In Molly Ringwald's remarkable essay in The New Yorker on Friday wrestling with the gender and consent politics of John Hughes films in our current era, the actress reveals that even as a somewhat naive teenager in the '80s, she knew the male gaze when she saw it, and lobbied to cut a gratuitously objectifying scene from The Breakfast Club. Ringwald, who starred in Hughes's flicks Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, and, of course, teen classic The Breakfast Club as pretty, popular Claire, recalls telling the writer-director that a totally unnecessary scene had to go.
She writes, "In the shooting script of The Breakfast Club, there was a scene in which an attractive female gym teacher swam naked in the school’s swimming pool as Mr. Vernon, the teacher who is in charge of the students’ detention, spied on her. The scene wasn’t in the first draft I read, and I lobbied John to cut it. He did, and although I’m sure the actress who had been cast in the part still blames me for foiling her break, I think the film is better for it. "
Hey, we agree. This scene is just hetero male fantasy, and has nothing to do with the core group of characters. Ringwald was right to object, and Hughes was right to listen. Though we would certainly be interested to know who was cast in this somewhat ridiculous role. It just seems unsanitary!
In the essay, Ringwald also shares that her mother pointed out "creepy" wording in one of the final Sixteen Candles scenes that implied protagonist Samantha's father kept track of his daughter's underwear. That movie, too, is better for the change, though it's certainly still problematic in other ways. Fans should go to Ringwald's essay for a smart, compassionate, and nuanced take on three films that did a lot to shape a generation's idea of teenagerdom.