Thursday, April 29, 2010

What "Pretty in Pink" taught me

So the movie "Pretty in Pink" was released almost a quarter of a century ago. Like, of course, every other person my age, I was absolutely transformed by this movie, which made me the person I am today. Except really.

Okay, it's just a dorky little teenage "flick", about as 'timeless' as the "come on people now smile on your brother" song of the sixties or the "emo" hairstyles of a few years back, but there are some crucially important life lessons that can be gained from it. To whit:

1. When Republicans are in power, class consciousness is old-fashioned and Trickle-Down Dignity is the way to go! "Pretty in Pink" is one inch away from being a communist call-to-arms - it's message throughout is clear: the rich hate the poor and the poor have to stick together. Until the later-tacked-on Hollywood-fantasy ending, of course, where the girl gets her (rich) man after all and confirms that the rich actually are our agents of salvation, not destruction.

2. All evil people are blonde. Not exactly that all blonde people are evil - we have to make an exception both for Mary Stuart Masterson in the follow-up clone "Some Kind of Wonderful" and for the hot-chick-ex-machina flown in out of nowhere at the end of the Hollywood ending to make it "all worthwhile" for Duckie. But - male and female alike - in this movie you can clearly tell how mean the person in question will behave towards Molly Ringwald merely by considering the colour of the person's hair. Ah, if only real life were so simple...

3. That was some darned good music we had back then. Well, the Psychedelic Furs use the theme song to confirm that the saxophone was, without exception, a scourge on music from 1980 to 1989. But the music is far and away the best thing about this movie. New Order make "Shellshock", a song which takes a full two minutes of musique-concrete to actually coalesce into a song. And God Himself makes a songwriting contribution in the form of OMD's "If You Leave" - far and away the best thing about the movie's Hollywood-ending.

4. All your alcoholic deadbeat father needs is a good screaming and then he'll get himself sorted out. Who the hell needs AA when screaming "She's gone!", crying and hugging will do the job just as well? A decade or so later in "Good Will Hunting", Mork from Ork taught us that the same technique can stop misunderstood geniuses from living lives of crime as well.

5. When you're currently as old as the 'old person' in a teen flick, this should bother you. Cool-big-sisterly Annie Potts sighs in an "oh, you kids-of-today" fashion about her prom of fifteen years ago. Molly smiles in a "get away from me, you senile old coot" fashion in consideration that she would have been two at the time. When Duckie kisses Annie Potts, it's shocking in a "he-kissed-the-old-lady" kinda way. My prom was fifteen years ago. Damn it.

6. True love will make you wear shoulder pads. No, this doesn't make sense to me either. But it's true. You can tell Annie Potts has found true love by her decision to start dressing in a "power suit" yuppie fashion. I can't even begin to comprehend it, but it seemed to make sense to the casting agents of "Designing Women".

7. You can apparently practise kissing on melons. This amazing revelation came as a complete shock to me 20 years ago when I was a sensitive and naïve preteen. Now that I'm an old and wizened git, it still comes as a shock to me. Maybe because I have no idea whatsoever how that would work (I've hear of other things you can do with melons, but never mind). It just proves to me, like a Taoist monk, that I still have much to learn about the true nature of the universe.

Unfortunately, about five years after this movie, John Hughes went comatose. And five years after that, he stopped making movies. The world is a far less rich place without him. But a place in which people dress better.
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