The Irreverent Cineastes Podcast

Two sarcastic and mildly embittered film scholars analyze, appreciate, and excoriate important works of pop culture.

Problematic 80s Comedies (Back to the Future/Fast Times at Ridgemont High/Splash/She’s Having a Baby/Revenge of the Nerds) - The Irreverent Cineastes Podcast, Year Four

April 25th, 2019

In our Year 4 finale, our good friend and frequent guest Brooke Edge, Ph.D. fulfills her destiny and becomes discussion leader for this episode, wherein the three of us chose some comedies from the 1980s and discussed how tricky – if not disturbing - some of their mores and messages are in retrospect.  Included in our discussion was Splash, once a huge hit but now boring, regressive towards women, and representative of the dominance of male fantasy narratives; Fast Times at Ridgemont High and how it set the table for 80s teen comedies; Back to the Future and how it unwittingly endorsed aggressive (male) behavior; She’s Having a Baby and how much the cinema of John Hughes doesn’t transcend its era; and, finally, how almost everything about Revenge of the Nerds was wrong (and the dark shadow it cast over Jon’s childhood). That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy these films mind you – we just feel that we all need to better contextualize the things in our past so that we don’t confuse good memories with bad lessons. Well, except for Revenge of the Nerds. You can’t enjoy that. You just can’t. We also discuss Molly Ringwald’s piece in The New Yorker and how it does a superb job demonstrating how to revisit problematic works of the past and find value in them and criticize how those like Bill Maher are wrong to complain about it. A comprehensive addition to our canon, and kudos to Brooke for the terrific job she did holding it together. Explicit language.

Content advisory: Rivers of wokeness, making sure you actually read the thing you’re criticizing, John Hughes’s One-Act career, Kevin Bacon’s stupid, stupid face, Kevin Bacon hitting puberty (any day now!), Alec Baldwin’s ridiculous chest hair, responsibly portraying violence in films, Back to the Future as film of the 80s, yuppies never being more interesting than mermaids, coining “Ashley Madison,” popularizing “Nerds,” Jon’s childhood trauma, arguing the Leia-Han Solo relationship, “sex girls” vs “sex, girls,” forty-year-old teen actors, the highs and lows of 80s needle drops, Jake Ryan as Brett Kavanaugh, nudity in Fast Times, guilty pleasures (NOT THE SAME THING!), finding the humanity in John Bender, Anita Sarkeesian and the importance of balancing enjoyment and inquiry, pop culture as junk food, and feeling the loss of John Candy.