Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club weren’t the first movies to feature Molly Ringwald; that would be this largely forgotten modernization of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, in which she played John Cassavetes and Gena Rowland’s 13-year-old daughter. But they were the movies that made her an icon. Since the ’80s, they’ve endured as game-changing films that dared to take teenage life seriously. But they have their critics who don’t think they’ve aged well if they were ever good in the first place. And those include Ringwald herself, plus her 12-year-old daughter.
As caught by The Hollywood Reporter, Ringwald recently appeared on Andy Cohen’s Sirius show Radio Andy. There, she elaborated upon a New Yorker essay she wrote in 2018, in which she wrote discussed watching one of her Hughes films with her eldest daughter, Matilda. But instead of a nostalgia trip, she found she couldn’t overlook what she saw as their discriminatory and “troubling” elements. Three years later, she’s reluctant to repeat the experience with her younger daughter, Adele.
“It was such an emotional experience that I haven’t — I haven’t found that strength to watch it with my two other kids,” Ringwald told Cohen. She described 12-year-old Adele as “the most woke individual you’ve ever met,” which has prevented her from showing her movies with Asian stereotype jokes (Sixteen Candles) or a movie where a slacker (Judd Nelson) peeks at their mom’s underwear (The Breakfast Club).
“And I just don’t know how I’m gonna go through that, watching it with her and [her] saying, ‘How could you do that? How could you be a part of something, you know,’” Ringwald said.
Ringwald tried to wrestle with her complicated feelings about the films that made her name. “There’s elements of these films that I find homophobic. On the other hand, they’re also about people that felt like outsiders,” Ringwald said. “So they speak to a lot of people who feel — you know, they’re complicated.”
Ringwald admits that that complexity — their ability to be both problematic and relatable — isn’t necessarily a demerit. “I feel like that’s what makes the movies really wonderful, and it’s also something I wanted to go on record talking about — the elements that I find troubling and that I want to change for the future,” she elaborated. “But that doesn’t mean at all that I want them to be erased. I’m proud of those movies, and I have a lot of affection for them. They’re so much a part of me.”
You can watch a segment from Ringwald’s Radio Andy appearance in the video below.