Nostalgia is a tricky thing. Sometimes when you re-watch a movie with a bit more age and experience, some things stick out as a little troublesome. For example, the number of ’80s comedies that use rape as a punchline is pretty gross. Now, this is not to discount the value of these films; some are definitely comedy classics, and in the case of Heathers, brilliant works of satire. However, it’s also possible to enjoy something while also recognizing its more troubling elements. One can appreciate Say Anything, for example, while also acknowledging that John Cusack spends a good portion of the film acting like a bit of a creep.
Let’s take a look at these ’80s films and see who probably should have taken a trip to the slammer.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
People may treat Ferris like a heroic scamp, but I know the truth: Ferris is an attention-seeking *sshole who’s disturbing the peace and ruining everyone’s Von Steuben Day Parade. I hope Sloane eventually kicks him to the curb and that Cameron’s dad presses charges for stealing his Ferrari.
Weekend at Bernie’s
Sure, Bernie was a bad dude who embezzled money and ordered that the protagonists be killed when they discover his fraud. Larry and Richard take it to the next level, however, when they impersonate Bernie and desecrate his corpse. All in good fun!
Revenge of the Nerds
Perhaps somewhere on their quest to destroy the jocks who torture them, someone should have taught these nerds a few things about consent. First of all, distributing someone’s nude pictures without their permission is never OK, not even to win a charity bake sale. Second of all, hiding your identity to trick someone into having sex with you is usually classified as rape. C’mon, guys. Be better than the jocks you’re trying to ruin.
This one is hard. Lloyd Dobler is held up as one of cinema’s romantic ideals, and with good reason. In his prime, John Cusack was the height of sincerity and charm. However, imagine it isn’t Cusack outside your window. After you’ve broken up with him. Loudly playing the song that was on when you first had sex. Any other guy gets slapped with harassment charges and a restraining order.
For a film as charming as Sixteen Candles, there’s some seriously questionable stuff that goes down. To get with Sam, Jake Ryan pawns his drunken queen-bee girlfriend off on Farmer Ted. I believe the phrase he uses is “be my guest.” Ewwwwwww. It’s heavily implied that, in her intoxicated state, she and Ted have sex, and there’s no way that she could have consented to the act in her condition. I know it was a different time, but the way John Hughes handled date rape in his films is pretty questionable. Also, Ted definitely drove without a license and stole Mr. Ryan’s Rolls Royce. Maybe tone it down a bit at the next party, man.
They build a woman. THEY BUILD A WOMAN. If you don’t think the feds will poke around after this kind of Frankenstein sh*t, you would be wrong. It’s probably a good thing for Gary and Wyatt that she disappears in the end, taking the evidence of their tampering with her.
“Dear Diary: My teen angst has a body count.” Sure, everyone with a pulse would be into ’80s Christian Slater, but that doesn’t really justify committing murder. Or blowing up the school. The social order may be a better place by the end of the film, but something tells me that Veronica doesn’t get to stick around to enjoy it.