Saturday, March 19, 2016

Do Wot You Do

Call me life-experienced.

At this point, you can't always be certain if you're remembering the '80s as they actually were or as the film industry has been portraying them ever since.

That's when you need to stroll down to the Bowtie and see "Pretty in Pink" for the first time since 1986 just to refresh your memory, the only downside being the row of middle-aged woman double-fisting mimosas in the row directly behind me because they never shut up.

No, I don't care to hear your commentary on the gym suits just like what you wore in Junior High.

I can't even guess how much in the film would seem downright archaic to millennials now. Like those bulky CRT screens we thought were so new-fangled at the time. The boomboxes next to everyone's beds. The princess phone on the nightstand.

Hell, Karmann Ghias.

And for everyone who thinks they know what '80s fashion looked like from more recent movies, think again. It wasn't just about legwarmers, it was about Duckie layering white socks over striped tube socks and wearing them all slouched down to show some skin under a cuffed pant leg.

It was about every single prom dress pulling directly from Princess Di's overly-gaudy wedding dress with enormous sleeves, too much fabric and a fussiness that begged for restraint, something that was in very short supply back then.

My takeaway was twofold, the good and the bad.

I think you'd be hard-pressed to name a movie with as strong a soundtrack - and a New Wave soundtrack at that, meaning not yet mainstream music - in the past 20 years. From Echo and the Bunnymen to New Order to the Smiths, it was like the amazing mix tape that guy made to impress you once (it worked).

And to prove that three decades does a number on the memory, sure, I recalled Psychedelic Furs' title song, but I had no memory whatsoever of OMD's "If You Leave" being the big closing song for the dramatic ending.

None at all. In fact, my big memory of that song is that I visited Dallas in 1986 for the first time and I definitely remember dancing to that song in two different clubs while I was there.

But in today's film? It was a complete surprise.

My other takeaway was how cliched the ending was. Why couldn't she have gone off with Duckie instead? I mean, besides that he was a closeted gay man, but why couldn't she have stayed at the prom, danced with Duckie (come on, a man who asks, "Can I admire you again today?") and gone on to college without giving in to the shallow Blane who would have disappointed her shortly anyway?

Not only is that kind of entitlement and instinctive condescension bone-deep, but milquetoast men like that lack any real passion, meaning he would have probably been lousy in bed, too. Of course, few 18-year olds would know any of that at such a tender age.

Turns out that John Hughes originally shot the film to have her ending up with Duckie, but test audiences back then wanted Blane.

Wow, we were still looking for the cliched wrap-up in 1986, weren't we?

Come to think of it, that part I do remember. It's just that three decades teaches you that there are far more interesting endings out there, plus you get to choose your own soundtrack.

I'm with the Smiths on this one: please, please, please let me get what I want.

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