did not pick up on when I was younger. In some movies from the eighties we see a pretty teenage girl who is very intelligent, but often her happiness is contingent on the handsome/popular boy asking her out to the dance. In movies with adults, we see the leading female placing much of her happiness on whether she ends up with "the guy," or she may use men in order to get by. There are many movies from the eighties that do not fall into this category, but movies such as Desperately Seeking Susan and Pretty in Pink are funny comedies that end up having some ridiculous messages for women. Both of these movies are humorous, but these are just a few of the observations I discovered when watching these films.
Desperately Seeking Susan
Mostly this is an outrageous comedy about a woman named Roberta (Rosanna Arquette) who is a housewife that leads are very stifling existence. Her husband Gary is a hot tub salesman and very successful because he tells Robert she only has to mention his name to get a discount on a car radio. Also, he is full of himself because of his television commercial and his female exploits.
Rather than have Roberta's character go to the library to find a good book or take up a hobby, her entertainment consists of tracking down personal advertisements for a woman referred to as Desperately Seeking Susan (played by Madonna). If a new adaption of this movie were made today, perhaps Roberta would be going to Tinder or Facebook, but the personal section of the newspaper was how most people met up back in 1985.
Once again we find a double standard for men because Garry is able to be a womanizer and he says this is "perfectly respectable," but on several occasions, Susan's character is referred to as a whore. The year is 1985 and not much progress has been made here, but the worse part is Roberta considers Susan to be a liberated role model. However, how liberated is a woman that sleeps with men in order to have a place to stay and get some extra money for food? Men are intrigued by her, but mostly that is because she never will commit to one. Why is this the role model Roberta wants to live up to? Desperately Seeking Susan may be a comedy, but the subliminal message given here is just ridiculous. Women can either be doormat wives like Roberta or so-called independent women like Susan. Honestly, there was not one truly independent woman in this movie except for the magician's assistant who is fired because of her connections with Susan.
Another zany aspect of this film is the short amount of time that is devoted to solving the puzzle about the earrings that turn out to belong to the Nefertiti exhibit. We know the mobsters mistook Roberta for Susan and chase her because they think she had the earrings, but we see very little about the discovery of the earrings that are national treasures. At the end we see Susan and Roberta being congratulated as heroes for turning over the property, but the movie would have been much stronger if more focus had been placed on the pair making this discovery. Why did Roberta have to lose her memory and be mistaken for Susan? These characters could have been much stronger if they had been allowed to do more detective work and not just obsess about men.
Pretty In Pink
Molly Ringwald plays an intelligent and attractive teenager named Andie that is from a lower socio-economic background. Even though Andie is a bright student that has earned a college scholarship, very little time in the movie focuses on her academic career. I enjoyed the part where Andie's friend stands up when she is being picked on, which was something I could identify with since I had to deal with a few bullies in school. Another memorable scene in the movie is where Andie tells Duckie (Jon Cryer) that he should focus on his studies so he can graduate from high school. However, most of the story revolves around Andie working at the record shop and her blossoming romance with the wealthy Blane (Andrew McCarthy). Andie's luck seems to be on the upturn when she has a date with Blane and he even decides to ask her out to prom.
Sadly Andie's world comes crashing down when Blane's stuck up and jealous friend pressures him to break the date. The only way Andie can redeem herself is by making a stylish dress (by 1980s standards) and going to the prom to show the wealthy kids that she has not lost face. Once again Duckie is there to rescue her and she is able to walk into the prom with an escort. Blane comes up to Andie and tells her that he loves her, but she lets him go because she is still mad. At Duckie's urging she runs out the door and they share a romantic kiss. The one thing that is very irritating is that we could not see Andie winning an academic decathlon and her happiness seems contingent upon winning the affections of the handsome leading guy.