What I’m Thinking About When I Think About Films From the 1980s

Please keep in mind that Miss Pop Rocks was a preteen sensation back in the 80s, so if you’re looking for thoughts on “Sophie’s Choice” and “Gandhi” you’ve come to the wrong blog.

"Sixteen Candles": As a preteen girl, this movie provided me with multiple fantasies of what life with a hawt boyfriend would be like. Granted, I never quite figured out how Samantha Baker kissed Jake Ryan over that flaming birthday cake in the very last scene without catching that bridesmaid’s dress on fire, but whatever. The sad thing about this movie is when my gal pals and I watched it at my bachelorette party in an attempt to reconnect with our glorious youth, we realized it had some really sick elements to it, like the way it makes fun of Asian people and looks lightly on having sex with a girl who passed out from drinking too much. Life was so much easier when we were younger and didn’t have our self-righteous 1990s PC principles just yet.

"Dead Poets Society": The film that taught me about The Man, via Robin Williams jumping on desks and crazy shit like that. I watched this film multiple times for two major reasons. Reason one: Ethan. Reason two: Hawke. Meow. This film also made me wish I had been born rich and Protestant instead of middle class and Catholic. Rebelling against the WASP elite seems like so much fun when you have the requisite freewheeling English teacher who gets fired for thinking a little too outside the box, know what I mean? The only real problem I have with this movie is that it made everyone overuse the phrase “Carpe Diem.” There should be some type of legislation outlawing the utterance of this phrase at high school graduation ceremonies. Seriously.

"E.T. the Extra Terrestrial": After my father took me to see this in the theater, I was scared of going into my own backyard for, like, three weeks.

"Poltergeist": The scary movie everyone was talking about but no one could actually get permission to watch. Scared me even though I didn’t watch it until I was in college!

"Flashdance": My first rated R film, which I only got to watch because my friend Colleen’s mother wasn’t paying attention. Increased my respect level for both welders and break dancers. Taught me that being able to remove your bra without taking off your shirt can be a turn on for men, for some bizarre reason. I held onto this information despite the fact that when I first watched this film, I wasn’t wearing a bra yet.

"Ferris Bueller’s Day Off": Made me believe that high school would be a bevy of craziness and wild adventures that would include sneaking off into the city to sing in a parade. Too bad my real high school career turned out to be a time of severe depression, grade anxiety, and massively low self-esteem. Thanks, Ferris!

"Heathers": Confirmed for me what high school was actually about, minus the homicidal maniac. Remembered for one of the best lines in modern cinema: “Grow up Heather, bulimia’s so `87.” (Second only to: “Dear Diary, my teen angst bullshit has a body count.”)

Now it’s your turn, dear reader. Favorite films from the 80s and why? Do tell. – Jennifer Mathieu

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Jennifer Mathieu
Contact: Jennifer Mathieu