Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Social Class and 80s Movies

I love 80’s movies. Everything about them is beautiful. Their stories are uncomplicated and contain ideas and situations that directors wish were true.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Breakfast Club, E.T and Say Anything are only some of the movies that portray the brilliance of much simpler times. These movies discussed issues that the average American faced. Movies about high school and the angst of being a teenager- social class, misunderstanding with parents and such- but in ways so different from the modern teen movie.

Pretty in Pink, a typical movie about love, high school and social stratification explores a modern day story. Pretty in pink seems be the most perfect example of social conflict. According
to Karl Marx, revolutionary sociologist, class conflict arises from the material things, such as: economic inequality, control over parliament, occupation, education and ownership. The tension between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat was always based on these elements. Pretty in pink portrays this tension successfully between a girl who has grown up in a family that isn't close to being rich, and a boy who has always had everything.

Andie Walsh, (played by the gorgeous ‘Brat Pack’ actress, Molly Ringwald) is a teenaged working-class girl who is obsessed with being rich. Living with her father in a house that she hates, she dreams about being rich. Living in big, fancy houses and wearing expensive clothes- things that she can never afford.

Defining her own style using second hand clothes because she can't afford to buy the expensive ones from the store.

At Andie’s high school, social structure is based on economic class, where the “richies” don’t socialize with those who aren’t as economically well to do. The popular girls make fun of Andie’s clothes, which are secondhand as opposed to their own clothes that are “in season."

As much as Andie hates the preppy kids at her school, she aspires to be like them. She works at a part-time store to earn money so she can design clothes- something that she loves doing. It is at that store, that she meets the boy of her dreams- Blane McDonough. Blane who is sweet, different and interesting also happens to be rich and even better, interested in her!

Meanwhile, her best friend, Duckie, refuses to talk to her because he feels betrayed that she would date someone from a different social group- the group that always mocks them. Andie decides that the loss is inevitable. Blane also faces judgment from his friends who think that Andie and her friends are of less value because of their lower economic standing.

The story follows how Blane and Andie try and overcome the hindrances of their relationship; break the barrier of economic class and learn how to their identity does not come from how much money they have. Truly beautiful.

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